Author Topic: Brewing Water  (Read 8076 times)

Offline Brewhaha

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Brewing Water
« on: August 23, 2009, 09:02:03 AM »
I have a question.
I live in Chesapeake Va and I was checking the City's water department to see what the water quality was
(for brewing purposes).  Here is a breakdown from their website:

Total Hardness 48
Sodium 159
Chloride 76
Sulfate 58
Calcium 33.2
Magnesium - didn't have it listed
PH 7.9
Hardness 48

I've added a water filter (the kind used for commercial ice machines) to my brew sink.
I'm wondering if I need the filter?  If not, is the water from the tap okay for brewing or do I need to add anything to the water when brewing?

Thanks for reading this!
Thanks!

BrewHaha

Offline baj475

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Re: Brewing Water
« Reply #1 on: August 23, 2009, 11:48:52 AM »
You probably do not need the filter but I think it is a good idea, solely because it should remove sand, silt and other sediments that may be present.  If you use a filter with an activated carbon element, it should also be able to remove organic compounds that could effect the taste and odor of your water.  Since you did not mention any problems with the taste or odor of your water, this is probably also not required but will not hurt.  Filters, other than reverse osmosis, will not alter the mineral composition of your water.  While some brewers, attempt to modify the mineral composition (profile) to more closely match the mineral composition where the particular style that they are brewing originated, this adds a whole level of complication and is not necessary to brew good beer and in your case is most likely not needed.

Offline kl

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Re: Brewing Water
« Reply #2 on: August 23, 2009, 01:01:13 PM »
Your sodium is a little high, but maybe it's okay.  According to Ray Daniels book "Designing Great Beers", the optimal sodium levels should be less than 100 ppm.  I'm not sure how to lower sodium levels, other than dilute your water with some distilled water.  There is probably a formula that can determine how much distilled water would be needed, but I might just try mixing 1 part distilled water with 3 parts tap water.  Note that this would dilute the other water minerals also.

Other than that, I think your water looks pretty good.  Go check out the water profiles in BeerSmith and you can compare your water with some of the worlds more famous brewing waters. 

The only other thing you need to worry about is removing chlorine and chloramine.  You can let your water set over night and chlorine will dissipate over night.  Boiling will also speed up the process.  Chloramine on the other hand requires a little more effort.  If your water contains chloramine then you will need to use a carbon filter, or add some chemicals to remove chloramine.  I use about 1/2 tsp of potassium metabisolphite (or camden tablet) for 5 gallons a few hours before brewing to remove chlorine/chloramine from my city water.

Hope you find this helpful.

Offline Brewhaha

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Re: Brewing Water
« Reply #3 on: August 24, 2009, 04:12:41 PM »
Ok, The filter does use activated carbon.  Does that remove any chemicals or the chlorine?
The salt is really what concerns me.  I've looked at tables for different cities water and only Las Vegas seems
to be triple digits.  I (nor my beer drinking com padres) haven't noticed any off taste.  I just want to brew
good beer.  So is there any other way to reduce the sodium other than used distilled water?

Roy
Thanks!

BrewHaha

Offline MaltLicker

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Re: Brewing Water
« Reply #4 on: August 24, 2009, 07:15:31 PM »
I believe the filter just removes the chlorine(s). 

The 7.9 pH of your water is a little high for sparging too; we're supposed to use sparge water under 6.0 pH so as not to strip tannins from the husks.  So, if you must dilute, you could use distilled or spring water to cut the sodium, and check that water's pH.  If it's high too, you could put a handful of spent grain in the sparge water to add a slight amount of acid to the sparge water. 

Offline kl

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Re: Brewing Water
« Reply #5 on: August 24, 2009, 07:58:54 PM »
I found another reference to sodium in How To Brew.  According to Palmer, sodium below 200 ppm should be okay. So if you think your beer tastes good, then don't worry about it too much.

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

I agree that the pH is a little high.  Another method of lowing sparge water pH is to add a couple ml of lactic acid.  Dark grains in your mash will also lower the pH, so your water pH may be perfect for darker styles of beer.

I don't think you need to worry too much about the sodium or pH.  They are only off a little bit, and they are not going to make your beer turn out bad.  If you are making beer that you like, then keep doing what works!  I think the most important thing is to get the chlorines out of the water, and your carbon filter should take care of that.

Offline switzead

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Re: Brewing Water
« Reply #6 on: August 25, 2009, 07:17:33 AM »
According to Plamer's water sheet your water is perfect for a "malty" beer with SRM between 6 and 12.  So an Irish Red would be the style you would be looking at.  You wont be able to brew an IPA or a Dark Stout without the addition of mineral salts.  The PH is slightly high for sparging but can be offset with the addition of 1 mL of 88% Lactic acid to the addition of 5gal of sparge water.  The sodium level is slightly high but you shouldnt be able to tell if your making any beer with flavor.  Check out Palmers spreadsheet on the bottom of the page here:

http://www.howtobrew.com/section3/chapter15-3.html

This chapter of his site is the best reference for water profiles in straight forward talk that I have ever read.

Offline Brewhaha

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Re: Brewing Water
« Reply #7 on: August 26, 2009, 07:58:28 AM »
Hey guys,
Thanks for all of your responses.  They got me to thinking, so I made trip to the city and got the latest Water Report.  It listed everything but three items…Magnesium, Bicarbonate and Calcium.  I called the lab and they gave me those numbers.  BTW, it’s always nice when you talk to someone and they end their conversation with you with ”Good luck with your home brewing!  Have one for me and call me if you need anything else!”

Anyway, the numbers I got are a lot different from whet I had picked up from the web.

Sodium  Highest – 77  Range 76-77 (big difference from web -159)

Sulfate  -  Highest – 11 Range not detected to 11

pH  -  Highest 9.63 Range 6.63 to 7.03

Total Hardness  -  Highest 33  Range 1-33

Chloride  - Highest 108  Range 47-108

Calcium  - <0.1 (Yesterday) Not sure about this

Bicarbonate  -  31

Magnesium  -  8


With these new numbers vs. the old, are there any changes or suggestions you would make??

Thanks again for everyone’s help and advice!

Roy
Thanks!

BrewHaha

Offline kl

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Re: Brewing Water
« Reply #8 on: August 26, 2009, 08:33:12 AM »
Those numbers look pretty good.  I don't think you need to worry about your water profile too much at this point, unless you want alter it for a specific style of beer.  Keep an eye on your pH so that it's not too high, and keep the chlorines out.  Good luck!

Offline MaltLicker

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Re: Brewing Water
« Reply #9 on: August 26, 2009, 12:54:24 PM »
http://www.beersmith.com/forum/index.php?topic=2035.15

Ward Lab will analyze your actual water for you.  I know even city water can vary by season and by distance from the water treatment plants. 

That chloride range from 47 to 108 seems wide and could affect the chloride:sulfate balance on some styles if it moved much.