Water Treatment

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

Re: Water Treatment

Postby Lukesteroo » Wed Apr 23, 2014 20:23

Thank you - just the information I wanted.
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Re: Water Treatment

Postby CraftyTim » Wed Apr 23, 2014 20:49

GrowlingDogBeer wrote:
CraftyTim wrote:You really need a meter to get accurate pH readings.


Apart from measuring the pH of the Mash I don't use my meter for anything else. I don't think the pH of your water really matters.


Ah, but without a meter, how are you going to get an accurate reading of your mash?

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

Postby Eric » Wed Apr 23, 2014 23:45

CraftyTim wrote:
GrowlingDogBeer wrote:
CraftyTim wrote:You really need a meter to get accurate pH readings.


Apart from measuring the pH of the Mash I don't use my meter for anything else. I don't think the pH of your water really matters.


Ah, but without a meter, how are you going to get an accurate reading of your mash?


Get the alkalinity right and you don't need to measure your mash pH. It takes care of itself, just as nature intended.

It's also an awful lot cheaper than paying for software that will conditionally predict pH and the cost of a meter and its maintenance to occasionally find what those conditions were.
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Re: Water Treatment

Postby paulg » Wed Jun 25, 2014 09:00

I have been using a hanna alkalinity tester for freshwater to test my water.It gives a digital display readout of alkalinity which I find easier to use.There is also a similar hanna tester for calcium I believe but have not tried it yet
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Re: Water Treatment

Postby BarnsleyBrewer » Wed Jun 25, 2014 09:15

Wow, good thread header there Aleman, both barrels.... :clap: :clap:

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Re: Water Treatment

Postby Springer » Wed Jun 25, 2014 09:23

Thanks once again A, I will read that later :D
What would we do without you?............................................. :hmm: wouldn't have a forum for sure. :clap:
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Re: Water Treatment

Postby AltonAnt » Wed Jun 25, 2014 11:24

Top post Aleman :thumb:
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Re: Water Treatment

Postby fore » Sat Aug 09, 2014 14:44

Hello Aleman. The guy who inspired your OP returns! This time a little better educated regards water treatment.

Since our original discussion in "the other place", my water company has changed its treatment works and the report now says 180ppm, not 427ppm; so more likely I could treat without the need for dilution. I'm now quite clued up on the water treatment calculators and the relationships and impacts of the important ions and adjuncts. I intend to get a Salifert Alkalinity test and a Calcium test, to work with real data. My plan is to use CRS and then a mix of Calcium Sulphate & Calcium Chloride to suit the style. And don't worry, I know this is not an exact science.

My question now is one of acceptable concentrations. If I put my water report figures into a calculator and assume I want to brew a very pale ale, I have to add a lot of Calcium. It's possible I may exceed recommended maximum concentrations of Sulphate & Chloride.

Using my water report data as a trial, my calculated CRS is 0.84ml/l. At what concentration does flavour start to suffer?

At a 2:1 ratio my final liquor Sulphate shows 360 mg/l and the Chloride shows 227 mg/l (needed to lift the Calcium to 190ppm). Palmer suggests Sulphate between 150-350ppm offers very bitter beers, and Chloride should top out at 250ppm. You can’t make it bitter unless you add hops, so I guess by “very bitter” he really means that this level would lift the hops, if that’s what you want.

So am I still OK with these concentrations or would some dilution still be recommended given I'm on the limits? Are Palmers guidelines good to work from? Thanks. Anyone can feel free to reply of course :thumb:
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Re: Water Treatment

Postby Aleman » Sat Aug 09, 2014 15:18

Hi Fore,

Saw your post on TOPOS, but didn't want to reply as I don't want to expose my new user as it will end up deleted, or 'silenced'. I can't even reply via a PM saying come here as the admins over there read PM's. Anyway enough of that onto water treatment.

As you say it's not an exact science, even when working with 'published' data you may not be working with what the brewers use, so we are better off determining what works for us, within the range of beer styles we want to brew.

Are Palmers guidelines good to work from?

Personally I think they are not, in fact I think Johns work on water has some significant flaws. . . which then means that calculators using those assumptions are also flawed.

Given your alkalinity of 180mg/l then I think you will be fine treating CRS at 0.84ml/l . . . of course you then have to be happy with where that takes your chloride and sulphate levels, which is why I prefer to use hydrochloric and sulphuric acids separately, just giving me finer grained control over those levels.

Remember that for effective use a calcium level of 50-60ppm in the liquor is more than adequate for all the reactions that take place during mashing, boiling and fermentation, so is there a need to take Calcium up to 190?? My own personal experience has shown that it really does not need to be anywhere near that . . . Indeed even for hoppy pale ales, when I have gone for a 3:1 sulphate to chloride ratio, I have rarely needed to go above 150mg/l.

If you look at what Martin Brungard says once you have chloride above 50mg/l, with significant sulphate then you will get over mineralised water and your beer quality will suffer. This is patent nonsense, as shown by many examples of fine beer here in the UK, where there is significant sulphate and high levels of chloride. . . . Take a look at the Liquor Treatment data produced by Murphys (not that I think their figures for beer profiles are any better than Palmers :D ). Start with a 2:1 sulphate to chloride ratio (for your pales) and about mid range for Calcium, brew a batch and see if you like the beer. . . . If it can be more bitter / drier then increase sulphate and decr4eaase chloride and brew again.conversely if you want a less bitter more malty beer go the other way. eventually you will get a better handle on what affect the beer, and sensible levels to produce the flavours in your beers . . . Ok so you have to brew a lot . . .. There must be a downside to that, but I can't see one.

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.
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Re: Water Treatment

Postby fore » Sat Aug 09, 2014 22:54

So I should run with what works best for me :thumb: . My Calcium 190ppm target came from the calculator at Jim's, the profile for Dry Pale Ale. I see also Murphys Calcium targets are higher than your recommendation. But your advice is sound and I know things will become a lot clearer after my first mash.

I don't have a LHBS so must plan my bulk purchases well in advance, so I even have my first 10 AGs planned out; it's why I'm much more into water treatment than I really should be at this stage. I just want to be sure that when I brew say Wheeler's Batham's Best, which is 100% pale malt, that I won't be stuck with poor mash PH or a mineral taste.

So I'll trust your advice and run with a lower target calcium, allowing me to add a lot less sulphate & chloride.

Just out of interest, what concentration of acid would you consider the limit? The Home Brew Shop is my planned stop and I can't see any suitable acid there other than CRS. Where would you recommend?
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Re: Water Treatment

Postby BarnsleyBrewer » Tue Sep 09, 2014 08:39

Sorry if mentioned before but may I ask how much alkalinity does 1ml per litre of AMS remove?? :thumb:

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Re: Water Treatment

Postby Aleman » Tue Sep 09, 2014 09:08

BarnsleyBrewer wrote:Sorry if mentioned before but may I ask how much alkalinity does 1ml per litre of AMS remove?? :thumb:

The figure that is most quoted is 183mg/ml . . . however more recent batches have a figure of 194mg/ml . . . I think

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: Water Treatment

Postby Raptor » Tue Sep 09, 2014 09:58

Just a quick Q - What would happen to a mashed pale ale if I didn't treat my South Eastern water containing alkalinity of 215mg CAC03? Would this significantly affect the mash/resulting wort?
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Re: Water Treatment

Postby Aleman » Tue Sep 09, 2014 10:36

Raptor wrote:Just a quick Q - What would happen to a mashed pale ale if I didn't treat my South Eastern water containing alkalinity of 215mg CAC03? Would this significantly affect the mash/resulting wort?

Your pH would possibly fall outside the optimum range of 5.2 to 5.7. . . You would also be more likely to extract tannins from the grist as well, the boil pH possibly wouldn't fall enough to achieve a good hot break, the pH of the beer during fermentation would be higher than optimum preventing yeast flocculation, and fining effectiveness would also be reduced, producing a beer with a permanent haze


OTOH the mash is a self buffering reaction, and it may well fall at the high end of that optimum range ;)

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.
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Re: Water Treatment

Postby BarnsleyBrewer » Tue Sep 09, 2014 10:50

Aleman wrote:
BarnsleyBrewer wrote:Sorry if mentioned before but may I ask how much alkalinity does 1ml per litre of AMS remove?? :thumb:

The figure that is most quoted is 183mg/ml . . . however more recent batches have a figure of 194mg/ml . . . I think

Thanks' Aleman..... So if my alkalinity is around 150ppm and I add 1.3ml per litre for a blonde beer i'm adding way to much??

BB :scratch: :scratch:

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Re: Water Treatment

Postby Aleman » Tue Sep 09, 2014 11:06

BarnsleyBrewer wrote:
Aleman wrote:
BarnsleyBrewer wrote:Sorry if mentioned before but may I ask how much alkalinity does 1ml per litre of AMS remove?? :thumb:

The figure that is most quoted is 183mg/ml . . . however more recent batches have a figure of 194mg/ml . . . I think

Thanks' Aleman..... So if my alkalinity is around 150ppm and I add 1.3ml per litre for a blonde beer i'm adding way to much?? :scratch: :scratch:

That's what Eric pointed out on the other thread ;) . . . I think I worked it out to be 0.61ml/l

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: Water Treatment

Postby Raptor » Tue Sep 09, 2014 11:35

Aleman wrote:
Raptor wrote:Just a quick Q - What would happen to a mashed pale ale if I didn't treat my South Eastern water containing alkalinity of 215mg CAC03? Would this significantly affect the mash/resulting wort?

Your pH would possibly fall outside the optimum range of 5.2 to 5.7. . . You would also be more likely to extract tannins from the grist as well, the boil pH possibly wouldn't fall enough to achieve a good hot break, the pH of the beer during fermentation would be higher than optimum preventing yeast flocculation, and fining effectiveness would also be reduced, producing a beer with a permanent haze


OTOH the mash is a self buffering reaction, and it may well fall at the high end of that optimum range ;)



OK got it. Thanks for that.

I think my pale ales have been too bitter. I am wondering if that is down to the extra sulphate the CRS is adding, on top of what is already in the water.
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Re: Water Treatment

Postby BarnsleyBrewer » Tue Sep 09, 2014 11:52

Aleman wrote:
BarnsleyBrewer wrote:
Aleman wrote:
BarnsleyBrewer wrote:Sorry if mentioned before but may I ask how much alkalinity does 1ml per litre of AMS remove?? :thumb:

The figure that is most quoted is 183mg/ml . . . however more recent batches have a figure of 194mg/ml . . . I think

Thanks' Aleman..... So if my alkalinity is around 150ppm and I add 1.3ml per litre for a blonde beer i'm adding way to much?? :scratch: :scratch:

That's what Eric pointed out on the other thread ;) . . . I think I worked it out to be 0.61ml/l

So for four years i've been slowly poisoning myself and neighbours slurping blonde ales??

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Pints brewed in 2018.. 416
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Pints brewed in 2016.. 208
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Pints brewed in 2014.. 832
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Re: Water Treatment

Postby Aleman » Tue Sep 09, 2014 12:09

BarnsleyBrewer wrote:So for four years i've been slowly poisoning myself and neighbours slurping blonde ales??

Well Duh! :doh:

Alcohol is a poison, stop making and drinking beer if you don't want to poison yourself and others :nono: :nono:

The additional acid isn't really a problem, your Pales won't be the best they could have been, but they won't be bad either

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.
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Re: Water Treatment

Postby Kev888 » Tue Sep 09, 2014 12:10

Just wanted to say what a great thread - thanks for collecting/making all these posts :clap:

Theres a message here that I really concur with, wrt the necessary complexity of water treatment. It 'can' seem an incredibly complex and frightening subject (as the man said, scares the willies out of me!) and so I foolishly didn't even go there until several years ago.

BUT it turns out much of that is (IMO) at a level of subtlety only the most consistent and analytical of brewers are likely to notice, whilst the few important treatments (for most water supplies and British styles) are much more accessible than I'd imagined. Chlorine/Chloramines, total Alkalinity, and maybe the calcium too. They're even within my grasp and I've a very poor knowledge of chemistry.

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Re: Water Treatment

Postby Raptor » Tue Sep 09, 2014 20:39

IN addition to this thread, today I found the following blog post helpful. This was sent to me by the guy who bought my stockpots yesterday:

http://confessionsofahomebrewer.wordpre ... -profiles/
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Re: Water Treatment

Postby roscoe » Tue Oct 14, 2014 14:50

So for a soft west coast scottish water with next to no alkalinity if trying to brew a lager using a ratio of 50:50 pilsner malt, extra pale ale malt, <10% munich and <5% caragold, my mash comes to just what John Palmer predicts ~5.8, if I sparge using the same very soft water it increases to 6, the hot break is good, but the final beer pH is too high.

Now I had considered an acid rest, but don't want to use expensive acidulated malt that is fairly hard to source, how should I do the acid adjust ?

> add latic acid or make effort to add 3% acid malt to bring to 5.5
using the acid rest as a good place/step to make the adjustment rather

> add phosphoric acid to strike and sparge water
to some amount, perhaps based on experience of above

I have tried the salifert test, all is vvlow and our kettles never fur up and last forever.

Just trying to keep things simple whilst brewing the very occasional lager for hobby/sport.

Ales seem to work fine, although working to better understand the water treatment subject a bit more.
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Re: Water Treatment

Postby pittsy » Tue Oct 14, 2014 17:14

I use lactic acid myself but some aren't too keen , I would recommend using it though as you seem to only need a bit . I also use acid malt but as you've noticed it is pricey ( you don't do an acid rest with it , in fact some info recommends not using it until you've mashed higher up ( mid 50's) I have done all methods and not noticed a difference when and where it's added to the mash .
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Re: Water Treatment

Postby Raptor » Tue Oct 14, 2014 17:57

pittsy wrote:I use lactic acid myself but some aren't too keen , I would recommend using it though as you seem to only need a bit .


What's your starting alkalinity level in your water?
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Re: Water Treatment

Postby pittsy » Tue Oct 14, 2014 18:34

137 is my starting alkalinity
around 70 calcium (ppm)
9 mag
25 sodium
45 sulp
55 chlo
165 bicarb
incase you ask ,

I aim to drop it to approx 80 ppm for my wheats but around 0 ppm for a pilsner
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