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Old 08-02-2012, 01:16 PM   #1
smchenry75
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Default Ok to brew with tap water?

Okay, now that I've made the switch to AG, I'm trying to reduce the cost and hassle of purchasing and lugging home 8-10 gallons of spring water from the store. I'd like to simply use water straight from our tap. Here are my questions.

1. I'll get the water from my outside hose spigot (to bypass the water softener). Any issues with that?
2. Do I need to filter the water in any way to eliminate nasties or will the boiling process take care of this?
3. Indiana water tends to be very hard due to all of the limestone in the ground. Any issues with this? I think I've heard the hard vs. soft water is better?

Answers to these questions and any general advice on using tapwater for brewing would be much appreciated!

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Old 08-02-2012, 01:21 PM   #2
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In general, if the water tastes OK, it's going to be OK to brew with. If you can get a water report from your local water company, that could go a long way towards helping you to understand what's in your water and how good or bad that water will be for brewing. If you check out one of the more recent issue of BYO magazine (I forget if it's the one on the shelves now, or the issue immediately prior to that), there's a good primer in there on how to read and decipher a water report.

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Old 08-02-2012, 01:22 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smchenry75
Okay, now that I've made the switch to AG, I'm trying to reduce the cost and hassle of purchasing and lugging home 8-10 gallons of spring water from the store. I'd like to simply use water straight from our tap. Here are my questions.

1. I'll get the water from my outside hose spigot (to bypass the water softener). Any issues with that?
2. Do I need to filter the water in any way to eliminate nasties or will the boiling process take care of this?
3. Indiana water tends to be very hard due to all of the limestone in the ground. Any issues with this? I think I've heard the hard vs. soft water is better?

Answers to these questions and any general advice on using tapwater for brewing would be much appreciated!
Getting a water profile from your water supply source, or better yet, a water analysis from Ward Labs will allow us to better advise you. It's not that expensive to get the beer test from Ward Labs and it allows you to dial in exactly the suitability of your water for brewing and a treatment strategy.
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Old 08-02-2012, 01:22 PM   #4
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shouldn't be a problem. can you get a water report? that will help the chemistry boffins answer better. a pretty commonly touted rule of thumb is that if your water is safe to drink, it's safe to brew with. one of the things to be aware of is the presence of chloramine in your water. that might need some treatment to get out (metabisulfite and such).

boiling kills the bugs. i seem to recall reading that hard is better than soft somewhere as well.


/edit: Funny. All 3 of us said pretty much the same thing at the same time.

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Old 08-02-2012, 01:24 PM   #5
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I use tap water from an outside faucet. I did buy an RV drinking water house as normal garden hoses can leach toxins into your water. I also have a block water filter at the end of the hose just for piece of mind, not sure if it's essentail.

I also add a campden tablet to the water to eliminate chlorine and chloramine.

It's been working for me.

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Old 08-02-2012, 01:27 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by smchenry75 View Post
Okay, now that I've made the switch to AG, I'm trying to reduce the cost and hassle of purchasing and lugging home 8-10 gallons of spring water from the store. I'd like to simply use water straight from our tap. Here are my questions.

1. I'll get the water from my outside hose spigot (to bypass the water softener). Any issues with that?
2. Do I need to filter the water in any way to eliminate nasties or will the boiling process take care of this?
3. Indiana water tends to be very hard due to all of the limestone in the ground. Any issues with this? I think I've heard the hard vs. soft water is better?

Answers to these questions and any general advice on using tapwater for brewing would be much appreciated!
I've read a lot that if the water tastes good you can brew with it. I have also read a lot that if you have off tastes check your water or use RO or bottled water?

I don't know what my water profile is or even hard or soft. It tastes good and I have done 30 batches. My friends like my beer a lot.

I filter using a Brita.

I think that getting the water from your sillcock would be fine. Maybe run it for a little to clear any water that might have been sitting in the plumbing for a while.

Filtering will take out sediment and other stuff. Boiling will kill the bacteria.

I plan to get a water analysis and look at making adjustments. I want to make beer the best that I can without getting too crazy about it.
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Old 08-02-2012, 01:41 PM   #7
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All of the above advice is excellent but I will add my own twist on it.

Even easier than getting a water report and trying to decipher it is just brewing a batch with the water you have and see how it turns out. If the beer is good, the water is good. Could you tweak it to make the beer better? Yes, but if you want to keep things as simple and as cheap as you say you do, why bother?

I use tap water for ALL my brewing. I go straight from my kitchen faucet with soft water and it works just fine.

Soft vs hard? Depends on the style. I brew mostly pale ales and IPA so, in theory, hard water should be best but soft water in my case works just fine. I used to bypass the water softener and then one brew day I forgot and couldn't tell the difference in the beer. One step eliminated in my brew day!

As always, YMMV.

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Old 08-02-2012, 01:54 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pcollins
All of the above advice is excellent but I will add my own twist on it.

Even easier than getting a water report and trying to decipher it is just brewing a batch with the water you have and see how it turns out. If the beer is good, the water is good. Could you tweak it to make the beer better? Yes, but if you want to keep things as simple and as cheap as you say you do, why bother?

I use tap water for ALL my brewing. I go straight from my kitchen faucet with soft water and it works just fine.

Soft vs hard? Depends on the style. I brew mostly pale ales and IPA so, in theory, hard water should be best but soft water in my case works just fine. I used to bypass the water softener and then one brew day I forgot and couldn't tell the difference in the beer. One step eliminated in my brew day!

As always, YMMV.
I don't disagree with this approach in general - if you are fine with brewing beers that aren't their best in trial. Water is the largest ingredient in your beer and I just can't justify buying specialty malts online, paying shipping to insure I get the best quality ingredients for the recipe, and then SWAG the item that can make or break my beer when you can buy it by the gallon for less than $1. Not being snarky, because you are right - a given style with a given ingredient profile might make his water perfect. Just not a gambler with all the work that goes into making my best beer. I much prefer paying an additional ~$7.50 a brew and buying RO water and building up from there using AJ's water primer if you have no additional intel on your water profile.
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Old 08-02-2012, 01:57 PM   #9
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Addin Campden Tablets to tap water is said to remove chloramines and/or chlorine. Add these; it is a cheap insurance to avoid band aid beer.

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Old 08-02-2012, 02:02 PM   #10
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I don't disagree with this approach in general - if you are fine with brewing beers that aren't their best in trial. Water is the largest ingredient in your beer and I just can't justify buying specialty malts online, paying shipping to insure I get the best quality ingredients for the recipe, and then SWAG the item that can make or break my beer when you can buy it by the gallon for less than $1. Not being snarky, because you are right - a given style with a given ingredient profile might make his water perfect. Just not a gambler with all the work that goes into making my best beer. I much prefer paying an additional ~$7.50 a brew and buying RO water and building up from there using AJ's water primer if you have no additional intel on your water profile.
Agreed except that the OP said this:

"I'm trying to reduce the cost and hassle of purchasing and lugging home 8-10 gallons of spring water from the store. I'd like to simply use water straight from our tap."

I think, in theory, RO water and building a profile as you suggest is the best way to go. For sure. Absolutely not disagreeing with that. But the OP does want to reduce hassle and cost and tap water is what he's looking for. A water report will tell you many things but your taste buds will tell you what is most important: Does it actually work and make decent beer?

My advice to anyone who is trying to use tap water and is unsuccessful is to definitely switch to RO and build a profile. BUT if you have decent tap water and you want to make decent beer with the lowest cost and least hassle, that's definitely the way to go.
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