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Old 01-21-2013, 03:36 AM   #1
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Default Tannins in brew water

Hi,

I have a question regarding tannins in brew water.

To be completely clear, I am not referring to tannin extraction from sparge water that is too warm or over sparged mashes.

My water is from a river and although I filter and sterilize it, it still has a slight color
to it. Looks kind of gross when I fill tub with it but it is fine to drink and is safe. Depending on the time of year, it may have a slight taste. again nothing too bad.

Does anyone brew with water like this? I currently use water from town (chlorinated) and add campden tablets and I have good results, but it's a real pain to cart that much water all the time so I'd prefer to use the stuff piped into the house.

Does anyone have experience of using river water with coloration?

Any suggestions appreciated.


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Old 01-21-2013, 04:28 AM   #2
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You might consider just adding an RO unit on the end of you present filtration system. What is your system now? Maybe you need to just go to a finer final stage to clean it up more.


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Old 01-21-2013, 01:42 PM   #3
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You are doing the right thing with the campden tab treatment. That reduces the possibility of chlorophenol production in the beer. The tannins in the river water are common as is the occasional taste and odor. Slow filtration through an activated carbon filter can help reduce both the color and the taste and odor of the water. For a typical 10" undercounter filter, that means a flow rate of less than 1 gal/min. By the way, the tannins in the river water aren't really a problem in brewing. They are typically at very low level.

I can't say that using the tap water would be preferred, but finding about what the water profile is will help. I take it that the tap water is from the river? There is a good chance that the river water is suited for brewing. Finding out the profile is the first step.
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Old 01-22-2013, 08:00 PM   #4
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Thanks for the feedback.

Helibrewer, My current system is a coarse and fine sediment filter then UV sterilizer. Filtration is down to 5 microns. Don't want the expense and upkeep of a RO system, besides tannins tend to plug the membrane and the RO removes minerals I want to keep. Finer filtration will not remove tannins.

Mabrungard, I note the comment regarding a carbon filter used at slow flow. I dug out a water report I had done a few years ago and it noted 0ppm for tannins!! I cannot believe that as the water has such color, varying through out the seasons. The test was done in late fall so the water would have been clearer than mid summer or spring.

I think I'll install the carbon filter and brew a light style beer when the water is at it's worse and see what I get.....until then I'll shlep the H20 from town.

Thanks again.
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Old 01-23-2013, 01:01 PM   #5
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Tannins and other humic acids are the result of contact with organic matter (typically leaves, ie: Tea). It would be dependent upon the runoff rate from wetlands feeding the river.
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Old 01-23-2013, 03:48 PM   #6
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Absolutely correct.

Spring runoff (we are 2 hrs N of Toronto, ave snowfall about 10') contributes a lot to the color, and during Summer the water heats up disturbing leaf and vegetable matter on the bottom. In the dead of Winter (now, -29C this morning) there is little color and no taste.


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