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Pugs13
09-22-2016, 07:20 AM
Hey all. I was curious to know if you if you could help me out with this. So I currently brew on a 3bbl system from Portland Kettle Works, we double batch into 7bbl. tanks. For this I use a small RO unit with 2 membranes and 1 charcoal filter. Since I double batch I am wondering about simplifying the RO into just a carbon filter and seeing if the water profile from the city I brew in has a good enough water profile to brew with. Can anyone take a peek at the water profile and give me some pointers if I were to just use carbon filters for chlorine or fluoride? If anyone can lend a helping hand that would be great. Thanks!
Pugs Hayes
Hayes' Public House

BemidjiBrewing
09-22-2016, 07:43 AM
Hey Pugs,

Other than a bit higher carbonate levels, your water looks similar to ours up in Bemidji. Unless you are focusing on lagers or delicate beer styles you can definitely get away without the RO as long as you are acidifying to knock down your alkalinity and bringing your mash/kettle pH's in line. All your aesthetic ions look low, similar to ours as well, so you can still opt to add salts to bump up your sulfate or chloride as needed. With your Calcium at 77ppm I would steer towards table salt vs. calcium chloride if you want to avoid higher levels of calcium, plus your sodium is low enough that you can handle a bit more. Magnesium might be at the top end of where you want it, so you are probably stuck with gypsum to raise your sulfate levels - which is just fine if you are doing a big bold hoppy beer that can handle higher calcium levels.

Being you are already operating an RO system and it sounds like you are just looking to get more water volume through the system on double-batch days you have a pretty good scenario - use your city water & the carbon filter for beers that you can get away with acidification and salt additions and if a beer really requires more neutral water hook the RO back up and prep the water just for that beer.

Hope this helps!

Cheers,
Tom
Bemidji Brewing
tom_at_bemidjibeer.com

Pugs13
09-22-2016, 07:52 AM
Hey Tom,
Seriously, thanks for the quick response. When I looked at the water profile these are things that I saw as well but it's always nice to hear another persons perspective and to get a little reassurance, especially when it comes to water. I am never worked with table salt...so that will be interesting. My main goal is to get away with the RO unit if I can and just be able to add a minerals when needed. I think there are so many of us out there that curse the brewers in Minneapolis...but that's what makes our beers taste different I guess. I am thinking of getting a hold of Culligan to see if I am rent a good carbon filtering system. I am may be going to a 7bbl system within the next year...so I really want to nail down this water issue, using the RO unit was fine for this 3bbl but I want to become more efficient. How often do you change your carbon filters?
AND...SERIOUSLY...we NEED to meet sometime in person...sheesh. Thanks again.



Hey Pugs,

Other than a bit higher carbonate levels, your water looks similar to ours up in Bemidji. Unless you are focusing on lagers or delicate beer styles you can definitely get away without the RO as long as you are acidifying to knock down your alkalinity and bringing your mash/kettle pH's in line. All your aesthetic ions look low, similar to ours as well, so you can still opt to add salts to bump up your sulfate or chloride as needed. With your Calcium at 77ppm I would steer towards table salt vs. calcium chloride if you want to avoid higher levels of calcium, plus your sodium is low enough that you can handle a bit more. Magnesium might be at the top end of where you want it, so you are probably stuck with gypsum to raise your sulfate levels - which is just fine if you are doing a big bold hoppy beer that can handle higher calcium levels.

Being you are already operating an RO system and it sounds like you are just looking to get more water volume through the system on double-batch days you have a pretty good scenario - use your city water & the carbon filter for beers that you can get away with acidification and salt additions and if a beer really requires more neutral water hook the RO back up and prep the water just for that beer.

Hope this helps!

Cheers,
Tom
Bemidji Brewing
tom_at_bemidjibeer.com

Surfmase
09-22-2016, 07:55 AM
Have you considered mixing your RO with your city water? To take Tom's suggestion further, you could base this ratio on the required style.

jebzter
09-22-2016, 08:37 AM
Bottom line, your beers will change from what they were. If you are ok with this, then it really doesn't matter much to what kind of water you switch to. Personally, that would be unacceptable for me. You are building your brand on certain characteristics, and you will now be changing that. Get a bigger cold liquor tank that you can fill overnight and will last for your double batches, or get a higher throughput RO system.

BemidjiBrewing
09-22-2016, 08:38 AM
Pugs,

Surfmase brings up a good point - is there a way that you could easily add in a blending station to knock the alkalinity and calcium of your water down to where you want it + add salts to bump up anything you want for sulfate or chloride? Monitoring the blended water with a TDS meter would help this be consistent. Might be an option, but depending upon your setup and RO system you might end up with a system that is still slower than you'd like plus you'd still have to add salts & probably even acid. Worth exploring though!

Not sure if you use the Bru 'n Water spreadsheet, but it's fantastic for calculating salt and acid additions and does a pretty good job at estimated mash pH. With repeated use and a good pH meter it has really helped us dial in our mash pH's.

As for our carbon filter - we have a large 8 sq. ft. backwashing resin unit that we installed with our new system so the carbon is good for a few years (or more). If you are using cartridges they are probably rated for a certain number of gallons vs. a time frame. We used to be able to get 15,000 gallon cartridges for our small carbon filter when we were on our 3bbl system - but some were only good for 1,000 gallons. Your best bet is to get the highest ones you can and use chlorine strips to monitor them. Bemidji also is a chlorine-only city - so we don't have to worry about the added struggle of chloramine removal, which is more difficult.

If you do end up ditching the RO unit altogether you will definitely need to include an acid in your pH adjustments rather than relying wholly upon salt additions. Phosphoric is probably you best bet, as lactic would require a high enough dose to impact flavor. That being said, we have found that a blend of 85% phosphoric acid + ~1.5% acid malt in the grist is our go-to method for adjusting pale beers. YMMV and it will vary with each beer. Also, besides your mash pH concerns you'll want to seriously knock down the alkalinity of your sparge water with acid too, if you aren't already doing so.

And yes - we need to get together for some pints!

Cheers,
Tom

Pugs13
09-22-2016, 09:54 AM
Tom,
We are using the Brun' Water...really good stuff. I also use 75% phosphoric blend for the sparge water because even my RO water is above 6pH so I knock that down to about 5.6-5.8pH. I could use that same stuff in our mash if need be if I go the route of just the carbon fitering system. I am interested in trying just a carbon filter unit and seeing how much different our beer turns out. It would be cool to get you down here some time to see our setup and get some insight. Thanks again.

BuckeyeHydro
04-08-2017, 05:26 AM
Pugs,


If you are using cartridges they are probably rated for a certain number of gallons vs. a time frame. We used to be able to get 15,000 gallon cartridges for our small carbon filter when we were on our 3bbl system - but some were only good for 1,000 gallons.
Those numbers you are referring to are a cartridge's rated "chlorine capacity." A good rule of thumb is to start monitoring for chlorine after one half or less than a stated chlorine capacity. Don't expect the get near total chlorine removal from 15,000 gallons from a 15,000 gallon carbon block. It doesn't work that way.

Also pay close attention to the flow (gallons per minute) you push through a carbon filter (be it a carbon block or a carbon tank). If the flow is too high you'll get chlorine (or chloramine) breakthrough.

Russ

Viridian
08-14-2017, 07:58 AM
This is the main reason that I am planning on building in a Cold Liquor Tank into my system - to ensure that I can use RO, and that I won't be limited by flowrate for double batches.