Brewing Water Tips
A question we get a lot here at the brew shop is what is the best brewing water to use?
The answer varies a lot on whether you brew with extracts or all grain, so I will answer them separately.
Extract Brewing Water
If you brew with malt extracts, all you really need is great tasting water, preferably with out any chlorine or chloramines.
If your tap water tastes great, use it. If your tap water sucks, then buy spring water. Do not buy Reverse Osmosis or Distilled water. RO and distilled water have little to no minerals in them which are needed to develop the flavor of your beer.
If you are using tap water, run it through a carbon filter if you can. The carbon will help remove chlorine and chloramines.
If you have a well, the same applies and fortunately you won’t have to deal with chlorine or chloramines.
If you have a water softener that is fine. Softened water will not add enough sodium to harm your beer.
If you feel like you need to get rid of chlorine or chloramines you have a couple of options. Carbon filtration helps but does not remove all of it. Buy spring water, or, treat your brewing water with sodium or potassium metabisulfite, or campden tablets for short. Treat 10 gallons of water with one half of a campden tablet. Crush one half of a campden tablet and add to the water to be treated. Let stand for 24 hours. You don’t want to use more campden tablets than this as too much can cause fermentation issues.
Here is another quick water tip. To find out if your beer would benefit from more flavor ions like calcium chloride or gypsum (calcium sulfate), grab one of your beers from the fridge and pour it in a glass. Add just a teeny bit of calcium chloride or a teeny bit of gypsum, stir it in, and taste your beer. If it tastes better, then you will want to add a half teaspoon to 5 gallons of brewing water. You will find that calcium chloride will enhance your malt character and gypsum will enhance your hop character. Play around with it. You will be surprised at how it can improve the flavor of your beer.
All Grain Brewing Water
There is a very long answer to this question. I am going to go with the short answer and link you to the long answer if you are so inclined to go that deep.
In all grain brewing your brewing water is just as important if not more important than every ingredient in your beer. Your brewing water chemistry has everything to do with how good the beer will taste. If your chemistry is off, your beer will be off.
I have a lot of guys say that they just use their tap water and their beer is awesome. That’s great and that’s all that really matters and if that is your situation don’t waste any time reading further.
If you are like many other brewers, your city water supply is less than ideal. You might be dealing with chlorine and chloramines, seasonal rebalancing, or your water just tastes bad. If so, read on.
The simplest advice I can give any all grain brewer is to use 100% Reverse Osmosis water and learn to build your brewing water from scratch. Your beer will go to a whole new level of quality and flavor. Reverse Osmosis eliminates any variability your water supply might have and gives you total control over the flavor of your beer, no matter what kind of beer you are brewing. Click here to view a step by step article on how to properly adjust your brewing water.
If you are new to all grain brewing and all of this boggles the mind, the easiest way to be successful in all grain brewing is buy one of our All Grain Kits and our Total Water Solution Ingredient Kit. This will give you every ingredient you need to adjust your water and our all grain kits will tell you exactly how much of each ingredient to add to your water and when to add it. All grain brewing doesn’t get any easier than our All Grain Kits!
If you are a brewer, water is super important. Don’t overlook your largest ingredient! Cheers and Happy Brewing!