Importance of water?

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VikeMan

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A brewery located in Bitburg, Germany, uses the local water. With no chemical treatment.
That's cool. I bet they aren't using it "as is" for a wide range of styles, i.e. grain bills with large differences in pH. If they are, some of those styles are suffering. And I bet they are using acid malt, which contains that pesky "chemical" Lactic Acid. You know, the same "chemical" that yeast and bacteria also make naturally.
 
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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.
Where is the article that talks about the blond ale recipe?
 

Pablo 54

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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.
Came here to say that. My experience is almost identical. I use Bru'n Water and had some Ward reports generated. Amounts varied wildly depending on the time of year. I now build everything off of Meijer Distilled water. Comes in 2.5 gallon containers. However, I've found there normally is an extra quart of water in them. Thank you Meijer.
My only other addition: Consider converting your Calcium Chloride into a liquid form.
 

Bobby_M

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Like someone said on that "other" brewing forum...the best brewers do not worry about water.
This is ridiculous in almost any context. The one way it's true is that good brewers don't "worry" about water because they know what's in the water they are using and have figured out that mash PH will be within acceptable range. In that way, I don't worry about it. I just verify with a pH meter that my software of choice was reliably predictive. It almost always is.

I'll absolutely concede that specific ionic levels such as total calcium or the chloride to sulfate ratio are much more nuanced an effect on the finished beer than mash pH is. However, its not as nuanced as a single brulosophy experiment would suggest (especially when the taster sample size is 1). The water "recipe" is one of those things that adds a certain sparkle to an already well brewed beer. That is to say a beer with the wrong ratios is not necessarily flawed by any measure.

There are a lot of ways to define who the best brewers are. In some circles, the brewer that can still make a beer worthy of choking down while ignoring best practices is the best brewer.
 

BrewDrinkRepeat

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the best brewers do not worry about water.
IMO and E, that is complete and utter nonsense. And that applies to both the "best" (whatever that highly subjective term means) homebrewers and professional brewers alike.

It is both provable and demonstrable that water mineral composition, particularly that of sulfate and chloride, has a significant effect on the flavor and mouthfeel perception of the finished beer. And while plenty of brewers make a number of beer styles to their liking without making any adjustments, it is impossible that one water profile can make excellent examples of all styles.

Literally not possible, under any circumstances.

You may choose to disregard this, and you may be happy with the beers you make (you are, after all, the only person whose opinion on your beer ultimately matters), but that doesn't make the above any less true.
 

IslandLizard

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I'm sure my local shop should have Campden tablets.
Or get a bag or jar with Potassium (or Sodium) Metabisulfite, also known as K-Meta (Na-Meta), used widely in wine and meads to prevent oxidation during racking.
1/16 teaspoon of that treats 5 gallons of water. That's a quarter of a quarter teaspoon! And doesn't need to be crushed. ;)
Even if you misjudge the measure, using a 1/4 teaspoon in 5 gallons (4x the amount needed), it's still fine you won't be able to taste or notice it.
 

Saunassa

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Extract with distilled water worked well, did not have enough one time and used tap(well) water. Turned out meh, found that water softener, even though new, still left enough salt to affect flavor. without it the mineral content was ok but a few points of clear water iron left a slight metallic aftertaste. Switched to spring water for partial mash and all grain. Water made all the difference especially with lighter color beer.
 

mashpaddled

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You don't need to worry about water if you happen to live somewhere with with water that just happens to be well suited for what you like to brew or you are happy with the beers you brew without worrying about your water. For most homebrewers and breweries, at least for all grain brewing, you aren't going to be able to brew great beer across a lot of styles without some degree of modification even if that is filtering out chlorine-based additives or cutting in neutral water. If you are happy with the beers you brew without fussing with water than all the better for you.
 

cire

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This is ridiculous in almost any context. The one way it's true is that good brewers don't "worry" about water because they know what's in the water they are using and have figured out that mash PH will be within acceptable range. In that way, I don't worry about it. I just verify with a pH meter that my software of choice was reliably predictive. It almost always is.

I'll absolutely concede that specific ionic levels such as total calcium or the chloride to sulfate ratio are much more nuanced an effect on the finished beer than mash pH is. However, its not as nuanced as a single brulosophy experiment would suggest (especially when the taster sample size is 1). The water "recipe" is one of those things that adds a certain sparkle to an already well brewed beer. That is to say a beer with the wrong ratios is not necessarily flawed by any measure.

There are a lot of ways to define who the best brewers are. In some circles, the brewer that can still make a beer worthy of choking down while ignoring best practices is the best brewer.
Ridiculous indeed, although, hang on a minute, pH measurement came into existence after brewers had adjusted (nuance???) their brewing liquors for several decades? Correct treatment of brewing liquor produces better brewing conditions and target for pH are what were found after an early electronic pH meter took measurements in breweries and reported the findings.

While pH is very important in brewing, better beer is made by considering other factors, learning what they are and not ignoring them.
 
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IPAMike

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Or get a bag or jar with Potassium (or Sodium) Metabisulfite, also known as K-Meta (Na-Meta), used widely in wine and meads to prevent oxidation during racking.
1/16 teaspoon of that treats 5 gallons of water. That's a quarter of a quarter teaspoon! And doesn't need to be crushed. ;)
Even if you misjudge the measure, using a 1/4 teaspoon in 5 gallons (4x the amount needed), it's still fine you won't be able to taste or notice it.
Thanks for the tip!
 

Oleson M.D.

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This is all very subjective. What works for us obviously is of little interest to many here. We are brewing beers that have won multiple awards at the largest single site competition, using only standard tap water, simply run through a filter.

My mineral content has been posted above, so we know what we are working with.

My next German Pils will have modified water, as an experiment. On the other hand, my neighbor and brewing friend is going the opposite direction, after having consumed many of my beers. He is going to do his next brew with filtered city tap water. No chemicals added.

The Brulosophy site showed 66% of the time, taste testers could not tell the difference.
 
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I don't worry about it. I just verify with a pH meter that my software of choice was reliably predictive. It almost always is.
This needs to be reinforced.

With water adjustments, in the 2020s, there is nothing to worry about.
  1. Pick an approach to water adjustment
  2. Gather the appropriate ingredients (and equipment)
  3. Brew (and measure as desired) with water treatments
 
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VikeMan

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Here is the evidence:

Gold Medal - 1st Place: Munich Helles
Gold Medal - 1st Place: Oktoberfest
Bronze Medal - 3rd Place: London Porter

2021 Bluebonnet Brewoff. 1,400 brewers in competition. 4,000 bottles of beer entered.
That's nice, but one competition is (statistically) meaningless. How many beers have you entered in comps over time? (Yes, you have to count your beers that didn't win, too.) Exactly how many other beers were in each of those flights? With that information, you could compute an "expected' number of medals as if medals were awarded randomly. A significant deviation from the expected number, assuming a large enough sample size, would tend to indicate better (or worse) than average beer. But even then, attributing that deviation to one single aspect (water) wouldn't necessarily be valid, because of all the other uncontrolled variables.

Many of us could bury you in an avalanche of medals won with beers made with targeted water, including cherry picked "Ninkasi" examples like yours. But it wouldn't prove anything.

One of the most common fallacies I see on the forums is "I do (or don't do) "X", and I make great beers therefore "X" (or no "X") is a best practice."

The Brulosophy site showed 66% of the time, taste testers could not tell the difference.
Brulosophy didn't show that at all. If you really believe that, I recommend taking a course in statistics.

As @BrewnWKopperKat mentioned, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. As mash pH and water profile targeting are widely accepted best practices, the burden of proof is on you. Good luck.
 
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jerrylotto

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It's not all about pH. While it is important for mash efficiency and reducing the extraction of tannins as well as inhibiting Maillard reactions in the boil (dark wort), alkalinity is also important for buffering - you could have wide swings of pH throughout your brewing processes without some buffering capacity in you water. Ca++ is necessary for yeast flocculation and health and a smaller concentration of Mg++ is needed too. This is understood both theoretically and empirically, not subjective. Free chlorine and chloramines will kill yeast cells - sodium or potassium metabisulfite (aka Campden) will remove these common disinfectants often used to stabilize tap water and also generate sulfur dioxide which will kill off a lot of bacteria without harming yeast in low concentrations (~70 ppm). Chlorides and sulfates affect flavor, bitterness, mouthfeel and dryness. For example, NEIPAs benefit from 2:1 chloride to sulfate ratios where British IPAs tend to be much higher is sulfate than chloride. Sodium can increase the sense of "sweetness" in you finished beer. Different concentrations of any these ions can have positive or negative (no pun intended) impact on the results of your mash, boil, fermentation and finishing steps.
 

Brewer Mike

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1/16 teaspoon of that treats 5 gallons of water. That's a quarter of a quarter teaspoon! And doesn't need to be crushed. ;)
I'm pretty sure 1/16 teaspoon is not a quarter of a teaspoon ;) I'm sure you mean 1/4 of a Camden tablet?
 

Bobby_M

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Here is the evidence:

Gold Medal - 1st Place: Munich Helles
Gold Medal - 1st Place: Oktoberfest
Bronze Medal - 3rd Place: London Porter

2021 Bluebonnet Brewoff. 1,400 brewers in competition. 4,000 bottles of beer entered.
Don't think for a minute that I'm not impressed with that medal pull. That is a very good single competition performance and I understand you being very proud of the accomplishment. I don't think it needs to said but no one is suggesting that you can't brew good beer without even knowing what's in your water. You can obviously brew very good Helles and Oktoberfest with your water. In fact, it's very close to what I would target in my own recipes for those styles of beer. Both end up with an acceptable mash pH as well.

This does not make "don't worry about water" a good piece of advice.

For any new all grain brewers (and less so for extract brewers) that have no clue what their water is like, there is an equal chance of their water being acceptable or completely unacceptable. When it falls into such a medium ground like yours does, of course the common advice will be "don't worry about it". When it is on the extreme ends of the spectrum, that brewer will either figure out their water sucks or just quit brewing before that happens.

In my case, I moved from an area with tap water like yours and brewed great light copper to brown beers to a private well that was so hard that it was impossible to brew a drinkable beer with regardless of the style. It kind of thrust me into "worrying" about water as a matter of hobby survival. If on the other hand, I was a full noob in the hobby and made 3 batches of undrinkable extract beer with this water, I would have bailed.

Perspective is everything.
 
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For those curious and thinking of attempting to reproduce some of the Brulosophy exbeeriments, the blond ale article mentioned earlier ...
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.
... appears to be here (link).
 
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Finally (for tonight ;)) ...

Here are a couple of topics (link, link) that may be of interest. Those of you who are curious and trying to reproduce some of the Brulosophy exbeeriments might want to consider this "after packaging" approach for dialing in flavor adjustments:

1634596888172.png
Adding "minerals in the glass" was also a discussion topic here at HomeBrewTalk a while back. If someone is interested, I can track down the notes that I have for the process that I used as well as a couple of alternative processes that may be appropriate for you.

Those here at HomeBrewTalk that are brewing with DME/LME may want to consider checking the topic I Brewed A Favorite Recipe Today. The recipes there are a combination of ingredients and process. There are a couple of recipes where people are adjusting their tap water (using one of the tabs in Bru'n Water) to brew enjoyable extract-based beer.
 

Oleson M.D.

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Here is the response, directly from the Hofbrau Brewery, in Munich:

The well water runs through the so-called double-deck filter , means it runs through gravel + active carbon filters, ion exchangers (strongly acidic) and remove Na +, Ca2 + and Mg +.

The degree of hardness is further adjusted with lime saturators, (softening the water).

Then an activated carbon filter is used again for the perfect brewing water.

Now you know.
 

jerrylotto

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Here is the response, directly from the Hofbrau Brewery, in Munich:

The well water runs through the so-called double-deck filter , means it runs through gravel + active carbon filters, ion exchangers (strongly acidic) and remove Na +, Ca2 + and Mg +.
Mg is divalent like Ca
 
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Sort of throws out that “Munich Profile” water on Brewer’s Friend
Or sort of doesn't.

This
The well water runs through the so-called double-deck filter , means it runs through gravel + active carbon filters, ion exchangers (strongly acidic) and remove Na +, Ca2 + and Mg +.

The degree of hardness is further adjusted with lime saturators, (softening the water).

Then an activated carbon filter is used again
is an overview of how one brewery converts their tap water into brewing liquor. It's likely that this one description will not have an impact profile names in "water chemistry" software.
 
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for the perfect brewing water
hmmm...

A total of 24 people participated in this experiment. Each participant was served 2 responses that used the word 'perfect' and 1 response that did not. While 14 (p<0.05) would have had to identify the topic that later caused problems, 18 (p=0.00004) made the accurate selection, indicating participants ...
Beer is ingredients, including water. Beer is also process. Seems likely that 'perfect' anything doesn't exist.

A set of complete recipes would be helpful to verify that claim regarding the brewing liquor.
 

VikeMan

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Here is the response, directly from the Hofbrau Brewery, in Munich:

The well water runs through the so-called double-deck filter , means it runs through gravel + active carbon filters, ion exchangers (strongly acidic) and remove Na +, Ca2 + and Mg +.

The degree of hardness is further adjusted with lime saturators, (softening the water).

Then an activated carbon filter is used again for the perfect brewing water.
"Perfect" for what grain bill/style? And what's the final profile? And do they add acid in some form for pale grists? (Of course they do.)

BTW, ion exchangers do not only remove ions. They replace them with other ions. i.e. they add stuff to the water.

Also BTW, the process described for this brewery certainly does not support your claim that "the best brewers do not worry about water."
 

hout17

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If you are happy with your brewing water and you get good results with the beers you brew then kudos to you yay....

Otherwise most of the rest of us will follow the science as it evolves as well as our taste perceptions as it pertains to mineral adjustments in our water.

There is really nothing else to say unless you want to keep beating a dead horse.
 
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If asking twice for complete recipes to back a claim is "beating a dead horse", I'll try to remember, in the future, to only ask once. ;)
 

Oleson M.D.

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Two good German breweries use local, low mineral soft water. So water does not need to be high in mineral content (sulfates) to brew a classic German Pils.

Krombacher, situated in the hills of Westfalia, uses local mountain spring water which is soft and low in minerals, making for an ideal beer.

Warsteiner - The Kaiserquelle, a natural reserve of extra soft water, is the water used at the brewery since 1927.
 

VikeMan

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At this point, I agree that it's beating a dead horse. Unless someone is willing to acknowledge certain facts and certain questions, there's nothing more to say. So it's Peace Out for me.
 

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Two good German breweries use local, low mineral soft water. So water does not need to be high in mineral content (sulfates) to brew a classic German Pils.

Krombacher, situated in the hills of Westfalia, uses local mountain spring water which is soft and low in minerals, making for an ideal beer.

Warsteiner - The Kaiserquelle, a natural reserve of extra soft water, is the water used at the brewery since 1927.
I live in an area of Norway with tap water that's essentially 'local mountain spring water which is soft and low in minerals'. It's excellent for brewing, if treated. Otherwise, as it is, it just produces mediocre pale beers. Traditionally, this is why Norwegian breweries only produced mediocre pale beers representing poor imitations of German lagers. Either these Germany breweries you note are producing mediocre pale beers or they're keeping secrets from you.
 
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Some additional thoughts on source/tap water vs 'brewing liquor' can be found here (link).

If the topic is shifting from "importance of water?" to "how can one brew with low mineral tap water?" with minimal adjustments for flavors, Brewing Better Beer (2012?) and Modern Homebrew Recipes (2016?) may be an interesting starting point for discussion.

If there are other (free?) sources of information that could be used to establish a common understanding to advance the topic of brewing with low mineral tap water, that could also lead to interesting discussion, useful recipes, etc.
 

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Boogie Brew Water Filter Plus:


We have this on our Brew Water Line. Gets rid of Chlorine and Cholarmides. So far, the water has made great beer although we do dilute 50/50 with distilled when doing lagers for the Mash. Just one town over when we brewed there, we brought over all our water due to the taste of the water there.
 
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