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Noticeable astringency caused by water in all my brews

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Slancher

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Hi, I've recently moved to Williamstown Victoria and I've noticed an astringent off flavour in all my beers so far. I need help to understand the problem and fix it. This is driving me crazy!

I've narrowed the problem down to a water problem as I've been able to replicate the issue doing a small stovetop mash with tap water versus filtered water purchased from the supermarket. The astringent off flavour is immediately apparent with the tap water mash and not present in the filtered water mash. Interestingly, I only notice the problem as a hard to describe vague astringency/unwanted bitterness but my wife (who was tested to be a supertaster) notices an overpowering astringency.

Now that I've discovered the issue I'm wondering what to do about it. Everything I read online seems to indicate the water quality all over Melbourne is fine to brew with (obviously not the case at my house).

I'd like to understand what about the water is causing the issue and what my options are to solve the it.

  • Buying filtered water seems too expensive as I do 60L batches and the cheapest filtered water I can find is $12/15L.
  • Installing a water filter seems like a good option but this is also expensive/complicated and I've read can be very slow.
  • Happy to try treating the water with some additives if that may help.

Things I've tried/am trying:
  • Tested mash PH (around 5.4)
  • Boiling the water first has no effect.
  • I'm running some water through an activated carbon filter now to try another stovetop mash test.
  • I've ordered campden tablets as I've read Chloramine in water could cause the issue and I've heard a campden tablet could remove this from the water easily.
Any other advice would be much appreciated!
 

MHB

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I suspect your right in thinking that Chloramines could be the cause, and obviously if it is de-chlorinating your water will be the solution.
Campden tablets do work and are very inexpensive, from my local they come in at about 10 cents for enough (1) to treat all the water (both mash and sparge water) for a batch your size.
Sometimes its inconvenient to use Campden. A filter housing and a dual filter (both particulate and carbon) will set you back less than $50 if you shop around. Got one set up at work it has a garden hose snap-lock sprinkler fitting screwed into one side and some hose and a disconnect on the other, just loop it around to keep the filter air tight and wet between uses, handy for a bit of clean de-chlorinated water for odd jobs.

There is a lot range in peoples sensitivity to chloramines, I'm not super sensitive but if it gets to the point where I can taste them its a real shocker of a flavour, makes an otherwise good beer undrinkable.
Hope you get it sorted.
Mark

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