Tap water

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St.Frank

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Ok what are the negatives about brew all grain with tap water and using no chemicals. We moved in July and haven’t had time to get water tested. I have a beer that I have been watching a pale ale. And all the flavor and aroma hood are all going to bitter. Is this do to no chemicals added?
 

VikeMan

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There's nothing wrong with brewing with tap water. But you should remove chlorine/chloramines (assuming this is not well water), using something like campden tablets. If you don't, you can get plastic-y off flavors from chlorophenols formed. But I wouldn't really associate chlorophenols with "bitter." Maybe though, if it's a "plastic-y" bitter.

Beyond that, if you do want to pay attention to your water, getting a water report and determining what to add (or dilute) for a given recipe, both from a mash pH and a flavor perspective, can improve your results.
 
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St.Frank

St.Frank

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There's nothing wrong with brewing with tap water. But you should remove chlorine/chloramines (assuming this is not well water), using something like campden tablets. If you don't, you can get plastic-y off flavors from chlorophenols formed. But I wouldn't really associate chlorophenols with "bitter." Maybe though, if it's a "plastic-y" bitter.

Beyond that, if you do want to pay attention to your water, getting a water report and determining what to add (or dilute) for a given recipe, both from a mash pH and a flavor perspective, can improve your results.
I do adjust my Ph to 5.2. I just had a water softener put in with a spout after the chlorine filter but before the softener
 

hotbeer

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You'll never know if you don't try. All water sources are different. Your taste in beer might be different too.

That being said, I use bottled water. Nothing special about it other than my tea and coffee tastes better with it than my municipal water. And it's one of the cheaper of the bottled waters sold here.

It also has a lower ph just slightly below neutral. Haven't read what that means for my beer though. My municipal water is extremely high PH so I have to use the bottled water in the vivarium that the frog is in.
 
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St.Frank

St.Frank

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You'll never know if you don't try. All water sources are different. Your taste in beer might be different too.

That being said, I use bottled water. Nothing special about it other than my tea and coffee tastes better with it than my municipal water. And it's one of the cheaper of the bottled waters sold here.

It also has a lower ph just slightly below neutral. Haven't read what that means for my beer though. My municipal water is extremely high PH so I have to use the bottled water in the vivarium that the frog is in.
I have always used RO water lol but got tired of going and refilled like 20 gallons of water all the time. So thought it would be the time to try tap water. This beer is about like 2 months old and it was really fruity then it slowly became really bitter to now no fruity all bitter
 

bwible

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The only way to really know is to get your water tested. Most people on here use Ward Labs. You can find their website and they have a homebrewer test you can order. They send you a vial. You let your water run for a couple min then fill the vial and package it up in the box they send and then you send it back to them. They send results pretty quickly.

I had to get mine tested last year because I moved and I’m glad I got the water at the new house tested. It was a great experience dealing with them and it really helped me.
 

jerrylotto

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The primary negative about using tap water without doing anything other than treating for chloramines is lack of control. Even if you test it and know the water profile, there's going to be seasonal variation. And depending on the style you want to brew the profile may not match it well or provide a healthy growing environment for yeast.
 

VikeMan

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The primary negative about using tap water without doing anything other than treating for chloramines is lack of control. Even if you test it and know the water profile, there's going to be seasonal variation.
This van be very true, depending on the water source/aquifer.

And depending on the style you want to brew the profile may not match it well or provide a healthy growing environment for yeast.
Agree with profile matching to style (and preference) for both mash pH and for flavor, but I'm not aware of any real life tap waters that are hostile to yeast health. Is there some particular mineral(s) (or lack thereof) that you're thinking of here?
 

VikeMan

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Presence of Mg++ primarily but pH is certainly more critical.
Malt provides it. Barley malt has more than 1300 grams of Mg++ per kilogram. Do you have information that yeast need more than what comes from the malt?

Personally, I build my water from distilled and almost never add magnesium in any form.
 

Beermeister32

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Chloramines take longer and are harder to remove. They use chloramines here in my area in SoCal. That and an organic taste and smell, really terrible water around here. My beers improved once I abandoned trying using it. Minimally get yourself a water report, most water districts will release that data once a year. You might be surprised by that report!
 

jerrylotto

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Too much Mg++ inhibits some Ca++ influx pathways. See "Ca2+ ion homeostasis and regulation" in the cited article. I do add some epsom salts to my RO water but I keep Mg2+ pretty low as a rule, under 50 ppm in all cases but typically 10-15 ppm.

These are my two IPA profiles:

IONBritish IPA target ppmNEIPA target ppm
Ca+2
352​
Mg+2
45​
Na+1
44​
Cl-1
16​
150-175
S04-2
801​
75-100
HCO3-1
320​
 
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Genuine

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After getting my water tested, I just went with this RO Filter so I could start with as blank of a slate as possible and build from there. The quality of my beers has improved immensely since. Inexpensive and I don't have to worry about my water
 

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Stating the obvious, it's worth the time to test the water at least once, even if we know it might change. I TOTALLY understand feeling too busy for things like that, but will say if you have time to brew you have time to test water. Especially if that water might be messing with your beer.
 

odie

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used straight tap water since 1994. Hawaii, Cali, Greece, Texas (hard water). Maybe just blessed with good water sources all these years, IDK. But the beer was good IMO. But I have been is some places where the tap water smelled and tasted pretty awful. I imagine it would make nasty beer as well.

I finally added an inline RV water hose filter about 3 years ago. Has charcoal or something inside. Didn't really notice any difference but it makes me feel better. I do bypass the main house system to skip the water softener. Supposedly the unsoftened water is preferred for the mineral content.

Every brewery has a different water source. None are identical unless they are starting with distilled water. And even so, they are not all using the exact same water profile.

I get the city water report every year but not sure how much I would actually trust it. We seem to have "boil notices" every so often...
 

Silver_Is_Money

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If you have only a TDS meter (the likes of which go for about $8 these days), you might want to try this crude ballpark method:

Total Hardness (as CaCO3) ~= 0.78 x ppm_TDS (as read via the TDS meter)
Total Hardness (as CaCO3) = 2.5(Ca++) + 4.12(Mg++) (this, with the constants rounded, is a truism)

~70% of Total Hardness comes from Ca++ (on loose average/approximation for fresh water)
~30% of Total Hardness comes from Mg++ (on loose average/approximation for fresh water)

Example: Lets say TDS is 400 ppm

400 x 0.78 ~= 312 ppm Total Hardness (as CaCO3)

0.70 x 312 = 218.4 = the ~hardness that comes from Ca++
0.30 x 312 = 93.6 = the ~hardness that comes from Mg++

218.4/2.5 = 87.4 ppm Ca++ (calcium ion)
93.6/4.12 = 22.7 ppm Mg++ (magnesium ion)

This presents an admittedly loose ballpark stab at deriving calcium and magnesium ppm from only a TDS meter. It's akin to educated guessing, but that is sometimes better than uneducated guessing.
 
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Once I got a water report and start adding some of the basic salts, especially to monkey with the chloride / sulfate ratio I do believe I saw a difference in my recipes from the past to current. The malty beers really improved, the hop flavors were still there but the flavors were less... sharp I guess I'd say. I want that in my pales and IPA's but was glad to leave that out w/ the porters and stouts.

But as always if beer tastes good, keep doing it, whatever the method.
 

jrgtr42

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It all depends on your tap water.
I use straight tap and I have no problems whit my beers. Is is possible they;d be even better if I starter worrying about it? Sure, and that is on my list of things to look at. But right now I'm happy as is.
|As long as the water tastes fine to you out of the tap - no weird flavors or clorine, etc, it's OK for brewing. Again, it may get better if you work with it.
 

Silver_Is_Money

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It must also be factored in that as ppm TDS rises, the likelyhood is that ppm Alkalinity (as CaCO3) also rises.
 
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I do have a chlorine filter
The devil is in the details here...

We've had this discussion over and over, and sometimes we find that people are using a small GAC filter, or a small carbon block without regard for the filter's flow limits. For example - they are pushing a garden hose flow (~5 gpm) through a 10" x 2.5" carbon block that has a max flow limit of 1 gpm.

Russ
 

VikeMan

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Funny to see nothing gets the forum more active than a good discussion about water.

An outsider looking in might sometimes think we are a water forum.
Well, beer is generally more than 90% water.
 

odie

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The devil is in the details here...

We've had this discussion over and over, and sometimes we find that people are using a small GAC filter, or a small carbon block without regard for the filter's flow limits. For example - they are pushing a garden hose flow (~5 gpm) through a 10" x 2.5" carbon block that has a max flow limit of 1 gpm.

Russ
I run my Camco inline filter at a trickle. Takes like an hour to fill 7 gal to start my BIAB. I want all the charcoal to work it's magic. I know it's not distilled or RO water...but it's better than straight tap.

 
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Good. Suggest you orient that filter vertically with flow going from the bottom up. Hopefully you're not paying ~$17 for a simple 10" x 2" GAC filter!
Russ
 
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St.Frank

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It all depends on your tap water.
I use straight tap and I have no problems whit my beers. Is is possible they;d be even better if I starter worrying about it? Sure, and that is on my list of things to look at. But right now I'm happy as is.
|As long as the water tastes fine to you out of the tap - no weird flavors or clorine, etc, it's OK for brewing. Again, it may get better if you work with it.
I have been using RO water since like last July/August and I have never had a beer drop aroma and flavor. And turn into a straight bitter bomb.
So you're adjusting mash pH with sauermalz in the mash? By trial and error, adding some and then checking the pH, or...?
I check after mashout and adjust with 10% acid
 

marc1

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I have been using RO water since like last July/August and I have never had a beer drop aroma and flavor. And turn into a straight bitter bomb.

I check after mashout and adjust with 10% acid
I'm confused. You said you used tap water, no chemicals added. Then you said you added acid to adjust boil pH.
 
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St.Frank

St.Frank

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I'm confused. You said you used tap water, no chemicals added. Then you said you added acid to adjust boil pH.
I check my ph since that’s really to only thing I can check. That’s the only adjustment I made I didn’t at gypsum or calcium or salts
 
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