« on: August 06, 2014, 06:55:05 PM »
Assuming you can succeed at all or most of the other brewing and fermenting practices through study and practice, carefully adjusting your mash and sparge water often is the difference between ending up with a good beer or a great beer. A lot of the work has been done for you if you have good desired final water profiles as part of your water treatment software to choose from to match the style you are brewing. Then, if you have the necessary various salts, etc. on hand, the rest can be as simple as tinkering with your input, until you closely match the profile, hopefully a day or more before brew day. Until I really learned what salts work best for my water and the styles I like to brew, I just bought some of all of the various salts / additives. If I don't use them, its nice to have them on hand in case sometime I do need them!
I always suggest that with few exceptions, people avoid using distilled water as your base water. You can add mineral-rich nutrients to provide the minerals that you need for a healthy ferment, but why not instead start with tap, well, spring or RO water that comes with those necessary minerals not found in the standard water treatment additives. And of those, tap water is the best since once you have that water tested, you have a constant or relatively constant existing water profile needed to then adjust to hit your desired final water profile. That is, you need to know your starting point!
Obviously not all tap or well water is good as a base water, but I honestly believe that many people who buy bulk / bottled water to brew with could instead do what is way easier, namely use their tap water with some minor adjustments, once they learned with the help of good software, what to add to hit their desired profile and pH.
I have stirred in potassium metabisulfite (or crushed campden tablets) to cool uncovered tap water containing chlorine or chloramines, and at the right dosage it makes the water ready for brewing in a matter of a few minutes. As I recall, one campden tablet will treat up to 20 gallons of water. IMHO, doubling the minimum needed is just good insurance and won't hurt your final product one iota. Of course, you can instead carbon filter chlorinated tap water but it is more costly, work-intensive, and time consuming. My thought is that if an easier path exists that works satisfactorily, I will use it!