From the HBD Archive
From: (Michael J. Tuciarone)
Subject: Re: Water opinions
Date: 1992-06-12 16:02:14 GMT

Although I, too, am a Mountain View (CA) homebrewer, I'll try to make
my comments as general as possible to avoid boring and irritating most
of you out there in the heartland.

First of all, if you're genuinely interested in the fine points of your
brewing water, you should get a water report. If you get city water,
then you may get an annual water quality report automatically in your
bill. That's the case in Mountain View, and I wouldn't be surprised if
that's common elsewhere. Even if you don't, I'll bet your water company
will mail you one if you ask them.

If you have a well, then you're on your own, but you should still have
your water analyzed periodically anyway. (My Dad used to have it done
every ten years or so; I don't know what the official recommendation
is.) You'd hate to discover someone's septic field seeping into your
well supply, for instance.

The report can tell you all sorts of interesting things like mineral
content and so forth. But you should take it with a big grain of salt,
since it really represents averages or typical values. In Mountain
View, like many other places, the city water supply is created by
blending water from the SF Water Department (Hetch Hetchy--which is
*really good* water, by the way), the Santa Clara Valley Water
Department, and sometimes from city wells. The water that comes out of
your tap depends on where in the city you live and what's going on in
the pipes that day. So the actual tap water is very variable, and this
is likely to be the case in your community if your city is not blessed
with a large and consistent natural water supply.

City water is clorinated and treated to a greater or lesser degree (see
above), often noticeably. I think this is the most important
consideration..."it's the water," after all, isn't it? This is the
main reason I use bottled water for brewing. It's very consistent and
clean-tasting. (Maybe I could get the same effect by just bottling the
tap water and letting it sit for a week. Hmmm.) I also don't think it
makes that much difference to me, since my tap water isn't that bad,
but there are people living in places where the tap water has a lot of
sulfur or alkali or god-knows-what in it. You choose.


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