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I can't drink the water straight from my kitchen tap because it reeks of chlorine. Left standing it's palatable but, starting brewing again after 30 years or so, it's still not something I'd want to base a brew on, so I'm looking for a 'neutral' alternative. Highland Spring looks like a good candidate but it's only available in sizes up to two litres and is relatively expensive. Does anyone know of a cheaper alternative? Really cheap Burton water would be ideal. ;-)

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Another cheap alternative is to get your tapwater from somewhere else and transport it to your home. Of course its feasability depends on several factors:

  • Is there a region with suitable tapwater nearby?
  • Do you know someone living in that region you can visit and get/buy some water from?

And very important:

  • What is the size of your installation? Up to 50L eg. I imagine it's not to complicated to transport the water in those 5L bottled water bottles you can buy at the supermarket. If you need more, transportation can become an issue.
  • The tap water is pretty much the same over the whole of this region: hard, so mineral loaded. – John Barleycorn Nov 23 '16 at 1:43
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Here is a quote that should point you in the right direction:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Campden_tablet

"Campden tablets (potassium or sodium metabisulfite) are a sulfur-based product that is used primarily to sterilize wine, cider and in beer making to kill bacteria and to inhibit the growth of most wild yeast: this product is also used to eliminate both free chlorine and the more stable form, chloramine, from water ..."

I have used this method for 10 or more years as my tap water is heavily chlorinated/chloraminated. Works every time, with the tablets costing only a few cents each, and dosage rate is 1/4 tablet per 10 gallons of water. Add the tablet, or portion thereof, to your water before heating it and adding grain or extract.

  • Thanks for the pointer but I'm actually after a lightly mineralised water, not a way to getting rid of the chlorine. – John Barleycorn Nov 24 '16 at 15:32
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Tesco Ashbeck is very low on all measures so can be built up. Its consistent too and quite cheap. There's a discussion on on using it as the base for different profiles here: http://www.midlandscraftbrewers.org.uk/download/i/mark_dl/u/4012490099/4609363392/Water%20Treatment%20Nottingham%202014.pdf

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Cheap alternative is to buy distilled water, or reverse osmosis water (or filter to produce it in your kitchen), and then manually ad salts to suit your style and needs. You can buy 1 lb. of ready to use mix for less than $10, and you only need a teaspoon or few to treat your water. Or you can buy pure salts and compose your own.

If RO water is expensive in your area, you can simply buy any soft water and add salts as you need. Ready-made mix is probably out of the question, but with 4, 5 pure salts you should be able to achieve reasonable approximation of Burton water.

  • It might be a cheap alternative in the US but distilled water is a lot more expensive than bottled drinking water in the UK. I'm considering a RO system but filtering isn't an option for me at the moment. – John Barleycorn Nov 23 '16 at 1:43
  • @JohnBarleycorn It's also reasonably cheap in Poland, and you can just harden any soft bottled water. – Mołot Nov 23 '16 at 7:11
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We have pretty hard water in our area, but I can normally get away with using both Camden to get rid of the chlorine and CRS to soften it, and that works for most of my purposes.

If need properly soft water, then I do one of two things:

I use Tesco Ashbeck if I just want to get a small amount for, for example, making up some StarSan. Looks to be about £1.10 for 5 litres at the moment.

If I want a large amount when I'm making a lager or similar, I go to our local Maidenhead Aquatics, who fill my 25 litre jerry can for (if memory serves) about £3.50, so this works out a bit cheaper than the Ashbeck. I then add minerals to it based on a water treatment calculator.

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