Soft VS hard water...???

Mon Nov 12, 2007 4:45 pm

In general what is the affect of "soft" water vs. "hard” water in say an APA, Stout, and RIS. I will be getting my water report back from Ward later this week and am trying to get a head start on interpreting the results.

Special thanks to Colin "the mad scientist” who has agreed to take a look at my water report when I get it.

Tim
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Fri Nov 16, 2007 1:44 pm

Hard water is actually good for brewing because it provides good minerals for the yeast. The figure you want to watch out for is total alkalinity. For stout and dark beers you want brewing water that is more alkaline to balance out the acidity of the dark malt. For pale beers (in general) you want a less alkaline water so the beer does not end up tasting soapy or overly bitter.
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Fri Nov 16, 2007 4:54 pm

I would suggest to read "How To Brew" by John Palmer, either the hard copy or the online version. He goes through water throughly and has a chart in there that will get you in the ball park for the style.

Barry
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Fri Nov 16, 2007 6:08 pm

There was a chart in an old issue of Zymurgy that I use to get my water close to what is needed for each style.

http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepage ... terqal.htm

This gives an optimal range of ions for various (though not all) beer styles rather than just giving the water chemistry for famous brewing cities (which I find not very helpful).

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Fri Nov 16, 2007 6:56 pm

I was having trouble getting the math to work out with that chart, so I forwarded the link to John Palmer and he had this to say about it:

John Palmer wrote:The short answer is that that water table you refer to is just dead wrong. Perhaps some of the numbers for Ca and Sulfate are appropriate, but it really falls down on the Carbonate. The authors obviously didn't know about alkalinity or residual alkalinity (and back in 1991, I didn't either). Carbonate IS frequently near zero in many waters of pH less than 8.5, but then the dominant alkalinity ion is Bicarbonate, which is probably between 100-200 in most cases, and THAT is the missing piece of information that is giving you trouble with the RA chart.


So I quit using that chart :(
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Sat Nov 17, 2007 11:25 am

DannyW wrote:I was having trouble getting the math to work out with that chart, so I forwarded the link to John Palmer and he had this to say about it:

John Palmer wrote:The short answer is that that water table you refer to is just dead wrong. Perhaps some of the numbers for Ca and Sulfate are appropriate, but it really falls down on the Carbonate. The authors obviously didn't know about alkalinity or residual alkalinity (and back in 1991, I didn't either). Carbonate IS frequently near zero in many waters of pH less than 8.5, but then the dominant alkalinity ion is Bicarbonate, which is probably between 100-200 in most cases, and THAT is the missing piece of information that is giving you trouble with the RA chart.


So I quit using that chart :(


Well shit, ain't that just fine and dandy. So, I can take it that most of the chapter on water in this book is basically null and void. If they misunderstood alkalinity, thats going to affect every aspect. I never really used this chart as the only tool in my water but I have to admit I did use it as a quick reference instead of running the numbers and doing the math, my mistake. I will have to look at the chart in bugs link as I am more of a range person also, get close and tweak from there. I haven't ever put much stock into trying to match a specific cities water as they were basically force to style by what water they had.
So, don't anyone tell me that the water calculator in pro mash is shit, or I am going to be really bummed. :?
I do appreciate the information, thanks.

Barry
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Sat Nov 17, 2007 4:58 pm

Eagle Creek Brewer wrote:So, I can take it that most of the chapter on water in this book is basically null and void. If they misunderstood alkalinity, thats going to affect every aspect.


Whoa, hold on a sec. If by "this book" you mean How to Brew, that's not right. I have no problem with what John Palmer has to say about water (or much of anything else) in How to Brew. None of How to Brew is null and void; it is full of good stuff.

I do have a problem with the page bug pointed out, http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepage ... terqal.htm I used to use that page too, now I don't. I still use John's How to Brew book and spreadsheet and nomograph.
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Sat Nov 17, 2007 7:18 pm

DannyW wrote:
Eagle Creek Brewer wrote:So, I can take it that most of the chapter on water in this book is basically null and void. If they misunderstood alkalinity, thats going to affect every aspect.


Whoa, hold on a sec. If by "this book" you mean How to Brew, that's not right. I have no problem with what John Palmer has to say about water (or much of anything else) in How to Brew. None of How to Brew is null and void; it is full of good stuff.

I do have a problem with the page bug pointed out, http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepage ... terqal.htm I used to use that page too, now I don't. I still use John's How to Brew book and spreadsheet and nomograph.


Ok, I feel a bit better now. I have studied How To Brew from cover to cover and especially the water section, I just didn't want to think the whole chapter on water was flawed. He also talks about ranges for each of the minerals and what they do for the beer. I will say that I looked at that chart that bug linked to and scratched my head a bit also. Mostly because in was in direct contradiction with HTB in places. So, I guess that as long as you don't rely on the RA chart in the back, HTB is still valid as far as water goes? Which spreadsheet and nomograph of John's are you using? I sure didn't mean to come across like I was disrespecting John Palmer, far from it. Its just the first I have heard that something in the book was "dead wrong". Such a large part of what I have learned about brewing has come from him and also JZ, I was set back a bit. I don't learn that fast to have to unlearn something for crying out loud.

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