Have you heard of Ward Labs in Nebraska?
Ward Labs is an industry leader in water testing. Specializing in characterizing the mineral content and contamination profiles of water and soil samples for the agricultural business, they’ve expanded their business to help out Homebrewers.
When you read in How to Brew by John Palmer about all how much alkalinity, magnesium, calcium, sulfates, etc. etc. should be in your brewing water, it gets dizzying to me. I have a decent background in chemistry, but water chemisty is a very special beast.
The cool thing about Ward Labs is that the will take a sample and quantify all the important minerals that Palmer preaches about. I have had very little luck getting that information directly from my municipal water department. Often municipal water departments focus on things like poisons and toxins in the water (lead and carcninogens). Furthermore, my water department just offers a generic read out taken at one time a year. If your water source tends to vary slightly season to season, the profile could be different.
I am pretty sure we have fairly soft water here in Northeastern Massachusetts…but how soft?
In a recent post about a bohemian pilsner recipe John hinted at our growing interest in how our brewing water looks. That’s where Ward Labs comes in.
For a fee of $33, Ward Labs offers a Hombrewers Water Test. They claim to return the complete analysis by 5PM the day after they receive your sample.
I think I’ll be getting the supplies together to mail out a water sample to help us get ready for our lager sessions this summer.