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11/29/06 03:31 PM  
Is it my tap water or what?
Hi all,

I'm trying to eliminate suspects, this time my tap water.

I am extract brewer with grains only on my forth batch. Below is my area-wide tapwater analysis for 2005. I seem to get a differing degree of a harsh bitter aftertast in my beers (last three) that I cannot attribute to hopping only. (I don't think its extract twang)

I love belgians and have a Rare VOS pale clone fermenting that is picking up that same harsh aftertase. Does anything leap out to anyone, especially any additions or reductions for berwing water need for pale ales?


PH 7.5

Alkalinity 85 ppm

Hardness 128 ppm

Calcium 37.1 ppm

Magnesium 8.9 ppm

Sodium 19.3 ppm

Sulfate 34.9 ppm

Chloride 35.1 ppm

Chlorine 2.7 ppm

Iron 79 ppb (parts per billion)

Old Sock
11/29/06 04:12 PM  
Re: Is it my tap water or what?
I donít see anything in the mineral content that would cause a problem, particularly brewing from extract where you donít have to worry about mash pH. My only question is, do you do anything to deal with the chorine? It can react with phenols in your beer to produce chlorophenols which apparently have a rather harsh medicinal flavor.

Carbon filtering, pre-boiling or treating your water with metabisulfate are all options for reducing/eliminating chlorine.

Feel free to post more details on your method, maybe someone will spot what the problem is.

11/29/06 04:41 PM  
Re: Is it my tap water or what?
Water chemistry is not something I ever look at, but off hand I can suggest a test. Make your next batch with store-bought spring water, see what happens.
Josh B
11/29/06 07:47 PM  
Re: Is it my tap water or what?
Do you have city water and do you filter it? I had a really bad aftertaste in my beers until I took it to a club meeting and said "you don't filter your water do you?"
Ross Lunato
11/29/06 08:06 PM  
Re: Is it my tap water or what?
Although you brew with extract, I would do a pH check just for peace of mind. This should be checked not only when extract is added (which would lower your pH) but whenever hops are added. A high pH can extract a very harsh bitterness from your hops. An example where pH can cause a problem even in extract brews is if you are boiling your water for 60 minutes, adding the hops at 60 minutes but are adding the extract at say 30 minutes, the hops are being boiled with water that is at 7.5 ph. That would cause a problem with harsh hop bitterness. pH test papers are pretty cheap too for the added insurance. Also, I agree with Steve about using bottled spring water for your next brew and note what the outcome is.
11/29/06 08:16 PM  
Re: Is it my tap water or what?
Thanks for all the responses.

Here is more info. if you can take it (thanks OldSock). SteveG, i will try all bottled, thanks

Lets see..

-There are cloromides 35.1ppm

-There is clorine 2.7 ppm (enough to effect flavor?)

- City water no filtering (JoshB)

-Never steep over 155f and never for more than 30min

-boils tend to be small 2-3gal (60min) and top with bottled

-Used both LME & DME unhopped

- Highest AA 9% (Northern brewer), never bitter over 1.5oz

- last batch Stryian Gold bitter 1.3oz @ 4.8 AA

- Shoot for stable ferment usually 68-72%

- yeasts: nottingham dry, WY3068, WL005, WY1388(current)

- used starters with WL005 & WY1388

- current batch late extract add, half at 60m half at 15min

- use irish moss but no "rehydrate", tsp direct to boil.

I always wear my lucky beer underwear.

11/29/06 09:27 PM  
Re: Is it my tap water or what?
<<last batch Stryian Gold bitter 1.3oz @ 4.8 AA>>

how long did you boil these for?

11/30/06 07:44 AM  
Re: Is it my tap water or what?

Ross - great suggestion especially now that I am trying late extract additions.

SteveG - Stryian Gold bitter 1.3oz @ 4.8 AA for 60min


11/30/06 08:50 AM  
Re: Is it my tap water or what?
Well, I'm not so sure how extreme this effect would be, but something I learned a long time ago is to avoid boiling lower alpha hops for a long time. Again, this came from the AOB seminar I took back in the 90's. The explaination was that boiling low alpha hops for an hour will extract the wrong stuff from the hop. I never really experimented with the principle, the source of the info was very good so I just encorporated it into my practices. I try to keep bittering hops above 7AA.
MikeT (Converting from Old Sock)
11/30/06 09:19 AM  
Re: Is it my tap water or what?
ď-There are cloromides 35.1ppm

-There is clorine 2.7 ppm (enough to effect flavor?)Ē

Do you mean chloromines? Theyíre pretty bad because, from what I have read, you canít boil them off like you can with plain old chlorine and you may not be able to filter them out with a charcoal filter (I thought you couldnít, but I just did some reading and some people see to think you can). The only guaranteed way to get rid of both chloromines and the chlorine is to fill up your brew pot or fermenter the day before brewing and add 1/4 campden tablet per 5 gallons of water (youíd need to do this for all top off water as well).

If water treatment sounds like too much effort give the bottled water suggestion a try (I just did this myself because I havenít put a filter on the faucet in my new apartment and the water tastes lousy), if that fixes the problem and you donít enjoy paying for water then you can look into treating the water that comes out of your faucet.

11/30/06 09:33 AM  
Re: Is it my tap water or what?

"nottingham dry, WY3068, WL005, WY1388(current)"

and this

"harsh bitter aftertast in my beers (last three)"

caught my eye. Did the Nottingham beer not have this taste? If so, maybe the difference is in your piching rate and aeration--it's very easy to pitch enough healthy yeast with Nottingham, but doing so with liquid yeast is a bit more involved. The off-flavors that might result from underpitching/underaerating would be described by most people as a harsh aftertaste, though not everyone would call them "bitter." Anyway, was that first (clean) batch the Nottingham one?

Also, are there any rings or dots at the fill line in the necks of your bottles? For me, my first batch or two were clean, but my cleaning/sanitation procedures were good enough for new equipment, but not good enough to use it more than once!

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