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Old 06-10-2010, 03:38 PM   #1
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Default Distilled Water use

Okay, so on another post about wort chilling I mentioned that I was using distilled water, and got a response to avoid using it. I did a search and found several threads on other topics that had the same theme "avoid using distilled water" and now I need to know why.

To me, it is the purest water available, without any chemicals, minerals, and so on. I would think it would make for the cleanest taste when used in brewing. Didn't Coors build an empire on the purity of the mountain spring water?

In my case, my water is so full of heavy minerals, I had to find an alternative. On batches one and two I ran five gallons thru a Pur water filter which took a long time. The last brew, currently in the primary, used only distilled water.

So, as a NOOOB, and one who is going to brew his fourth batch this evening using distilled water, can someone tell me why or why not?

Many many thanks!

John


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Old 06-10-2010, 03:47 PM   #2
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I've used it before. My beer came out fine. The only considerations are that distilled water will be deficient certain minerals and it tends not to boil very well in my experience until you add your malt extract since it doesn't have any mineral content. (Someone else can probably better explain the science behind this.) You might want to add some gypsum to it for mineral content. Either way, you will still have beer when you are done. If you are really concerned, buy drinking water instead of distilled.


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Old 06-10-2010, 03:50 PM   #3
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Minerals aren't really a bad thing in fact you need certain minerals in your water as they effect "pH, enzyme activity, hop perception and clarity of finished beer."

Things like calcium aid the yeast.

And depending on which style of beer you are making, the profile of the water may vary to match the water of the region where the style originated.
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Old 06-10-2010, 03:54 PM   #4
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Sounds like a job for: John Palmer!
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Old 06-10-2010, 03:55 PM   #5
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as long as your using extract distilled water is just fine. the yeast will get all the nutrients they need from the extract. the extract will also add all the salts and what not that your water is lacking. if your doing all grain you do not want to use distilled or reverse osmosis water. all grain needs those salts to control the PH of the mash.

like you said Coors made their money by using "mountain spring water". spring water is not distilled or reverse osmosis water. it has various salts in it. just go to Arrowhead's site and look at their water reports. their distilled water has practically nothing in it but their drinking water and spring water has all sorts of stuff in it.
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Old 06-10-2010, 03:57 PM   #6
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Assuming you're talking about extract brewing, it's fine for most beers to use 50% or more distilled in the topoff. When you say your water is full of minerals, the challenge is really finding out exactly how much of which types. They act on the overall flavor of the beer in different ways.

If you want to get serious about knowing every bit of the makeup of your beer, you either have to get your water tested at a place like wardlab.com ($16.50) or start with all distilled and build water from scratch every time.
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Old 06-10-2010, 04:02 PM   #7
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he could also contact the city and ask for a water report.
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Old 06-10-2010, 04:23 PM   #8
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Your malt and extract will provide some minerals, but it's best to use some tap water. Water chemistry is complicated with respect to brewing, especially all-grain brewing. Yeast actually cannot function without magnesium and calcium.
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Old 06-10-2010, 04:33 PM   #9
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I typically use about 2 gallons of distilled water in a 5 gallon batch. I got the water report from the city website and the water here is very hard. Even with the distilled water I add in I'm probably a bit over the recommendations I've seen on water chemistry.
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Old 06-10-2010, 04:36 PM   #10
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Thanks all for the input. I will boil and cool 2.5 gallons of tap for the grain steeping and use the distilled to bring the volume back just before pitching.

Thanks for the link to the info on water, and the idea of getting a water profile from the city.

This forum is awesome!


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