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Brews & Views Bulletin Board Service * Brews and Views Archive 2004 * Archive through October 28, 2004 * Need Help With Water Analysis < Previous Next >

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Randy McCord
Intermediate Member
Username: Mccord

Post Number: 341
Registered: 02-2003
Posted on Friday, October 22, 2004 - 11:06 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Hey all, I just had the state test my well water and wanted some opinions on it. I read Palmer's bit about reading a water report, but that's quite a bit for me to try to take into this pea brain. Here it is, questions will follow......

IRON: less than .0006 mg/L
CALCIUM: 96.8 mg/L
MAGNESIUM: 23.9 mg/L
SODIUM: 8.49 mg/L
FLUORIDE: .10 mg/L
CHLORIDE: 21.4 mg/L
NITRATE: 1.17 mg/L
SULFATE: 34.1 mg/L

ALKALINITY(CaCO3): 266 mg/L
HARDNESS(as CaCO3): 340 mg/L
Total dissolved solids: 358 mg/L
pH: 7.43

I know my water is hard, and I usually dilute it about 50% with RO water. I brew mostly pale ales.
Is there anything else I should do with this water, besides diluting it? My beers normally turn out good, but I always strive to make them better. Any help is greatly appreciated!
 

Bill Pierce
Moderator
Username: Billpierce

Post Number: 892
Registered: 01-2002
Posted on Saturday, October 23, 2004 - 02:33 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Yes, this is hard water. Both the temporary and permanent (total hardness minus the alkalinity) hardness are high. You can remove the temporary hardness by boiling, but the permanent hardness remains.

The "residual alkalinity" of this water is 183. The supposed "ideal" (a rough estimate) color of beers brewed with this water undiluted is 31 SRM. That's obviously only dark beers. At a 50 percent dilution the residual alkalinity is 91 and the "ideal" color is 18 SRM, still rather dark. At an 80 percent dilution the R.A. is 37 and the "ideal" color is 10 SRM.

As you can see, you should plan on diluting your water with RO-filtered water for most of the beers you brew.
 

Randy McCord
Intermediate Member
Username: Mccord

Post Number: 342
Registered: 02-2003
Posted on Saturday, October 23, 2004 - 03:03 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Thanks Bill, it looks like I'll be buying a bunch of water this winter. I've thought about hooking up to the city water here, but from what I've gathered, it's about the same way, and of course it has chlorine in it. After reviewing my log from last winter, I diluted anywhere from 50% to 75% and my notes all say that the 75% beers tasted better. I guess I just didn't notice that before. So, it looks like I'll try 80%.
 

Bill Pierce
Moderator
Username: Billpierce

Post Number: 894
Registered: 01-2002
Posted on Saturday, October 23, 2004 - 03:22 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Randy, as I mentioned above and in another post, the "ideal" color number is very much a guesstimate because it's really malt acidity rather than strictly color that buffers the alkalinity of the water. Color and acidity are related but not quite the same thing.

At any rate, you get the idea that water high in residual alkalinity is best used for brewing only dark beers.

I also want to mention that I don't place a lot of stock in strictly matching the "classic" brewing water of certain cities. In my mind the figures are much more an indication of which beers shouldn't be brewed with that water, as opposed to trying to emulate it.
 

Steven Edward Haun
Member
Username: Stevehaun

Post Number: 129
Registered: 02-2003
Posted on Saturday, October 23, 2004 - 04:21 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Randy,
I recently moved to WI and my well water is similar to yours. My [HCO3] is over 200 and my residual alkalinity is nearly 200 as well. My first brew will be a porter while I try to find out how to best deal with this water. When I made starters I used 80% distilled water with CaCl2 and CaSO4 additions. I am thinking about using slaked lime Ca(OH)2 to remove the HCO3 because I think it will be cheaper in the long run compared to distilled or RO water. I have found food grade slaked lime - Mrs Wages pickling lime - at Ace Hardware.
 

Bill Pierce
Moderator
Username: Billpierce

Post Number: 898
Registered: 01-2002
Posted on Saturday, October 23, 2004 - 04:33 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Here is more information about the use of slaked lime (calcium hydroxide): http://www.freedrinkingwater.com/water-education2/410-lime-soda-water.htm

It reacts with bicarbonate in the water to produce insoluble calcium carbonate that settles out. As such it's effective (much as boiling) in reducing temporary hardness. However, it also raises the water pH via an excess of hydroxyl ions. This can have other consequences for brewing and require the use of acid to lower the mash pH.

(Message edited by BillPierce on October 23, 2004)
 

JimTanguay
Intermediate Member
Username: Pizzaman

Post Number: 308
Registered: 02-2003
Posted on Saturday, October 23, 2004 - 04:36 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Boy, it sure makes me happy to have good soft water.
 

David Woods
Intermediate Member
Username: Beericon

Post Number: 422
Registered: 02-2003
Posted on Saturday, October 23, 2004 - 05:29 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Does adding say 4oz of acid or sourmalt to your mash help this excessively high pH at all?

David
Onslo: "Get me a beer!"
Daisy: "We're out of beer."
Onslo: "I can't believe it! I'm completely surrounded by NO BEER!"
 

Bill Pierce
Moderator
Username: Billpierce

Post Number: 900
Registered: 01-2002
Posted on Saturday, October 23, 2004 - 05:34 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Yes, David, using acidulated (sauermalt) malt will reduce the mash pH. It's just that it's difficult to calculate how much to add for a specific reduction.