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What I Do With My Water

Posted on January 29th, 2015 by in "Brewing Tips"

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This is the water report that I’ve been using for the past 2 or so years. I pulled it from There were several that I found from other sources, but this one was the closest I was able to find to my geographical area.

pH 8.6
Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) 117
Sodium, Na 18
Calcium, Ca 52
Magnesium, Mg 22
Total Hardness, CaCO3 74
Nitrate, NO3-N 1
Sulfate, SO4-S 39
Chloride, Cl 50

The biggest “issue” is that water profiles can change pretty significantly based on the time of year and the weather. Periods of heavy rain or drought can cause these numbers to change. Since I haven’t specifically sent hundreds of samples in over different seasons and conditions, I can’t say for sure. To be honest, I don’t think having that info would even really be helpful, especially on a homebrew scale. Unless EVERYTHING else in your brewing process is 100% unable to be improved and you’re brewing 49 point beers day in and day out, having that fine of a point on your water is nothing more than just fun. And after all, homebrewing really is all about having fun. So if water is what you like to nerd out with, then by all means dig in deeper.

  1. I use the EZ-Water spreadsheet and a decent, calibrated pH meter to verify the output of the spreadsheet. I filter my water using homebuilt whole-house filter setup.
  2. I add potassium metabisulfite to both the strike and sparge water to help blow off chloramine, which the water company typically does NOT use based on my research, but in periods of warm weather and high bacteria counts they’ll use it. That info is based on a discussion with a friend that works for the water company, so take it for what it’s worth.
  3. I plug my numbers and recipe in to EZ Water and figure out how many milliliters of lactic acid I need to get in a good mash pH range. I’ve tested this a many times to make sure the numbers match up to what the mash pH actually is and it’s been solid every time. I acidify my sparge water slightly, usually just 1-2ml of lactic acid in water to batch sparge a 6 gallon batch.
  4. Then, depending on if it’s a malty or hoppy beer, I’ll add calcium chloride or gypsum directly to the boil. Usually 2 grams of one or the other. This also helps to adjust boil pH as well as get the chloride/sulfate ratios dialed in a little bit.

So what is the lesson to all of this? Consistency. I consistently do the same thing, using the same numbers and keep track of it.

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