Importance of water?

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Gusso

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That was the primary reason I suggested that the OP might want to get a Ward Labs report.
Even though I've been brewing for about 15 years, I just recently starting using Bru'n Water. Definitely makes a major difference. A Ward report would be mostly worthless to me as my local water reports fluctuate monthly (they actually have a "Homebrewing" chart on my local water website). Unfortunately, the figures are usually a month or two behind. I now use RO and build.
 

Oleson M.D.

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Our city tap water is very constant, with only minor variations from month to month.
We filter our water, with a high quality countertop cartridge type filter, and/or our built in RO system.

As is, the water has a good base profile for most any beer. So we never add anything. Works for us.
 

VikeMan

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We filter our water, with a high quality countertop cartridge type filter, and/or our built in RO system.
You RO filter and then add nothing back? For all grain?

As is, the water has a good base profile for most any beer. So we never add anything.
I would argue that no one profile is good for most any beer. From a pH perspective, it can't be, if we define "good" as the bare minimum of getting mash pH somewhere between 5.2 and 5.6. (Let alone flavor and mouthfeel considerations.)
 

Oleson M.D.

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Correct. We do not modify the city tap water, with the exception of filtration.
Yes, all grain.
 

VikeMan

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Correct. We do not modify the city tap water, with the exception of filtration.
Yes, all grain.
If you RO filter, you are certainly modifying it.
 
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Our city tap water is very constant, with only minor variations from month to month.
We filter our water, with a high quality countertop cartridge type filter, and/or our built in RO system.

As is, the water has a good base profile for most any beer. So we never add anything. Works for us.
Anecdotal stories on individuals tap water are, at best, a feel good read.

Most likely, the stories have little value as everyone is likely to have tap water with a different mineral content.

On the other hand, stories on individuals tap water which include needed mineral content (and adjustments that are made) can be useful - as people do learn by example.
 

Oleson M.D.

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Anecdotal stories on individuals tap water are, at best, a feel good read.

Most likely, the stories have little value as everyone is likely to have tap water with a different mineral content.

On the other hand, stories on individuals tap water which include needed mineral content (and adjustments that are made) can be useful - as people do learn by example.
You asked for it...

Ca - 39
CaCO3 - 96
Mg - 4
Na - 30
SO4 - 58
 

Bobby_M

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See post #46. Clearly stated that we modify with filtration.
I think the point that may not be have been articulated properly is that you were unclear whether you brew with 100% filtered tap water or 100% RO water or some combination of both. Without knowing the exact ionic content of the tap water, it is impossible that it is ideal for every beer style without some modification. Anecdotally being happy with all beer styles on that water source is fine. It is just not good general advice for anyone looking to maximize their success.
 
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For those that are looking for an introduction or remedial refresher article on the five six major ions in a water report, check out "The Big Six Water Ions and Water Chemistry in Beer Brewing" over at the BeerSmith blog. The Bru'n Water "Water Knowledge" page is also a good resource.

For those using RO/distilled water, zinc is helpful for yeast health, so some beer-specific yeast nutrient may be appropriate:
1634413388631.png
 
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Let's to back to a comment in #1:
I'm curious what you all do (if anything) to treat (or test) your water at any point in the brewing process.
My "aha" moment with regard to "water chemistry" and "all-grain" brewing is that it's really just water adjustments to achieve specific goals.

Start with a water source (generally of a known mineral content and answer the following questions:
  1. what adjustments are needed to start with quality brewing water?
  2. what adjustments are needed to achieve a proper mash?
  3. what adjustments could be made to enhance the flavor of the beer?
  4. what adjustments would be helpful for a healthy fermentation?
 
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With regard to water adjustments and extract brewing, there's this from a popular book (circa 2005):

1634414563824.png


RO/distilled water is a good solution to the 1st step, yeast nutrient for the 3rd.
 
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Flavor adjustments for extract brewing are covered, in general, in a couple of books (circa 2017). There's also this table from a book (circa 2014):
1634414997197.png


note that profiles are brand specific & I'm going to respect the author's copyright. Generalized amounts (not specific to a brand of DME/LME can be found at the Bru'n Water web site, the Brun' Water Spreadsheet, and the Brewing Water article at the Craft Beer and Brewing web site.
 

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... and just one more thing (for today)

Water Chemistry: Straight vs. Adjusted RO Water In A Czech Pilsner | exBEERiment Results! (brulosophy web site) ...

... has a link to a presentation at NHC 2007.

In that presentation, the presenters brewed four beers:
  1. a pale ale with "pale ale" water
  2. a stout with "stout water"
  3. a pale ale with "stout" water
  4. a stout with "pale ale" water.
A couple of the slides at the end of the presentation may be of interest.
 
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At such an early stage, I would concentrate more on the brewing process and get that worked out before I even thought about water profiles. Heck, I've been brewing for 30 years, and the only time I do water adjustment, is if I brew something under 8 SRM. Otherwise I use my tap water with great results.
Thanks! I know I'm probably overthinking things at this point. I already eager to dig deeper into things.
 
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IPAMike

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Hey, the good news is that they disinfect with chorine (not chloramine) and use relatively low levels (4.0 ppm). Probably a good idea to let it sit out or boil off the free chlorine before use. You have pretty high alkalinity and hardness but Ca++ and Mg++ levels are pretty reasonable and I'm having some trouble reconciling those data. You might want to get a Ward Labs report. In any case, you are probably going to want some lactic or phosphoric acid on hand to adjust pH.
Thanks for the feedback. I'm not super up on water chemistry yet but learning...
 
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IPAMike

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That's a small but very important detail. ^
Chlorine "kills" beer.

Dosage: 1/4 crushed Campden tablet per 5 gallons of water. Just stir it well to dissolve. And stir it again, a minute or so later (timing is not critical). It works within minutes.


Campden works faster and 100% guaranteed to remove all traces of chlorine.
It's so easy, cheap, and imperceptible, it's borderline criminal that a Campden Tablet isn't included with every recipe kit.
Thanks! I need to pick up some bottle caps today anyway. I'm sure my local shop should have Campden tablets.
 
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IPAMike

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... continuing with a thought based on my previous reply on alkalinity limits ...

Starting out with DME/LME, there's nothing wrong with using tap water of an unknown mineral content - as long as the beer comes out fine. But if the beer ends up with unexpected flavors, inappropriate mineral content needs to be considered as a source of the unexpected flavors.

Starting with distilled/RO/low mineral water is one way to avoid the troubleshooting step.

If mineral content of the tap water is known, there appears to be information (note: this is speculation) in a couple of places that can be used to establish rough ppm ranges for good vs poor tap water. Once this is known, some of the techniques that people use to dilute minerals / alkalinity may (again: this is speculation) be appropriate for adjusting tap water when brewing with DME/LME.
Yeah. I may not sweat things too much until I make the jump to all grain. From what I'm gathering, having the "right" water is more important than when extract brewing.
 
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IPAMike

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Took me a minute to figure out where this came from. Total hardness is expressed as molar mass equivalents of CaCO3

CaC03 = 100.1 g/mol
Ca2+ = 40.1 g/mol
Mg2+= 24.3 g/mol

So, molar mass ratios can be expressed as:
MCaCO3 / MCa = 100.1 / 40.1 = 2.5
MCaCO3 / MMg = 100.1 / 24.3 = 4.1
I'm going to have to take your word on these numbers. Haha! :)
 
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IPAMike

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In the grand scheme of the cost of a batch of beer, especially if you grant a very small hourly wage to your time spent, 6 gallons of RO or distilled water is practically nothing. When brewing extracts, it's a very simple choice to avoid any water based off flavors.
Good point. Thanks!
 

Oleson M.D.

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I think the point that may not be have been articulated properly is that you were unclear whether you brew with 100% filtered tap water or 100% RO water or some combination of both. Without knowing the exact ionic content of the tap water, it is impossible that it is ideal for every beer style without some modification. Anecdotally being happy with all beer styles on that water source is fine. It is just not good general advice for anyone looking to maximize their success.
Here is how we do it:

1. Brew with 100% straight filtered city tap water.
2. Brew with 100% RO water...yes, we have done this with good results.
3. Brew with a combination of filtered tap and RO, in several ratios depending on the beer style.

We have brewed ales, lagers, porters, stouts, Imperial Stouts, Barleywines, all with good success. Works for us, might not work for you.

Like someone said on that "other" brewing forum...the best brewers do not worry about water.
 

Falstaff

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I brew with store brand spring water. I make malty beers, as I'm not a huge fan of hops, besides the necessary bitterness.

This has not worked for my attempts at hoppy beers, as I can never seem to taste the hops, even if I add enough to make my mouth burn.

On the other hand, using tap water made all my beers taste like olives or pickles, which I attributed to the chlorine and chloramines.

Using campden tablets fixed this too, but I always got worried I was using too much, and adding hardness, or using too little, and leaving chloramines.

I also used RO for a while, adding my own minerals, before I decided I just prefer to make malty beers anyways, and quit trying to beat my head against the wall trying to bring out the hops.

Spring water has made all my stouts, browns, scotch ales, ciders, and meads delicious.
 
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I brew with store brand spring water. I make malty beers, as I'm not a huge fan of hops, besides the necessary bitterness.

This has not worked for my attempts at hoppy beers, as I can never seem to taste the hops, even if I add enough to make my mouth burn.

On the other hand, using tap water made all my beers taste like olives or pickles, which I attributed to the chlorine and chloramines.

Using campden tablets fixed this too, but I always got worried I was using too much, and adding hardness, or using too little, and leaving chloramines.

I also used RO for a while, adding my own minerals, before I decided I just prefer to make malty beers anyways, and quit trying to beat my head against the wall trying to bring out the hops.

Spring water has made all my stouts, browns, scotch ales, ciders, and meads delicious.
I do love the taste of olives and pickles. Not so much in my beer though. :)
It seems like a process of trial and error and "dialing it in".
 

hout17

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I brew with store brand spring water. I make malty beers, as I'm not a huge fan of hops, besides the necessary bitterness.

This has not worked for my attempts at hoppy beers, as I can never seem to taste the hops, even if I add enough to make my mouth burn.

On the other hand, using tap water made all my beers taste like olives or pickles, which I attributed to the chlorine and chloramines.

Using campden tablets fixed this too, but I always got worried I was using too much, and adding hardness, or using too little, and leaving chloramines.

I also used RO for a while, adding my own minerals, before I decided I just prefer to make malty beers anyways, and quit trying to beat my head against the wall trying to bring out the hops.

Spring water has made all my stouts, browns, scotch ales, ciders, and meads delicious.
I have good luck jumping my sulfate up to 100ppm to bring out the hops in my beer. A lot of folks like their sulfate level higher but that's my preference.
 

Oleson M.D.

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indicating participants in this xBmt were unable to reliably distinguish a New England IPA treated to achieve a targeted water profile from one brewed with straight untreated distilled water.

I needed to identify the unique sample 7 times (p<0.02) in order to reach statistical significance. However, I correctly chose the unique sample only 4 times (p=0.44), indicating my inability to reliably distinguish a Blonde Ale made with straight RO water from one made with RO water adjusted to my desired mineral profile.

The above came from experiments where they could not tell differences in beers with treated / untreated water.
 

VikeMan

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For the sake of argument, let's ignore the lack of power in the sample sizes, and just accept the Brulosophy experiments as valid.

If you're going to use those two Brulosophy experiments as evidence for "no difference" in those two cases, then you have to accept the one on Czech Pilsner as evidence that there was a difference detected in that case. And where there is a difference, there's a subjective preference. Therefore it would be incorrect to state that water doesn't matter.

BTW, that experiment with p=0.44 did not prove that no difference was detected by that one person <ahem> who tasted the beers. If anything, it actually supports a likelihood that there was a difference detected. 0.44 means that if there were no difference, there was only a 44% chance that the taster would have got it right the 4 times that he did or more. Put another way...if you had 100 experiments that had p-values of 0.44, you could be pretty sure that about 66 of them detected differences.
 
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The NHC 2007 presentation has recipes that could be brewed to attempt to reproduce the results.

So does Brulosophy.

For those that are curious, maybe it's time to take "brewing science" to the next level and see if these results can be reproduced.
 
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The above came from experiments where they could not tell differences in beers with treated / untreated water.
For those who are interested in trying to reproduce the Brulosophy recipes that you mentioned, can you provide direct links to those articles?
 

jerrylotto

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A brewery located in Bitburg, Germany, uses the local water. With no chemical treatment.
You can bet that they know the mineral content and there are no chloramines used for disinfectant. Using local water is not the issue - using water with unknown or variable chemistry is the problem.
 
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eta: the primary point of this reply is highlighted.

Using local water is not the issue - using water with unknown or variable chemistry is the problem.
And, anecdotally, some people find that their tap water comes from multiple sources of water. Some times it's blended, some times the provider switches between sources.

aside: changing from a direct reply to a more general comment

One need to understand the characteristics of the source water (and source water supply). With that information, one can answer these questions:
  1. what adjustments are needed to start with quality brewing water?
  2. what adjustments are needed to achieve a proper mash?
  3. what adjustments could be made to enhance the flavor of the beer?
  4. what adjustments would be helpful for a healthy fermentation?
Now, for some observations:
  • Not all grains have the same impact on the mash (e.g. dark grains)
  • Everyone tastes beer differently (See The New IPA, chapter 5 for a link to study from the 1980s).
And an opinion:
  • Enhancing beer flavor, using common salts, is an opinion by the recipe designer on how the beer tastes best.
 

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