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Old 02-07-2009, 12:53 AM   #1
Feb 2009
Bloomington, Indiana
Posts: 85

Hey Everyone,

I'm new to the forum (and somewhat new to homebrewing - just got into all grain after 6 or so extract batches). I hope the Ingredients area is the right place to post this thread, if not let me know. I've looked everywhere but haven't seen anyone address this specific topic

My question: Does anyone out there live in Chicagoland and brew using the local Lake Michigan tap water? I started out buying distilled water at the grocery, but am not a big fan of adding ten bucks in cost to every brew. Not to mention my first all grain attempts where I miscalculated my water needs and had to use tap water (I boiled) to top off. Not fun.

So -I'm wondering if there is anyone on here that has used the Chicago water in their brewing with good success? I haven't attempted to modify the water profile yet as I don't yet have a good reliable fine measurement scale to measure out small adjustments and the like. Also, I found a copy of the local water report (I think from 2007) online, but it didn't have as much info as I expected to find. Seemed more concerned with levels of potentially health hazards than general water profile characteristics.

If there aren't any Chicagoans out there, maybe some of you have used your local unmodified water with good results?

Thanks in advance for any help - I already owe a lot to the folks on this forum. Learned a lot from you all so far.


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Old 02-07-2009, 01:05 AM   #2
BrewBrain's Avatar
Aug 2007
San Jose, CA
Posts: 1,110
Liked 10 Times on 9 Posts

I'm not near Chicago, but I'd bet if your tap water tastes good you'll brew good beer. If it tastes bad, probably best not to use it.

If you have a water softener, you'll want to bypass it.
You only get so many calories in life. Enjoy every single one.


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Old 02-07-2009, 01:31 AM   #3
PaulTheOriginal's Avatar
Jan 2009
Delivery end of Cobra taps
Posts: 79
Liked 2 Times on 2 Posts

I used to work for a company located in Chicago; and, spent a fair amount of time there in the 90's. The water was good right out of the tap and if I recall correctly was "soft" in relation to the New England water I'm used to. Since you're doing AG and boiling all your water I'd think you'd be alright. There could be some styles that might come out better than others, but that's pretty much true everywhere.


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Old 02-07-2009, 02:46 PM   #4
rocketman768's Avatar
Feb 2008
Evanston, IL
Posts: 1,083
Liked 25 Times on 22 Posts

You have to call the public works department (number on that 2007 water report) to get the numbers we're interested in. If I remember, all the Ca and Mg are all in the low 30 ppm range. I've brewed with this water (carbon filtered) and haven't had a problem as long as I add pH 5.2 buffer to the mash.

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Old 02-07-2009, 07:39 PM   #5
Feb 2009
Bloomington, Indiana
Posts: 85

Thanks for the quick replies, all.

Rocketman - I think I'll take your advice and call the Public Works dept.

thanks again,


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Old 02-07-2009, 07:52 PM   #6
kjung's Avatar
Apr 2008
Chicago Area
Posts: 3,744
Liked 9 Times on 9 Posts

I'm always leary of using tap water, after hearing all of those stories about finding prescription meds, etc in it.
Having lived in/near Chicago all of my life, I'd also be wary of all the chlorine, but I know that can be boiled off. Personally, I always use Ice Mountain Spring Water, and have had great success.
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Old 02-07-2009, 07:55 PM   #7
joety's Avatar
Oct 2008
Germantown Wisconsin
Posts: 1,427
Liked 18 Times on 15 Posts

Goose Island uses Chicago tap water drawn from Lake Michigan and charcoal filters it (I believe) and they make phenomenal beer. I always believe you should use local water and make adjustments if necessary. It's what makes your beer uniquely yours. Distilled water is for chemistry projects.
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