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The Brewing Forum • View topic - Water Treatment

Water Treatment

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

Water Treatment

Postby Aleman » Fri Apr 18, 2014 23:19

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Re: Water Treatment

Postby Aleman » Fri Apr 18, 2014 23:28

Hardness GOOD! Carbonates BAD! Removing hardness using a filter is not a good thing for beer. . . Removing alkalinity (carbonates) is a very good thing. Most water filters that remove hardness do so using ion exchange and the cheaper ones (and those that do not say what they do) usually swap sodium for calcium in a 2 for 1 deal . . . . Sodium above 50ppm can have a detrimental effect on beer quality . . .if you have 150mg/l calcium (hardness) and you filter then you could have 300mg/l Sodium . . . The better filters use a decent deionising resin which swap cations for H+ and Anions for OH- . . .but these need more frequent changing

Randomly choosing a bottled water from a supermarket is really just playing Russian Roulette with what water you are using. The cheap value waters change composition as the supermarket changes source, if you get used to brewing with one water, you may suddenly be surprised when the beer quality goes downhill.

Two that a known for their stability, and suitability as a base water for making good beer are ASDA Smart Price and Tesco Asbeck. Both are low mineral content water which means that ideally you need to add a tsp of gypsum to the mash and one to the boil for all beers apart from pilsners when you will want to use calcium chloride.



The main purpose for water treatment is to ensure the mash pH falls in the right range . . . which tends to imply that all the other reactions subsequent will be all right. One reason you might want to use a consistent low mineral content water for kits is that, in theory, the kit manufacturer has already supplied all the minerals required in the kit, so you don't need to add any more.

If you do use tap water to make up your kits then remember to treat for chlorine with 1/2 a campden tablet in 10 gallons.

Water composition varies quite dramatically within a region as different areas are supplied from different sources, one person may have soft water (supplied from the moors) and another only a couple of miles away may have hard water (Borehole supplied)
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Re: Water Treatment

Postby Aleman » Fri Apr 18, 2014 23:33

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Re: Water Treatment

Postby Aleman » Fri Apr 18, 2014 23:42

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Re: Water Treatment

Postby Aleman » Fri Apr 18, 2014 23:49

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Re: Water Treatment

Postby Aleman » Sat Apr 19, 2014 00:10

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Re: Water Treatment

Postby Dennis King » Sat Apr 19, 2014 00:13

Think you should make this a sticky Tony.
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Re: Water Treatment

Postby Aleman » Sat Apr 19, 2014 00:26

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Re: Water Treatment

Postby Dennis King » Sat Apr 19, 2014 00:31

I've done it.
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Re: Water Treatment

Postby Frogfurlong » Sat Apr 19, 2014 08:35

Brilliant :thumb:

I did have to look up the acronym "RO" though, I hadn't heard it before.

RO = Reverse Osmosis, a filtering method.

Thank the Brewgods I saved that file :D

People assume that Brewing is a strict progression of cause to effect, but *actually* from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint - it's more like a big glass of wibbly wobbly... beery weery... stuff.
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Re: Water Treatment

Postby Frogfurlong » Sat Apr 19, 2014 08:41

Just a thought:

If the carbonates in the water can reduce the efficiency of the mash, would it be naive to think increasing the grain bill will counteract this?

People assume that Brewing is a strict progression of cause to effect, but *actually* from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint - it's more like a big glass of wibbly wobbly... beery weery... stuff.
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Re: Water Treatment

Postby Aleman » Sat Apr 19, 2014 08:43

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Re: Water Treatment

Postby Frogfurlong » Sat Apr 19, 2014 08:48

You don't ask, you don't find out :)

Thanks Aleman :thumb:

People assume that Brewing is a strict progression of cause to effect, but *actually* from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint - it's more like a big glass of wibbly wobbly... beery weery... stuff.
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Re: Water Treatment

Postby CraftyTim » Sat Apr 19, 2014 12:34

Thanks Aleman, probably the best, most practical common sense water treatment write-up I've seen. :thumb:

After blindly following my Murphy's water report for a few months and having mash pH problems I realised Alkilinity was a problem, I've been checking my Alkalinity each brewday once I realised it changed everytime and hand calculating the acid and salts that I need from that (none of the spreadsheets seem to work for me), I haven't got onto measuring calcium yet but have been relying on the brupaks website calculation from the Alkilinity reading, so that will be next on the list.

My beer has been good but has recently started to improve now I understand how the water chemistry works, it taken a few brews, but then practice makes perfect :D

I'd rather have a bottle in front of me, than a frontal lobotomy :D
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Re: Water Treatment

Postby oldjiver » Sat Apr 19, 2014 18:33

Having taken your advice and got a Salifert kit, I found that the Alkalinity of my water was way different to the water report as you suggested it may be. It was 191ppm with the Salifert, the water report was 283. I understand that it may vary widely on the day from brew to brew. That begs the question do the sulphate and chloride levels vary too. I know a professional test is recommended to establish your initial water profile but can you rely on this (apart from the alkalinity test done each time) for an extended period of time? ( and can the lay man test at home for all the required variables?) I have seen the Brupaks formula for calculation of Calcium of "Original Alkalinity in ppm X 0.4 = Calcium in ppm" but this does not indicate the balance between sulphate and chloride?
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Re: Water Treatment

Postby Aleman » Sat Apr 19, 2014 19:11

The levels of the other ions will vary in the same way, and you can hope that if it is a simple case of more rain diluting it then the ions will be diluted in proportion. If however it is the case of them switching to a borehole rather than a reservoir you can have a completely different profile.

Can you rely on a professional test? . . . It's valid for the day the water sample is taken. I know a very respectable member is planning on offering a testing service, and I will be using this on a monthly basis, once I know how the levels change during the year I can them measure say alkalinity and calcium, and make an educated guess as to what the rest of the ions are likely to be. . . . Unfortunately you can't really measure all of the required levels yourself, it does take some fancy equipment. (PM me about Phoenix Analytical)

If you are in a hard water area then the Salifert Calcium kit is quite handy . . .I'm always a fan of measuring what I can rather than using a formula that quite frankly does not fit any of the profiles some of the time :roll:
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Re: Water Treatment

Postby Frogfurlong » Sat Apr 19, 2014 19:26

My water is so hard you can almost stand on it :lol:

People assume that Brewing is a strict progression of cause to effect, but *actually* from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint - it's more like a big glass of wibbly wobbly... beery weery... stuff.
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Re: Water Treatment

Postby oldjiver » Sat Apr 19, 2014 19:33

Thanks once again Aleman. I recently met a Craftbrewer (originally shedbrewers) member Bob of Felixtowe, who said putting his conical in a brewfridge had transformed his beer. Attention to all the aspects of brewing is I suppose the key to quality. I just wonder why some of the pub beer is so ordinary when brewed by people with professional qualifications.
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Re: Water Treatment

Postby oldjiver » Sat Apr 19, 2014 19:37

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Re: Water Treatment

Postby Frogfurlong » Sat Apr 19, 2014 19:45

East Yorkshire, It's where God comes for his holidays :P

People assume that Brewing is a strict progression of cause to effect, but *actually* from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint - it's more like a big glass of wibbly wobbly... beery weery... stuff.
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Re: Water Treatment

Postby Lukesteroo » Tue Apr 22, 2014 16:58

Thank you for all the useful information in this thread.

Am I right in thinking that for the Hardness test kit I need to buy this kit:

Salifert KH + Alkalinity Profi-Test Kit

rather than this kit:

Salifert pH Profi-Test Kit

It seems the second of the two mentioned return pH readings two high up in the range for mashing pH so would not be appropriate. (Sorry, I am not able to post URLs yet).

Thanks in advance.
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Re: Water Treatment

Postby Eric » Tue Apr 22, 2014 19:01

Yes, you should measure the amount of alkalinity in your water with kind of kit.
A pH measurement of water can at times be misleading.
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Re: Water Treatment

Postby CraftyTim » Tue Apr 22, 2014 21:24

You really need a meter to get accurate pH readings.

I'd rather have a bottle in front of me, than a frontal lobotomy :D
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Re: Water Treatment

Postby GrowlingDog » Tue Apr 22, 2014 21:37

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Re: Water Treatment

Postby Good Ed » Tue Apr 22, 2014 22:58

You can also get a Salifert kit to measure your calcium. I measure mine every couple of brews and get consistent readings so far.

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