Back to Shopping at NorthernBrewer.com

Can someone explain water to me?

I always use spring water for my brew and from the beginning have been taught never to use distilled or RO water for brewing.

Lately however I see over and over again people saying to use distilled water in threads.

Without getting into chemicals additions, what the hell IS the deal with spring/distilled/RO/Drinking water in beer!?

With out getting into mineral concentrations, alkalinity, and carbonate hardness.

is H2O

The difference between the “different types” of water is the mineral concentrations, alkalinity, and carbonate hardness

i still have a pretty loose understanding of water chemistry. but i’ve been learning. hard water means the water has a lot of minerals in it. soft water means it lacks minerals

the reason people use distilled water is because it doesnt have any minerals in it. so people ‘build’ their water from a ‘blank slate’ by adding minerals like calcium chloride, or magnesium among others. there are minerals in water that beer needs, but it depends on the style. spring water is a good medium because it still has minerals in it, but im sure the concentrations vary between brands.

if you choose to use tap water for your brews its important to get a water report from a place like ward labs. this will tell you what minerals and salts are already present in your water. for example: you’d want to know if your water has chlorine in it before using, so you can take measures to remove the chlorine via filtering, boiling, or letting it sit. water is important, its the reason why many regional styles exist today

im sure others on this forum will have some better info. i am still learning

:cheers:

Beer is ~95% water. If you want to brew world-class beers, eventually you’ll have to get into at least the basics of water chemistry.

http://seanterrill.com/2009/08/08/water ... verywhere/

If you use spring/drinking water, you can find the mineral content of various brands at mineralwaters.org.

SO what you’re saying is,

Spring water is fine to no-touch brew.

Distilled is preferred to build your own water composition, but not use ‘naked’

[quote=“USMCMatt”]SO what you’re saying is,

Spring water is fine to no-touch brew.

Distilled is preferred to build your own water composition, but not use ‘naked’[/quote]

as far as i understand, you’re correct on the distilled part.

spring water is fine to no-touch brew. but might not be ideal for a given style

Just use tap water… If you’re drinking it, it is safe for beer, assuming you are using a full boil. You will save some “dolla dolla bills y’all” too. For a novice brewing, there are not many things that will change.

Once you are trying to hone in flavor and get mash PH and mineral content to a T, get a water analysis done. This will allow you to perfect sugar extraction. It only costs 16 bucks + shipping.

You don’t see micro breweries using anything but tap water, so why would you want to?

It depends on what you’re brewing, and how. If you’re brewing with extract then for the most part it doesn’t matter. It’s probably best to stick with distilled/RO to avoid “doubling up” on any minerals that are in both the spring/drinking water and the water using to brew the extract. Even then, you might want to make mineral additions for yeast health (calcium) or flavor (sodium, chloride, sulfate).

For mini-mash and all-grain brewing the mineral content of the water is especially important.

Many, if not most, microbreweries are treating their water. Especially in the Midwest, where the water is so alkaline and distillation or RO filtration is sometimes necessary.

Just one example: http://tritonbrewing.com/about/our-wate … gredients/

My tap water is too high in sulfate to brew good malty beers. Took me a long time to get around to doing something about it though. Its been worth the extra effort of building water from RO. I suspect some spring waters might have higher levels of flavor ions, or maybe too much/little alkalinity for certain types of brews.

RO isn’t quite a mineral free as distilled but close enough.

IDK if I would call it especially important for a novice brewer, or someone who wants beer. I have always used tap water, since I move every year, it is not economical to get a water test. I have brewed two of the same batches, using the same tap, one with some Additives (Calcium, etc) and one with out. I didn’t notice any difference. But maybe I just have good water?

Most water from a city is treated with minerals and other such items, sometimes you can find a city water profile by contacting the administration.

[quote=“brans041”]You don’t see micro breweries using anything but tap water, so why would you want to?[/quote]To make better beer than what you can buy in the store. :wink:

There’s a good thread at HBT on water:

[quote=“a10t2”]Many, if not most, microbreweries are treating their water. Especially in the Midwest, where the water is so alkaline and distillation or RO filtration is sometimes necessary.

Just one example: http://tritonbrewing.com/about/our-wate … gredients/[/quote]

Perhaps yes. But they are still using tap water. You’re spending 5 dollars on water versus pennies from the tap. To each their own I guess. If you insist on water being perfect, get a water test done and move on from there with other additives. Most drinking water is just tap water, and distilled water you will need to add more than the regular drinking water. So why not just use your own stuff?

Yeah thats not necessarily setting the bar all that high.

And maybe their signature beer happens to match their water profile. This is supposedly how styles originated in the first place.

I was surprised when one of the brewers at Boulevard in KC, said they don’t treat their water.

I pay $1.85 for 5gal of RO at Walmart. I already mentioned I wasn’t satisfied with the malty flavor of my tap water beers. Depending on whats in your water, it can make a big difference in flavor and/or efficiency. Just adding some calcium chloride helped me get a better hot break. And yes the more I get into brewing the pickier I am.

[quote=“Glug Master”]There’s a good thread at HBT on water:

[/quote]

I adopted the water treatment plan laid out in this thread 5 recipes ago and have had very good luck with it. I buy RO water from Wal-Mart (which comes to less than $4 per 5-gallon batch) and build from there. I think I got all of the sauermaltz, gypsum and calcium chloride I will need for the next year (brewing 1-2 times month) for around $10. I am a complete novice when it comes to water chemistry, but from first-hand experience I can recommend this regiment as a low-cost way to get into treating your brewing water (it’s very cheap and easy to implement). It costs me a few extra dollars per recipe, but I at least know what the water content is now and can take this information into consideration when troubleshooting.

If your tap water has chlorine in it, it’s a good idea top remove the chlorine. The easiest way to do that is to draw the water the day before you use it and let it sit u ncovered overnight.

[quote=“Dan S”][quote=“Glug Master”]There’s a good thread at HBT on water:

[/quote]

I adopted the water treatment plan laid out in this thread 5 recipes ago and have had very good luck with it. I buy RO water from Wal-Mart (which comes to less than $4 per 5-gallon batch) and build from there. I think I got all of the sauermaltz, gypsum and calcium chloride I will need for the next year (brewing 1-2 times month) for around $10. I am a complete novice when it comes to water chemistry, but from first-hand experience I can recommend this regiment as a low-cost way to get into treating your brewing water (it’s very cheap and easy to implement). It costs me a few extra dollars per recipe, but I at least know what the water content is now and can take this information into consideration when troubleshooting.[/quote]

You are turning you $1 beer into a $1.25. I think that this is a waste if your just using the end product for your friends/family/self. That stuff can add up, but that is my opinion. Plus, just adding some additives to the water is not going to really give you a perfect water profile anyway, as all RO water is processed after the fact by different means.

Water chemistry is guess work at its easiest and a science experiment at its hardest. Why not just add something to your water at home? Then it will be $1.15 per beer, rather than $1.25. You will probably need to add less items as well. If you think about it, 25c is not much more for a beer, but if you’re going through 2 batches a month, that is $25 dollars a month. I would rather save that for a few months and buy a monster mill. Or do another batch each month.

Flavors are dependent on water chemistry, but I guarantee you that there is a beer out there that works with your water. There is a recipe that can be built to accommodate your tastes without the use of RO water and additives. Flavors are more defined by the ingredients you use, and how efficient your process is.

Anyone who thinks they’re saving money by home brewing hasn’t done the math. If cost is your driving force, then you have to stick to drinking commercial beers.

Once you’ve decided that money isn’t the driver (i.e. that this is a hobby), what difference does it make if you spend an extra $3 on water and salts?

Back to Shopping at NorthernBrewer.com