well water

Discussion in 'General Brewing Discussions' started by Brewer #42226, Feb 1, 2015.

  1. Brewer #42226

    Brewer #42226 New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2015
    Messages:
    16
    Likes Received:
    4
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Location:
    Ishpeming, Michigan
    My first question has to do with water. A lot of the recipes I see call for heating the wort and adding it to the carboy, then add cold water to cool it down. I have untreated well water which potentially has little critters floating around in it. So far I've been lucky and have had good results from the beer I'm making but in the back of my mind I'm always worried if I go the cold-water route that I may be introducing something bad. Any thoughts?
    Thanks!
    Tod P.
     
  2. fire60

    fire60 New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2015
    Messages:
    14
    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Location:
    Wellington NewZealand
    Hello Brewer,

    Have you considered an immersion cooler? If the water pressure from your well is inadequate you make need to introduce a pump into the system. Put the copper coil into the boil kettle at the end of the boil and drop the temp by running your cool well water through this. You could also try running the cooling water through an ice bath prior to the cooling coil.

    Pete.
     
  3. Brewer #42226

    Brewer #42226 New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2015
    Messages:
    16
    Likes Received:
    4
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Location:
    Ishpeming, Michigan
    I'm actually picking up a cooler from a friend who got out of beer making several years ago and I'll probably start to do that, but it doesn't answer the question about the safety of well water?
     
  4. Hogarthe

    Hogarthe Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2014
    Messages:
    528
    Likes Received:
    264
    Trophy Points:
    63
    you could boil the water the day before and put it in the fridge or even freeze it. boiling will kill whatever may be in there.
     
  5. Ozarks Mountain Brew

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2012
    Messages:
    7,471
    Likes Received:
    3,625
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    IT Managment
    Location:
    The Ozark Mountains of Missouri
    I would invest in a good charcoal filter for your water system and all will work fine
     
  6. Brewer #42226

    Brewer #42226 New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2015
    Messages:
    16
    Likes Received:
    4
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Location:
    Ishpeming, Michigan
    boiling it the day before is a great concept, and one I keep thinking about. Doesn't seem to happen! lol too scattered around here for that right now.

    A charcoal filter might not be a bad idea. :)

    So, you're saying it might not be a good idea to use water straight from the tap in my case?
     
  7. flars

    flars New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2013
    Messages:
    16
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    1
    Unless your well water is unfit to drink, it will most likely not be a problem to use straight from the tap. I have been topping off with our well water for many years and have had no problems.
     
  8. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2012
    Messages:
    9,548
    Likes Received:
    6,881
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Aurora, CO, USA
    I'm assuming the water is potable and tastes relatively good. When I grew up, we used well water with a very high sulfur content - it smelled like the gates of hell out of the tap but if you let it set for a while it was delicious. The problem with well water is you don't know the alkalinity and the ion content. At a minimum, I'd run it through a filter - activated charcoal is not necessary since you likely aren't chlorinating your well water. I'd also boil the brewing liquor, all you need, a day or so prior to brewing, let it cool, then rack the liquor off the precipitate, the white stuff that should form at the bottom of whatever you brew it in. I'd add some calcium salts back if brewing very light beer - if you add 50 ppm CA++, you'll be certain of having enough calcium for the mash. You shouldn't have a problem with squigglies if you're pumping it out of the ground and using it quickly, there aren't any down there we're concerned with. Short of having your water testing, this regime should set a starting point from which you can experiment your way into great beer.
     
  9. Brewer #42226

    Brewer #42226 New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2015
    Messages:
    16
    Likes Received:
    4
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Location:
    Ishpeming, Michigan
    Thanks Flars and NoseyBear. That's what I was looking for. Odds are I won't be brewing any very light beer! lol

    Threw an experiment on yesterday - based on a Stout extract kit, I added oats (toasted), espresso, and lactose; along with minimal amounts of vanilla and cocoa powder. :D
     
  10. MrBIP

    MrBIP Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2012
    Messages:
    495
    Likes Received:
    29
    Trophy Points:
    28
    Location:
    Northern Michigan
    So, you're doing a partial boil at topping off?
    I have well water and don't do anything with it, but use it, straight up. But, I only did a couple of partial boil batches before going full boil. Prior to that I would pick up a couple of the 2.5 gallon jugs of drinking water at the grocery and that was the top off water. Seemed way easier than boiling a bunch of water or treating with something and, those jugs are pretty cheap, and that beer turned out fine.
     
  11. Brewer #42226

    Brewer #42226 New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2015
    Messages:
    16
    Likes Received:
    4
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Location:
    Ishpeming, Michigan
    Depends what I'm making, but yes - typically a partial boil and topping off for beer.
     
  12. Ozarks Mountain Brew

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2012
    Messages:
    7,471
    Likes Received:
    3,625
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    IT Managment
    Location:
    The Ozark Mountains of Missouri
  13. The Brew Mentor

    The Brew Mentor Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2012
    Messages:
    988
    Likes Received:
    622
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Mentor, Ohio
    Beer is mostly water.
    If there is a question mark around your water, do something about it.
    Store bought spring water is +/- $.75 per gallon.
    For a partial boil kit, you'll need under 3 gallons of top off water.
    So for $2.25 you can eliminate the risk.
    A "Kit Beer" averages $43 not including time, bottles cleaning, etc.
    Why take a risk?
    Just sayin.
    Brian
     
  14. McKnuckle

    McKnuckle Member

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2014
    Messages:
    40
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    6
    Location:
    NW Bergen County, NJ
    I have well water from the tap and I brew all grain, but if you're talking about topping off I assume you're using extract?

    After some very bad tasting beer and a Ward Labs test, I stopped using my well water for brewing. I use distilled water plus salts as needed for the style.

    Brewing water is mostly a concern in the mash for all grain methods. It's less of a concern when added back after the boil, or even for use in the boil (after mashing). That said, I would not use well water that has no treatment, especially for organic impurities. My well water is very alkaline due to bicarbonate content and has a high level of sodium, and almost no sulfate. A charcoal filter won't help it.

    These things may sound like meaningless chemistry babble to you if you don't know much about water's impact on brewing and beer in general. But trust me, they're not good things, and they had to be dealt with. Personally, if I were you, I'd try using my well water but if I had weird tastes, I'd go straight for the bottled stuff to dilute my wort in subsequent brews.
     

Share This Page

arrow_white