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Brewing a hefeweizen with hard water

hey guys,

I have 163 ppm HCO3 in my water… I’ll brew a hefeweizen tomorrow with this water - I just wanted to ask do you find this too hard for the style?

What off flavors should I expect?

Is it possible to get a good hefeweizen with such a water?

I can’t buy any distilled water today to dilute it, so I’m stuck with 163 ppm bicarbonates…

It is possible to adjust the pH to the correct range with enough acid. I’d recommend lactic over brewing salts since you probably already have too much in your water. Make sure you have a reliable pH tester, colorpHast strips or a meter. If you also can’t check pH, then you run the risk of excessive tannin extraction or poor conversion.

Why can’t you get distilled or RO water, no grocery stores where you are brewing? I guess you want to see what you get with your own water and try to save a little money? Nothing wrong with that, but at best it’s not going to taste as crisp and clean as it otherwise would. It’s hard to describe, but water with too much stuff in it, especially for light styles, tend to taste like alka-seltzer beer which takes away from the other good characteristics (i.e. malt, yeast, and hop flavors). And in the worst case, you can end up with a really astringent mess from too high of a pH.

ok, you got me convinced - I went out and bought the distilled water… now I have 92% of distilled water, which means I got pretty soft water and I’ll make some great hefe :slight_smile:


Too much of what “stuff”?

Too much of what “stuff”?[/quote]
I suppose ‘stuff’ in this context is just a fancy way of saying bicarbonate.

Too much of what “stuff”?[/quote]
I suppose ‘stuff’ in this context is just a fancy way of saying bicarbonate.[/quote]

So, then… too much bicarbonate before or after treatment? I have water that’s very high in bicarbonates, as in ~330ppm. I always use lactic acid (among a few other brewing salts) to eliminate the residual alkalinity.

I have very similar water. I am planning on brewing a Cream Ale (1st all grain) as I plan to harvest the yeast afterwards for propogation into future batches. CaCO3 - 146, Mg - 4.69, Ca - 40.9.

By the numbers on my handy dandy chart that ties all the above together I really should only brew from around SRM 19 to around SRM 24 without messing with the water.

Would I be better off diluting with RO or Distilled or adding components to my water (lactic or salts)?

BTW Cream ale is a SRM of 5.8 so pretty light.


I guess before treatment, since added acid will react with and reduce bicarbonate. Remember that adding acid also adds the anion provided by the acid (e.g. lactates in lactic acid), which can affect flavor in very large amounts.

Usually water high in bicarbonate is also high in mineral content, and mineral concentration affect flavor too. Calcium can be removed via slaked lime treatment, but there is no way to remove sodium, chloride, and sulfate by adding salts/acids. If your water is high in these compounds then diluting with distilled/RO (or building from distilled/RO) is your only option.

You might try brewing the same beer with your house water and with RO water (adding back salts to get to 50 ppm Ca) and see which you prefer. Even if they are adjusted to the same mash pH, there will be a flavor difference, and especially with delicate styles (Helles, Hefeweizen). I tend to prefer the beers with less of this type of ‘stuff’ in the water, based on my small number of samples and already biased perception :slight_smile: All I can really say is try it both ways and see which one you prefer.

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