From the HBD Archive
From: holos0!
Subject: no subject (file transmission)
Date: 1989-05-08 14:02:54 GMT

Subject: Re: More novice questions writes in #145:

> I've noticed, in "complete joy" and elsewhere, directions that call for boiling
> wort with part of the water required, and then adding the rest of the water to
> it in the fermenter....
> Even though I put it in a tub of cold water,
> it took hours to cool to even 80 degrees F. I put in the yeast at that point,
> even though the recipe called for cooling to 68 degrees -- I was fearful that
> I was creating opportunities for contamination while the cooling took place
> (and besides, it was getting late.) So my question is, can I add either cold tapwater to the fermenter OR cooled pre-boiled water without too great a risk of
> contamination?

You're better off boiling as much of the wort as possible. Most extract
brewers start with undersized pots and add only 1/2 or so of the water to
the boiling pot. Then they add cool water after boiling to make up the
difference. This works, but it increases the caramalization of the wort
sugars. If you have big canning pots--the 40 qt type--boil it all.
When you boil all the wort, you should use a wort chiller to get the
hot wort down to pitching temperature. (These are copper tubing coolers.
You run the wort thru the tube, which sits in ice water, or you put the tube
coils in the wort and run cold water thru it.) With grain beers, this is
essential unless you want enough trub in the fermenter to ruin the brew.
With extract beers, I think you can get by with setting the fermenator in
a bathtub of cold water. Wort ruining bacteria like the 80-120 degF range,
though, a wort chiller gets you rapidly through this zone.

80 degrees won't kill the yeast, but it may hurt the flavor. Quality ale
yeast should be fermented at 60-65 degrees. High temperatures increase
"diacytl"--which gives beer an artifical butter aroma, similar to
movie popcorn "golden topping".

If you did opt for adding cold water at the end, the water should be treated.
That is, any salts and other preparations done to your brewing liquor (water)
should be done to it. Boiling and force cooling (set it in the tub, covered)
is probably better, since this will kill wort spoiling beasties. I used
to get by with merely adding tap water. Some water supplies have
organisms that are not pathogenic in humans. Some of these can spoil beer.

> Another question concerning water: is there any advantage to using anything
> but tapwater? The water here in Pittsburgh is not bad, but it's not great,
> either.

It depends on the tap water. You're not drinking this water, you're brewing
with it. Truly bad tastes--iron, chlorine, toxic waste--are bad for beer.
But good-tasting water doesn't necessarily make great beer. The ideal water
depends upon the beer style and the brewing method. If you're making pale
ale--the standard beginner brew--moderately hard water with lots of calcium
sulfate is the best. If your water is soft, add gypsum. If your water
has 450 ppm as calcium sulfate, just run the water into the brew kettle.

The ideal home brewing water is sterile, free of nasty chemicals, and is
very soft--80 ppm minerals, mostly calcium. Iron is ruiness if it is
perceptible to the palate. Magnesium in large amounts is bad (above
50 ppm? I forget). The water should have no chlorine smell--but activated
charcoal takes that out. It's pH should be near 7--many municpal supplies
are very alkaline from the treatment. High levels of sodium are ruinious--
never use a water softener; these remove calcium and substitute sodium.
Soft water is best because you can brew all kinds of beer by adding salts.
Hard water restricts you to certain types, or requires you to jump through
hoops. Note that water composition is most important during the mash--
so if you're brewing from extract it's less critical. Dave Miller's
"The Complete Handbook of Home Brewing" discusses water treatment at length.
Most water companies will tell you about the water if you give them a
call and ask to speak to a chemist.

If you're using well-water that tastes of blood, buy bottled water. If
you lucky like me you can run the soft municpal water through a Water-Pic
charcoal filter and add salts as desired. (I make light lager with *no*
water treatment other than the filter.) If your water has lots of
carbonates you need to boil, cool, and rack. It depends....

BTW, recipes that call for "1 tsp. gypsum" or whatever are silly at best.
Adding gypsum to hard water is counterproductive, and you may need more
than the recipe calls for if your water is softer than the water the
recipe formulator used.

BTW, I'm an all-grain purest. I use whole hops, pure strain yeast, and
have a fermentation refrigerator. I mention this to let you know I have
lots of experience in brewing, but also to warn you that I may have lost
perspective on just what compromises affect the beer the most.

> Last question: I know that there have been previous postings about mail order
> sources for brewing supplies, but I don't find them among the messages that
> remain in my local archives....

Best source is the ads in Zymurgy. Write and get several catalogs.
I am hesitent to recommend specific suppliers. I have never dealt with
any disreputable or difficult sources. (I don't see how you could
compete without return business.) I choose my suppliers on the basis
of cost and especially hop quality.

Len Reed

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