Author Topic: Water Adjustments or not?  (Read 4914 times)

Offline Bairsbrewing

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Water Adjustments or not?
« on: October 19, 2013, 09:31:54 PM »
I live in Seattle and we have pretty good water.  Do I need to make adjustments for the mash?  I have in the past but since starting to use Beersmith2, it doesn't seem to tell me to make any additions.  Here's my profile:

pH 7.9
Na 11
K. 1
Ca 11
Mg 5
CaCO3 48
NO3-N 0.3
SO4-S  2
Cl. 3
CO3  <1
HCO3 78
Total Alkalinity, CaCO3 64
P 0.54

Offline MaltLicker

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Re: Water Adjustments or not?
« Reply #1 on: October 20, 2013, 08:22:45 AM »

some of that would depend on the style of beer you're brewing:  hoppy vs malty.    Some other comments below........

pH 7.9
Ca 11...............Pretty low............50-100ppm for better breaks, yeast function, clarity, etc. 
Mg 5.................Low?....................10-15ppm was the old Palmer rec, but his new book says that malt provides way more than that.

SO4-S  2...........this is really 6 the way we count it, so the ratio of Cl:SO is 1:2, but levels are so low, I doubt it has much effect. 
Cl. 3

HCO3 78
CaCO3 48
Total Alkalinity, CaCO3 64.................this depends on the grist/style being brewed. 

Offline Wildrover

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Re: Water Adjustments or not?
« Reply #2 on: October 21, 2013, 07:55:14 AM »
that water looks really soft, at least compared to mine.  If you are making a fairly light beer, like a Kolsch, you might not need to adjust your water at all.  If you are making a stout, I'd be surprised if some mash alkalinity isn't needed.  Remember, the grist or grain bill work with the water's existing profile to establish the mash Ph so you need to account for this interaction between grain and the already existing water profile so you can approximate your mash PH.  Its sort of a three sided teeter-totter.  You need to balance the water chemistry to account for both Ph and their flavor effects.  For example, just looking at you water, you need to add some Ca to get it into the 50-100 ppm recommendation but if you are making an amber or darker beer, all that Ca will probably lower the mash Ph below the recommend 5.3-5.5 (give or take different authors suggest different things here), so you would then need to add some baking soda to raise the mash ph.  Of course, as you are adding these minerals to get the Ph correct you also need to be mindful of their flavor influence.  I personally find myself diluting a lot with distilled water only to add back a lot of minerals (e.g. Ca) because I don't want to let others minerals get too high (e.g. So4)

Offline RobbyComstock

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Re: Water Adjustments or not?
« Reply #3 on: October 22, 2013, 08:26:58 AM »
Should you adjust?  I guess it depends on where you are at in your brewing career.  If you are more advanced then modifying the water should just be part of your process.  This might be a little overwhelming for someone new to brewing.

Some say it is important and other say do not worry about it.  It also depends where you live.  I am in Colorado Springs and the water here is pretty good.  I grew up in Phoenix and I would not use the tap water there. 
Robby Comstock

Offline RiverBrewer

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Re: Water Adjustments or not?
« Reply #4 on: October 23, 2013, 08:22:02 PM »
Your pH is high and you will need to use acidulated malt or add acid to bring it down. Your sulfate:chloride ratio is 2 to 1 which suits bitter beers. So I do agree with you that you have great water that is easily adjusted to brew anything you want. The BS2 water profile tool will get your water any where you want to go with simple additions. I use RO water, but if I had your water, it wouldn't be necessary to have it for most styles.
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Offline itsratso

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Re: Water Adjustments or not?
« Reply #5 on: November 06, 2013, 10:11:45 AM »
the best thing in the whole world is someone who takes something really really complicated and puts out a "really complicated thing for dummies" version of it. this will help: