Does My Water Change the Taste of My Home Brew?
If you’re in the home brewing business, or are thinking about getting started, you’re likely performing a lot of research about all the elements that go into a good home brew. Coffee is a fickle thing, and when home brewed you need to take into account all the little details that can change the flavor, color, and smoothness. Of the main ingredients that goes into coffee, water can sometimes be the most difficult to work with. So what’s in your water, how hard is it, and how is that going to affect your coffee?
How Minerals in Water Can Affect Your Home Brew
All water is going to have a certain level of hardness. Because water comes from the earth it is going to pick up contaminants and minerals along the way, which can cause a number of problems for your home and body. There are several methods to remediate your hard water, and they may affect your home brew too.
- Bicarbonate or Carbonate – are salts containing the ion HCO3. This can be found in irrigation water and if used in brewing the alkalinity will be affected. Too high of alkalinity leads to a flat, dull taste, but too low leads to your brew tasting vinegary and sour.
- Calcium – is often found in hard water. It can lower the pH during brewing, which affects the clarity of the coffee.
- Chloride – is a common anion found in tap water. It combines with calcium, magnesium, or sodium to form different salts. In coffee, chloride can taste sweeter or fuller.
- Chlorine – is a chemical sometimes found in tap water for cleaning and sanitation purposes. It shouldn’t be used in your home brew as it generally makes the coffee taste worse.
- Magnesium – is a mineral found in hard water. If there is too much in your brewing water, it can affect the coffee’s bitterness.
- Sodium – can contribute to the body and feel of your coffee, while too much of it can give the coffee a metallic taste.
- Sulfates – are a type of salt used in detergents. In brewing water, they can actually help bring out the flavor and lower the pH.
Types of Purified Water in Your Coffee
At Shamrock Plumbing we take great pride in purified water. Whether you use a Reverse Osmosis purifier or a water softener, we feel both are better than dealing with the above contaminants. However, both systems can change your water, thereby changing the taste of your home brewed coffee. It just depends on what you want, so check out these different types of water.
Reverse Osmosis Water
Reverse Osmosis water is water that’s been purified by passing through several filters using pressure. Water that has been through this process will have far fewer contaminants but won’t have any added minerals to adjust the pH and chemical levels. In coffee, Reverse Osmosis water is preferred. An RO system can remove the contaminants listed above, giving you more control over the taste and color of your brew.
Water Softener Water
Water softeners work by changing calcium and magnesium ions into sodium or potassium ions. This may give your water a slightly metallic taste, but it does something different to your home brew. While regular hard tap water will already have a small amount of sodium in it, using a water softener will increase that amount significantly and can make your coffee taste metallic.
Rain, Lake, or River Water
Rain, lake, and river water are all natural, untreated waters. If you were to go and grab a few bucketfuls of these types of water to use in your home brew you would definitely have a different outcome than your tap water.
Because natural water is untreated, you will likely find a lot of contaminants (some we haven’t even listed) that will affect the taste of your water. It is possible to purify this water using a portable device or boiling it, but these options aren’t as efficient or effective as an RO system. This is a viable option, but not preferred.
Water straight out of the tap will likely contain many of the above listed contaminants. We suggest using our hard water tool to check the hardness of your city’s water, then proceeding from there. While using a water softener is certainly better for you and your home, a Reverse Osmosis water purifier is going to be better specifically for brewing because it won’t add any unwanted contaminants. You can learn more about the difference in water purification methods to find which is best for your situation.
Let Shamrock Help Your Home Brew
Shamrock Plumbing is proud to offer a variety of water purification systems. We want your hard-earned home brew to turn out the way you intended, and there’s no better way to do so than by starting with your brew water. If you have any questions about your city’s water, your water purification or softener, or any other water-related topics, feel free to call us toll-free at (866) 262-8007! We are happy to answer any inquiries, and we are also equipped to install any system to better your brewing water!