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Boil my water before brewing?

Hi guys, quick question here, do I need to boil my water before I start steeping my specialty grains and adding malt, hops etc? It’s something someone told me I needed to do in order to make sure I boil off any products from the water agency, I think the chemical they were concerned about was chloramine but I’m not sure. But wouldn’t all those same things be boiled off during the actual boil when I’m brewing the beer? I’m just using tap water, I checked the water report and everything seemed within tolerances.

Thanks

I don’t believe chloramine can be boiled off. Chlorine can, but it’s too late if you’ve added ingredients.

A 1/4 campden tablet for 5 gals of water will get rid of both. Just crush and mix into your water.

If you can drink the tap water, you can brew with it. If you drink filtered water, use that to brew. I would not worry about a pre-boil.

I can’t agree with that. Chloramine in the water can cause off flavors in your beer.

Here’s what John Palmer has to say:

http://www.howtobrew.com/section1/chapter4-1.html

[quote]4.1 Home Water Treatment

If the water smells bad, many odors (including chlorine) can be removed by boiling. Some city water supplies use a chemical called chloramine instead of chlorine to kill bacteria. Chloramine cannot be removed by boiling and will give a medicinal taste to beer. Chloramine can be removed by running the water through an activated-charcoal filter, or by adding a campden tablet (potassium metabisulfite). Charcoal filters are a good way to remove most odors and bad tastes due to dissolved gases and organic substances. These filters are relatively inexpensive and can be attached inline to the faucet or spigot. Campden tablets are used in winemaking and should be available at your homebrew supply shop. One tablet will treat 20 gallons, so use only a quarter or half of the tablet to help it dissolve. Another alternative is to use bottled water from the grocery store.[/quote]

-kenc

Ok…I thought we were saying the same thing. Chloramine makes tap water taste like a swimming pool, so generally people will use filtered water rather than tap water. I checked the Beaumont, TX water report (I am assuming the OP is from Beaumont, TX considering his username) and they do not mention using chloramine. I assume that like most municipal water systems they use huge tanks of gaseous chlorine for disinfection.

The point is that for the most part if you do not mind drinking out of the tap, then the water will make a fine brew.

Maybe, but I think that sometimes the chlorine/chloramine levels might be low enough to not be that noticeable to some people by taste/smell, but might still be high enough to react with components in beer to create off flavors.

I’m very sensitive to chlorine taste/smell, other people not so much. But I think that is separate from being sensitive to the resulting off flavors in the beer. A reaction takes place, it’s not just the chlorine/chloramine in the beer you taste, you taste the result of the reactions between those compounds and beer ingredients/process.

At any rate, a 1/4 tablet of campden is cheap insurance, why not just do it?

-kenc

On this same topic, I recently retrieved the annual water report from my local village hall. It says my municipal water supply has 0.78 mg/L of “free chlorine” in it. I don’t know if that’s a lot or not. I also don’t know if they would specify “chloramine” if that was used, or if they’d just leave it as “chlorine” in the report.

Does this sound like a lot of chlorine? And should I boil it or get campden tabs?

For what it’s worth, my tap water is drinkable (for my palate, at least) and my extract batches have all tasted great using the tap water. I’m about to do my first partial mash this weekend so I want to make sure the water is good enough for the mash.

Thanks!

If your water has a large amount of temporary hardness, pre-boiling can be used to reduce that amount. That could be a good thing for your brewing if you don’t already use acid to treat your water.

[quote=“BrewBum”]On this same topic, I recently retrieved the annual water report from my local village hall. It says my municipal water supply has 0.78 mg/L of “free chlorine” in it. I don’t know if that’s a lot or not. I also don’t know if they would specify “chloramine” if that was used, or if they’d just leave it as “chlorine” in the report.

Does this sound like a lot of chlorine? And should I boil it or get campden tabs?

For what it’s worth, my tap water is drinkable (for my palate, at least) and my extract batches have all tasted great using the tap water. I’m about to do my first partial mash this weekend so I want to make sure the water is good enough for the mash.

Thanks![/quote]

BrewBum, your municipality is simply telling you that your free chlorine (chlorine available to take down the enemy) exceeds the EPA limit of 0.5 mg/L at the tap furthest from the point of cholorination. That means that, depending upon how far you are from the chlorinators (typically at wells, or the storage tank, or the treatment plant), your free chlorine will be higher than 0.78. :blah:

I am a civil engineer that has both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree studying water and wastewater treatment, yet I do not feel comfortable playing with the water chemistry provided by my municipality. It tastes good out of the tap, and it tastes good in my brew. John Palmer devoted an entire book to the subject and modifying water chemistry requires tests and equipment that I think are over the top (you can buy them at pool supply stores or even at tropical fish dealers). If you have concerns that your municipal water will taste different for a PM than an extract then buy a few gallons of bottled water. That will be easier and less complicated than modifying your municipal supply.

Cheers! :cheers:

Wow, thanks for all the info. I think both pre-boiling and using bottled water are good options. For all I know my tap water might be good enough for a partial mash, but I’m hesitant to take the risk. I think I’ll pick up some bottled spring water for the mash and sparge on this batch and see how it goes.

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