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exBEERiment | Reverse Osmosis (RO) vs. Faucet Water In An American Pale Ale

Writer: Cade Jobe

Being essentially the most ample ingredient in beer, it is smart that brewers involved with making a high quality product would take note of their water. Typically argued as being the perfect strategy, beginning with reverse osmosis (RO) water then constructing it as much as a desired profile all however ensures optimistic outcomes, as RO water is freed from almost all minerals and chemical compounds, successfully making it a clean slate.

Nonetheless, the prices related to RO filtration methods are such that many decide to begin with essentially the most available water, which is that from the faucet, then make the required changes to get it to their desired profile. Whereas making good beer with faucet water is definitely potential, there are a selection of issues brewers should make when doing so, notably because it pertains to the chemical disinfectant utilized by their municipality in addition to the baseline mineral content material.

I’ve brewed utilizing varied water sources and have passable outcomes with all of them, one thing I consider is because of my close to obsessive give attention to water high quality. A problem that’s been mentioned by the Brülosophy crew for a while is whether or not RO and faucet water which can be constructed as much as the identical profile would produce characteristically related beers. Now that I stay in a spot with a constant water supply that doesn’t depend on chloramine for disinfections, and armed with a LaMotte Water Check, I made a decision to see for myself!


To guage the variations between an American Pale Ale made with reverse osmosis water and one made with faucet water when each are adjusted to the identical mineral profile.


For this xBmt, I went with a traditional American Pale Ale recipe with a twist, opting to ferment with the brand new Imperial Yeast I22 Capri pressure.

Double Unfavorable

Recipe Particulars

Batch Dimension Boil Time IBU SRM Est. OG Est. FG ABV
5.5 gal 60 min 46.2 5.4 SRM 1.054 1.013 5.38 %
Actuals 1.054 1.013 5.38 %


Title Quantity %
Lamonta: Pale American Barley Malt 11 lbs 91.67
Munich I 1 lbs 8.33


Title Quantity Time Use Kind Alpha %
Magnum 20 g 60 min Boil Pellet 14.2
Centennial 20 g 30 min Boil Pellet 8.7
Cascade 28 g 1 min Boil Pellet 5.5
Cascade 56 g 5 days Dry Hop Pellet 5.5


Title Lab Attenuation Temperature
Capri (I22) Imperial Yeast 76% 73.4°F – 64.4°F


Water Profile (RO): Ca 90 | Mg 12 | Na 36 | SO4 200 | Cl 50 | HCO3 90

Water Profile (faucet): Ca 137 | Mg 12 | Na 36 | SO4 201 | Cl 50 | HCO3 228

Previous to brewing the beers for this xBmt, I used my LaMotte Water Check Package to get an thought of the beginning profile of my faucet water.

I began my brew time without work by amassing an identical volumes of RO and faucet water then adjusting each with the quantities of minerals wanted to realize as related a profile as potential.

Given the naturally excessive bicarbonate stage, it was troublesome to exactly match sure minerals, so I centered totally on sulfate and chloride, and I additionally used lactic acid to make sure each had been on the identical pH.

  Gypsum CaCl Epsom Baking Soda Lactic Acid
RO Water 8.1 g 2.85 g 3.7 g 3.1 g 6 mL
Faucet Water 10.5 g 2.5 g 0 g 0 g 9 mL

As soon as the waters had been correctly heated, I added the milled grains, turned the pumps on to recirculate, and set the controllers to take care of my goal mash temperature of 152°F/67°C.

Whereas the mashes had been resting, I weighed out the kettle hop additions.

Following every 60 minute mash relaxation, I eliminated the grains then boiled the worts for 60 minutes, including hops on the occasions listed within the recipe.

When the boils had been full, I rapidly chilled the worts then took hydrometer measurements exhibiting each had been on the identical OG.

Left: RO 1.054 OG | Proper: faucet 1.054 OG

After transferring the worts to sanitized fermenters, they had been positioned subsequent to one another in my fermentation chamber and I pitched a single pouch of Imperial Yeast I22 Capri into every.

The beers had been left to ferment at 74°F/23°C for 4 days earlier than I returned so as to add the dry hops. After one other 5 days, I took hydrometer measurements that confirmed a minor distinction in FG.

Left: RO 1.008 FG | Proper: faucet 1.006 FG

At this level, the beers had been strain transferred to CO2 purged kegs.

The stuffed kegs had been positioned on gasoline in my keezer and allowed to situation for a pair weeks earlier than they had been prepared for analysis.

Left: RO water | Proper: faucet water


A complete of 29 individuals of various ranges of expertise participated on this xBmt. Every participant was served 1 pattern of the beer made with RO water and a couple of samples of the beer made with faucet water in several coloured opaque cups then requested to determine the distinctive pattern. Whereas 15 tasters (p<0.05) would have needed to precisely determine the distinctive pattern with the intention to attain statistical significance, solely 7 did (p=0.90), indicating individuals on this xBmt had been unable to reliably distinguish an American Pale Ale made with RO water from one made with faucet water when each had been adjusted to the identical profile.

My Impressions: Out of the 6 semi-blind triangle checks I tried, I appropriately recognized the odd-beer-out simply as soon as, and that was admittedly a fortunate guess. Whereas the model made with RO water was noticeably clearer than the one made with faucet water, I perceived them to be an identical by way of aroma, taste, and mouthfeel. Each had been nice examples of Pale Ale with traditional


Whereas it’s true that respectable beer may be made with water as long as it doesn’t style unhealthy, many trendy brewers have embraced the significance of adjusting the mineral profile and infrequently begin with a clean slate of RO water. Nonetheless, some contend faucet water that’s absent of chloramine and excessive ranges of chlorine can produce beers of equal high quality. Supporting this declare, tasters on this xBmt had been unable to reliably distinguish an American Pale Ale made with RO water from one made with faucet water when each had been adjusted to related mineral profiles.

A notable caveat to this xBmt is that the faucet water used is particular to my location in Oregon, which reduces the generalizability of those findings. To make sure, I used to be absolutely conscious that my municipality doesn’t disinfect with chloramines and used a comparatively small quantity of chlorine, which is simple to take care of; I then used a equipment to check the water I used to be really brewing with earlier than build up the mineral profiles of every. Whereas I aimed to get all minerals as shut as potential, I centered totally on sulfate and chloride ranges, which resulted in average variations in calcium and bicarbonate ranges. The actual fact this didn’t have a noticeable impression is slightly attention-grabbing.

I contemplate myself lucky to have entry to such nice brewing water proper out of the faucet and can persist with utilizing it for many of the beers I brew, because it’s not solely simpler, however cheaper. Simply to reiterate—these findings are particular to the placement I stay and brew, and whereas it’s completely potential others might need related outcomes, it’s important to have baseline data of the make-up of 1’s faucet water earlier than utilizing it within the method I did for this xBmt. For that, I can’t advocate the LaMotte Water Check Package sufficient!

You probably have any ideas about this xBmt, please don’t hesitate to share within the feedback part beneath!

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