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Brews & Views Bulletin Board Service * Brews and Views Archive 2005 * Archive through January 11, 2005 * Brewing with Cincinnati water < Previous Next >

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Kevin Collins
Junior Member
Username: Kcollins

Post Number: 32
Registered: 03-2003
Posted on Thursday, January 06, 2005 - 11:58 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

What styles of beer (all-grain) is Cincinnati city water suitable for using without making much adjustment to it? I am looking for experienced people out there to answer. I don't have the chemical makeup of the water yet.
Thanks,
Kevin
 

Bill Pierce
Moderator
Username: Billpierce

Post Number: 1693
Registered: 01-2002
Posted on Thursday, January 06, 2005 - 02:27 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Dan Listermann brews with Cincinnati water, so he may chime in here. But by all means get an analysis from your local water utility. Without it you might as well whistle into the wind. Also, obtain some high quality plastic-coated pH strips in the 4.0 - 7.0 range. With a water analysis, pH strips and water salts (probably gypsum and calcium chloride in your case), you have just about everything you need.
 

Bill Pierce
Moderator
Username: Billpierce

Post Number: 1694
Registered: 01-2002
Posted on Thursday, January 06, 2005 - 03:19 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Kevin, I did your homework for you. Here is the data from the Greater Cincinnati Water Works 2001 Annual Report.

There are two water treatment plants, Miller and Bolton. You'll have to determine which of them is the source of your water.

Miller
------
Calcium 38 mg/l (ppm)
Magnesium 9.6 mg/l
Sodium 32 mg/l
Chloride 34 mg/l
Sulfate 78 mg/l
Bicarbonate/Carbonate (as HCO3) 85.3 mg/l
Total Hardness (as CaCO3) 133 mg/l
Total Alkalinity (as CaC03) 74 mg/l
pH 8.8

Bolton
------
Calcium 42 mg/l (ppm)
Magnesium 15 mg/l
Sodium 42 mg/l
Chloride 71 mg/l
Sulfate 68 mg/l
Bicarbonate/Carbonate (as HCO3) 77.6 mg/l
Total Hardness (as CaCO3) 164 mg/l
Total Alkalinity (as CaC03) 73 mg/l
pH 9.2


For all-grain brewing, the important factor is the mash pH, which is determined by the malt acidity buffered by the water alkalinity. There is virtually no useful data on malt acidity (that's why you need to be able to measure pH), but the relevant value for the water is the "residual alkalinity," which can be calculated from the total alkalinity, calcium and magnesium levels. The formula is:

Residual Alkalinity (RA) = Total alkalinity - (Calcium * 0.714) - (Magnesium * 0.585)

For Cincinnati water the residual alkalinity from the Miller treatment plant is 41.25, and for the Bolton plant it is 34.23. The "ideal SRM" (a rough estimate of the color of beers that are suited to the water without adjustment) is 11 and 10, respectively.

The formula is: "Ideal SRM" = (0.14 * RA) + 5.2

This means that the water is very well suited to brewing amber-colored beers. You will likely need to add gypsum to the mash for lighter beers, and it's possible that you might need to add calcium carbonate or sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) to raise the mash pH of your darkest beers. And diluting the water 50-50 with RO-filtered water would produce an excellent pilsner.

Anyway, as long as you keep the mash pH between 5.2 and 5.6 you should be just fine.

The somewhat high chloride level in the water would accentuate maltiness to some extent. I can now see why the old Hudepohl and Schoenling breweries were known for their lagers, and why the original German settlers of Cincinnati were pleased with the beers they brewed there.

(Please note that this is a revised post. My original post contained a math error.)

(Message edited by BillPierce on January 06, 2005)
 

Dan Listermann
Advanced Member
Username: Listermann

Post Number: 829
Registered: 03-2004
Posted on Thursday, January 06, 2005 - 05:00 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Cincinnati is blessed with great water for brewing. It is drawn from the Mighty Ohio. The local breweries only bother to charcoal filter their water for chlorine. I can't tell you when the last time I bothered to modify my water. I get quick easy conversion that runs off easily. This is one of those "you have better things to worry about" things.

Thanks Bill for the good info. I just found out that the Miller plant has preserved three triple expansion steam engines that drove pumps. They have eight foot strokes and the low pressure cylinder is more than 80" in diameter. Check ut: http://www.fcrammond.clara.net/cincinnati_water_works.htm Cool stuff.

Dan Listermann
 

Bob L.
Junior Member
Username: Bobcaat

Post Number: 87
Registered: 03-2003
Posted on Thursday, January 06, 2005 - 08:12 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I have a similar question concerning my water - Fairfax County Virginia. I pulled the water information from their website and I have the following:

Total Alkalinity 43
Calcium 30.8
Magnesium 4.6

Using Bill's forumlas I get RA of 18.318 and an Ideal SRM of 7.765.

This seems to a little lighter than amber ales but darker than most lagers / pilsners. Close to a lighter pale ale. Is this correct or is the range a little wider than that.
 

Bill Pierce
Moderator
Username: Billpierce

Post Number: 1705
Registered: 01-2002
Posted on Thursday, January 06, 2005 - 08:38 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Barring atypical water values that could affect beer flavor, the important range for all-grain brewers is the mash pH, which should be between 5.2 and 5.6. The rest of water chemistry is mostly for geeks.

Bob, your water sounds excellent for brewing most styles. You can likely do nothing in terms of adjustment for almost all of your beers. The exceptions might be Czech pilsner or dark stouts, and even then you might try leaving well enough alone and see how the beer turns out.

HBD water chemistry guru A.J. deLange has said that if the residual alkalinity is below 50 it's unlikely you need to worry about the mash pH.

(Message edited by BillPierce on January 06, 2005)
 

Bob L.
Junior Member
Username: Bobcaat

Post Number: 88
Registered: 03-2003
Posted on Thursday, January 06, 2005 - 08:41 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Thanks Bill
 

Kevin Davis
Member
Username: Ktdavis98

Post Number: 168
Registered: 12-2003
Posted on Friday, January 07, 2005 - 02:50 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I have been wanting to get my water analysis on for input, and saw the formulas Bill posted, so checked it, and based on the above info, WOW it sucks (I think). Any comments? I have a water softner that I can not bypass without plumbing around it. What will that do to my water. My water, I think, comes from the Ohio about 40 miles below Cincinnati. What are you flushing out up there Dan? Never mind, don't answer that!
Kevin

application/pdfWater quality analysis page 1
Water analysis page 1.pdf (61.6 k)
application/pdfWater quality analysis page 2
Water analysis page 2.pdf (77.8 k)
 

Kevin Collins
Junior Member
Username: Kcollins

Post Number: 33
Registered: 03-2003
Posted on Friday, January 07, 2005 - 03:04 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Thanks for all the info, I will put it to good use.
Kevin
 

Dan Listermann
Advanced Member
Username: Listermann

Post Number: 831
Registered: 03-2004
Posted on Friday, January 07, 2005 - 04:07 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Kevin, that does not look like river water to me. I will bet that the water comes well fields. The Bolton plane at Cincinnati ( Fairfield actually) is well water but it is heavily treated to resemble the Miller plant's river water.

Did you check out the steam engines?

Dan Listermann
 

Bill Pierce
Moderator
Username: Billpierce

Post Number: 1714
Registered: 01-2002
Posted on Friday, January 07, 2005 - 02:29 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Kevin D., your water analysis files were unreadable by my version of Acrobat, so I can't comment on them. But in general, water from below-ground wells is higher in nearly all dissolved minerals than surface water from lakes or streams.

Dan, yes, I saw the interesting steam engine pictures. Water works are among the earliest municipal utilities and have preserved some of the old machinery. I recall an old pumphouse in Milwaukee that is now open to the public and houses some really neat stuff dating from the 1860s.
 

Ron Siddall
Junior Member
Username: Listerdister

Post Number: 76
Registered: 10-2004
Posted on Friday, January 07, 2005 - 05:48 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Kevin,

"Any comments? I have a water softner that I can not bypass without plumbing around it."

Do you not have a water spigot outside? You can take wate from there as you should not water plants with water from the water softener.
 

davidw
Advanced Member
Username: Davidw

Post Number: 798
Registered: 03-2001
Posted on Friday, January 07, 2005 - 06:15 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

And you should not brew with water that has been through a softner.
 

Ron Siddall
Junior Member
Username: Listerdister

Post Number: 77
Registered: 10-2004
Posted on Friday, January 07, 2005 - 06:36 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

David, why not? What happens to the water?
 

Bill Pierce
Moderator
Username: Billpierce

Post Number: 1715
Registered: 01-2002
Posted on Friday, January 07, 2005 - 07:07 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

All but the highest-tech water softeners function by means of the ion-exchange principle. Calcium, which causes hardness, is replaced with sodium (or occasionally potassium). While softened water is good for your laundry and the shower, requiring a lot less soap, the problem is that this is bad for brewing in several ways.

Most water hardness is actually beneficial to beer because it helps to buffer the alkalinity of the carbonates in the water, requiring fewer or no water salt additions to adjust the mash pH. Look at Burton water, which is very high in calcium, as an example. Calcium at levels up to about 150 ppm aids the mash enzymes, helps yeast metabolism and promotes clarity of the beer. High levels of sodium from a water softener in conjunction with chlorides can make the beer salty.

(Message edited by BillPierce on January 07, 2005)
 

Ron Siddall
Junior Member
Username: Listerdister

Post Number: 78
Registered: 10-2004
Posted on Friday, January 07, 2005 - 07:34 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Bill, so calcium chloride is replaced by sodium chloride in the water, right? So softened water contains too much salt (sodium chloride)?
 

Bill Pierce
Moderator
Username: Billpierce

Post Number: 1718
Registered: 01-2002
Posted on Friday, January 07, 2005 - 07:42 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Close but not quite, Ron. Calcium ions in the water are replaced with sodium ions from the softener salt. Assuming that the softener is functioning properly, levels of other ions in the water should remain nearly the same (the chloride from the softener salt is flushed away).

Softened water contains too much sodium (or potassium in softeners that use potassium chloride rather than salt). If the chloride in the water is rather high prior to softening, its presence in conjunction with the sodium resulting from the softener's ion exchange for calcium can make the beer salty.
 

davidw
Advanced Member
Username: Davidw

Post Number: 799
Registered: 03-2001
Posted on Friday, January 07, 2005 - 07:43 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Specifically it's the calcium and sodium ions that are exchanged in the process. But the end result is that the softener reduces the amount of calcium and magnesium in the water and increases the sodium.
 

Dan Listermann
Advanced Member
Username: Listermann

Post Number: 832
Registered: 03-2004
Posted on Friday, January 07, 2005 - 08:08 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I have never brewed with softened water but the question comes up a bit here. I have a good number of customers who do brew with softened water despite my warnings. They don't see what the big deal is. Of coarse I can't say that I have had their beers either. Lately I am very sensitive to salty beer. I made a beer from 50% dark rye bread and it is very salty.

Dan Listermann
 

Ron Siddall
Junior Member
Username: Listerdister

Post Number: 79
Registered: 10-2004
Posted on Friday, January 07, 2005 - 08:17 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Bill, it is not your fault but I am getting a headache.....

I got a D in chemistry and I do not know why I am even trying. But thank you for the help.
 

Kevin Davis
Member
Username: Ktdavis98

Post Number: 169
Registered: 12-2003
Posted on Saturday, January 08, 2005 - 12:16 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Was anyone else able to open my pdf files? I have reader 5.0, and I just opened it to check and it worked ok. A couple of weeks ago when I got the reports, I tried to upload them as a photo type file, (jpeg, gif or something I tried two types) and never could get them small enough for the site, it kept telling me the files were too large.

Bill, I will attempt another file format and try again sometime soon because I would like to get your input. I am just getting to the point in my brewing that I am ready to start learning more about the water. I know there is other information available on the internet, but sometimes I can read something and it does not make sense, but if I ask a stupid question it all comes to me.

Ron, In his infinate wisdom the guy that built the house ran the water in through the basement wall into the softner, then to outside faucet though the footer just above ground level. I have been planning to correct this but have not yet tackled the task. Plumbing a brewing toy = fun, plumbing a house = no fun.
Kevin
 

Dan Listermann
Advanced Member
Username: Listermann

Post Number: 833
Registered: 03-2004
Posted on Saturday, January 08, 2005 - 02:50 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Kevin, I saw the reports.

Dan Listermann
 

Kevin Davis
Member
Username: Ktdavis98

Post Number: 172
Registered: 12-2003
Posted on Saturday, January 08, 2005 - 03:12 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Dan,
Your opinions are welcome, what would you suggest based on my water analysis?


Kevin
 

Dan Listermann
Advanced Member
Username: Listermann

Post Number: 834
Registered: 03-2004
Posted on Saturday, January 08, 2005 - 05:17 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

The pdf files seem to have disappeared????

Frankly I would not worry much about most waters until you are sure that you are having problems because of it. This would be unusual.

Dan Listermann
 

Kevin Collins
Junior Member
Username: Kcollins

Post Number: 34
Registered: 03-2003
Posted on Saturday, January 08, 2005 - 12:19 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Where do you get those "high quality plastic coated pH strips 4-7 range"? No one sells them that I have found, I have used paper ones in the past but am not confident how accurate they are.
 

Geoff Buschur
Intermediate Member
Username: Avmech

Post Number: 443
Registered: 06-2004
Posted on Saturday, January 08, 2005 - 01:31 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

"Where do you get those "high quality plastic coated pH strips 4-7 range"?"

http://www.northernbrewer.com/analytical.html

$18.00 for 100 strips.
 

Dan Listermann
Advanced Member
Username: Listermann

Post Number: 835
Registered: 03-2004
Posted on Saturday, January 08, 2005 - 02:44 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Frankly I would not worry about pH unless you find you are having problems with conversion. Don't think that you can't make fine beer without measuring pH and let that hold your all-grain brewing up. It is not untypical to hear people say that they used their brand new pH meter about twice before not bothering again.

Dan Listermann
 

Bill Pierce
Moderator
Username: Billpierce

Post Number: 1722
Registered: 01-2002
Posted on Saturday, January 08, 2005 - 03:29 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I'm going to make a wild*ss guess and say that 75 percent of the time, even more often for brewers with good water, you don't need to worry about the mash pH. But if you're a conscientious all-grain brewer you will want to obtain an analysis of your brewing water. It will provide you with enough information to decide if you need to bother or not.
 

Paul Edwards
Advanced Member
Username: Pedwards

Post Number: 535
Registered: 03-2003
Posted on Saturday, January 08, 2005 - 03:41 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Kevin,

Every water softener I've seen comes with a bypass valve. I've installed two in my house over the years and a couple of others for family members. All different brands, but each had the bypass valve.

If yours doesn't have one, it may not have been installed correctly.
 

Ken Anderson
Advanced Member
Username: Ken75

Post Number: 576
Registered: 11-2002
Posted on Saturday, January 08, 2005 - 04:17 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I think it's a mistake to think you can't make a pilsner if you have hard water. My "ideal SRM" is 20, yet I make fine pilsners with it. Those who have drunk it agree. As a matter of fact, the one Helles I made with 80/20 distilled water to my spring water was rather nondescript.
Here are a couple of nice charts to help with color. Anyone know if the second chart is indeed in degrees EBC?
http://users.adelphia.net/~aken75/
Ken
 

Kevin Davis
Member
Username: Ktdavis98

Post Number: 174
Registered: 12-2003
Posted on Saturday, January 08, 2005 - 04:58 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Paul,
I read your post and it only makes sense there would be some sort of bypass. So I looked and it appeared there was only in and out, but I popped off the cover and it was kind of hidden, but there it was. The softner was here when I bought the house and I had never really looked that close, just checked the timer every so often. Thats one problem solved, Thanks!

Kevin
 

Bill Pierce
Moderator
Username: Billpierce

Post Number: 1729
Registered: 01-2002
Posted on Saturday, January 08, 2005 - 05:15 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Yes, Ken, the second chart on your site is in EBC. To convert EBC to SRM, multiply by 0.377 and then add 0.45 (the two scales are not linear, but the formula provides a good approximation).
 

Ken Anderson
Advanced Member
Username: Ken75

Post Number: 577
Registered: 11-2002
Posted on Saturday, January 08, 2005 - 05:32 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Korzonas has a slightly different conversion formula, but I'm too lazy to figure out the difference.
 

Bill Pierce
Moderator
Username: Billpierce

Post Number: 1731
Registered: 01-2002
Posted on Saturday, January 08, 2005 - 06:58 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

For what it's worth, the formula I provided is from George Fix.
 

Kevin Collins
Junior Member
Username: Kcollins

Post Number: 35
Registered: 03-2003
Posted on Saturday, January 08, 2005 - 07:53 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

The reason I wanted to know about "good pH strips" is so that I wouldn't have to buy a pH meter. When I know what is happening with pH in the mash and runoff depending on dark or light style of beer, I will know that I am in the recommended range and probably stop measuring it. It is worth it for peace of mind. Also, at my home, we actually recieve water from two different sources depending on supply and demand during the year, which really makes it tough, other than going to my inlaws house to get Cincinnati city water to brew with exclusively which is somewhat of a pain in the neck. I had my water tested last year. It was somewhat high in sodium content, like 110ppm (not run through softner). Not much a person could do with that except to dilute with bottled or RO water.
 

Ken Anderson
Advanced Member
Username: Ken75

Post Number: 578
Registered: 11-2002
Posted on Saturday, January 08, 2005 - 11:59 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Korzonas' equation, (EBC+1.2)/2.65, is actually the same as Fix's, (.377*EBC)+.45. Doh.
I'd also like to say that, before anyone decides their water is too hard to make a pilsner, for God's sake, at least give it a try. Making beer is not as fraught with pitfalls as some would lead you to believe.