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I live in an area with very high alkalinity ~ 320 mg / l CaCO3. I am planing on using Carbonate Reducing Solution CRS to bring the alkality down to acceptable levels for pale ales. To lower the alkalinity to ~ 40 mg/l CaCO3 i will need to add roughly 1.5 ml of CRS for every litre of mash liquid.

My question is, at this level Am i likely to taste the CRS? If there are likely to be off flavours i will probably cut my tap water with a known bottled water, although in the UK it is difficult to get hold of RO or DI water. Is there a better acid source to achieve my goal?

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Not leaving this as an answer, because it doesn't really answer your question. If RO water is difficult to buy (and you plan to continue brewing) have you considered buying your own in-home RO filter? –  Dustin Rasener Apr 18 '12 at 0:48

4 Answers 4

I would avoid pH 5.2 with high carbonate levels since the quantities needed leave a salty taste.

Although the Brupaks page doesn't list the ingredients, it mentions that the CRS is an acid blend. This is a much better start than pH 5.2, which adds lots of sodium to your beer, which in excess gives a harsh saltiness.

Managing the mash pH can be a pain, so a simple solution like CRS that works will make your brewday considerably simpler. I would consider getting a bottle, and adding to some water the amount of CRS to reduce the carbonate to typical levels for a light Pils - this style has little acidity in the mash so you need more compensation for the high carbonates. Do a blind 3 way comparison with treated and untreated water - if the treated water still tastes good, then there's a good chance the beer will be fine.

Other alternatives are to use lactic or phosphoric acid to reduce the pH, or cut with water with low carbonates, such as distilled/RO water.

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I'll take a stab at this since there are no answers yet. I also live in a high alkaline water area (although probably not as high as yours) and I regularly use 5.2 stabilizer to get my mash ph in the right area. It is simple to use (1 Tbl / 5 gal batch) and uses various buffers to bring the water ph either down or up to around 5.2, which is the general ph you want for most beer styles. I have used lactic acid in the past to bring the ph down, and have gotten very mixed results since it is very hard to gauge how much I need to add and how much I am adding (unlike you I do not know exactly how much carbonate I have in my water, but I am in a very limestone-ridden area so I know it is up there).

You could also use acidulated malt to bring your water ph down or simply brew a beer with a lot of heavily roasted malt in it since that should also contribute acids to your mash ph. There is a reason beer styles evolved in the regions they did and a lot of that is due to water ph. Stouts in Ireland (heavily roasted malt), Pilseners in the Pilsener Czech region, etc...

Oh yeah to answer your question, no you should not get any off flavors from the CRS. An easy test to check is brew the same batch of beer with and without CRS added (or split your mash and do 1/2 with CRS and 1/2 without). I have actually brewed with pond water before and there weren't any very detectable off-flavors in that beer. Beer styles also hide off-flavors differently as well with darker beers hiding them better than pale beers. (The pond beer was an Irish Red Ale)

Crap I forgot to add that if you are that concerned with your water, then just use bottled or otherwise known water source.

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My personal experience with 5.2 is that it did not work for me and left off flavors in the beer due to the amount of sodium in it. If you use it, be sure to actually check your pH to be sure it's working. In addition, be aware of the beer flavor. If you use lactic acid or other water salts, you can download the free program Bru'nwater (sites.google.com/site/brunwater) to help you calculate what and how much to use. –  Denny Conn Jun 5 '12 at 15:22

There is no way to answer this question without knowing what's in the CRS and I don't see any listings for that. I would not use it without knowing what's in it.

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I've been looking at using CRS for a partial mash effort, but before I potentially trash all that hard work I decided to try it with an IPA kit brew.

Foolishly, I didn't taste test the water after treating it. I would say that is very sound advice.

Botttled last night and the inevitable quick taster seemed to harbour a very subtle salty/tart flavour IMO. It is very subtle thought and to be honest, without having tasted the treated water first, it's difficult to gauge if I'm imagining it.

Conclusion: As is so often the case, if it tastes good it's probably fine: Taste your treated water (as I didn't) and if it's salty/sour/tart try a lower dosage.

You know what, as it will only take 5 minutes, I'm going to treat some water this evening with same dosage as for the kit and see what its like... to be continued.

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How did your experiment go? I'm very interested to know the result. –  mR_fr0g Jun 14 '12 at 10:05

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