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Old 01-04-2010, 11:50 PM   #1
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Default Using R/O water for brewing.

I used Reverse Osmosis water for a vienna that was lagered about 3 weeks. I'm currently drinking it now, and it does taste good. But, of course I want to improve it. It's not very crisp and the flavors don't seem to pop out very much. Is this a result of using such soft water? No brewing salts were added to this brew. Thanks for the help.

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Old 01-05-2010, 12:01 AM   #2
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I used Reverse Osmosis water for a vienna that was lagered about 3 weeks. I'm currently drinking it now, and it does taste good. But, of course I want to improve it. It's not very crisp and the flavors don't seem to pop out very much. Is this a result of using such soft water? No brewing salts were added to this brew. Thanks for the help.
R/O water is not ideal for brewing. You need the mineral content for taste, perception of hop bitterness, and even for pH balance of the mash.

If you want to build your water to your specification, it can be great. Otherwise, I wouldn't use it. It will leave your beer more lifeless than you will really be happy with.
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Old 01-05-2010, 12:22 AM   #3
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+1 RO water is ideal if you want to build your water up from scratch because you always know exactly where your starting point is. Using RO water straight up for your beer will not give you an ideal beer however. The darker the beer, the further from ideal RO water is. On top of no PH buffering capability, and no ability to make the hops or malt "pop" more in the finished beer, there are also several minerals in standard water that are beneficial to yeast health that will not be present in RO water.

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Old 01-05-2010, 12:26 AM   #4
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I think RO or distilled water can work fine for an extract batch. I'm assuming this was an all grain batch?

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Old 01-05-2010, 12:33 AM   #5
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I think RO or distilled water can work fine for an extract batch. I'm assuming this was an all grain batch?
No doubt. Mineral content will still have an effect on the perceptibility of hop characteristics, but in terms of mash pH and characteristics, the extract manufacturer has already taken that into account. For my AG batches (and specifically my pale ales, bitters, and IPAs) I cut my tap water on a 4/7 ratio with RO (distilled water). That is specific to my tap water and will need to be adjusted for yours...then, I add the appropriate mineral additions to hit my target water profile (in this case, Mosher's Ideal Pale Ale profile). Water profile CANNOT be stressed enough. It is the #1 ingredient in ANY beer. For excellent beer, it needs to be right. I learned the hard way.
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Old 01-05-2010, 12:46 AM   #6
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thanks for the replys, yes it is an all grain batch and I have it in a keg right now. And I'm assuming that adding brewing salts to the keg at this point is a bad idea ha ha?

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Old 01-05-2010, 02:12 AM   #7
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It would be awesome if there was a reference chart listing what needs to be added to R/O water to meet the water profile of specific styles.

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Old 01-05-2010, 02:17 AM   #8
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It would be awesome if there was a reference chart listing what needs to be added to R/O water to meet the water profile of specific styles.
I second that, my water is so bad I almost need to strain it before drinking, if there was a list to refer to for building R/O water I would do a little happy dance for the brew gods
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Old 01-05-2010, 02:55 AM   #9
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It would be awesome if there was a reference chart listing what needs to be added to R/O water to meet the water profile of specific styles.
this was mentioned in another thread. i would totally donate some money to someone who came up with this chart.

it blows my mind there isn't one already.
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Old 01-05-2010, 03:17 AM   #10
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We have enough brain power here on HBT to pull this off. I would be more than happy to devote some time to it. It would be ideal if someone with a chemistry background could supervise the project.

Here is a couple ideas:

Identify which styles to cover. Decide on the ideal water profile for each style. Decide on baseline R/O profile. Layout a spreadsheet with "styles" in the rows and "additives" in the columns. From there it's just doing the legwork to fill in the chart.

Maybe those who want to help on the project are given 3 styles to profile. Multiple people working on the same style would help reduce errors.


Just thinking out loud...

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Last edited by arturo7; 01-05-2010 at 03:19 AM.
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