Understanding my water

While Beer is 90-97% water, it is a very tricky subject.

Re: Understanding my water

Postby Aleman » Mon Feb 08, 2016 10:15

HTH1975 wrote:What about using phosphoric acid to reduce water pH? That approach seems popular on the US forum I'd previously looked at. Is Hydrochloric acid a better approach, or just a different one?

There are significant issues using phosphoric that are overlooked by the US Authorites that recommend the use of phosphoric.

The most obvious is that in water with large amounts of calcium you get a precipitate of 'apatite'. . .this is stripping calcium from the water which you actually want to be left behind. I theory you can get rid of the precipitate by adding more phosphoric, but then you have to ask what that is going to do to your mash pH.

The benefit of using something like hydrochloric and / or sulphuric acids is that the taste thresholds are similar or lower than phosphoric, but the reaction products are soluble . . . and more importantly desired in brewing!! Those brewers with high alkalinity can make all their adjustments to sulphate and chloride using these acids without actually adding any calcium salts (or minimal levels). I now several brewers that have adopted this approach and are making fantastic beers with water from the tap, whereas the beers made using the various US centric approaches were less than optimal.

please note:The use of punctuation, bold, underlining, italics, and different sized type, follows the convention used in writing, for many years, to place emphasis on the point being made, and to highlight the importance of that point in the opinion of the author. It is not the intention of the author to shout, if that was the case the author would adopt the, much more recent, convention of using all capital letters.
Albert Einstein wrote:Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe.
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Re: Understanding my water

Postby HTH1975 » Mon Feb 08, 2016 20:11

I've only used phosphoric once, and it made my water murky - I went ahead anyway and used it. Only added 2ml to 15 litres of water, lowering pH to 6.1

2016: 330L brewed (72 gallons, over 8 firkins)
2017: 105L brewed (need to update this figure)
Drinking: Landlord clone
Conditioning: ciders from 2016, hedgerow barrolo, 1914 Courage RIS (10%).
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Re: Understanding my water

Postby mabrungard » Wed Feb 10, 2016 03:17

Aleman wrote:There are significant issues using phosphoric that are overlooked by the US Authorites that recommend the use of phosphoric.


There are NO problems with using phosphoric acid. If the calcium content is high enough to cause its precipitation with the phosphoric addition, then the calcium content is more than high enough to suit all brewing needs. The loss of the calcium is inconsequential. When the water's calcium content is low, phosphoric acid addition cannot cause the precipitation reaction. The need for calcium in brewing water is far overblown in the typical brewing circles. Excepting for proper clearing in ales, you can brew with low calcium content water and still have an acceptable and healthy fermentation. Malt provides all the calcium that the yeast need.

With that said, I don't typically use phosphoric acid. For German and other continental styles, lactic acid produces more authentic results. For UK styles, using acids such as hydrochloric and sulfuric are better suited.

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Re: Understanding my water

Postby Kman » Sun Dec 08, 2019 21:20

I know this is an old thread but can anybody help me with this? Have I input my profile correctly? Image


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Re: Understanding my water

Postby Kman » Sun Dec 08, 2019 21:21

Image had to split post
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Re: Understanding my water

Postby PeeBee » Tue Dec 10, 2019 13:31

Kman wrote:

Looks okay to me. I think the only one that you might of found niggling is bicarbonate, because you haven't got a printed figure to compare it by. It has to be an estimate from the other figures (pH 'cos it determines the "balance" of bicarbonate and carbonate, but the water has to be pretty alkaline to have significant carbonate recorded, and alkalinity as CaCO3 - a contrived figure hence the "as" and often equated to "temporary hardness" which it isn't but you need some screwy water for there to be a notable difference).

NOTE: The assumptions I've made above get me by just fine. Some folk might blanch at the short-cuts I (and others!) take! If someone needs to nit-pick the answer to get a significant difference I'll be interested in it too!
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Re: Understanding my water

Postby BigYin » Tue Dec 10, 2019 19:05

Blimey.

I take the water from the tap, heat it up, add to the malt, mash, boil, cool, pitch, ferment - job done!

Helps that I live in an area with decent water (Scotland) - and I don't mean to disparage anyone who has to use a water supply that does need treated, but I look at all the fine details and arguments about water treatment, and just really, really glad I don't have to worry about all that!
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Re: Understanding my water

Postby PeeBee » Wed Dec 11, 2019 19:33

BigYin wrote:Blimey.

I take the water from the tap, heat it up, add to the malt, mash, boil, cool, pitch, ferment - job done! …

I'd go very carefully banding around those kind of comments!

People can get very tetchy about their brewing water, as I've found to my cost. I'd show my scars, but written words don't leave such physical evidence. But I do worry that people hide faults with more obvious causes behind the "water" banner ("infection" is another popular smokescreen) though the extra knowledge learnt exploring the subject of water can't do much harm (and is very interesting).

"Kman" appears to have pretty decent water too, if you mean decent="not much in it". Quite similar to mine (which has less than 100ppm dissolved solids), though his has picked up more bicarbonate from somewhere. The water probably originates from acid moorland, possibly from the Lancashire Pennines (not from over here; we've a number of reservoirs that keep the Dee topped up for heavy industry in NW England, but that industry is in decline and the water is now mainly for people having fun in canoes). His water, and mine, will benefit from adding more Calcium, both for yeast health* and clarity in the finished beer. We would say get 100-150ppm calcium, across the (salty) water, they might say 50ppm (which we don't think is enough and to prove it, we do make better beer!).


(EDIT: *See Martin's post earlier. I try to avoid controversial comments, of a technical nature, but I seem to have overlooked this one. However my later mischievous comments are far more inline with my thinking!).
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