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Brews & Views Bulletin Board Service * Brews and Views Archive 2007 * Archive through January 09, 2007 * Can anyone help me read my Water Quality Report? < Previous Next >

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John From NH
Member
Username: Borg

Post Number: 119
Registered: 03-2003
Posted From: 74.67.161.147
Posted on Thursday, December 28, 2006 - 01:38 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

OK, so I just moved...used to have well water that worked great for brewing. Now I've not yet brewed anything in my new location...I just found the local Water Quality Report online and was wondering if someone could help me read this...
I'd like to learn a bit more about water treatment but as I haven't done any of it in a few years I've forgotten the very little bit that I used to know! :-)

Water report can be found here:
http://www.mcwa.com/pdf/2005-AWSS.pdf

I'm in the Shoremont WTP.

Guess I'm asking what I should really be looking for in this...also if you have any good references to recommend on water treatment then that would be great.
Thanks so much,
John
 

Paul Edwards aka "Buster"
Senior Member
Username: Pedwards

Post Number: 1209
Registered: 03-2003
Posted From: 69.219.237.187
Posted on Thursday, December 28, 2006 - 02:36 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

John,

I think the best water reference for HB'ers is John Palmer's How to Brew

http://www.howtobrew.com

On a "quick look" basis, I'd say your water looks like it's bit light in the calcium dept for all grain brewing. Palmer suggests a range of 50 to 150 ppm, and yours is in the mid 30's. Your bicarbonate level is about 105 (take the alkalinity number of 88 and divide by 50 and multiply by 61), which Palmer say is is good for amber colored beers. pH is 7.4 or so, which is good.

For really pale beers, you might want to dilute your water with some RO water. Then you'd need to add some calcium in the form of calcium chloride or calcium sulfate, depending on the style.

For darker beers, you might need to add some calcium carbonate or sodium bicabonate.

(I have a terrible head cold today, so take my number-crunching with a grain of salt until you get some corroboration from someone else, or from your own calculations after looking at Palmer's book.)
 

Tim Wi
Advanced Member
Username: Riverkeeper

Post Number: 677
Registered: 03-2005
Posted From: 170.141.68.2
Posted on Thursday, December 28, 2006 - 02:43 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

John,

UNITS .... mg/L = parts per million in a Liter
ug/L = parts per billion in a Liter

Check out John Palmer's online book's chapter containing info on water. I think what you are looking for is here:

http://www.howtobrew.com/section3/chapter15-1.html

Looking over your water report, I would say you have excellent water for brewing. Check pH of your first mash, my guess is you will not have to adjust it when brewing a pale beer.

If brewing a dark beer, you may need to adjust pH upwards slightly. Check after dough-in to be sure.

The water profile is similar to what I brew with.
I think you will be very happy with your new water.

Tim
 

Bill Pierce
Moderator
Username: Billpierce

Post Number: 6125
Registered: 01-2002
Posted From: 24.57.224.220
Posted on Thursday, December 28, 2006 - 02:59 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I agree with Tim. That's quite reasonable water for brewing most styles. In fact, it's basically the same water I brew with (Lake Ontario). The Residual Alkalinity, the relevant value for brewing for which you will find a good explanation in Palmer) is around 50 mg/L as CaCO3, which makes it ideal for amber-colored beers. As Paul suggests, you might want to dilute it with RO-filtered water when brewing the lightest colored beers. Myself, I wouldn't worry about adding calcium carbonate to the mash for stouts unless the mash pH is too low, which I have not found to be the case.

(Message edited by BillPierce on December 28, 2006)
 

Fredrik
Senior Member
Username: Fredrik

Post Number: 3539
Registered: 03-2003
Posted From: 62.20.8.114
Posted on Thursday, December 28, 2006 - 03:28 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I don't know at what point it becomes a problem guess it may be normal in US but depending on your distance from the plant the chlorine levels look high. Those residual chlorine levels are about 10 times higher than what I've got in my water.

In sweden the correspondance to your FDA recommends for (esthetic reasons more than saftey) to keep the clorine levels in drinking water below 0.4 ppm, but I think the "typical value" we see here is around 0.1 ppm and I never smell chlorine in the water. But I suspect that at 1 ppm it will smell alot?

I know the chlorophenol treshold is low (ppb range), but anyone know what the "practical" max limit is for chlorine levels in brewing water?

I never gave this much thought before. It seems at least in theory, even my very low-chlorine water, could possibly hit the cholorphenols treholds if it was all going into these compounds.

Anyone aware of the details of this?

/Fredrik
 

John From NH
Member
Username: Borg

Post Number: 120
Registered: 03-2003
Posted From: 74.67.161.147
Posted on Thursday, December 28, 2006 - 03:33 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

excellent! thanks so much everyone...been meaning to pick up a copy of Palmer for years since I've used the website for so long...now's the time to actually make the purchase I guess!
 

michael atkins
Intermediate Member
Username: Mga

Post Number: 500
Registered: 11-2003
Posted From: 216.161.71.216
Posted on Thursday, December 28, 2006 - 03:47 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

John,

You have excellent brewing water, as the others have stated. Your RA (residual alkalinity) is 57, which is best for beers with an SRM of 13.

This would include, amber colored styles, such as American Ambers, and Alts, and is in the range of many styles of beers, except for the extreme color styles pilsners porters and stouts.
Love This Hobby!

http://msnusers.com/micksbrewery
 

michael atkins
Advanced Member
Username: Mga

Post Number: 501
Registered: 11-2003
Posted From: 216.161.71.216
Posted on Thursday, December 28, 2006 - 03:58 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

As I was formulating my answer to Johns water question the phone rang and I was distracted for 30 minutes or so. Thus the duplicate answers.

Don't you just love this board? - So many willing to answer brewers Q's.
Love This Hobby!

http://msnusers.com/micksbrewery
 

Bill Pierce
Moderator
Username: Billpierce

Post Number: 6127
Registered: 01-2002
Posted From: 24.57.224.220
Posted on Thursday, December 28, 2006 - 05:53 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Fredrik, treating with chlorine or chloramines at levels up to 1.0 ppm is common in North American water. In my own city water, for example, it's 0.87 ppm. This is normally not enough to be tasted, but activated carbon filtering is not a bad idea (if not quite required) to remove chlorine. In the case of chloramines, a crushed Campden tablet (potassium or sodium metabisulfite) will work for up to 20 gallons (75 liters) of water. I'm fortunate that they use only simple chlorine in my water; I have a simple one-stage filter.
 

Joakim Ruud
Intermediate Member
Username: Joques

Post Number: 477
Registered: 10-2005
Posted From: 84.209.10.232
Posted on Friday, December 29, 2006 - 11:33 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Apropos carbonate water:

Munich has fairly carbonate water, about 100 ppm carbonates, which as they say is appropriate for the darker munich beers. But what about the lighter ones? The helles, maibocks and hefeweizens?

I'm considering adding a small amount of carbonates for these light Munich beers also. Especially since none of them are very hoppy. And indeed, the carbonate level might be _why_ the Munich beers were never made to be very hoppy.

Would I be entirely out of line doing so? Do the Munich breweries strip out the carbonates when they brew light beers, so that my adding carbonates would be counter-productive?

Any insights?
 

Joakim Ruud
Intermediate Member
Username: Joques

Post Number: 478
Registered: 10-2005
Posted From: 84.209.10.232
Posted on Friday, December 29, 2006 - 11:36 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Um...sorry, I put that in the wrong thread. It was supposed to go into the "water for dry stout" thread
 

Bill Pierce
Moderator
Username: Billpierce

Post Number: 6134
Registered: 01-2002
Posted From: 24.57.224.220
Posted on Saturday, December 30, 2006 - 12:21 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

It's ok, Joakim, we can discuss your question here. Munich indeed has relatively hard (high carbonate) water and was known originally for its dark lagers (dunkels). It wasn't until the 19th century that enough was known about water chemistry and how to treat the water. This is what allowed helles and other lighter colored beers to be brewed successfully there. The traditional method of water treatment is with slaked lime, and Austrian homebrewer Hubert Hanghofer has quite a bit of information on his website (in both German and English) about this. Myself, I would favor boiling if the hardness is temporary.

I seem to recall that your water in Oslo is very soft. It would be a good idea to increase the carbonate level when brewing darker beers. Adding calcium carbonate to the mash is the logical solution, but I wouldn't attempt this without an accurate means of pH measurement.
 

Dave Coppes
Junior Member
Username: Pale_dave

Post Number: 37
Registered: 07-2006
Posted From: 24.91.216.6
Posted on Saturday, December 30, 2006 - 03:29 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Fredrik - in the US it is required that drinking water systems (using surface waters) provide at a minimum a detectable level of chlorine in distribution system samples. The theory being that the chlorine would keep bacterial regrowth in the distribution system in check. It is hard to maintain a detectable level, especially in big water systems, so suppliers often crank up the dosage at the water plants.

Many US water suppliers switched to monochloramines about 10 years back when they found they were having trouble meeting new chlorinated disinfection by-product (total trihalomethanes and haloacetic acids) regulations.

Monochloramine is less objectionable at high levels (with respect to tastes and odors) than free chlorine. Free chlorine can be tasted and smelled at a fraction of a mg/l. I don't recall the threshold for monochloramine, but it is much higher (talking drinking water now, not beer).

The allowable limit for chlorine in drinking water is 4 mg/l, though most suppliers stay away from this since the water smells so bad. It is not uncommon, however, for plants to produce water at 1 mg/l (as mentioned previously) and even higher (we send our water out between 2 and 2.5 mg/l of monochloramine without a lot of chlorine taste and smell).

I would recommend any US brewer with a surface water supply to treat to remove the chlorine or monochloramine because of the typical high levels, as outlined in previous posts.

At the levels you see in Europe (some countries..the Netherlands, I believe, use none at all), I'm not sure that chlorophenols would be a problem. I would say, if you do not detect it in the beer you brew, than don't worry about it. If you do detect it, it is probably free chlorine at low levels, which should be easy to treat.
 

Fredrik
Senior Member
Username: Fredrik

Post Number: 3543
Registered: 03-2003
Posted From: 213.114.44.230
Posted on Saturday, December 30, 2006 - 09:17 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Thanks Dave!

No I don't detect it in Sweden, and accoring to my waterreport as well as other water reports the typical free chlorine is here is ~ 0.1 mg/l, and it does not smell chlorine at all.

I don't remember the details but I think chlorine is used in Sweden too, but it is used with high moderation and in combination with other techniques in the plants, probably UV and ozon. The recommendation from authorities in Sweden is < 0.4 mg/l, ten times less than you suggest. But I've never sween a water report this high. 0.1 mg/l is more typical here. I think water suppliers would get massive complaints if people sensed chlorine in the water. The reason for the low threshold here is not primarily health issues, it is because the water simply taste bad if there is too much and noone would want it. So in the regulations the recommendeation is marked as an (esthetic recommendation).

Travelling is intersting, and I have always been stunned by the massive chlorine taste and smell in US water. I've sensed it every place I've visited there: Boston, Urbana, Chicago, Minneapolis. The first time my throat even got a bit temporarily upset, and I tihnk it was because of the water and I made the mistake to drink alot of it. I think the biologi in my mouth just wasn't used to drinking that high chlorine.

Do you know, what is the reason for the high clorine level in US? I mean, how come many places in europe manage without it? Do you transport water longer disances? or are the water companies afraied to get sued out of business if someone, somewhere detects a bacteria in the water?

/Fredrik
 

Joakim Ruud
Intermediate Member
Username: Joques

Post Number: 480
Registered: 10-2005
Posted From: 84.209.10.232
Posted on Saturday, December 30, 2006 - 09:28 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Aha! So they do reduce carbonate levels to brew light beers! That's great information, Bill, thanks!