How Important is Boiling "top off" Water?

Homebrew Talk - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Forum

Help Support Homebrew Talk:

BigTexun

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 15, 2010
Messages
124
Reaction score
3
Location
Atlanta
I'm still a newbie... got my start with a Mr. Beer. Moving up to 5 gallon batches now and wondering how important it is to pre-boil the 2 gallons of "makeup" water pre-fermentation. I didn't do it with the Mr. Beer and got what I considered to be outstanding results.

In case it matters, for now, I am still using LME with steeping grains.

Your thoughts?
 

kryolla

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 31, 2008
Messages
437
Reaction score
2
Location
Reading PA
I never boiled top off water and had good results but I purchase water 5g for $1
 

avibayer

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 7, 2009
Messages
234
Reaction score
4
Location
new york
My friend does it every time. I never do, and I think my beer is better. But thats something different. I think water quality would be the determining factor.

Have you tried it both ways?
 

mosquitocontrol

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 6, 2008
Messages
1,082
Reaction score
10
Location
Denver
I've never boiled it. 40+ batches. I just filter thru the brita into a sanitized water cooler bottle to save for when i need it.
 

ArcaneXor

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 10, 2007
Messages
4,502
Reaction score
127
Depends... if it's bottled water, it should be fine. Municipal tap water will usually be ok unless it has chlorine in it, in which case it needs to be boiled. If it has chloramine in it, it has to be filtered to remove the chloramine first, or you'll end up with beer that tastes like band-aids.
 

tamoore

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 23, 2010
Messages
299
Reaction score
1
Location
Grayling, MI
I have deep well water, and I'm planning on putting it right in from the tap, unboiled.

It's probably the best tasting tap water I've ever had, but I can't say I'm totally not worried about doing it this way on my first batch. If it works, I'll be happy... :)
 

DoctorHops

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 27, 2009
Messages
59
Reaction score
1
Location
Cedar Crest, NM
I brew with great tasting deep well water too. The well water is not treated out of the tap and we have never had any health problems that we could trace to the lack of water treatment. But I figure with all the steps one takes to sanitize things in the brewing process that adding untreated water to the mix goes against what you have just accomplished with the sanitizing. So I boil all the water I use in brewing, except that which I sanitize in, which I figure is treated with the sanitizer. I use no rinse sanitizer so I don't rinse with tap water after sanitizing. I boil a gallon or so of water in a pasta pot before the brewing session and use it whenever I need pure water during the brewing process. I can boil 5 gallons of wort at a time, so no problems with having to add water to the boil after it is done. Usually it is used to top off the fermenter to make up for any shortages, usually only a quart or two.
 

Hermit

fuddle
Joined
Nov 2, 2009
Messages
2,316
Reaction score
83
Location
Alternate Universe
There WILL be bacteria in the top off water if it isn't boiled. Anything post boil that comes in contact with the wort should be sanitized. Some people seem to get away with it though. The sooner you drink the beer, probably less the risk that the bacteria can take hold enough to do damage. Going to make a beer that will age for at least a year? Why take the risk? One poster talked about a gusher infection that took two years to show up.
 

homebrewer_99

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 1, 2005
Messages
19,581
Reaction score
1,207
Location
I-80, Exit 27 (near the Quad Cities)
I've been using filtered tap water to top off my small boil Late Addition brews since 1994.

I've had very few problems and some of my brews are over 1 year old. ;)

I still have a 6er of Westmalle Dubbel that I made in 2006.
 
Joined
Nov 26, 2016
Messages
4,140
Reaction score
4,020
Location
Chicago
I brew with RO water. Whenever I service the system I'll clean and sanitize all the parts when I put it back together, running a mild bleach solution through everything, then I run a few gallons through to rinse it all out before connecting a new RO membrane. Since the water flowing in is chlorinated it should be aseptic apart from possibly some cysts which the pre-filter catches; once it has passed through the entire system it is essentially sterile. I use it all the time to top up fermenters, to dilute starter wort, etc. without any problems.
 
Joined
Feb 23, 2021
Messages
497
Reaction score
822
You don't need to. It's just a basic sanitary "rule" that says you need to sanitize everything on the cold side. Some people will tell you that they used dirty water and still had "great" beers. To each their own.

Also, boiling removes oxygen, so if you don't plan on pitching yeast right away, you can oxydize your beer. But even then, people will says that they never cared for oxidation and still made "great" beers.

See, it's not an all or nothing. Instead of scoring 85% on your beer, you'll get 82%. Most people can't tell the difference anyway. I think it's the sum of all those little details that makes a great beer. You can clearly skip a few steps if you want. You probably won't taste the difference. But it will be there.
 

jrgtr42

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 4, 2013
Messages
1,717
Reaction score
978
Location
Metrowest, Massachusets.
I would say it depends on your water to start with. If it tastes fine (i.e. there's no taste,) you should be fine.
If there's a chlorine taste or odor, I would use campden tabs, or let it sit out a few days before using (obviously this means planning ahead, but allowing it to sit will let the chlorine evaporate [for lack of a better term right now] out. Campden gets it out very quickly.)
If there's any kind of metallic or mineral taste, then I'd either filter or not use it at all.
 

BrewChem

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 11, 2011
Messages
355
Reaction score
282
I’m on a well and have always topped off straight from the tap. Been doing that for years and haven’t had a problem. I believe that it helps to pitch a healthy, viable slug of hungry yeast so they can get to work before anything can get a foothold.

That being said…. If boiling your top off water before adding or adding distilled water straight from a freshly opened bottle gives you some piece of mind, then do it.
 

Alex4mula

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 25, 2018
Messages
527
Reaction score
251
You don't need to. It's just a basic sanitary "rule" that says you need to sanitize everything on the cold side. Some people will tell you that they used dirty water and still had "great" beers. To each their own.

Also, boiling removes oxygen, so if you don't plan on pitching yeast right away, you can oxydize your beer. But even then, people will says that they never cared for oxidation and still made "great" beers.

See, it's not an all or nothing. Instead of scoring 85% on your beer, you'll get 82%. Most people can't tell the difference anyway. I think it's the sum of all those little details that makes a great beer. You can clearly skip a few steps if you want. You probably won't taste the difference. But it will be there.
I think this last paragraph is what tells the truth about a lot of the brewing practices. Each one decides how far they want to go to get the beer they like;-)
 

Saunassa

Rice River Brewing #lifeistooshortforcrappybeer
Joined
May 22, 2018
Messages
749
Reaction score
525
Location
Minnesota Finnish territories
On a well and if I don't have any spring water on hand I use it straight from the tap. If course it has gone through a whole house pre filter and then a carbon filter before my kitchen faucet.
 

JRHoots

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 22, 2021
Messages
68
Reaction score
225
When I brewed with extract I'd purchase gallons of water from the store and I'd just pour the top off water right in. No issues with that whatsoever.
 

McMullan

wort maker
Joined
Dec 22, 2015
Messages
355
Reaction score
327
Following what are often considered good practices in home brewing is more about minimising potential risks than being absolute requirements. One of the few exceptions is following good yeast pitching practices. Fail here and there's a good chance all the other corners cut add up to conspire against a successful brew. The number one issue reported in home brew forums. Under pitching half-dead yeast cells. Only when we follow good yeast pitching practices - pitch sufficient healthy cells - can we hope to believe Joe Bloggs had no issues whatsoever when he accidentally dropped his Speedos, a pair of Y-fronts, an old sock and a thong (his wife's, apparently) into his FV whilst pitching in a hurry, on his way to the dirty laundry basket.
 

Latest posts

Top