I recently moved to a house on a well and not too long after discovered our entire area has a bacterial iron problem. We have the standard water softener and it does a fairly good job of cutting down on off flavors but still have the problems you should expect with bacterial iron; some sludge forms in the toilet tanks and there is still a odor to the water.

Clearly, if I buy water or get a fancy filter I wouldn't have this problem, but I want to know if anyone has brewed with water contaminated with bacterial iron? And if so what are the effects on flavor and maybe mouthfeel. And I am really curious if anyone has had experience aging a beer brewed with this. I am assuming the boil would take care of the problem but I got to throw this out for a some feedback.

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    Boiling the wort kills any bacteria. What is more concerning is that you mention the water still has an odor. That might contribute to off-flavors and the like. I'd use a charcoal filter for your brewing water. And the sludge...yeah, filter. ;) – Graeck Jan 30 '14 at 20:29
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    Assuming you have an ion exchange water softener that uses sodium, you don't want to use that water for brewing. – Denny Conn Mar 27 '14 at 17:41

There are a number of resources online that might help. I would first check to see if your local municipality has a water report that they put out.

There's also this calculator which may be helpful: http://www.brewersfriend.com/water-chemistry/

Depending on where you are located, the bigger cities have some user submitted feedback on water conditions and best styles to brew dependent on the water chemistry.

  • Walzen, I really appreciate the answer and the link looks like a great water chemistry tool! But I don't get my water from the city, (When I did our water was great and the city website updated its very in depth water report often) but like the very first line says I moved and now live on a well... check out this link en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_well – Ryan Shdo Feb 26 '14 at 8:02
  • Sorry, I have had a couple beers and thought I would be funny but re-reading that I kinda sound like a dick! – Ryan Shdo Feb 26 '14 at 8:06
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    It's all good man, no offense taken. I was thinking, well that's more more about a water well than I'd ever known... – WalzenBrew Feb 26 '14 at 16:40
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    Ryan, get your water tested by wardlab.com. I'm on a well, too, and I've been using Ward for years. Fast, accurate inexpensive. Get test W-6 which is about $16.50. – Denny Conn Mar 27 '14 at 17:43

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