Cambridge, MA water for All-grain Brewing

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Well-Known Member
Nov 16, 2009
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Washington, DC
Greetings all,

I just moved back to Cambridge from DC where I had an inline water filter. What are peoples' thoughts on using Cambridge (Porter Square neighborhood if it matters) water for brewing? The water tastes fine though every now and then I pick up the faintest odor of chlorine. Should I use some cambden tablets? Will the Cl blow off during heating and boiling? Many thanks!


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Well-Known Member
Feb 6, 2012
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I live in Central Square, and I've been receiving a monthly water report from the Cambridge Water Dept for at least a year or so. It's fairly consistent, with a little bit of fluctuation, however there was recently some construction that led to temporary usage of Boston water (totally different), but we seem to be back to good old Cambridge water.

Here are some typical numbers that would concern you (mg/L):

Alkalinity as CaCO3: ~40
Chloride: ~150
Chlorine, Total Residual: ~3
Dissolved Solids, Total: ~350
pH: ~8.95
Sulfate: ~25
Calcium: ~22
Magnesium: ~5
Sodium: ~85

I have added Campden to every single batch where I am using any tap water before it ever touches any grain. I also use Bru'n water to adjust water, and usually dilute with 40–90% distilled or RO to cut back on the Chloride and Sodium to style.

What's very odd to me is that I was recently speaking with the brewmaster at Cambridge Brewing Company at their 25th anniversary party and he said there is no Chlorine or Chloramine in Cambridge water and that they use it straight out of the tap for most beers. I don't really understand what to believe but I don't think that a little bit of Campden would hurt even if it's not needed. I also like to brew IPAs with Sulfate up to 325 or so, so for me cutting the Sodium and Chloride and adding Calcium and Sulfate works very well for me and the beers have all turned out great.

The only thing that sucks is lugging 5–10 gallons of water jugs from the street up 3 flights of stairs ... So, yeah. Use it straight up to brew if you want, but why not rest assured and throw in half a campden?