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09/26/07 06:41 PM  
Water quality
I just got a copy of my town's water report. Having just moved I was curious to check it out. While it doesn't give much detail (e.g,. no info on Mg or Ca+ ions), it does report total hardness as CAC03 and bicarbonate levels. Both are around 120 which seems very high. Are there general guidelines for how to react to this? My sense is that I should probably start using distilled water for 50% of each brewing session to knock down the bicarbonate levels.

I may also get a carbon filter. On that note, will the filtered water from my refrigerator door do the job?

do other people mess with stuff like this?

09/26/07 07:23 PM  
Re: Water quality
I live in Tucson and we have very hard water but I still have to add some gypsum to my mash to calcium available. The calcium in my water is bound up and not really available. I also use a big carbon water filter for all my water when brewing because it removes chlorine and chloramines.
Ross Lunato
09/26/07 08:11 PM  
Re: Water quality
Ryan; using the Pro Mash water hardness calculator, your calcium level is 48 ppm. If you use distilled water at 50% to knock down the bicarbonate, you'll also reduce all the ions by half. If you do the distilled water route, you'll need to add gypsum or calcium chloride to bring the calcium levels back up to around 50 ppm. I would do as Cisco does, run the water through a carbon filter and then brew with it. I wouldn't worry about diluting it with distilled water just yet. Try it as is, adjusting pH with 88% lactic acid, and see how the brew turns out. I'd be willing to bet that you won't need to add distilled water. I'm not a great brewer by any stretch, but I can confidently state that when I stopped screwing around with my water and just used it as is (filtered and pH adjusted) my beers improved big time. 120 ppm Bicarbonate isn't much more than I have here in Chicago and I have no trouble with my water. Let us know how it works out.
09/26/07 09:30 PM  
Re: Water quality
Would the popularly used buffer 5.2 work as well as 88% lactic acid? I've tried the juice of half a lemon with good results as well.

Ross Lunato
09/26/07 11:15 PM  
Re: Water quality
The use of 5.2 has mixed reviews from differnt users. I don't use it so I can't personally comment on it's effectiveness. The negatives I've heard are that it can leave a brew salty/minerally tasting.
09/27/07 11:33 AM  
Re: Water quality
The water here in Eugene is very soft. Almost remenescent of Plzen's water. makes great pils and such. Plus being as soft as it is, we will usually add all kinds of things to bring it up to a certain water profile. Still use a carbon filter, though.
09/27/07 12:19 PM  
Re: Water quality
I have been using 5.2 for several years with no ill effects on the flavor. I add two tablespoons for my 10 gallon batches in the mash tun. For my hot liquor tank I use two teaspoons of lactic acid in 12 gallons of water.
09/27/07 12:20 PM  
Re: Water quality
Is the ultimate concern really mash pH? If so, are paper strips a sufficient measure to know if you're near the low 5's?
09/27/07 01:47 PM  
Re: Water quality
Never used PH strips so I can't tell you. I use a PH meter about once a year to verify that my base water has not changed and that I'm adding the correct amount of lactic acid to my hot liquor tank. With the 5.2 powder for your mash you don't really need to measure because it automatically adjusts.
09/27/07 02:16 PM  
Re: Water quality
How about reverse osmosis water? Do you need to add salts back to it before brewing?

09/27/07 03:21 PM  
Re: Water quality
Yep! Don't do it.
Ross Lunato
09/28/07 12:38 AM  
Re: Water quality
I agree with Cisco; don't do it. Even if you add salts and minerals to RO water, you are still missing out on other trace elements. However, I know of several brewers who "make" their own water and have good success with it. As far as paper strips are concerned, I use them along with the occasional reading from my pH meter. I would only use the Colorphast strips though because they are the easiest to read and most accurate. Beware as there is a bit of a trick in reading them properly.
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