Thursday, July 2, 2015

Clear Beer - Finally!

For several years, I've struggled to understand why my finished beer ends up with a slight haze.  It comes out of the kettle clear as day, but after fermentation, it is no longer clear.   I finally broke down and paid Ward Labs ($40 online) to test my well water.  Here are the results:

To my surprise, my water is very low in all minerals....perfect for a pilsner, but maybe even lacking for that!

I spent several weeks learning more about what was needed and how to adjust my mash water. is an excellent website that includes a Water Chemistry Calculator that is a great start.  It even allows you to enter your own water profile (which optionally can be shared with everyone), and to load that profile along with the desired profile (e.g. - Balanced, Burton, etc.).  You then can tweak the available brewing salt additions to reach the desired levels.

The problem I found with it is that you need to find the right mix of additions by trial and error, and sometimes changing one item, you affect other mineral contents.

I later realized that Beersmith has a Water Profile tool that includes an automatic calculator button.  After entering the desired water profile and your current (starting) water profile, a quick press of the Calculate Best Additions button runs an algorithm that determines the best mix to get very close to the desired profile.

I then entered all of the various ideal water profiles (i.e. balanced, light colored and hoppy, dark and malty, etc.) from Brewer's Friend (these are in the drop down box that's part of the Water Target Selection portion of the Mash Chemistry and Brewing Water Calculator ) into Beersmith.  By starting with my well water profile, and selecting the profile for the beer style I'm brewing, the required additions are calculated with the press of a button!

I've printed these out and keep them handy for brewing.  One wishlist for Beersmith is that the values be shown in tsp.  They are currently shown in grams.

Bottom line is, if you're not paying attention to your water, you're ignoring the ingredient that makes up 95%+ of your beer.  Surprisingly, many homebrewers don't.



So, why is your beer cloudy? Did you find out the answer? Also, can you interpret and expand on what your water is like. Most people have no clue what those numbers and minerals actually mean. thanks!

Hi Matt,
I believe the reason for my cloudy beer was the lack of Ca in my water. The Mar/Apr 2015 issue of Zymurgy magazine has an article titled "Calcium and Magnesium in Brewing Water" that does a nice job of describing the importance of the various minerals, and what effect they have on the finished beer.

A good starting point for understanding brewing water chemistry is in John Palmer's How to Brew book. The first version is free online, and the discussion of brewing water is here:

John also did a podcast with Brad Smith to discuss his book on Water. It is here:

Hope this helps and thanks for your comment.


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