Importance of water?

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Oleson M.D.

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Soft water: As is true with many of the world’s best beers, the water used in Pilsner Urquell is distinctive. In this case, it is very soft, containing only about 50 ppm of total dissolved solids; Burton water, by contrast, contains about 1,200 ppm. The water also contains only about 10 ppm calcium, meaning that the brewers must adjust the pH during the mash.

Read more here: The History and Brewing Methods of Pilsner Urquell | MoreBeer
 

doug293cz

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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.
This seems to be about as far away from "not worrying about the water" as you can get. Using ion exchangers is pretty aggressive water adjustment - on par with RO water treatment.

Brew on :mug:
 
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doug293cz

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...

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

...
If you use the correct resins, the added ions are H+ or OH-. By using a combination of anionic and cationic resins you can create deionized water, which is even lower in TDS than RO water.

Brew on :mug:
 

Oleson M.D.

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This seems to be about as far away from "not worrying about the water" as you can get. Using ion exchangers is pretty aggressive water adjustment - on par with RO water treatment.

Brew on :mug:
We do not personally worry about the water. Some breweries do. Many brewers do not.
 

cire

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I don't worry about water at all, just treat it after it comes out of the tap and brew. I live in Britain where water for brewing has been treated without restraint since 1880 and the so called Mash Tun Act. Before then, water treatment was thought a way to evade tax on malt with higher extraction. From 1880 brewers learned how their well waters should be treated and 40 years later, chemist who took electronic pH meter readings, became aware that brewers knew how to treat water and make good beer. It's a shame many think it didn't happen and are busy trying to persuade others to think the same.
 

Taket_al_Tauro

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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.
+1
I started homebrewing when I was living near Munich, and I had to learn very quickly to worry about water...
The tap water there is namely very, very hard. My first batch, a Hefeweizen, turned out too bitter and astringent and anything but a Hefeweizen. For the second batch I learned to add a bit of lactic acid to both my mash and sparge water, and it was soo much better. I still wasn't able to nail the correct amounts back then, but what a difference a tiny bit of lactic acid did already make...

I once read somewhere in an article that Munich brewers became such masters in their craft because they had to deal with their awful brewing water.
I believe there is quite some truth in this statement. Of course it isn't the only reason for them becoming great brewers, but as @cire said of British brewers, I'm sure that Munich brewers too had to learn how to manipulate their water a long time ago, before the advent of "modern science".

I personally would put water chemistry up there with yeast and fermentation management. I actually believe that for me it made an even bigger difference.
I'm still living in a place with hard water (although not nearly as hard as Munich's), so I am really glad that I was forced to worry about water from the start.
 

Silver_Is_Money

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Here is some good info on brewing water and beer styles. Our city tap water fits nicely in the middle of these specs. We don't worry about water, we brew with it!

With water like that from your region, simply brewing with it is generally fine, but just in case any others are potentially being misled by this, not all source waters can be assumed to likewise make great beer without modification.

For but a couple examples (of nigh on a potential infinity of them), anyone with source water that has greater than 50 ppm Alkalinity (as CaCO3), or greater than ~15 ppm Mg++ may have a serious need to consider altering their water.
 

crazyjake19

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I use distilled water and build my water profile from there. I thought about getting a water test done, but our municipal water is drawn from 3 different sources throughout the year, and they were less than helpful in delivering any further information on that. I have an RO setup that I purchased a few months ago but haven't had the chance to get it hooked up. When I do, I'll be using that instead of buying and recycling jugs of distilled water.

Is water chemistry 100% necessary if you have decent water? No. Does it help you make better beer? Absolutely. I can cook a steak and some mashed potatoes with no salt, pepper, or butter, and it would taste good. But adding those things in the right amounts accentuates and balances the flavors, making the meal even more enjoyable. Water chemistry is "seasoning" for your beers.
 
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