Water quality

How important is water quality and adjusting depending on what beer your making? How do people test their water when they use a filter?

For some reason my last couple beers had a similar taste and I can’t put my finger on why. The only constants were the water I used and that I made a yeast starter. Someone described it as caramely flavor but I wouldn’t even say that, just a weird off flavor. Anyone have any idea what it could be? I also have 2 beers going now so maybe it was a fluke and these won’t have it.

What’s your water source? Municipal water supply or well water? If it’s municipal do you treat it for chloramines?

Hard to say from that description of the ‘off flavor’ without a bit more info on the beer recipe etc. Were they extract batches? Are you sure you didn’t scorch some extract on the bottom of your kettle?

One was an IPA from homebrewsupply, the hop fellas all grain IPA. The other was the tombstone Pale Ale extract kit from Midwest I think. The water source is municiple and no currently I don’t treat it with anything. I have a 3m filtrete under the sink water filter that I use for my brewing water.

I also make sure to remove the pot from the heat and stirred in the syrup for the extract kit. The all grain, obviously not problems.

Water is critical but learning curve is a bit high. Odds are your pH is pretty far off if the beers were lighter unless you have great tap water, which is unlikely. Higher final pH tastes kinda flat/tubby/dull. Chlorine/chloramine is medicinal/plasticky/chemically.

Before delving into water treatment too heavy I would try a batch with distilled (for light beers) and see if that helps. If interested in learning about treatment, find your muni data online and post. We can make then some suggestions.

I had to call to get the water report but here is my local water.

Calcium: 33.8 mg/l
Magnesium: 18.4 mg/l
Sulfate: 6.57 mg/l
Sodium: 6.18 mg/l
Chloride: 15.9 mg/l
Total Hardness: 160 mg/l CaCO3 (9.4 grains of hardness)

pH: average is approximately 7.5
Chlorine residual: approximately 1.25 mg/l free chlorine

Alkalinity: 120 mg/l

Also I’m currently using a filter. When I was using distilled water for my first couple batches they didn’t have they flavor. Although the first batch or so I did with the filter didn’t come out bad either. Would you recommend municiple water with adjustments or filtered watered from under my sink?

What kind of filter do you have? I would suspect it’s not removing the chorine from the water.

This is the water filter I currently have under my sink.


Looks like the filter in my fridge. I have well water so i can’t speak to how effectively they remove chlorine but that would be my first suspect. I’d us a campden tablet to be sure. If the beer was fine with distilled then it probably is your water.

How long since you changed the filter?

It’s right around the time to be changed. I’ve heard mixed things about the campdem tablets. How much do you use? Some people say half a tablet and some say a quarter for 5 gallons. I’ve heard it’s not good to use to much.

I think it’s a pH issue as the filter looks decent to me. I fought chlorine years ago and the off flavor was easy to ID: “band aid”.

Your water is similar to mine and can be adjusted successfully for most beers, although I use distilled for lagers/hefe. You will need some acid and Ca salts. Ideally, you need to enter recipe and water into a water spreadsheet to find out what to do. I like Bru’n water. That said, there are other strategies for a simpler solution. AJ KISS

So I am wondering what band aid flavor is. I guess that could be what I am tasting but I’m not sure. Would beer Smith work or is Bru’n water better.

Band-aid is something I also associate with the peat in Scotch, if that helps any…

Yeah, smokey, I get that. Now that I think about it, I don’t think band aids smell like they used to anymore… haha. Have access to some BJCP folk to help ID? I would probably dump a beer with chlorine but could manage my way through a keg with high pH.

Best water program is the one that works for you. Try them all and stick the one that clicks the most.

Definitely Brunwater for water addition calculations. Beersmith is a great tool for recipe formulation and record keeping though.

Don’t be afraid of Campden tabs, they are an easy way to improve your beers significantly. As I was gently reminded recently, one quarter tab for a 5 gallon batch…there really is no downside that I can see except for the situation where you used too much in water that has not been boiled such as topping up water in extract brewing. They may even improve hot side oxidation used appropriately.