What is your water like?

Grains, malts, hops, yeast, water and other ingredients used to brew. Recipe reviews and suggestions.

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What is your water like?

Postby lathe » Fri Apr 16, 2004 9:58 am

Many of you folks are "hardcore" brewers that know what your local water profile is. We would love to see what kind of water you have in your local area. What are your stats for... (ppm)

Calcium (Ca++)
Carbonate (CO3--) or (HCO3-)
Chloride (Cl-)
Magnesium (Mg++)
Sodium (Na+)
Sulfate (SO4--)

And maybe you can share how (if you do) treat it.

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Most hard

Postby Freon12 » Fri Apr 16, 2004 11:28 pm

Sooooo, you want to know about water do ya?
I live in the limestone capitol of the world, yes, that's right, near bloomington Indiana...
Any questions about where limestone comes from?
The ph is 8.0, the total hardness above 900!!!!!! hello.

I used to use acid(two kinds) but I had to use so much that it came thru as a taste to the beer, I stopped.

I boiled the water first, I stopped.(too much energy and not enough result)

I filtered it, and there is where I came to terms with it.

Once I knew what I could make given this GOD awful water.....Dark beer! I make the best Imperial Stout ever. My pilsner however, has issues, but charactor.

The water defines the beer as a background charactor and gives most of us a choice of beers we make well and some we must strive to make.(At least if we make more than 5 gallons.)



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Evansville, Indiana's Rock Water...

Postby Mesa Maltworks » Tue Apr 20, 2004 8:22 pm

Ca: 37.8 mg/l
Mg: 10.3 mg/l
Na: 20.7 mg/l
SO4: 84.0 mg/l
Cl: 31.0 mg/l
HC03: 73.0 mg/l
Average pH: 7.98

The above figures were produced by my brewery lab service provider, not the local water department.

I am a firm believer that local water is a defining character that can be used to make your beer unique. The only treatment of water I utilize is sediment and chloramine filtration through gel resin media and pH adjustment using 80% phosphoric acid. Otherwise, I slowly preheat the water (not to boiling, but rather 80 deg. C) the night before dough-in to precipitate the majority of the temporary hardness load. By ensuring that my mash and boil pH are as close to 5.3 as possible, I produce very smooth beers without the need for any other techniques.

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What do you think about residual alkalinity?

Postby jeff » Wed Apr 21, 2004 12:44 pm

I've been doing some research on water chemistry recently and have read that brewing water pH is far less a concern than the number arrived at when calculating residual alkalinity. In your experience, do you feel that residual alkalinity is a worthwhile figure to consider when working with unfamiliar water sources?

The reason I ask is that I am trying to arrive at a helpful way to take some of the mystery out of water chemistry for newer brewers, and even experienced brewers trying a new water source. Any insight you can provide is greatly appreciated, thanks.
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Freon, I am about to hook it up

Postby fitz » Wed Apr 21, 2004 2:16 pm

Below is the softner/filter system I am going to install: (questions below)
Manganese Greensand Filter System:
Our Iron Filter systems use a high quality manganese greensand media that effectively remove iron, manganese and hydrogen sulfide (rotten egg odor) usually found in well water. The system is installed in the main water line. When the raw water enters your iron filter it passes down through the filter media and get oxygenated. The oxygen causes precipitation of the minerals and any iron, manganese or hydrogen sulfide present in your water supply is trapped resulting in a clean, filtered water flow to your household. The filter media is periodically regenerated automatically, backwashing the trapped minerals to the drain and regenerated by replacing the oxygen. This is done by introducing potassium permanganate to the media. The system comes with the Potassium Permanganate container. With proper installation it removes the following contaminants resulting in a healthier water.

15 ppm of both ferric (oxidized) and ferrous (clear) iron
05 ppm of Hydrogen sulfide (rotten egg odor)
10 ppm of manganese

My questions are:
They do not mention Calcium, so am I supposed to expect it to remain?
Will any of these things affect my beer?
I have been using bottled watter from a RO system to brew, and it has worked well. I am also installing the 5 stage RO system for the main drinking water(If it is O.K. the Brewing water too)
I also have noticed that there is a salty film on the glassware when they come out of the diswasher. Could I have some sort of Mineral salts present in the water source already?
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RO you say?

Postby Freon12 » Wed Apr 21, 2004 8:20 pm

I think RO takes out any local "Charactor" the beer my have. I have always been a proponent of filtering my brew water or boiling it if I have money to do so. And then, treating with a max of 5ml of acid in any case and "go" with that. I alomost always hit the PH range I'm looking for even if it is high going to mash.

I am Curious as to what makes a difference between potassium and calcium chloride ion exchange? Both salt, both exchanging, both need replenished, both use a backwash using the salt solution.

I will ponder this...............


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pH & Mashing...

Postby Mesa Maltworks » Wed Apr 21, 2004 10:50 pm

Jeff;

By the use of the term "residual alkalinity", I assume you are referring to the permanent hardness compounds that increase water pH.

By nature, unless you distill, reverse osmose or de-ionize the water (GUYS & GALS... DON'T DO ANY OF THESE UNLESS YOUR WATER IS NON-POTABLE) most of these compounds cannot be removed from the water. Manganese is one exception with the right ($$$) filter situation, but is hardly the only contributor to permanant hardness.

After temporary hardness precipitation (via heat), you need to adjust the water to a dough-in pH of 6, achieving an average mash pH of 5.3~5.4. If you ignore this step, you risk incomplete or lenghty conversions as well as tannin extraction.

Brewing water processed through a water softner is very bad idea! You are simply swapping one salt for another salt. If you use this "softened" water, it will result in significant effects upon yeast metabolism as well as detrimental effects on head retention, let alone a risk of "salty" flavors in the beer, particularly lagers. Have you ever showered in "softened" water? Did you notice that soap doesn't lather or rinse as well?

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Kolbach's work

Postby jeff » Wed Apr 21, 2004 11:18 pm

Thanks for helping me out. Actually I was referring to the work Kolbach did to attempt to give substance to the reaction of Ca++ with phosphates in the malt during the mash. This reaction lowers mash pH. Moll expanded on Kolbach's work and today an equation based on the ppm Alkalinity, ppm Ca++ and Mg++ is claimed to predict the pH of a 100% pale malt mash. The equation looks like this if all units are in ppm as CaCO3:

Residual Alkalinity (RA) = Alkalinity - Ca / 3.5 - Mg / 7

The reference pH for distilled water in a 100% pale malt mash is 5.8. From Residual Alkalinity the pH shift can be determined by multiplying RA by 0.00168 and adding the product to 5.8. The result is the predicted mash pH. A negative RA lowers the reference pH and a positive RA raises it.

Based on these findings, the original pH of the source water is only part of the picture. In fact, the original pH isn't even used in the equations; just Alkalinity, Ca++ and Mg++.

No need to respond to this, I was simply curious if you were familiar with these formulas and had any thoughts on their reliability. Thanks again!
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Kolbach...

Postby Mesa Maltworks » Thu Apr 22, 2004 12:32 am

Yes... I am familiar with the calculations that Kolbach worked on. Malting proceedures will cause variance in the equation results though... not everyone uses Pale Ale malt and even that can vary. What if you use roasted malts? The pH goes down. This is one reason why the calculation is not that useful.

The point is simply to get your mash pH between 5.4 & 5.3 regardless of what a calculation can approximate. You can adjust the mash directly using something like calcium sulfate or chloride, but if you screw up you are stuck, let alone it increases calcium and sulfate as well! This is why I advocate adjusting the mash water prior to dough-in via phosphoric (preferred) or lactic acid. I never end up using more than 83 ml in 8 bbl to drop to 6.0. I arrived at this through gathering empirical data using my source water after precipitation. So any brewer will have to do the same to reliably reproduce mashing pH.

Doughing in with 6 pH hot liquor gives the following results: when I use roasted malts in addition to my base malts, my mash pH tends toward 5.3, when not using roasted malts as a portion of the grist it tends toward 5.4 pH. How could the Kolbach calculation predict this?

I do have additional water chemistry equations and am happy to supply them to you. I have never found them to be very useful though since my water is only problematic in ways I cannot do anything about without stripping it and starting over... ie... sulfates or trying to turn my water into Pilsen's water. The latter cannot be achieved without starting from distilled water and rebuilding the mineral profile which is just not practical.

ProMash has the best water adjustment module I am aware of, and it does predict resultant mash pH. It uses ASBC calculations though and seems to produce results a bit higher than reality... using the figures I gave above, it predicts my water pH to be 8.31 when it actually averages 7.9.

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MESA

Postby fitz » Thu Apr 22, 2004 9:44 am

O.K.
I guess the Magnesium greensand and 5 stage RO is not a good choice for the brewery, but what can I use on a by pass of these to remove the sulphur from my original water. I have not really brewed with this water yet, but I figured I shouldn't.
I know the brewing process "cleanses" the water and thus the europeans would brew to make otherwise unpotable water into potable beer or wine, but we also have brewing books that say if your water does not taste good, don't brew with it.
Is sulphur something that will be removed with the yeast? What kind of filter can I use to remove it from the water without stripping it of all of its character? Is the Greensand softener good for the other "household" uses. Will the mountaineers ever win a bowl, etc.
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Can't beat empirical data

Postby jeff » Thu Apr 22, 2004 3:42 pm

Thanks for your thoughts Eric. I appreciate your detailed explanations, and I agree there is certainly no replacement for emperical data to provide a sure guide for how to best treat brewing water. After all, first glance might lead one to believe a pale beer can't be brewed using Burton water, but the reality proves otherwise! Anyway, thanks for your help.
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Egg Water...

Postby Mesa Maltworks » Thu Apr 22, 2004 7:34 pm

Fitz;

Q1: "...what can I use on a by pass of these to remove the sulphur from my original water?"

Answer: There are treatment systems by AMF-Cuno & Kinetico that can remove specific ions from water and leave the rest alone, but they are VERY expensive and require custom made media to target individual problems. I would avoid brewing with your water at all.

Q2: "Is sulphur something that will be removed with the yeast?"

Answer: No... SO4 and the likes are volatiles and cannot be removed by yeast. Additionally, most yeast strains also produce sulfur compounds, but they are driven off
(volatilized) by the CO2 produced during fermentation.

Q3: "...Is the Greensand softener good for the other "household" uses?"

Anbswer: Yes ! For household uses other than brewing, they are great for knocking down sedimentary problems.

Q4: "Will the mountaineers ever win a bowl, etc..."

Answer: I am not a big sports guy and I am even a graduate of WVU! If you look through their history, however, they do win one every once in a while. I feel this is a function of volume, not overt quality. They are one of the most bowl attending teams in history, so odds are they will win every now and again. I do know they have spawned a whole bunch of very high level pro ball players, but they rarely seem to have a completely strong team. I believe the last era where strong teams existed there was under Bobby Bowden's reign.

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It seems

Postby fitz » Tue Apr 27, 2004 9:28 am

Eric, you have once again peaked my curiosity. I have not brewed with this wagter before. I am interested to see if the sulphur that is naturally present in the water will dissipate with the brewing process as the yeast producing sulphur is. As I stated, there is a small amount present, unlike make places that I have seen. I have noticed that if you let it set overnight, the smell if gone, but there is an almost salty taste to the water. I am anxious to see if there is any extreme differences in the flavor of a beer made with this water as opposed to the bottled spring water. Although if you read the fine print of the so-called spring water it is from a municiple source and filtered with an Ro system. So where can I get true spring water?
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More Egg2O....

Postby Mesa Maltworks » Thu Apr 29, 2004 8:08 am

Fitz;

From your description of your water, it sounds as if sulfur is not your only problem. Yes, sulfur is a volatile, but it's volitalization is based on surface area... ie... you may not notice sulfur aromas in the water that rested for a while, but I'd bet if you stirred it up and took a whiff again there is still some present. The way to see how much can be driven off is to vigorously bubble CO2 through it for about 1 hour (10 gals). Then smell and taste it. This may rid the water of sulfur, but it won't take care of the salt you mentioned. In my experience, water that is high in sulfur and salts usually has an elevated iron content as well. You need to have an environmental lab test your water so you can put this concern to rest.

As far as spring water, it is readily available in my area and is none that I've seen are processed by reverse osmosis. Check around and I feel you will be able to find it. But, read the labels carefully... some are relatively high in salts and other minerals.

As far as differences that might occur using you water versus a cleaner source, it is hard to tell, but I can tell you that the water characteristics you have will be amplified and also changed (in a bad way) once boiled. There also will be bio-chemical reactions with the malts and hops which may produce off flavors that don't appear to be present in your water.
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Thanks Eric

Postby fitz » Thu Apr 29, 2004 8:41 am

I have been trying to find a place to test my water. There are a couple "labs" here. One said they don't test well water, the other said it tests, but only for organisim and fecal coliform. I'm sure it would be fairly expensive to do a complete test of the well water, but I am curious to know what all is in it. I do not taste the iron as I did with my grandmothers well water. It had a strong iron taste even after the softener. I do have municipal water passing in front of my house, but the local water has had such a bad rap, that I didn't connect. The local water also has compounds in it. Their water affects plumping and washers, clothes, etc. My mother has municiple water from a soure 20 miles away from me. Her water doesn't affect here plumping, but it is like swimming pool water straight out of the spigot. Most of the bottled water in these parts is from the Municiple source of Martins Ferry Ohio. Until 4 to 5 years ago, MF had the worst water in our area. They put in a "state of the art" system, now all of the local stores are selling their water. It is RO.
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