Very Hard Water

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Jan 4, 2008
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Is there a potential for any off flavors from brewing with some pretty hard water.....harder than most? I read that you can get some sharp off flavors if the water is high enough in some specific minerals.

I have a couple of young batches and both seem to have a smiliar "almost cidery taste" and I'm trying to determine the cause. It does not dominate the beer, but its definitely there. I've been considering going to bottled spring water for the next batch to see if I notice a difference.

I'm also hoping the sharp edge may fade over time as the beer ages and matures.

Any thoughts?
Hard water is actually favorable in many styles. I havent heard of any ciderly flavors but some other member might be able to tell you more about that. Do some research on styles the benefit from a harder water profile. Thats largely how beer specific to regions were created.
High bicarbonates in your water will really brighten the hops. If they're too high, they may bring out too much bitterness. I'm not sure if this is what you're tasting, though.

If you're mashing with high bicarbonate water, then your mash pH is also likely too high, and you can extract astringent flavors from the grains.

There's a lot more to it than this, but I'm trying to keep the answer brief.

Are you doing extract batches? Have you tried using either spring water or reverse osmosis water, either bottled or from one of the machines in the grocery stores? That may solve your problem.
If you are doing extract brewing, additional minerals can be a problem. Dissolved metals in particular. You may also just be tasting the "green apple" flavor of unconditioned beer. You'll have a better idea in a month.

If possible, obtain a water analysis from your supplier.
Thanks everyone for the replies!

I am extract brewing right now.

I am hoping the beer might just still be a little too green. The IPA was brewed 5 1/2 weeks ago and has been bottle for about 4 weeks. I now know that I bottled too quickly as well. The taste has faded some over time but is still there. I've brewed 2 batches since that are definitely still too green, but the taste is similar which is what concerned me.

The reason I'm mostly concerned about the water is that we were warned when we moved to the area that we would need a water softener because the area is notorious for extremely hard water and would even damage appliances over time.

I would not have thought twice about how this would affect the taste of the beer except that I read in one of my homebrewing books that it could be an issue.

I think I will call the county and request a water analysis.
We have very, very hard water where I live. It definitely takes a toll on appliances (we're on our third dishwasher in 12 years, and it sounds like it's on its last legs).

But I have never noticed any off-tastes in my beer because of it. I would say let your green beer age some more before jumping to any conclusions about your water.
We have really hard water in Avon, IN... we lived in our new house for a week and bought a softener, it woud have ruined appliances AND our dishes
The NEW dishes... yah, that would have been a complete waste... not to mention the high eff. washer and all the new appliances in the kitchen... the plumbing fixtures in the house... I have never had soft water in my life (though I never had any as hard as this) but it certainly is nice. Our Whirlpool water softener is only using 15lbs of salt per month, with a 350lb brine tank! It also tracks our water useage! It will be interesting to see how our softened water will brew beer....
did you use sugar in your extract? Too much sugar can give a cidery flavour to your beers also. My little bro had his first 3 batches all turn to cider till we found the connection to how much sugar he was using in his recipes.
Not sure about cidery. I travel on 13 week contracts, 13 weeks here, 13 weeks there, going on eight years.

I have run into some pretty hard water. I am currently in Plano, TX, the water has so much mineral in it I don't drink it, I don't even like coffee made from it. So I brew, here, with store bought water. And I am an ale brewer.

FWIW I use "drinking water" not "spring water" and definitely not "distilled water".

5-6 weeks is long enough for an IPA to stabilize, even it was bottled early. Is it harsh or really dry bitter or what? What exactly is wrong with it?
Poindexter, you might be carefule with "drinking water". It's probably just tap water that's been bottled, and it may be from fairly close. I looked at some of the drinking water here and it said it was from Ft Worth. Spring water may be a better bet.

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