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Water Profile – San Dimas, CA

Water is one of the four components of beer and makes up at least 90% of the volume of your beer. Along with that pure H2O are ions and compounds that will greatly affect the flavor, aroma and mouthfeel of the homebrew that you create.

Because the Horse Thief Brewers Association is based in San Dimas, California, we want to help other area brewers. The local water in San Dimas will vary slightly through a year. An average of the concentrations for San Dimas can be found on the Golden State Water Company Website, but in general this report averages the concentrations found over the entire year. Also, the values found in the report are from calendar year 2015, always a year behind because of the reporting deadlines.

In order to get a clearer idea of the water that we are brewing with currently, our club has invested in the LaMotte BrewLab in order to get more accurate, real time results of our water quality. When members of the club brew, the BrewLab is used to get actual analytical results of the local water quality. We will post these results when they are performed to assist all local brewers in the area.

The compounds that are tested for using the LaMotte BrewLab include Calcium (Ca+2), Magnesium (Mg+2), Sodium (Na+), Sulfate (SO4-2), Chloride (Cl) and Alkalinity. Each of these compounds will have an effect on the beer, and based upon the style of beer that you are brewing, will have a target level. The following are some basic information on the effects of these ions on the beer. For more information read Water: A Comprehensive Guide for Brewers by Palmer and Kaminski. This book goes into great detail about the effects of the water chemistry on the finished beer. You can also find info on John Palmer’s website How to Brew that will give a basic overview of water chemistry and how it relates to brewing beer.

Calcium:

  • Primary mechanism for pH reduction in the mash
  • Promotes enzymatic activity in the mash
  • Aids in the coagulation of proteins, trub formation, oxalate precipitation, yeast metabolism and yeast flocculation
  • Limited (if any) flavor effects to a finished beer at “normal” concentrations
  • Recommended range is 50-200 ppm in brewing water
  • Above 200 ppm can lead to a “minerally” flavor in the finished beer

Magnesium:

  • Necessary for yeast health at a minimum of 5 ppm
  • High levels above 40 ppm can add a sour, bitter taste to the finished beer
  • Can be added to brewing water through Epsom Salt (MgSO4) but will increase the sulfate load also

Sodium:

  • May provide a slightly sweet flavor to the beer at average concentrations
  • Greater than 100 ppm will cause a salty flavor in the finished beer
  • Less than 50 ppm recommended for dry, crisp beer styles

Sulfate:

  • Presents the hop character of the beer in a more assertive, dryer way
  • Typically the defining character of Burton-on-Trent water sources
  • At very high levels some believe it reduces the quality of the bitterness and can be “minerally”
  • In moderate amounts (200 – 400 ppm) believed to increase the “linger time” of bitterness

Chloride:

  • Provides a rounder, fuller, sweeter malt character to the finished beer
  • Increases palate fullness
  • Maximum level is 200 ppm
  • Can be added to the mash strike water or boil as CaCl2

Alkalinity:

  • Buffer for reduction of the pH during the mash
  • Proper pH range in the mash:
    • Improved enzymatic activity
    • Lowers pH of finished wort
    • Benefits yeast health
    • Inhibits bacterial growth
    • Benefits protein and polyphenol precipitation
    • Improved beer clarity
    • Improved beer flavor stability
  • Proper pH range during the spare:
    • Reduction of tannin extraction

Sulfate/Chloride Ratio:

  • Allows for targeting of two primary constituents based on the beer style that you are brewing
    • 0 – 0.4 Too Malty
    • 4 – 0.6 Very Malty
    • 6 – 0.8 Malty
    • 8 – 1.5 Balanced
    • 5 – 2.0 Slightly Bitter
    • 0 – 4.0 Bitter
    • 0 – 9.0 Very Bitter
    • >9.0 Too Bitter
  • For additional information visit BeerSmith Home Brewing Blog on Sulfate to Chloride Ratio

November 23, 2016 Water Report

  • Chloride:  130 ppm Cl-
  • Sulfate:  40 ppm SO4-
  • Total Alkalinity:  200 ppm as CaCO3
  • Hardness:  210 ppm as CaCO3
  • Calcium:  48 ppm Ca+2
  • Magnesium:  22 ppm Mg+2
  • Sodium:  113 ppm Na

August 28, 2016 Water Report

  • Chloride:  120 ppm Cl-
  • Sulfate:  50 ppm SO4-
  • Total Alkalinity:  130 ppm as CaCO3
  • Hardness:  190 ppm as CaCO3
  • Calcium:  32 ppm Ca+2
  • Magnesium:  26 ppm Mg+2
  • Sodium:  75 ppm Na

–Cody Daigle, a member of Horse Thief Brewers Association, is the founder of Educate.Beer and President of the Horse Thief Brewers Association in 2015 and 2016.