What's up homebrewers!
I posted a little poll yesterday on a Facebook Group full of homebrewers, craft beer enthusiasts, and pro brewers with over 28,000 members about the type of water y'all use for brewing and the following are the top 5 results:
Tap Water - 115
RO with minerals - 38
Private Well - 37
Commercial Bottle Water - 26
Tap Water with mineral additions - 19
#5 most used water for brewing
TAP WATER WITH MINERAL ADDITIONS
19/235 people who participated in poll
8% of homebrewers
If you add minerals to your tap water WITHOUT knowing the already existing minerals that live in your tap water, you're risking the chance to having way too much minerals in your water, which could mess your mash pH up and effect the final flavor of the beer among other things.
If you FILTER the tap water, or at least dilute your tap water, THEN add mineral additions, you should still be good.
Bottom line is, if you use tap water, it's highly recommended to know your tap water profile
#4 most used water for Brewing
COMMERCIAL BOTTLED WATER
26/235 people who participated in poll
11% of homebrewers
The taste of bottled water has nothing to do with the way it's treated, quality of the source, or its natural mineral content. Most bottled water comes from a ground water source and can vary from brand to brand even from location to location within the same brand.
The key taste differentiator is the way the water is disinfected. Either using ozone, UV, or chlorine dioxide is the main way bottled water is disinfected.
Terms such as "glacier water" or "mountain water" aren't standards of identity that are regulated meaning that the water may not necessarily be from that prestige location. Also, "purified" is in the same boat. It's the process of removing chemicals and pathogens, not exactly free of microbes, though it could be.
If the label says "community water system" that means it comes from a public water system and hasn't been treated to the FDA's standard or "purified".
With all that said, each bottled water from a different company could be different. Even from the same company water may taste different in New York than it does in California.
Still very useful to test the water to really know what you're working with
#3 type of water that brewers use
PRIVATE WELL WATER
37/235 people who participated in the poll
16% of homebrewers get their water from a private well
I think private wells need to be analyzed, just as much as I think tap water and even bottled water needs to be analyzed.
If you are using water where your mineral make up is unknown, you could dramatically be hindering your beer. There's a chance you could have amazing well water, but the point is, if you COULD know the mineral make of your private well water, wouldn't you want to know so you could optimize your minerals to fit that well water perfectly?
#2 type of water that Brewers use most is
REVERSE OSMOSIS WATER WITH MINERAL ADDITIONS
38/235 people who participated in the poll
16% of homebrewers add minerals to their RO water for brewing use.
This is how I brew my beers.
Reverse Osmosis filtration removes impurities from water to a 0.00001 micrometers level, highest filtration available at the household level. RO also filters most dissolved anions and cations, but not dissolved gases.
It's a membrane layer made from cellulose of polyamide composite film. You will typically have a "RO system" that passes through many different filtration systems. 1-particle filter, 2-carbon filter, 3-membrane cartridge, 4-outflow is carried away.
RO water's a good option for removing alkalinity as well as manganese, silicates, and iron.
It's suggest to run an Ion Exhange Unit before running it through the RO filter to reduce to wear and tear of the RO system. It would get rid of ~80% of the work the RO filter would have to do.
Starting your brew off with RO water is basically like starting off with a clean slate, all zeros on the board. From that clean slate, you can add minerals to give you the exact amount of calcium, magnesium, sodium, sulphate, chloride, alkalinity, R.A., and pH that you would like for whatever style of beer you're going to brew.
Head HERE if you'd like to check out these Waters Brewer packets that are specifically aimed for giving you the most optimal water profile for the style of beer you are brewing.
#1 type of water that brewers use for brewing beer
TAP WATER (by a landslide)
115/235 people who participated in the poll
49% of homebrewers use Tap Water for their beer
Using tap water is like box of chocolates... haha
Tap water is ever changing, has a chance of contaminants, could have high levels of chlorine, alkalinity, pH... among many things.
If you have tap water with a lot of minerals, you won't be able to brew the best possible pilsner you could, as pilsners are known to have some of the softest water in the world. On the other hand, if your water is soft, you may have a hard chance of getting the water that does require more minerals such as IPA's or more alkalinity sucks as imperial stouts...
I honestly think that tap water is the number one reason most homebrewers aren't brewing the best beer they possibly can.
Hop growers are in control of how the hop is grown. Maltster's are in control of malting the barley. Yeast labs are in control of the yeast we use for brewing. Water is truly the only ingredient that we have all the control in the world to make our own and be 100% sure of. By using tap water, we aren't sure what's in our water. I want to know damn well what's in my water since I'M the only one responsible for my brewing water.
Take some damn pride in the only thing you TRULY control out of the brewing ingredients.
Thanks for everything guys!
If you thought this article provided value to you or could potentially provide value to a homebrewing buddy of yours, please let me know and sharing is always welcome too.