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Water Chemistry

Started by wol000, May 06, 2023, 07:33:53 PM

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Hi All,

I'm having serious difficulty putting my recipes together since i started trying to do water chemistry. I live in Dublin 9 and got my water analyzed by murphys labs in the uk. I bought all the salts and stuff. I started using bru n water to do the calcs. Its been shocking so far, each batch is undrinkable. Today i attempted a basic blonde ale. Using Ca=50,Mg=10,Na=16,Cl=70,So4=70 as my target profile. My report had my tap Ca=20. So i didnt add any calcium to reduce the ph, i didnt need to on bru n water. My house is Ph7.4, so i added 3ml of lactic acid, 3 grams of calcium chloride & 3.6 grams of Epsom only. I did the profile on two different water calculators and they were both the same. 10 minutes in i check the wort ph, first with strips and it hits 6 and then the electronic stick, which was calibrated and it hit the 6 aswell to confirm. It should of been 5.2 or 5.3. I added 2ml more of Lactic acid, but it may of been to late and another reading had it now at Ph5.8 I know this could be a lot of things. I need some advise. I'm thinking its my equipment / me? I use a brewferm to do a kettle boil, with a bag. When i use the bru n water i put in 30 litres and no sparge into the calculator. I fill the brewferm up to 30 litres and add the salts, then i draw out 5 litres and put it aside to add later. The brewferm can only hold 5kg of grain without getting very messy. So its only really 25 litres when the grain is going into the wort, so salts have been taken out. The additional 5 litres is being heated and put back in before the boil as a top up. I dont sparge, its to messy. Could this 5 litres not being in the kettle be throwing everything out? I'm a novice, has anyone else ran into this problem, or know any steps i can take to narrow my errors, its so annoying. Any advise would be greatly appreciated


Could you post you water profile and recipe and we can see if we get the same recommended salt additions?
What tastes are you getting that make it undrinkable? Those salt additions don't sound extreme so maybe it isn't the water/salt additions.
(I don't know a whole lot about this subject, i'm just being curious / nosey!)


Hi Dick, thanks for your response, any assistance is greatly appreciated. My original water profile from the lab is

Nitrate 0
Total Hardness (as Cac03) 66
Calcium 20
Magnesium 2
Chloride 11
Sulfate 25
Alkalinity (as Cac03) 37
All figures shown in ppm

Converted for Bru n water
Ph7.4 (Report)
Calcium 20
Magnesium 2
Sodium 8 (Guesstimate)
Bicarbonate 45 (The program gave me this from my alkalinity figure of 37)
Carbonate 0.1
Sulfate 25
Chloride 11

My Blonde ale grain bill was

Pale Malt (Base Malt) 4.4kg ebc 6, L 2.8
white Wheat Malt (Base Malt) 0.3kg ebc 4, L 2.06
Crystal 40 (Crystal) 0.2kg ebc 40, L 15.5
Carapils (Crystal) 0.1kg ebc 3, L 1.7
Total Grain 5kg

My imputed Target Blonde Profile

Calcium 50
Magnesium 7
Sodium 5
Sulfate 75
Chloride 60
Bicarbonate 0

Bru n water Finished mashing water profile for the Blonde ale was

Calcium 56
Magnesium 14
Sodium 8
Sulfate 72
Chloride 75
Bicarbonate -25

Ph 5.25

Mash Volume was 30 Litres with no sparge

My adjustments were

Calcium Chloride 3 grams
Epsom Salt 3.6 gram
Lactic Acid

My actual Ph was 6+ after 10 minutes,

My first attempt was a Sierra Nevada pale ale clone. The fermentation had a strange solvent like smell and the fermentation was aggressive, the comment i received on the taste was soapy.

My Second attempt was a neipa and it smelled amazing, but had no flavour. I cant put a word to the taste, but it tasted better on the second taste, which is odd. Harsh taste, non fruity for the initial taste would be how i would explain it.

The latest attempt is the blonde ale above with the 6+ ph, on the previous attempts no lactic acid was used to counter the ph, i got there using gypsum, calcium chloride and epsom. I had a lot of salts, i thought i had it cracked moving to acid to counter the ph and salts to balance the flavours this attempt, but the readings are telling me i am way off again. I cant get it at all, any feed back is greatly appreciated


Hey Wol.

There doesn't look to be anything glaringly obvious in your water profile and salt additions, although perhaps a bit restrained. Lactic acid can take a wee while to work (it uses mash phosphates to drive down pH, rather than reacting directly with the carbonate, like the sulphuric etc acids do).

If you want to be sure that your mash is functioning, then get hold of some iodine, and do a starch test.

Make sure you're cooling the mash sample to 20°C before pH testing, and make sure your mash/hlt thermometer is calibrated too.

Try your next mash with an iodine test, and don't be shy with the calcium chloride. And then report back.  😁

Just ran up a quick sum. At 25 litres, looking to reduce 27ppm of your alkalinity, you'd need just 1.4ml of lactic acid. Much more is certainly going to become noticeable in the finished product.

Sum: 25 X 27 X 0.00186 = 1.35ml


Hi Tom, I'll get some iodine and do a check next brew. Thanks for looking over my info, appreciate it


Hi wol000, are you in any of the Dublin homebrew clubs. I'd say there be some Capital lads near you. If your bottling maybe you could get a few bottles to them and they can help finding out what fault your getting and how to resolve the issues.


I would not get too fixated about your water chemistry salts, your description of solvent and soapy are not from the salts. what is your fermenter like and what yeast are you using.
Dei miscendarum discipulus
Forgive us our Hangovers as we forgive those who hangover against us


Just reading back what you said, your PH reading after you added your 5 liters pushed over 6+, is that right.
Dei miscendarum discipulus
Forgive us our Hangovers as we forgive those who hangover against us


Hi Dempsey,

Only checking back in now, apologies. I was using a carboy and reusing yeast. The quality dropped dramatically and I suspected it may not be the salts or ph having such an effect on the flavour. I changed equipment to a Fermzilla all rounder, it's easier to clean and dry yeast only, the quality has improved. The ph was still coming in high using the brew and water calculator every time, 6+. I have doubled my lactic, last brew I only used a strip paper instead of the ph meter, I was too lazy to calibrate it. The ph was showing 5.2, so I reckon I just go with 5-6 ml of lactic every time where I live and ignore the calculators