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Old 01-17-2013, 06:14 PM   #1
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Default Using tap water in mash

Hey all. I'm on AG batch #2 so really pretty new to it. Admittedly I am not one who has been super concerned with "exactness" in relation to things like efficiency and water chemistry just yet. With that in mind I am just curious how "bad" is it to use untreated tap water in my mash and sparge. I know that I can get a ph stabilizer, but don't want to bother if it's not going to cause a drastic problem. Thanks for your responses.

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Old 01-17-2013, 06:19 PM   #2
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I have heard a lot of people say, if you like how it tastes out of the tap, then use it. If you want to be really anil, then get a water test kit.

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Old 01-17-2013, 06:25 PM   #3
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For $16.50 you can get a full water test done from Ward Laboratories, just send them a sample. Best thing I ever did since I love my tap water brews (well water) but didn't realize that my water is highly calcium deficient. Since I've been adding calcium my beers have improved. If you like how your beers taste keep doing what you are day though you may want to step it up a notch and get into water chemistry, it does make a difference.
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Old 01-17-2013, 06:25 PM   #4
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The only real problem, assuming it's already good quality water, would be chlorine/chloramine in the water. A lot of municipalities use the stuff and it can leave a bad taste in your beer. I tdid my first brew straight from the tap, it wasn't bad, but definitely had some off band-aid/medicinal flavor that never went away. It wasn't terrible, but huge difference when I went to a solid carbon block filter.

And yeah, what Jayhem said as well.
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Old 01-17-2013, 06:30 PM   #5
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+1 to getting the water tested but you'll also need a Campden tablet for the Chlorine. If you really want to start getting your water figured out get the test done from Ward Labs and get a PH meter and learn how dark and light grains affect the mash PH. Dark grains will pull the PH lower and light grains will pull it higher, where you'll have to get some sort of acid to lower the PH back down to 5.2 - 5.5. Most people use either Phosphoric Acid or 2-3% of the grain bill in Acid Malt. Check out the Brew Science section and you'll be able to find whatever you want there.
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Old 01-17-2013, 06:30 PM   #6
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I use my tap water all the time. My beer turns out great. If it taste good use it.
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Old 01-17-2013, 06:31 PM   #7
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I've made dozens of great batches using untreated tap water all the way through. I've made a few batches where I treated it and found very little variation in the finished product. Ideally, contact your water supplier and get a water profile for your area, and make some decisions based on the water chemistry primer. If you're worried about excess chlorination, you can boil all of the water you are going to use ahead of time (just let it cool back down and you've got your mash and sparge water ready) to help drive off the chlorine, but this isn't usually necessary and will change the water chemistry a bit in the end. My advice? use the tap water a couple times, than grab a bit of gypsum and waterever else you might need at the HB store next time you're there. Make the same batches with treated water and note any differences. Water chemistry and ion interactions may be an exact science, but finding the flavors you like certainly is not!
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Old 01-17-2013, 06:35 PM   #8
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Don't do it! Using tap water is the #1 way to ruin a beer!

(taking sarcastic hat off)

I use my tap water exclusively, haven't treated or tested it for anything. I have reviewed my utility company's water report, but it's lacking a couple of the more important figures to brewers... Haven't had a single problem so far. Well, at least not one attributable to water quality...
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Old 01-17-2013, 06:43 PM   #9
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I use hot tap water and a crushed-up campden tablet.

Using hot water straight from the faucet saves me a bunch of time. I figure I already have a huge tank full of pretty hot water, why start from scratch with cold water and waste all that time heating it up? I start with water that's already about 125 F and can get it to the necessary 170 F in about 15 minutes.
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Old 01-17-2013, 07:47 PM   #10
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If it's water from a municipality, just email them, they'll send you a water analysis report for free. From there it's easy to see what's going on, and even use basic water recipes that others have created for whatever style you want to brew.

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