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Old 09-29-2012, 03:39 AM   #11
kylevester
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When I first started brewing, I did so with store bought drinking water.

Then I switched to local tap water when I got really into it again in a different city than where I started. Lafayette, IN has pretty good brewing water and the straight tap water (w/o campden to take out chloramines) did just fine and due to our sulfates really did nicely with IPA. I also used pH stabilizer rather than adding more chemicals.

Since I read Gordon Strong's book, Brewing Better Beer, and because I don't like the taste of Lafayette's tap water, I've switched back to store bought water and I get either "Spring" water or drinking water. Both have minerals and are simply municipal quality without chlorine. For these, I again use pH buffer.

With the store bought water, my stouts are much much better and not as harsh. My IPAs and other hoppy beers are roughly the same. I'm thinking of going half store and half tap on my next IPA and see if I can really tell much difference.

For the most part, I like to go for a local(ish) flavor for brews rather than attempt a specific water profile. Keep in mind that even within a small area, water quality can vary greatly. Germany and Belgium are not that large yet have many different water profiles. Water profiles are more of a tradition than any type of necessity and the big guys start with RO water and add a small amount of salts. The little guys can't afford that and will use local water and get the chlorine out and may add a few salts for the style to enhance certain things or make up for low concentrations of certain chemicals in their water.

In short, RDWHAHB and if your tap water tastes good, use it and only make minor adjustments for enhancement. Get general concentrations and don't worry about making an exact London or Munich profile.

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Old 09-29-2012, 03:41 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ArcLight View Post
Even if you don't adjust the water Ph/minerals, at least find out if your water is Chlorinated (or has Chloramine).
At the very least you want to remove that.

I sent my local (Millburn) water to Ward labs, so I'd know how to treat it. But I use New York City tap water I carry home from work
Oh man would I love some NYC tap water. You guys got a great aquifer up there!
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Old 09-29-2012, 06:13 AM   #13
BurgBrewer
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Not to Hi-jack the thread, but what does this tell me about my water? Is it acceptable for straight brewing? http://www.ci.ellensburg.wa.us/Docum.../Home/View/402

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Old 09-29-2012, 07:22 AM   #14
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Not to Hi-jack the thread, but what does this tell me about my water? Is it acceptable for straight brewing? http://www.ci.ellensburg.wa.us/Docum.../Home/View/402
Not much. It only gives a very limited number of contaminants. For brewing you want to know the hardness, alkalinity, sulfates, and chlorides at a minimum. Try giving your water folks a call and see if they can tell you the above or provide a detailed lab analysis from their last test.
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Old 09-29-2012, 05:01 PM   #15
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Thanks, that will be my next step.

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Old 10-01-2012, 07:46 PM   #16
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Like Tom_Hampton said, WARD LABS does brewing water work-ups. I've considering looking locally, and I've asked around with some environmental consultants, but no one really knows anyone locally (Indianapolis).

Generally, our water here in the Midwest is hard. It's good without additions for the darker ranges. But for the lighter styles, including light lagers (and probably any lagers for that matter), water chemistry should really be given consideration. For hoppy beers, we often add gypsum to bring out the brightness and crispness of the hops. I could confidently recommend to our customers using local tap water to add gypsum to any hoppy beer to achieve noticable results. The amount escapes me, but the point is that you can improve the hop character without a lot of fuss.

For lighter beers, we often add a measured amount of lactic acid to decrease the pH (there are no dark grains to naturally do this). I have also heard of folks adding a measured amount of acid malt to achieve the same result (in the case that you don't want to deal with any lactic or phosphoric acid). Obviously pH stabilizers (5.2) will relieve you from the need of worrying about your mash pH as well.

I personally brew a lot of 1.5 gallon BREW CUBE batches at my home, and for next year's State Fair, I intend to focus on water chemistry to bring those styles closer to the real deal. We'll see by experimentation (beginning with RO and / or a blend and building up) whether or not it makes a difference. I suspect that it will.

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