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Altering minerals in water for brewing

DarkewolfeDarkewolfe Registered User regular
edited January 2010 in Help / Advice Forum
I've been doing some home brewing lately, and have encountered a problem. There's a berr quality I've heard described as "cherry" or "strains of citrus," which I generally just think of as "sour" that keeps popping up in my beer. I've noticed it frequently in other local brews, so my suspicion is it's a result of the mineral content of our water.

I know distilled water is usually inadvisable for brewing, unless you're going to mineralize the water yourself. Does anyone know of any options I have, other than just buying large quantities of bottled water, to play with this?

What is this I don't even.
Darkewolfe on

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    CycloneRangerCycloneRanger Registered User regular
    edited January 2010
    It seems unlikely that the sour taste is caused by mineralization in your water if your water doesn't itself taste sour. Sour tastes come from acids, such as citric acid, tartaric acid, ascorbic acid, carbonic acid, etc. I don't really see how a slight difference in mineral content would affect the concentrations of those substances enough to create a taste difference.

    CycloneRanger on
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    illigillig Registered User regular
    edited January 2010
    have you tried filtering the water? we have fantastic tap water in NYC, but boiling and/or filtering changes its taste significantly, which i attribute to a change in the mineral/chemical content...

    illig on
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    SlickShughesSlickShughes Registered User regular
    edited January 2010
    Alton Brown's advice is use bottled water.

    SlickShughes on
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    DarkewolfeDarkewolfe Registered User regular
    edited January 2010
    It seems unlikely that the sour taste is caused by mineralization in your water if your water doesn't itself taste sour. Sour tastes come from acids, such as citric acid, tartaric acid, ascorbic acid, carbonic acid, etc. I don't really see how a slight difference in mineral content would affect the concentrations of those substances enough to create a taste difference.

    It's not a result of high content of acids in the water. It's a result of the yeast interacting with minerals during the fermentation.
    Alton Brown's advice is use bottled water.

    May just have to do that. I also found a book on amazon that describes how to distill water and then play with it yourself using salts.

    Darkewolfe on
    What is this I don't even.
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    shutzshutz Registered User regular
    edited January 2010
    Why would distilled water be inadvisable?

    My parents own a homemade wine and beer store (as in, they sell what you need to make wine and beer, they don't sell the finished product) and they sell distilled water, as well as water filtered by reverse osmosis (basically the same thing as distilled water, but it costs a lot less in energy to produce.) Many of our customers use that water, with no particular adverse effects (as a matter of fact, with fewer problems than the people who use tap or spring water.)

    Now, if you make your own mash, from the grain, then maybe a particular kind of spring water might provide a specific, distinctive taste. Pure (distilled or reverse osmosis) water simply won't add any particular flavors. I would say that's better than adding an unwanted flavor.

    If you're working from hopped malt concentrates (the easiest way to start and get good, consistent results, until you graduate to making your own mash) then any minerals that would add the needed distinctive taste of a particular beer should already be in the concentrate, as the only thing that's been removed in the concentration process is water.

    To summarize: there's nothing wrong with using pure (distilled or reverse osmosis) water for making homemade beer, and it will reduce the likelihood of problems. Distilled water (as long as you're not going for the lab-grade stuff) should cost you less than bottled water.

    The two main things to be careful about when making homemade beer is to make sure anything that touches your beer is clean, and properly sterilized (use solution of Potassium Metabisulfite for sterilization, it's easier than boiling everything, and it sterilizes on contact, without leaving any residue) and make sure your beer is made, and then kept in a properly shaded area, away from the light (light is what makes a beer "skunky".)

    shutz on
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