Over the past few months I have made some beers with some amount of distilled water. I might use 25% distilled for something in the SRM 10-15 range, 25-50% in the 7-10 SRM range and 75-87% (87% is 7 of 8 gallons distilled) for pale beers. I just had a bunch of family over this past week and there were anywhere from 10 to 15 beer drinkers in the house. We drained 3 kegs and made 4 other kegs very light in a 4 day period. All of these beers were an improvement over those same beers that had 100% filtered tap or the beers that were made with RO water that turned out to be harder than I thought it was. The perceived difference was a pronounced smoothness to the beer, better clarity and thicker & more consistent head formation and stability. The reduced bicarbonate had a very positive effect on all these beers. I still modified the water with calcium chloride and gypsum based on style and the beers were diverse… ESB, Blonde Ale, Red Lager, Mexican Dark Lager, Pale Ale, Czech Pilsner, West Coast Lager. The Mexican Dark Lager was tapped on Friday afternoon and somewhere around 2 or 3 in the morning (Sat) it was empty. I have some other beers in the pipeline that were all made this way with a certain percentage of distilled water and fingers are crossed that they come out just as good. Cheers Beerheads.
Thanks for following up with this. I get my RO from Walmart, and after you posted your findings about your RO, I’ve been wondering exactly what I’m using. I wonder if I could get a detailed report from the company that provides the machine. I know they do pretty frequent testing, but I’m not sure what they’re testing for.
Ken, good to hear about your positive results and progress with your water experiments. :cheers:
I get my RO water from walmart (culligan machine) - I actually sent a sample to ward labs just out of curiosity… it came back as expected. Essentially nothing in it at all. Not that every place would be the same, but the one I had tested was true RO water - almost distilled.
I agree on the use of RO water. Certainly one of the single best changes to my brewing over the past 5 years - I use somewhere between 40% and 100% RO water in EVERY beer I make.
Black/Brown beer = 40% RO
Amber = 60% RO
IPA/Pale ales = 80% RO
Light lagers = 100% RO
I use carbon filtered tap water (HIGH bicarbonate) for the other percentage. Bru’n water to measure water additions. DEFINITELY makes a huge difference in beer quality. Filtering high Bicarbonate water simply does not make the necessary difference in the water for light lagers or light, hoppy beers.
I think the issue is that all of these bulk RO machines will be all over the place based on the source water, the calibration of the machine, the state of the filters/membranes, etc. This water I was using was 49¢ a gallon at my local grocery store but it still had 50ppm of bicarb and the whole reason I was using it was to lower my bicarb! The Ward Labs analysis was the key to ditching the dodgy RO water and going full-blown distilled for all diluting. It has made a difference for sure. The percentages that Braufessor posted are similar to mine and all styles have seen an improvement in flavor, smoothness, clarity, head stability, etc. Cheers Beerheads.
I don’t think it is so much the start of the water, it is if they are keeping up on the filters membranes and such. I have very hard water and a RO unit puts it at pretty much distilled when everything is in good shape. But like you said it could be all over the place, if your cutting water just get distilled to be safe or expect a little variance with RO
I don’t think it is so much the start of the water, it is if they are keeping up on the filters membranes and such. I have very hard water and a RO unit puts it at pretty much distilled when everything is in good shape. But like you said it could be all over the place, if your cutting water just get distilled to be safe or expect a little variance with RO[/quote]
That sounds reasonable. I am not an RO expert but a few people commented on the Ward results from this bulk RO water I was buying and said that the machine is not working properly. Seems like an easy thing to fake… RO water from a dispenser. People think they’re getting one clear, flavorless liquid when they’re actually getting another. I had gotten to the point where I didn’t want to guess what I was putting in my water anymore and I wanted to understand all of the various ways that water and additions impacts the beer but I couldn’t really do that without knowing. I know what’s in my water (for better or worse) and I know what’s in distilled water (nothing) and with that, I have a road map for various styles. For those who have soft source water, good on you. For those who have access to good RO water… good on you too! Cheers.