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Milwaukee City Water, how is it?

I live in oak creek and get my water from lake michigan city water. anything I should/could be doing to improve it?

Is this water generally fine for brewing? Should i carbon filter it to make it better or right from the tap?

Any brewers in the milwaukee area want to share their tips on what they do with their lake michigan water?

I was carbon filtering it in my house but that takes forever from the fridge filter :slight_smile: But I am hesitant to just use tap water.

I don’t live in Milwaukee anymore, but I know there’s a lot of chlorine in the water there, and it will definitely cause very nasty medicinal or band-aid flavors in your beer. Look up the word “chlorophenol” on any homebrewing forum and you’ll see tons of hits on it because it is a very common issue. You can use carbon filtration to get the chlorine out, or easier yet, you can crush and add about 1/8 Campden tablet to your brew water before it touches the malt. The chemical reaction is basically instantaneous and you’ll never have any problems with chlorophenol.

Other than the chlorine, the water in Milwaukee is most likely very soft, and good to brew with. You can add salts to it if you want to emulate water from other parts of the world, but of course that’s optional. Someone in Milwaukee will no doubt chime in soon and tell you the same thing.

Of course, you can also always buy your water if you want. But that’s extra expense and hassle. It’s nice just using a little Campden, which is super easy, cheap, and effective.

OMG you are my hero! I just started getting medical or band aid taste in my Caribou Slobber that I made with tap water. I couldn’t figure out what I did.

I made another batch of it and a different recipe with no band aid taste. (i used filtered water those times).

I have a bottle of camden tablets at home. Didn’t know this would fix that. Did I read that right. 1/8 of a single camdem tablet is enough for a full 6 gallon batch to fix the chlorine issue?

I should have mentioend I am doing extract but with full boils so would 1/8 of a single tablet still apply?

I would like to add that it varies within Milwaukee County how the water arrives to your tap. The North Shore (Whitefish Bay, Fox Point, Glendale) get their water from the North Shore Water Commission; the City of Milwaukee, Wauwatosa, West Allis, Greenfield, Greendale, West Milwaukee, Hales Corners and St. Francis get their water from the Milwaukee Water Utility; the cities of Cudahy, South Milwaukee and Oak Creek each treat their own water.

Depending who you get your water from will affect what by-products are left when it gets to your tap. I live in the City of Milwaukee service area, use water from the tap and have never had an issue. If you Google the city you live in you should be able to find the respective water utility page and how to get more information about your water. Most cities will have data to provide you as to the characteristics of their final treated water.


Here is my water report for Oak Creek. ... Report.pdf

Doesn’t look like it contains chloramine or chlorine. it does have other stuff for disinfecting but I am not sure what chemicals they are.

They are called “trihalomethanes”

Interesting… I haven’t heard of that before. But it still sounds like a stabilized version of chlorine, so it’s worth filtering out, or trying the Campden. I can’t be sure if Campden will work on trichloromethane, but you’ll never know until you try.

I live within the City of Milwaukee Water Works service area. I do nothing to treat the water. I know there are some of my fellow local brewers that will RO it and build it back up to some special water style. I’m lazy and use it right from the tap. I have thought about getting a carbon filter, but haven’t bought one yet. Part of me believes that being local means dealing with what you have at hand. I could take my water down and build it up to Burton on Trent, but I don’t live in BoT. All of the local breweries are using City of Milwaukee water. I would be interested to hear if they do any treatment beyond filtering. Remember we have the water that made the beer that made Milwaukee famous.

I live in 'stallis and have only used city water for brewing, and have never had a problem with off flavors (at least not that I know of).

Not yet, my friends, not yet…

Addition of chlorine can also be seasonal. I used straight tap water here in T’Rivers for many years with no issues, then all of a sudden out of nowhere, I had severe chlorophenol with a couple of batches. Came to find out through some friends of mine who work for the local water utility that they tend to jack up the chlorination every spring and fall, and that my brew day coincided exactly for the dates when they had jacked 'er up. Bad timing. Had to dump those batches, as who really enjoys drinking something that tastes exactly the same way as Band-Aids smell? Yuck!

If you want to know how Milwaukee Water Works treats its water check this: ... atment.htm

and ... s_2011.pdf

Ever since the crypto crisis in the early '90’s Milwaukee’s main water treatment has been ozone.

2010 water report ... rtMWW1.pdf

I’m going to have to side with the “brewer beware” camp on this one. I cracked a dubbel last night that I thought was a little off. There was a good beer under there somewhere, but I couldn’t tell what was wrong. After drinking about half, the taste had built up to where it was unmistakeable. I remembered this topic and it hit me right away - band aids. I don’t think I would have realized it otherwise.

And the smell? Something akin to the trap under my sink. Hideous. I fairly certain there’s no contamination of any kind. It looks beautiful and, like I said, the good beer is underneath the horrible taste. I was going to save some as an example of beer gone wrong, but it’s so offensive that I don’t think I can. Down the drain with all of it. Thankfully it was only a 2 gallon batch.

Until I figure out purification, it’s bottled water for me.

Interestingly, I have a chocolate stout that I’ll rack to secondary tomorrow. On SG testing, it smelled and tasted quite good, whereas the dubbel was a bit odd on testing. I’m just hoping the horrible taste doesn’t develop during secondary and bottle carb/conditioning.

Does the boil help remove Chlorine? I boiled 2.5gal, then used 1.5gal bottled water that I happened to have on hand. I got it ice cold to help with cooling. So only about 1gal came straight from the tap. Maybe it was seasonal, too, with Chlorine being added right when I brewed the dubbel, which was about 6 weeks ago.

Boiling can get rid of one form of chlorine known as hypochlorite (the same stuff that is in your Clorox bleach at home), but you need to boil the water BEFORE it touches any of your malt, because once it touches malt, there is a chemical reaction that makes it permanent.

Boiling will NOT get rid of another form of chlorine known as chloramine. For that, all you can do is Campden or carbon filtration. Campden is actually very convenient because it can get rid of both chloramine and hypochlorite. Also good for wine, mead, and cider brewing to kill unwanted beasts. And it can be used as a cleanser and sanitizer. Very useful stuff.

You know there’s interest in brewing when they have a report “For Hobbyists” on the Water Works page. ... rHobby.pdf

I live in Chicago and use Lake Michigan water. Unless you make giant beers with lots of flavor, you should at least run the water through a carbon-block filter to remove the chlorine. When I started doing this, I noticed an improvement. Also, our water is very high in bicarbonate which can cause issues in light-colored beer. I have a water page on my SITE[/url] with all of the parts-per-million (according to Ward Labs) for the various water ions. Also, there is a Chicago & Milwaukee forum just for us… um… Chicagoans and Milwaukee-ites. The board is located [url=]HERE


There are a few discussions on our water HERE[/url], HERE and [url=]HERE

You can search for WATER or CHEMISTRY or whatever and find more. We also get together occasionally for beer gatherings & there are a bunch of Milwaukeeans as well as guys from West Allis, Kenosha, Racine, etc. Come on over there and say HEY. Cheers.

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