Bottled vs. Tap Water

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xSpeaker

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I just put my 4th brew into primary (amped up Hoegaarden clone ~6%abv), when I realized that it might be time to reevaluate using bottled vs. tap water.

I live in Berkeley CA where the water is, frankly, delicious. Beats the hell out of southern california water. I don't think it is hard water or chlorine-y.

Before brewing I've been heading over to Safeway to buy pre-bottled water and just purchasing the cheapest stuff they have ~$1/gal along with a 10lb bag of ice to quickly bring down the wort's temp. (the 10lb bag gets me a just about perfect 70 degree pitching temp within 1-2 mins)

So here's the question part-- should I keep buying the bottles of water, or save myself an extra $5/batch and use tap water? What are the risks associated with tap water? Naturally, I'll be sanitizing my holding bottles before putting it into the wort.

OR I guess I could just brew a clone of the last batch I made and do a side by side taste test.

Thanks y'all.
 

glenn514

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If it's good enough to drink, why isn't it good enough to brew with? I just don't understand why we need to purchase artificially treated water. The stuff that comes out of my faucet is fine to drink...except when some crud comes off the city water lines and makes the water turn funny colors...so I brew with it.

Try it on your next brew. If you don't like the brew, go back to the bottled water. Simple.

glenn514:mug:
 

Yooper

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Some water just doesn't taste good, so people buy bottled water. Some water has chlorine aroma, and some has chloramines added by the water company. Those are treatable, so even that's not a problem. If the water tastes good, it should be ok to brew an extract batch with.
 

Airborneguy

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Your tap water is perfectly fine for brewing. I recommend getting yourself a water report for your tap water source though. From there, you can build a profile you want if you decide to start tweaking your water chemistry. I use NYC tap water right out of the tap. If it can make the best breads and pizza I've ever tasted, it can certainly make my beer!
 

FiddleTilDeath

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I have used Boston tap water on a batch with great success. However, Poland Spring is just my favorite tasting water so I use it to brew now. MMMmm
 

944play

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Would an AG batch have different water requirements?

Yes. The activities of various mash enzymes are optimized at different temps and pH's.


It's a good idea to reduce chloramine in your brewing and top-up water with Campden tablets. It doesn't take much, especially in the cool season when the microbial load the water supplier is countering, and therefore amount of antimicrobial chemical added, is low.
 

Wellshooter

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My water is pretty hard. I brewed with it for a while but my low SRM beers were harsh. The PH of my tap water was also 8+ so I've started adjusting that a little. (4 ml of 36% HCL in 10 gallons). Then I decided to start using filtered water. There are a number of those water stations around town. $1 for 5 gallons. The 5 gallon PET bottles are $7 at WalMart so it doesn't take long to pay for them vs the 1 gallon spring water bottles.

My adjusted water beer is just about to emerge from the pipeline. I hope I helped it.


I did a taste test after I posted. YES !! It helped a LOT !!!
 

jigidyjim

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I live in Oakland and use tap from the same water company, and I know other people here do too. Supposedly Trumer brewery in Berkeley uses the same water we do... When I did partial boils I used tap water for the boil and bottled water as top-off water just because it was a lot more convenient than having to boil the top-off water. Plus I usually have one un-opened bottle of water lying around just in case I need some room-temp water for something that I forgot about.

Question though - when you say you use a 10lb ice bag to get your wort to pitching temp in 1 min... how are you doing that? Are you dumping your ice straight into your partial boil? I haven't heard of that before - I sort of assumed that ice bags couldn't be trusted to be bacteria-free, though to be honest I've never researched it.
 
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xSpeaker

xSpeaker

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Jim-- I think we actually spoke b/c of carboys on CL. Small world.

I use a bucket for primary, so I put the 10lbs of ice and about 1.5-2.5 gal (depending on how much evaporated during the boil) of cold water into the bucket right before my boil finishes. After that I dump in the wort and stir it to make sure all the ice dissolves. It has worked marvelously at least 3 times for me.

That all sounds awesome. I'll be saving me some money on the next couple of brews.
 

802VermontHomebrew

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the only way I wouldnt trust tap water is if it were sulfer water.... up in the mountains and country are where its most common... atleast around where I live (smells like bad eggs)... But where I am moving to has great city water.
 

beer_guy_dave

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It's good to hear that others use ice to cool the wort. I've done that for the last half dozen batches or so and have had no problem with it. Very quick and convenient. My LHBS owner told me about using ice when I first started brewing. He said most home brewers would frown on the idea, but again, I've had no problems.

Dave
 

jigidyjim

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Yah using store bought ice in your brew definitely set off sanitary alarms in my head, but I've never really researched it... Sounds super convenient though.
 

Teromous

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I would highly recommend getting a water filter instead of using straight tap water. Water reports are great, but unless you sent off for a report from your own faucet, odds are your H2O is picking up more goodies along the way to your house.

You can get a Brita water filter pretty cheap. I use one of the pitchers, and fill up my bottling bucket with water before a brew session. The carbon reduces bad odor and taste from tap water that can make your beer have off flavors in the end. I've noticed that the filtered water tastes better than bottled water.
 

jaynik

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I have not researched this much, but have been disuaded from putting ice water or cold water directly to the hot wort. If anyone has any smart logic behind why this is bad, I'd like to hear it. I would much prefer to bring my wort down within a couple minutes.
 

Teromous

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I have not researched this much, but have been disuaded from putting ice water or cold water directly to the hot wort. If anyone has any smart logic behind why this is bad, I'd like to hear it. I would much prefer to bring my wort down within a couple minutes.

When you boil your wort, you are sanitizing what is inside. This is why it is recommended that when using a wort chiller, you place it in the pot near the end of the boil (while the wort is still boiling) so it will sanitize. If your ice or water isn't sanitized, there is a chance it could contain bacteria. By taking ice or cold water and pouring it into the wort, you are undoing what you have accomplished. There is a chance that your wort is now infected.
 

beer_guy_dave

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I know that intuitively, we take such care in sanitizing everything that it IS a risk using commercial ice (or any non-sanitized ice) to chill the wort. But I don't have a wort chiller and have never had a bad batch. I guess I'll keep using the ice til I get a skunker batch.
 

portalgod

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I usually do my boil with just over 3 gallons, then icebath the 3 gallons. During the boil, I put a pair of gallon jugs of store bought spring water into the freezer. When the ice bath gets the wort down to 80 degrees, I pour both the cooled wort into the fermenter with the chilled 2 gallons spring water (or enough to reach 5 1/4 gallons).

I use my ice in the ice bath.
 

bovineblitz

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I use Cambridge MA water, it's great. After doing a little research I found out there's chloramines in my water (which is why despite the water being soft it dries out my skin in the shower). I just add a crushed campden tab to 10 gallons of water and it's more than enough for my 5 gallon batches and I never run into the issue of needing more water. I bought water for my first couple of batches then realized I was wasting $6-8 per batch and decided to stop doing so.

If you just have chlorine in your water, you can also use the campden tabs... or I saw some really nice ghetto water filters people have rigged up on this forum and was about to make one myself until I learned that chloramines aren't filtered out by those types of filters. Or, you can just boil, but IMO that's a pain and takes forever.

Campden tabs do the trick just fine.
 

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I use Cambridge MA water, it's great. After doing a little research I found out there's chloramines in my water (which is why despite the water being soft it dries out my skin in the shower). I just add a crushed campden tab to 10 gallons of water and it's more than enough for my 5 gallon batches and I never run into the issue of needing more water. I bought water for my first couple of batches then realized I was wasting $6-8 per batch and decided to stop doing so.

If you just have chlorine in your water, you can also use the campden tabs... or I saw some really nice ghetto water filters people have rigged up on this forum and was about to make one myself until I learned that chloramines aren't filtered out by those types of filters. Or, you can just boil, but IMO that's a pain and takes forever.

Campden tabs do the trick just fine.

You can boil your water the day before, to get rid of chlorine. Or even letting it sit lets some of the chlorine disipate. Chloramines don't boil off, though- so if your water company uses chloramines you have to use campden tablets to get rid of it.

About the ice in the wort to cool- sure, it works. If you want to ensure that it's sanitary, you can make your own ice blocks in tupperware in your freezer out of your own water, and not buy commercial ice. Or as others suggested, put bottled water in the chest freezer, and pour it into your wort when it's very cold.
 

SweetSounds

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When I started, I boiled my top off water (extract)
then I got lazy, and stopped doing that. I have just been adding tap water at the right temperature, so far with success.

In my AG rig (collecting parts now) I'm adding a filtration system. The water in DesMoines is OK, but a little high on Ph I think. There are only 4 options right? Tap water, boil water, buy water, filter water. I don't want to boil my water. It takes energy, and energy is expensive. This is the whole reason I'm going electric in the new rig. Plus, boiling will add a couple hours to by brew day to heat, and then cool water. It just doesn't make sense to me. Buying water is a pain to get, and have on hand. And tap water I think is OK. In the end, I just bought this filter system on eBay. It should work...
 

bovineblitz

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When I started, I boiled my top off water (extract)
then I got lazy, and stopped doing that. I have just been adding tap water at the right temperature, so far with success.

In my AG rig (collecting parts now) I'm adding a filtration system. The water in DesMoines is OK, but a little high on Ph I think. There are only 4 options right? Tap water, boil water, buy water, filter water. I don't want to boil my water. It takes energy, and energy is expensive. This is the whole reason I'm going electric in the new rig. Plus, boiling will add a couple hours to by brew day to heat, and then cool water. It just doesn't make sense to me. Buying water is a pain to get, and have on hand. And tap water I think is OK. In the end, I just bought this filter system on eBay. It should work...

You can just use campden tabs too, use a crushed half tab per 5 gallons (I crush it between two spoons). If the water tastes okay, they're cheap and easy to use. If it doesn't taste so good, filtering is the way to go.
 
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