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How much does water affect the taste?

We’re on our 9th home brew. Every single one I’ve been picking up the same off flavor. Never been able to pinpoint what it is.

This latest brew, we filtered all the water through a Britta.

I’m curious…does the water play a big role in the favor profile? We’ve been using straight tap water, which in our house we have very hard water. So hard that when we rinse our bottles, it leaves a white residue on them.

Thanks for the input.

Extract or all-grain? Do you have a water report? Can you describe the off-flavor?

Extract with specialty grains is what we’ve been doing.

It’s really hard to describe the off flavor…for me, it almost makes all of our brews taste the same despite the style. It’s a back of the mouth aftertaste, a little bitter, kinda skunky feel. Not overpowering or undrinkable, but it makes all of our beers taste…off.

Do you drink the water out of the tap or do you usually filter it? How does it taste out of the tap? Have you tasted the batch made with the filtered water?

We drink it from the tap. Haven’t tried the filtere batch yet. Just brewed yesterday.

Sounds like it could be chlorine/chloramine. Do you know if your water has either? Do you do anything to remove it if it does?

Real simple way to tell - brew the next batch with store-bought gallon jugs of Reverse Osmosis water. It will only cost you about $2-3 for 6 gallons. Extract already has minerals in it from the original water source used to make the extract, so not a big worry there. If you were worried about some mineral addition, could use .5 tsp - 1tsp of CaSO4. Give it a try and see if the “off flavor still persists.” If not, it is likely you found your culprit.

Thanks everyone. Time will tell with this latest batch that we used filtered tap water. Perhaps we will try store baught just to see.


Get some campden tablets. Crush one, stir it into a very small amount of hot water, and stir that into your water before heating it for mashing or grain steeping/boiling. It takes only a few minutes to chemically remove chlorine/chloramines from your water and will not negatively impact your fermentation or beer flavor, or anything else. One table treats up to 20 gallons of water. Otherwise, chlorine/chloramines (found in most municipal tap water) will typically impart a plastic-y, bandaid type of flavor to your finished beer.

So I just cracked open our first bottle of the beer I mentioned in the original post above…the one we used filtered water through a Britta.

It has that same off flavor in it…but this time the beer is almost undrinkable. I had half of one and then dumped the rest down the drain.

It’s not a sour flavor, butnim wondering if the beer has gone bad somehow?

There is a ice pop when I crack the bottle, so I know the seal is there and the beer had plenty of carbonation and a good head to it.

When we bottle, we rinse all the bottles in a sanitary solution, but like I said in the original post, the water leaves a white residue on the inside and outside of the bottles.

I’m curious of this is the culprit?

We’ve tried everything I can think of to elimate variable for the off taste, but every single one of our brews…12 of them so far, have that same off flavor.

Sounds like it could possibly be an infection. Describe your equipment sanitation techniques.

We have a large 10 gallon brew kettle with

We keep the lid on while brewing and then transfer to a plastic or glass fermenting bucket…pending on what’s not currently in use by another brew.

We sanitize the fermentation bucket with a no rinse sanitary solution along with the bung plug and air lock.

We ferment in stage 1 for a week or two, then transfer via a siphon, also sanitized with the same solution, to a different fermenter, also sanitized.

On bottling day, we fills the kitchen sink with sanitary solution and soak clean bottles for 2 minutes. No rinse. The bottles then sit upside down in the dishwasher while we sanitize the bottling equipment.

We sanitize all the caps to.

Like I said, we get a white film on all the bottles…on everything actually, because of the water. The film just shows up more on the glass bottles.

[quote=“stompwampa”]Like I said, we get a white film on all the bottles…on everything actually, because of the water. The film just shows up more on the glass bottles.[/quote]Brew a batch with 100% store-bought water and make your sanitizer with the same water (use StarSan for sanitizing).

Do I understand that you keep the lid on while you’re boiling? If so, that could be a problem.

Thanks. We will try that.

Why would that be a problem to keep the lid on while boiling?

Thanks. We will try that.

Why would that be a problem to keep the lid on while boiling?[/quote]

Because there are undesirables substances (DMS) that need to boil off. If you keep the lid on, they go back into your beer. You need at least 15% opening to allow them to outgas. Look at the info on DMS here…

That I did not know. Thanks for the link!

The other thing to consider in regard to your water is the “style” of beer you are brewing. If your water is very hard, that could cause problems with any lighter/hoppy type beers. You would have less problem with stouts, porters, etc. with hard water.

+1 to trying a batch with 100% Reverse Osmosis water. In using extract, R.O. water is the way to go anyway as the extract has necessary minerals in it. If you still get the same off flavor, using 100% R.O. water - well, then you know it is something other than your water.

Like I said, we get a white film on all the bottles…on everything actually, because of the water. The film just shows up more on the glass bottles.[/quote]

This is the part that would alarm me. Tap water that leaves a film on glass doesn’t sound like something I’d want to brew with. If you just rinse a bottle in straight tap water with no sanitizer do you get the same white film? If not, I’d guess that you are either using the wrong type of sanitizer or using it in incorrect proportions.

What type of sanitizer are you using and how are you mixing it?

To take this more into a “my beer tastes funny” thread - what temperature are you fermenting? If it has a wine-y type taste that can come from higher fermentation temps. Also bready/cardboardy flavors can be due to the yeast and having it young. Some of the yeastiness will age out of it.

Also, keep things simple for your first batches. I’d really recommend skipping the secondary. Leaving the beer on the yeast for 2-3 weeks will really help the yeast clean up after themselves and will really help the flavor. This also helps eliminate a possible step of infection or oxidation.

And you mentioned “sanitizer”, what exactly are you using? I think all here would recommend StarSan or BTF Iodophor as they work very well, don’t impart any flavors, and are no-rinse. You dunk/soak everything in those, then let them drain and they’re sanitized. In theory rinsing would wash off the sanitizer and give a chance of picking up some bugs from the water supply. In practice the risk seems really low if you are on a public water supply. If you’re on a well then it seems the risk would be higher.

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