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Very hard water -- use bottled instead?


Master Brewer
Mar 16, 2010
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I have extremely hard water.  The local water authority won't give exact figures, but they say the calcium and magnesium concentration ranges from 180-240 ppm.  I'm guessing this probably isn't very good for my beer.

Is there something I should do to treat this water?  Or should I just buy a few gallons of bottled water before I brew?  If the latter, would I be better off substituting only bottled spring water, or diluting what comes out of the tap with distilled water?  Apart from the hardness, the water quality is quite good, especially with a whole-house filter.
www.WardLab.com charges only $16.50 for a water test, if you're interested.  Calcium can be between 50 and 150 ppm, and Mg between 10 and 30.

Spring water can vary quite a bit, but DeerPark is very low-mineral water.  If you're unsure, then distilled is reliable for cutting. 

Is your house filter RO?  Those strip some minerals from the water.
Nope, it's just a carbon filter.  But I think it's having some effect on the water hardness as well, because the faucets don't clog the way the neighbors' do.  Pardon my vagueness on the exact filter type -- it's actually my folks' house.  I brew there because they have a bigger, better kitchen, better water, and a basement for storing carboys. :)
The filter is probably catching some sediment as well, preventing the gradual buildup at the faucet.  But yea, a low-mineral spring or distilled water would cut your mineral content.
Brew with the water you have.
If it tastes OK out of the tap it'll make good beer.

The only reason I can fathom for getting all exercised over one's water is (1) if something is wrong (like sulfur makes it taste awful or the city puts too much crap in it)  or (2) you are  entering competition and are trying to emulate (or duplicate) some beer style that is brewed in a geographic region where the water is a major contributing factor.   That's it.  For the life of me I can't imagine busting my hump to obtain some water profile when the one I get out of the hole in my back yard makes beer that I really, really like.

As to hardness.  I happen to like minerals in my beer.  I think it makes much better flavors.

Even the question about pH is largely mooted if you can mash your grains and get a product that you like.
I've often, over the years, considered paying more attention to pH.  But no matter where I've lived in the  East and Northeast, I have been able to brew great beer with no fancy pants  crapola about my water.  

Now if the pH of your water is way off, you'll know because it'll be hard to get a good conversion when the pH is way off.  But for most water, it'll be OK out of the tap AND the mash alters PH anyway so  really, if you are going to be pissing around about your pH you have to be sampling & testing  it throughout the mash.   That is unless your recipe never changes.
In order to get the Ph dead, spot, nuggity, bang on  coming out of the gate before you infuse the grain with the strike, you have to have an enormous intimacy with the way your particular grain bill will interact with it.  And to get there,  well, you're going to be a hell of a lot more sophisticated than I'll ever care to be.

I saw this some where else:
Maybe it'll help you

I agree if there's nothing wrong don't fix it. Your water profile sounds like some other famous cities. My water profile is closer to 480 on the hardness! Some hardness is good. I am beginning to brew but I am the one that should be concerned not you. So far I have used bottled scorce water. Can you belive I pay a city water bill for that. They just pump it out of the ground and add floride and rust inhibitors.
  They just pump it out of the ground and add floride and rust inhibitors.

What rust inhibitors can be put in drinking water?
    I agree with CR...  If you want to take the no fuss approach, then try brewing a stout and an  IPA.. with your water. If you like both, great. If you think the stout taste better over the IPA then just brew stouts with your water.

If you would like to make an IPA later on, then use the ez water calculator ( I really like that calculator for my water adjustments also.)

Get the Residual Alkalinity numbers to match your color srm ( doesn't have right on, just close to the color you want.
Next,  Get the Chloride to Sulfate Ratio in line with the style ( bitter or malty) the ratio will help with your flavor profile, IPA or amber, stout.

The program gives some nice Recommend Ranges for the Salt and mineral adjustments that you'll want to take note of.

Although it is your beer, so if you like the way it tastes, then go for it.