BIAB with tap water

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JoeSpartaNJ

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Anyone brewing with straight tap water with success, no adjustments other than maybe a campden tablet?

I brewed with tap water for years outside with a cooler and pot before moving inside with the Anvil 2 years ago.

No adjustments to water (local water report is incomplete for brewing purposes.) I just got lazy and never tested it.

The first two beers I brewed on the Anvil came out way too bitter (A NEIPA I screwed up with bad Galaxy hops, and a Janet's Brown Ale.)

I switched to Poland Spring for a batch or 2 then started then switched to distilled.

Since then, I have modifying water with calculations provided by Brewfather. (mash water only)

Since switching to distilled, beers have all been fine, but no real difference that I can tell, from when I use to brew the old way outside (well, maybe the hoppier beers got better.)


Anyone have feedback?

TY
 

Airborneguy

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I’ve been brewing here in NJ with tap water, only filtering it through an RV carbon filter. So far every batch has been to my liking so until I feel the need, I’m sticking to it.

I am trying one slight difference with my next batch (tomorrow). I’m using 1 gallon of distilled water in an attempt to cut the hardness of my tap water because I am making a hefeweizen.
 

BongoYodeler

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I had my tap water tested and apparently it's horrible for brewing. I was advised here by many folks to avoid brewing with it.

So I started buying gallons of distilled water from the store. Kind of pricey though, paid anywhere between 89 cents - $1.19 per gallon. I don't want to install an RO system at my house.

Based on a tip from a guy in my brew club I went over to my local Culligan Water store and they have a pre-pay special on RO water. It cost me $75 for 250 gallons (30 cents/gallon). I did buy three 3 gallon jugs with handles at Walmart. Each time I go I fill my jugs and they swipe my card, deducting from my 250 gallons. Luckily for me the Culligan is right near the store where I used to buy my distilled water, so it's no extra hassle picking it up.

Not sure I answered your question, but maybe this can be an alternative?
 
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JoeSpartaNJ

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I had my tap water tested and apparently it's horrible for brewing. I was advised here by many folks to avoid brewing with it.

So I started buying gallons of distilled water from the store. Kind of pricey though, paid anywhere between 89 cents - $1.19 per gallon. I don't want to install an RO system at my house.

Based on a tip from a guy in my brew club I went over to my local Culligan Water store and they have a pre-pay special on RO water. It cost me $75 for 250 gallons (30 cents/gallon). I did buy three 3 gallon jugs with handles at Walmart. Each time I go I fill my jugs and they swipe my card, deducting from my 250 gallons. Luckily for me the Culligan is right near the store where I used to buy my distilled water, so it's no extra hassle picking it up.

Not sure I answered your question, but maybe this can be an alternative?

Yeah, I did not want to install RO either, kind of a logistical PITA the way my basement is set up.

When I started with distilled it was $.79/Gallon, now its over $1.25.


There is actually a Culligan around the corner from my house and the guy across the street works there. I'll have to have a talk with him. They don't water filling stations like that here.
 
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JoeSpartaNJ

JoeSpartaNJ

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I’ve been brewing here in NJ with tap water, only filtering it through an RV carbon filter. So far every batch has been to my liking so until I feel the need, I’m sticking to it.

I am trying one slight difference with my next batch (tomorrow). I’m using 1 gallon of distilled water in an attempt to cut the hardness of my tap water because I am making a hefeweizen.

I thought above giving the RV filter a try as well.

I am brewing an oatmeal stout this weekend.
 

Airborneguy

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Looks like your water system switches sources fairly frequently. That would concern me slightly if I was trying to stick to a set profile. While I don’t know my water’s profile to the level I’d like to, I at least know it doesn’t change so I am willing to roll with it.

Try the filter and see what happens. I bought two on Amazon for like $20. While they are good for thousands of gallons, I’m thinking I’ll use them for one year each before replacing them.
 
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JoeSpartaNJ

JoeSpartaNJ

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Looks like your water system switches sources fairly frequently. That would concern me slightly if I was trying to stick to a set profile. While I don’t know my water’s profile to the level I’d like to, I at least know it doesn’t change so I am willing to roll with it.

Try the filter and see what happens. I bought two on Amazon for like $20. While they are good for thousands of gallons, I’m thinking I’ll use them for one year each before replacing them.

I may just do that.

Do you just let the filter dry when done?

Do you need to keep a certain flow rate to properly filter?
 

Airborneguy

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I may just do that.

Do you just let the filter dry when done?

Do you need to keep a certain flow rate to properly filter?
I tip it face down to let it fully drain, then store capped until next time. I don’t measure the flow rate, but it’s recommend to go as slow as you can tolerate so that’s what I do. A wild estimate would be just over 1 minute per gallon.
 

Willammes Macena

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Olá pessoal! Saudações do Brasil.

Aqui no Brasil boa parte do cervejeiros caseiros usam agua coletada diretamente da torneira , adicionando apenas Vitamina C ( acido ascorbico) para inativar o cloro, obtendo excelentes resultados.

Hello guys! Greetings from Brazil.

Here in Brazil, most homebrewers use water collected directly from the tap, adding only Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) to inactivate chlorine, obtaining excellent results.
 

Sammy86

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I used to brew with my tap water in Danbury, CT. Beers came out well and won a few awards.

Then we moved to Newtown and to private well. Water is super hard. I brewed one beer with the RV filter and came out fine but there was something different. We had an RO system put in and I started making adjustments with Brun' Water. Definitely made a difference! Lagers are more crisp, PA's are hoppier and just taste better.

I highly recommend at least trying it and making adjustments.
 

Bobby_M

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Anyone brewing with straight tap water with success, no adjustments other than maybe a campden tablet?

I brewed with tap water for years outside with a cooler and pot before moving inside with the Anvil 2 years ago.

No adjustments to water (local water report is incomplete for brewing purposes.) I just got lazy and never tested it.

The first two beers I brewed on the Anvil came out way too bitter (A NEIPA I screwed up with bad Galaxy hops, and a Janet's Brown Ale.)

I switched to Poland Spring for a batch or 2 then started then switched to distilled.

Since then, I have modifying water with calculations provided by Brewfather. (mash water only)

Since switching to distilled, beers have all been fine, but no real difference that I can tell, from when I use to brew the old way outside (well, maybe the hoppier beers got better.)


Anyone have feedback?

TY

As with everything else in brewing, it depends. Your tap water may be okay for some styles but you can only really know for sure by getting it tested to know what you're starting with. One thing is certain, your mash pH can't always be in range for the full spectrum of beer styles from very pale to very dark. One end of that spectrum will be out of range even if your tap water is right down the middle from an alkalinity perspective.

Despite that fact, it is possible that you can brew a ton of beers that you're completely happy with even though they are not the absolute best they can be. Aside from removing chlorine, which is almost always a noticeable flaw, water is one of about 10 different process tweaks that would only improve your beer by about 10%. I say that only because you've already said that you've made decent beer with the tap water. If your alkalinity was off the charts, almost all your beer would be undrinkable.

When I moved into my shop 8 years ago, I brewed a stout without knowing anything about the water. It was horribly astringent and I only realized why after getting the water tested. It would have taken more lactic acid than I'd be comfortable using to get that pH in a usable range.

With all that being said, you can get an RO system for a flat $100 delivered. You can install it anywhere there is a source of water and a drain. Then you always know what's in the water. What it does is erase one variable.
 
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Drewch

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If you're using municipal water, you may want to get in the habit of adding a little crushed up campden tablet (potassium metabisomethingorother) to counter the chloramine that most/many US cities use.
 

Slim M

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In my opinion depends on your goals. If you’re entering competition then yeah you probably will want all the advantages you can get so you should either adjust it or go with ro and a profile. Like me if it’s for home and your friends then if your tap water taste good and not all stinky and chemically then use it.
 

Bobby_M

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In my opinion depends on your goals. If you’re entering competition then yeah you probably will want all the advantages you can get so you should either adjust it or go with ro and a profile. Like me if it’s for home and your friends then if your tap water taste good and not all stinky and chemically then use it.

My original response was not meant as an insult. The gist of it was "Why hold competition beer to a higher standard than your own taste. Make the best beer you can, ESPECIALLY for yourself". That's all.
 
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mscroggi

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For me, the tap water was super hard and it varied. I got tired of trying to figure out the chemistry and just decided to get some hedpak containers and fill them at a filtered water source. At 20 cents per gallon it certainly isn't costly and I have a consistent baseline to brew with every time.

My $.02
 

NSMikeD

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municipalities typically publish their water tests online so it's easy to find out what's in the water and work from there. Do not assume they use chloramine. Many still use chlorine. Chorine with tap aeration and heating your water will evaporate in minutes. Chloramine can take up to an hour boil. The municipal report will note which is used.

My tap is on the soft side and use chlorine and even though I have an RODI system to make 0 TDS water, I usually will use my tap water for brewing. I made a profile of my water using the mid points and plugged into brewfather and beer smith and can let the software calculate the additions based on what style water I want to target. Very easy to do.
 

jtgoral

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I’ve been brewing here in NJ with tap water, only filtering it through an RV carbon filter. So far every batch has been to my liking so until I feel the need, I’m sticking to it.

I am trying one slight difference with my next batch (tomorrow). I’m using 1 gallon of distilled water in an attempt to cut the hardness of my tap water because I am making a hefeweizen.
Same near Chicago. We have Lake Michigan water and I add 1 campden tablet when making 5.5 gallon batch. I made over 250 batches since 1995. Mostly BIAB but lately more extract. The taste is as good as BIAB but the time spend is much shorter.
 

mac_1103

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How about instead of "if your tap water tastes good you can brew with it" we try "I've brewed styles I like with my tap water and they taste fine to me so I'm not going to worry about it."

Might stop the odd repeat of this argument now and then. Or maybe not.
 

hout17

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How about instead of "if your tap water tastes good you can brew with it" we try "I've brewed styles I like with my tap water and they taste fine to me so I'm not going to worry about it."

Might stop the odd repeat of this argument now and then. Or maybe not.
The only issue I see with this is that tap water will vary by region and even by the season so this doesn't necessarily apply. Maybe something like I got my water report for my tap water and here are the beer styles that came out good with this water.
 

mac_1103

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Maybe something like I got my water report for my tap water and here are the beer styles that came out good with this water.
Yeah, "I'm not going to worry about it" doesn't mean that you don't have to worry about it, and "mine works for me" doesn't mean that yours will work for you.
 

z-bob

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I like the challenge of brewing with my tapwater, and it adds a local terroir (terrier?) to my beer -- which is probably mostly just in my head. I do have to dechlorinate it and add some kind of acid (the water, not my head.) That's usually all the treatment I do.
 

MrClint

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This appears to be one of those "scorched earth" type of discussions that I see on just about every Internet message board. Ultimately nobody wins the argument. The camps are deeply entrenched, armed and ready. On guitar boards we have the tone wood topic, on the gardening forums we have organic vs conventional growing. On tropical fish keeping and brewing forums we have water futzing vs "go with what you've got out of the tap" (using your dechlor method of choice).

Pick your lane, but you are probably not going to move someone from their lane. For me, I will continue to roll with my LADWP tap water that I've used to bake sourdough bread with wild local yeast, keep and raise Amazonian & African cichlids, water house plants & blueberry plants and brew beer. You do you.
 

Bobby_M

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The point has been made that "it depends" or "it depends on your goals". Sure, that's exactly what it is. Attention to one of 100 possible details in any given process (such as brewing) will only incrementally improve the outcome. What happens is that each individual brewer will pick a few (out of 100) to care about and once they make beer they are happy with, all the other possible ones are a complete waste of time so stop telling me I'm wrong. No one really has the time or endurance to explore every option.

What I can say with confidence is that the best brewers I know all brew with RO water and care very much about their mineral profile and mash pH. Aside from my personal opinion about who a good brewer is, here's more data. The people in the GSHB club below all use RO. I don't know about the other two.

1670808172319.png



On the other hand, you might see this and conclude that water is extremely important because the biggest winners care about it. Well, it's just one of 100 things. To brew at this level, I can tell you they care about a LOT more than the water.
 
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Slim M

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I’ve brewed with 2 different municipalities water at different locations and both benefited slightly from adjustments or at least in my opinion but not by much. The regulars never could tell the difference you know after a few pints the sensitivity to taste kind of gets blurred.
 
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JoeSpartaNJ

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The point has been made that "it depends" or "it depends on your goals". Sure, that's exactly what it is. Attention to one of 100 possible details in any given process (such as brewing) will only incrementally improve the outcome. What happens is that each individual brewer will pick a few (out of 100) to care about and once they make beer they are happy with, all the other possible ones are a complete waste of time so stop telling me I'm wrong. No one really has the time or endurance to explore every option.

What I can say with confidence is that the best brewers I know all brew with RO water and care very much about their mineral profile and mash pH. Aside from my personal opinion about who a good brewer is, here's more data. The people in the GSHB club below all use RO. I don't know about the other two.

View attachment 807644


On the other hand, you might see this and conclude that water is extremely important because the biggest winners care about it. Well, it's just one of 100 things. To brew at this level, I can tell you they care about a LOT more than the water.

I didn't realize this would cause such a debate.

I kind of did a reset. Went back to all my original methods on my oatmeal stout. Used tap water, 60 minute boil times (had done 30 or less for the last few years), did a mash out for 10 minutes. I guess we will see how it goes. Worst case scenario, I'm out $30 and 5 hours of my time.

As for competition, I have only entered a few (only out of peer pressure from from my club, and did ok.) We enter beers we do as a group, and do fairly well usually.


BTW......Larry Bentley wins everything.
 
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I kind of did a reset. Went back to all my original methods on my oatmeal stout. Used tap water, 60 minute boil times (had done 30 or less for the last few years), did a mash out for 10 minutes. I guess we will see how it goes. Worst case scenario, I'm out $30 and 5 hours of my time.

$30 to "try it out" seems like a reasonable and cost effective approach for an experienced brewer.



More generally, for some brewers here, the rising cost of RO / distilled water is causing them to look into using tap water. For example, there was this
Seeing as the RO machine has more than doubled in price I'm looking for cheaper/alternative means.
in the topic that I mentioned in #15 (above).

In a couple of recent topics, there is sufficient information to 'piece together' an approach for brewing with tap water (including tap water with multiple sources). There are a number of steps and a number of decisions - it's not easy-peasy, but it's also not a rabbit hole.



It's likely that the topic of "how can I reduce the cost of my brewing water?" will be back.

With prior reoccurring topics ("extract darker than expected"), there is often a piece of information missing (color of the LME going into the kettle).

With tap water, that piece of information appears to be an understanding of the mineral content of the tap water. For some brewers, it may be just a general understanding; for others, it may be knowng ppm.
 
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mac_1103

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most people think their beer is great and it's great specifically because of the exact way that they have brewed it
Whenever I brew something that people tell me tastes great, I figure I just got lucky. Then I go back to my notes and try to do exactly the same thing again to see if my luck will hold. Sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn't. But I haven't made anything undrinkable yet (despite my best efforts).

I spent the past 40 years needing to be completely anal about everything in my job and damned near perfect all the time. Brewing is my retirement hobby. I don't want it to be like work. OTOH I still very much enjoy learning about what others who are much more fastidious than I do to address various issues. I like to understand the theory even if I'm not going to put it all into practice.
 

NSMikeD

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The point has been made that "it depends" or "it depends on your goals". Sure, that's exactly what it is. Attention to one of 100 possible details in any given process (such as brewing) will only incrementally improve the outcome. What happens is that each individual brewer will pick a few (out of 100) to care about and once they make beer they are happy with, all the other possible ones are a complete waste of time so stop telling me I'm wrong. No one really has the time or endurance to explore every option.

What I can say with confidence is that the best brewers I know all brew with RO water and care very much about their mineral profile and mash pH. Aside from my personal opinion about who a good brewer is, here's more data. The people in the GSHB club below all use RO. I don't know about the other two.

View attachment 807644


On the other hand, you might see this and conclude that water is extremely important because the biggest winners care about it. Well, it's just one of 100 things. To brew at this level, I can tell you they care about a LOT more than the water.



This is a BIAB thread. I wonder how many blue ribbon brewers are BIAB. Not that you can't brew great beer in BIAB. If we start with the premise that one enters BIAB knowing that without some modifications, we are simplifying the process that might sacrifice some of the finer details in brewing but yet still being able to brew a very good beer.


On that assumption if a BIAB brewer is concerned with their water there are two options that stand out (ie there are others but let's start with the obvious ones). They can invest in a filtration system that will provide 0 TDS clean palette. This is certainly an option and a decent RO (or RODI) system for home brewing can be gotten in the $100 - $200 range. Keep in mind knowing your tap water chemistry (ie sending out to be tested or using municipal reports) is useful in determine the size and type of filtration you will need.

The second is a bit more reliable to the "if it tastes good it will be good for brewing" test. Using a municipal water report, while not exact, can be very useful to the home brewer without having to spend money. It will let you know if your water is hard or soft and whether or not they are treating it with chorine or chloramine (see my above post). A few variables will be the frequency of the reports, the variations in the tests and level of key elements and compounds. One's water may be too hard and alter the beer in an undesirable way and thus a filtration system may be his/her best option.

IMO, it all starts with knowing what is coming out of your tap. Without that information, all discussion are anecdotal and not much use to the brewer seeking knowledge. If your were coming to my house and asked for directions, I would firstly have to asking you a question: where are you? Same for water and brewing.

Then is comes down to whether or not a home brewer wants to incorporate water chemistry into their method and how exacting they want to be. Fortunately, there are good articles from the basics to very sophisticated to educate the brewer and most brewing software can make this a very easy process for the newer brewer to use.
 

DBhomebrew

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This is the issue with tap and municipal water quality reports. I'm just now looking at my district's most recent on their website. "2021"

Alkalinity (CaCO3) 51.5-304
Ca 25.4-74.9
Cl 5.26-13
SO4 17.2-41.2
TDS 148-350

With that range, what am I supposed to do?!
 

InspectorJon

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What I can say with confidence is that the best brewers I know all brew with RO water and care very much about their mineral profile and mash pH.
I suppose this might go in the “it depends” category also. One can care deeply about mineral profiles and pH but still use municipal water if the water is right.

I live in an area that has very low mineral content, mountain water runoff in the municipal water supply (Sierra Foothills east of Sacramento). It is all rain water and snow melt. There is little seasonal change in the water and every local brewery I have asked uses tap water and makes adjustments depending on the beer style. There is a production scale sake maker in Folsom that chose the location because of the water.

Of course not everyone lives in the Land of Sky Blue Waters or can say It’s The Water.
 

AlexKay

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This is a BIAB thread. I wonder how many blue ribbon brewers are BIAB. Not that you can't brew great beer in BIAB. If we start with the premise that one enters BIAB knowing that without some modifications, we are simplifying the process that might sacrifice some of the finer details in brewing but yet still being able to brew a very good beer.
Professionals use BIAB, in the form of a mash filter. Mash filters make world-class beers. The Germans tend not to use them, but the Belgians do, and have for over 100 years.
 
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This is the issue with tap and municipal water quality reports. I'm just now looking at my district's most recent on their website. "2021"

Alkalinity (CaCO3) 51.5-304
Ca 25.4-74.9
Cl 5.26-13
SO4 17.2-41.2
TDS 148-350

With that range, what am I supposed to do?!

Ideas for measuring water quality on brew day:
FWIW, I haven't used these ideas (yet), but I am gathering up ideas for possibily switching from 'no mineral' water to tap water of a known mineral content.
 
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