Quantcast

Questions about extract brewing with distilled, tap, and spring water

HomeBrewTalk.com - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Community.

Help Support Homebrew Talk:

nasmeyer

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 12, 2008
Messages
253
Reaction score
4
Location
Michigan
I have a couple of questions about using different water types for extract brewing. I was curious what results I would get if I brewed 3 batches of the same extract recipe using filtered tap water, distilled water, and natural spring water. This has only been fermenting for a few days but I already noticed some differences that someone might be able to explain to me. I bought a 5 gallon recipe of Zoomin Pale Ale from NB and scaled it down to three 1 gallon batch sizes. To eliminate any influence from specialty grains I chose this recipe because it doesn’t have any. I used Safale 05 dry yeast and yeast nutrient. All three were brewed the same day, and the same methods were used.
1) I have noticed that the distilled water batch is considerably lighter than the other two, and the tap water batch is marginally lighter than the spring water which is darkest, why is this?
2) The tap water and spring water batches both filled their blow-off tubes within 36 hours, while the distilled batch never came close to reaching the tube, what caused this?
3) The spring water batch is the most active of the three, with lots of noticeable churning going on. Why is this most active?
4) The three krausen photos show three different sizes of bubbles at the top. The tap water has the smallest bubbles, the spring water is marginally larger, while the distilled water has much larger bubbles. These pics were all taken from the same distance, so the bubble size differences are accurate. What causes this and will this directly influence carbonation bubble size and mouth feel in the finished beer after bottle conditioning?

trial 4 all.jpg


sm tap.jpg


sm distilled.jpg


sm spring.jpg
 

Lcoron4

Member
Joined
Jan 1, 2014
Messages
23
Reaction score
1
Location
Aurora
I want to know the answers too! Lol... good job coming up with this idea!

Sent from my SPH-L720 using Home Brew mobile app
 

FortMillBrew

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 30, 2013
Messages
66
Reaction score
20
Location
FortMill
I don't have answers but am interested to hear what the forum has to say. Great pics BTW.
 
OP
nasmeyer

nasmeyer

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 12, 2008
Messages
253
Reaction score
4
Location
Michigan
I will update as fermentation continues if I see any other obvious differences. I shoud also add that I have my cheap chinese controller set between 18-19*c
 

mohawk

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 19, 2014
Messages
411
Reaction score
1
If I'm correct, it's all having to do with the mineral contents of the water, all three differing of course, your tap water is treated, spring water is naturally full of minerals, and if I'm correct on your distillers water, the mineral content will be minimal
 

Captain Damage

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 22, 2008
Messages
1,230
Reaction score
85
Location
Lowell, Massachusetts
I believe Mohawk is correct. Bottled spring water is usually mineral-high; depending upon where you live your tap water is probably closer to average mineral content; and distilled water has no minerals at all. In the brewing world breweries that specialize in darker beers tend to have harder source water. (I'm really not a water expert, do I'll leave the whys for someone else.)

Using distilled water for extract beers will reduce the "darker than calculated" problem most extract brewers encounter. Also, consider that the mineral content of the water from the extract manufacturer is already in the extract, so any minerals in your water will be in addition to whatever is already there.
 

PastorofMuppets

brewing beer leads to happy life
Joined
Jan 4, 2013
Messages
468
Reaction score
55
Location
Indianapolis
It is my understanding that yeast nutrient is containing minerals and other yeast beneficial ingredients.

With an extract based experiment the mineral content would have a big impact on fermentation.
I would try it again if you can without the yeast nutrient added and see how the different mineral levels in the water play into the fermentation. This current version you have done will be good to see what flavor variables might be present from the different types of water.
 

unionrdr

Homebrewer, author & air gun collector
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Feb 19, 2011
Messages
39,161
Reaction score
3,781
Location
Sheffield
Spring water contains minerals that,in my experiences,make the yeast more active. They seem to like it. As for the color,that depends more on your brewing method than mineral content to my understanding. How much extract you used in the boil,how much water,when you added the remaining extract,etc will determine final color,besides what kind of extract(s) you used.
The size of carbonation bubbles is mostly a function of how long the bottles carbonate & condition & how much fridge time,with amount of priming sugar used in a given bottle size over time. When I was using the Cooper's PET bottles & carv drops,at 7 weeks the bubbles got bigger,like soda pop bubbles.
 
Joined
Jan 17, 2012
Messages
2,759
Reaction score
935
Location
Ellsworth
Here's my .02:
You have normal variation there. The small differences in amount of yeast, slightly different temps based on position of the bottles, slightly different amounts of wort in each bottle, and just random actions of a biological system.
Here's my explanation: Mineral amounts in the water you mash with when you do AG or PM do make a difference. But with an all-extract batch, the mash has been done for you. The necessary minerals and nutrients needed for fermentation are in the LME/DME(unless it's really bad/really old stuff). The small differences in mineral contents of your 3 water sources used for boiling should not make a difference.
Of course, if one of the bigboys chime in with a different opinion, I am willing to believe them. I'm just a garage brewer...... :mug:
 

unionrdr

Homebrewer, author & air gun collector
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Feb 19, 2011
Messages
39,161
Reaction score
3,781
Location
Sheffield
I do pb/pm biab now,& local spring water (From pockets in the bedrock,not ground or "well" water) now. The spring water works quite well for the mash,boil & top off. A couple gallons of top off water goes in the fridge a day or two before brew day. Wort chill to 75F or so,then cold top off gets it down to about 65F. The yeasties seem to like the mineral content,which one can't actually taste. With extract,I noticed the spring water batches tasted a tiny bit better than with tap water.
 
OP
nasmeyer

nasmeyer

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 12, 2008
Messages
253
Reaction score
4
Location
Michigan
Spring water contains minerals that,in my experiences,make the yeast more active. They seem to like it. As for the color,that depends more on your brewing method than mineral content to my understanding. How much extract you used in the boil,how much water,when you added the remaining extract,etc will determine final color,besides what kind of extract(s) you used.
In my experiment I used the exact same malt and brewing technique in all three batches, so I am assuming the color has more to do with the water type and possibly water ph, but that is why I am asking because I really don't know.
 
OP
nasmeyer

nasmeyer

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 12, 2008
Messages
253
Reaction score
4
Location
Michigan
Update: day 6 and the majority of fermentation looks like its done, lots of C02 bubbles still rising. Throughout fermentation so far the spring water batch was most active/vigorous, tap water version a close second, while the distilled version was noticably the least active. I will wait until I bottle to take FG readings but assume the happier heathier yeast in #1-3 might have a lower FG and do all things better that healthy yeast can do.

I also noticed that after 6 days the beer in all three fermenters is now the same color! The previous photos from day one shows the distilled water batch (#2) much lighter in color (it was also lighter to my eyes) another interesting observation.

trial 4 6 days.jpg
 

Lcoron4

Member
Joined
Jan 1, 2014
Messages
23
Reaction score
1
Location
Aurora
Any updates on this? Pictures?

Sent from my SPH-L720 using Home Brew mobile app
 

Hello

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 19, 2013
Messages
11,429
Reaction score
3,399
Location
Raleigh
Wow, glad this popped up on the sidebar. Very interesting indeed. One thing that would be beneficial to know is what is in the spring water you used? Just curious.

I think the folks discussing mineral content adding to the fermentation differences and possibly color are as close as anyone can get without being there. I am very interested to hear your thoughts on the taste. I want to perform this experiment myself. I used my tap water for a hoppy-ish pale ale and I love it. I only used tap before for one batch and that was 2.5 gallons to boil & topped off with spring. I didn't notice any off flavors. I've never brewed with distilled, I was never sure if it was okay.

Sorry if I missed it but was the OG the same across the board?
 

ankhseeker

New Member
Joined
Jan 8, 2014
Messages
3
Reaction score
0
Location
san Francisco
Different water gives different results. Water makes a huge difference with a style of beer.
I prefer to use RO water (reverse osmosis) because I can control all of the additions in it to make a particular profile. It has no minerals in it, but you can add them. RO water is dead for all grain unless you change it with additions. Most of the beer software today have water profiles built in them. Minerals or no minerals will make a hugs difference in fermentation as there are no trace elements to use up. Final PH and FG can/will be different with different water profiles.

my .02.
 

Kahless

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 3, 2012
Messages
136
Reaction score
7
Location
Glasgow
Nice experiment :)

What method of oxygenation did you use?

The amount of gas dissolved in the different waters depending on their sources could have an impact on some of the results you see here. The amount of fermentation activity could increase quickly with lots of minerals, as has been suggested, and also with more oxygen dissolved in the source water, allowing the yeast to procreate more rapidly and get to work.

The distilled water may have had less oxygen in it after having been boiled, condense and packaged. It is possible for distilled water to dissolve more oxygen, but unless you shook the bottle up while it was half empty to get a lot of air into it, this may not have been the case. I wonder if this has something to do with the larger bubbles for the distilled water...


For the tasting have you considered doing it blind?
Separate the bottles into three piles, and have someone number them and keep a note of which number refers to which water type, and not tell you. Then they can swap the bottles groups around so you have no idea which is which. Take some tasting notes over time for each number, and get a different friend to help, and then later ask the person who took note of what number is what water source so that you can see which notes related to which water type.
This is the only way to prevent preconceived notions of what water types will make to the finished taste, even if you think you don't have any, they are there, because our minds are amazingly good at patterns like that.
 
OP
nasmeyer

nasmeyer

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 12, 2008
Messages
253
Reaction score
4
Location
Michigan
Update coming this weekend after three weeks in the bottles.
 
OP
nasmeyer

nasmeyer

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 12, 2008
Messages
253
Reaction score
4
Location
Michigan
To annswer a couple of questions about my experiment. I did not areate much since I used dry yeast, I did shake the fermenters 15 seconds or so prior to pitching the re-hydrated 05 yeast. Yes I did do a blind taste test with the actual bottle number hidden under my pint glasses and my swimbo pouring the beer. The OGs were 1.060 and all three finished right at 1.012. The spring water I used was Ice Mountain Natural Spring water from either Evart or Rodney Mi. springs. My tap water is from the City of Detroit water system, and filtered with a dual cartridge kitchen filter.



I am sure this test is far from perfect and would probably yield different results for different beers and brewing styles. I started with a NB Zoomin pale ale (didnt think of doing a water trst until after I ordered my kit) and increase the gravity as well as the bitterness like I often do since I am a IPA fan. Brewing a proven recipe would probably have been a better idea, and a simple pale ale might also have been a good idea, but I should still end up with a result that should help me with my taste buds and favorite style. I am sure as the bottles condition longer my results may change a bit too.



Observations. Even though the tap and spring water variations fermented quicker and more vigorously, all three finished right at 1.012.

The earlier color differences didnt result in final color differences, they are all the same.

The differences in bubble size I noticed during fermentation didnt seem to carry over to carbonation bubble size either.


Results. The distilled version seemed to be slightly more carbonated than the others, but could be more of a result of yeast/priming sugar than water used. The tap water version seemed to have a more harsh bitter taste than the other two which also lingered a few minutes after. The spring water version tasted alright but still a little harsh, while the distilled water version was the smoothest of the three. All of these tastes/results are likely based on water chemistry, and might give different results on a less bitter style of beer, and other brewers would likely have different opinions based on their tastes. Non of the three were terrible, but based on 3 weeks of conditioning I like the distilled water version best. I will re-post updates if anything changes in future bottles.

The only thing I might have proven is using distilled water for an extract IPA wont introduce added ppm's of any mineral that might affect water chemistry and or flavor, and the mineral content of the DME/LME will be of lesser amount when USING distilled water. This might possibly eliminate some harshness due to a more complexed heavier mineral content from the added spring and tap waters.
 

Captain Damage

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 22, 2008
Messages
1,230
Reaction score
85
Location
Lowell, Massachusetts
Great experiment! I've parroted the recommendation for using distilled/RO water for extract beers on the idea that the maltster chose a specific water profile for the original mash, and you'd be best off just going with that. But it's really cool to see actual data.

PS: You might want to contact the guy(s) at the Basic Brewing Radio Podcast about this. This is the kind of thing they like to hear about.
 

Lcoron4

Member
Joined
Jan 1, 2014
Messages
23
Reaction score
1
Location
Aurora
So moving on forward, based on this experiment, which you're of water will you use for your next batches? What do you recommend?
 
OP
nasmeyer

nasmeyer

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 12, 2008
Messages
253
Reaction score
4
Location
Michigan
For my own purpose I will probably use distilled. This may not be right for other brewers, but for me I can eliminate one area of concern. The extract already has a water profile from the maufacturer so spending a few bucks more to have nutral water is ok by me.
 
Top