Water treatment for beer kits

Discussion in 'Grain, Hops, Yeast & Water' started by Richard_1, Aug 21, 2016.

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  1. Aug 21, 2016 #1

    Richard_1

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    Has anyone used water treatment for a beer kit?

    It occurs to me (correct me if I'm wrong) that a kit is dehydrated hopped malt extract and so should contain all of the minerals appropriate for a beer of that style. That being the case, you would expect to brew it using water with no mineral content, i.e. distilled water. What do you think?

    The last kit I brewed with N Hampshire water had a slight unwanted flavour, which I don't find in commercial brews, and which I couldn't quite place (although it did diminish with ageing). I'm wondering if this was due to the water, and thinking, as a first step, that I would remove chlorine/chloramine via 1/2 a Campden tablet. Has anyone done this? Are there any other steps you might take?
     
  2. Aug 21, 2016 #2

    terrym

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    In my opinion, if you drink your tap water without a second thought, if it tastes and smells OK, then it's good enough to brew beer from kits, without any further treatment. My tap water if fine and I've now stopped using campden tablets since I noticed no difference with or without.
    The odd taste you refer to may be home brew 'twang' which often does fade away with time.
    Most modern kits (unlike the bad old days) will produce beers which do not have the dreaded twang, although some on here say if you bottle and drink your beer soon after without allowing adequate time for conditioning, you have a good chance of brewing beer with it. That may well be true, so if you follow the 2+2+2 recommendation you should avoid it.
     
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  3. Aug 22, 2016 #3

    darrellm

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    Water treatment comes into it's own when you do AG brewing: I treat my AG water at the mashing stage and I have seen a difference.

    As kits don't have a mash, theoretically you shouldn't need to treat your water. However, I know a few people who do as they have poor tap water (mine's OK to drink). Chlorine removal is a good starting point, I just filter mine (got an inline tap filter). You could try budget bottled water which is basically filtered tap water, to see if it makes a difference.
     
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  4. Aug 22, 2016 #4

    chuffer

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    Yes, this is what I did for my first two brews which were kits.....nothing else is really required
     
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  5. Aug 22, 2016 #5

    Richard_1

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    I do drink my tap water, although I wouldn't say it tasted great. The water quality report for my address shows the mean total chlorine content as 0.36 mg/L which seems fairly typical for tap water, from what I can gather. I can't actually smell chlorine in the water though. Hardness is listed as 273 mg/L CaCO3, and described as "hard". I'll try the Campden tablet treatment and see if it makes any difference to the brew.
     
  6. Aug 22, 2016 #6

    strange-steve

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    The hardness isn't relevant for kit brewing but chlorine removal definitely is. Chlorine reacts with phenols found in wort, including kits, which leaves a rather nasty TCP flavour in beer. I don't think it's what you tasted though because it never goes away and is quite distinctive. Also your chlorine levels are very low, according to the dosage on Bru'n Water 1 campden tablet would treat 300L of your water :shock:
     
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  7. Aug 22, 2016 #7

    BeerCat

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    I use RO water for all my brews,had no problem with kits . My thinking is it tastes much better than my tap water so will the beer.
     
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  8. Nov 17, 2016 #8

    Obfu

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    Hey Richard, I'm in the same water area as you and faced the same issue a few years back. You cant make good tasting pale beers from our water without treatment (although you can make good dark beers). I hate to contradict people, but it is the hardness or carbonate content of our water that's the issue, it does affect even the kit beers.

    This is what I did.

    At first I used to buy the cheap supermarket water, back then it was 13p for 2ltrs then, now its 17p. That was a game changer. For under 2 quid, the problem was solved. Eventually I got tired of the plastic bottles so looked for alternatives. I read just enough about water treatment and bought a Salifert aquarium water testing kit, some CRS (carbonate reducing solution) and DLS (dry liquor salts). I tested our water and the hardness came out pretty much exactly what the report from South East water said, translated to 'hard and nasty'.
    From my calculations and subsequent use, I have found that 1.3g/ltr crs and 0.4g dls/ltr fix the water for us - for pale beers.

    I do draw all my water off the night before, add 1 crushed Campden tablet and add the crs/dls. The dls doesn't all disolve, but just swirl it and sling it in.

    At the time, the other thing I changed whilst looking to eliminate the 'home brew taste' was sugar. I either bought kits that didn't need it or, used dried malt extract instead. It improved body and flavour but didn't fix the issue. It was definitely, without doubt our water.
     
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  9. Nov 17, 2016 #9

    Obfu

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    I almost forgot, if you have any doubts that you cant make great beer from our water with the right treatment, go along to Longdog brewery in Basingstoke. Its a microbrewery run by a very friendly, very helpful fella called Phil. Pick his brains about water and brewing and buy some of his award winning beers.:thumb:
     
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  10. Nov 17, 2016 #10

    ravey

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    I would absolutely recommend dechlorinating; when I first brewed a few years back all my beers used to have a very distinct and horrible taste (possibly what people refer to as twang), and when I started again this year I started to dechlorinate and my brews have been fantastic.
     
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  11. Nov 18, 2016 #11

    strange-steve

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    Can you expand on this? Do you mean your water is too hard? How does the hardness affect kit beers?
     
  12. Nov 18, 2016 #12

    Obfu

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    Only slightly... I just took this from South East water site, based on my postcode:-
    "Your water hardness:
    The water hardness for your property is 276mg/l CaCO₃
    This means your water is classified as hard"

    CaCO₃ is calcium carbonate, there's a direct correlation between this and carbonate/bicarbonate which is a factor of temporary hardness of water. http://beersmith.com/blog/2008/08/24/brewing-water-hard-or-soft/
    https://sites.google.com/site/brunwater/water-knowledge

    Whilst I'm aware that high carbonate levels are known to affect the mash, it is from my use of CRS to reduce the carbonate level, that I know it affects kit beers too, and particularly pale ones. The softening of my water made the single biggest improvement to kit beer. I can't explain the science from the kit beer perspective I'm afraid.
    I included those two links because I don't fully understand it so it's better for me not to try and relay.
     
  13. Nov 18, 2016 #13

    Obfu

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    I've spent the best part of the last 2 hours going through cupboards looking for my old scrawls about my historical brews, and I found my original plea for help regarding the homebrew flavour on JimsBeerKit, from 2007. Frustratingly, it's all too vague.

    Like you Steve, I'm not comfortable with the science behind my claim, it's anecdotal and doesn't make sense.


    In 2007, I'd been making wine for a few months and they'd come out ok so I decided to have another crack at homebrew kits, which I last tried in mid-1990s at uni. They sucked then and the two I did in 2007 sucked too. They carried an overwhelming taint that I couldn't describe. I was advised on that forum to:-
    1. Make sure I properly rinsed after cleaning (was using VWP).
    2. Treat the water with 1/2 crushed Campden tablet.
    3. Get a water filter
    4. Swap from sugar to brewers sugar or better yet, spray dried malt.
    I did all of those things and... didn't return to that forum until 2009 when my kit beers were nice. Doh :doh:
    I went through my notes and it seems I turned my back on beer and stuck with fruit juice wine and cider until Feb 2009 where I made a Coopers Canadian Blonde using bottled water and the homebrew taste was eliminated. I continued using bottled water until June 2013. I met Phil from Longdog Brewery and he'd given me water treatment spreadsheet which I tried out on a Brewers Choice IPA with 1Kg of extra pale DME. According to my notes, was very good and completely lacking the off flavour. From that point on, I always treated the water.

    I can't definitively say that treating the water DID fix it, there are other factors that could be at play. Perhaps I wasn't rinsing enough, perhaps my hygiene regime has improved with practise, changes from using videne to starsan, etc. All sorts of possibilities, its just my recollection of it is that it's the CRS.

    It's tempting to go back to do one last kit, but split the wort and do half with treated and half without just to see. It's more tempting to keep doing all grain and let someone else figure it out though :whistle:
     
  14. Nov 23, 2016 #14

    DoctorMick

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    Did you start using campden when you started treating your water? That would definitely make a difference to kit beers.
     
  15. Nov 23, 2016 #15

    Obfu

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    Campden tablet was the first thing I did to my water in the early days, as I recall, it helped but didn't eliminate the flavour I was trying to get rid of. I was already making wine, so had Campden tablets on hand. When I returned to beer, I didn't use them for bottled water, but reintroduced when I started using the CRS.
    I wish my notes covered it, but I think I tried a couple of kits in 07 but when the taste was still there, even after Campden tablets, I gave up.

    I may yet revisit it all to get a once-and-for-all answer but at the moment I'm trying to build a stock of good beer so I can experiment a bit and not have to worry about running out if I make something aweful.
     
  16. Nov 25, 2016 #16

    MyQul

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    You wouldn't think what the alkalinity effects kits but I was corrected on this by the bru'n'water guy as he occasionally posts here. He said that it could. I'll try and find the post
     
  17. Nov 25, 2016 #17

    Obfu

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    There's an outside chance I wasn't talking out of the back of my trousers then. Phew!
     
  18. Nov 25, 2016 #18

    MyQul

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  19. Nov 25, 2016 #19

    Obfu

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    Thanks for digging that out MYQul.
     
  20. Nov 25, 2016 #20

    strange-steve

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    That is interesting, and far be it for me to argue with Mr Brungard. Braukaiser wrote a very comprehensive article (here) on how pH affects brewing and he does mention the harsh bitterness associated with a high pH, however this is the result of a high boil pH, not the pH of the beer. One thing which may make water treatment applicable to kits is mentioned at the end of his article where he says:
     
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