Do you use different types of water for different types of beer? I know the type of water can change your flavors slightly.

Will I get wildly different outcomes if I use say, distilled water over tap or regular filtered water?

If I use one type of water in the wort then a different type after will that mess things up terribly?

I found this question but I have a slightly different question.

  • Does your question pertain to all-grain brewing, partial-mash, or extract, or are you purposely leaving that detail out of the question, looking for it to be part of the answer?
    – JackSmith
    Commented Jan 31, 2011 at 14:47
  • I didnt intend for it to be specific but perhaps that might help get it answered :) Commented Jan 31, 2011 at 15:00

3 Answers 3


In a nutshell, distilled water is great for extract brewing since the extract has all the minerals in it from when it's made. In general, you want to have 50-100 ppm of Ca available for the yeast. It also aids the clarity of the beer. For hoppy beers, you can use CaSO4 for this. You can add it to the mash if you need to lower the mash pH, or just add it to the kettle if all you want to do is accentuate the hops. Dark grains pull the pH down, so you generally need to raise it. Carbonates will do that (the reason Dublin became home to Guinness is because of the carbonate water there). Brewers generally use CaCO3 in the mash in this situation. No matter what kind of beer you're brewing, if your water is chlorinated it pays to remove it. If it's chlorine, you can preboil the water or let it sit uncovered overnight. If your water co. uses chloramines, you can use 1/2 campden tab in the water to remove the chloramine almost instantly. Campden also works to remove chlorine.


Water chemistry can play a pretty big role in the quality of one style over another. In general, the most ideal water for a pilsner is not going to make a great Stout, and vice versa.

In the US, most of our water nationwide is pretty middle of the road and good for any style of beer.

Generally, distilled water should only be used only after you have analysed the water you have and you find that one or more minerals/ions is grossly out of wack.

Water chemistry and brewing is some pretty high powered stuff, and often confusing to the none chemist-type folks.

The best thing to do is to start reading up on water chemistry, as its true influences are sort of out of the scope of a definative answer here on this type of posting format.

"Brew Strong" of The Brewing Network. Did a 4 part series on water chemistry, how it effects brewing and how to approach it for recipe formulation. Check that out as the best definative guide right now on water chem.


In general, if the water you're using tastes good then it will produce good beer. Style-wise I don't think that it makes much difference, and by using the same water you're eliminating one variable.

The main concerns you have with water are: - Mineral content - Chemical content

Yeast require some minerals to reproduce and be healthy; since distilled water removes all minerals then you would need to add a nutrient supplement if you're using distilled water. On the inverse, well water may be high in minerals you don't want.

If you're using city water then the added chemicals may be of concern; using a carbon filter will remove many of these and is highly advisable if your water has a strong chemical odor or flavor, or isn't clear (fill your bathtub with clear water; if the water is tinted then it's likely chemicals).

Overall though, you should choose a baseline water source and stick with it. If you advance to the point of wanting to tweak your water, then you're entering into the organic chemistry realm and getting pretty far up the ladder in terms of advanced brewing.

  • Water chemistry is largely INorganic chemistry, not organic chemistry. Water does have a role in beer styles also.
    – brewchez
    Commented Jan 31, 2011 at 18:29

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