Brew Day: Step by Step


STEP 2: Fill Hot Liquor Tank with water

You'll need to use about twice as much water to start as the finished beer you wish to produce. Since we want to produce 10 gallons of beer we fill the Hot Liquor Tank with 20 gallons of water.

Before disconnecting or connecting any hoses, it's a good practice to always CLOSE all of the ball valves in the entire setup. Do this now. When closed, the handle will be perpendicular to the flow of liquid through the valve.

Use the water hose adapter (optional) to connect one of the hoses between the water supply and the Hot Liquor Tank IN valve as shown in the picture below. OPEN the Hot Liquor Tank IN valve and then turn ON the water source. Fill the Hot Liquor Tank to the 20 gallon mark. Turn OFF the water supply. CLOSE the Hot Liquor Tank IN ball valve. The Hot Liquor Tank is now full of cold water.

STEP 2: Fill the Hot Liquor Tank with cold water

Add one crushed 500mg campden tablet (potassium metabisulphite) to the 20 gallons of water to remove chlorine/chloramine. Most cities use one or the other to treat the water. The chemical reaction is instantaneous. There's no harm in adding one tablet even if you're unsure if your city uses chlorine/chloramine. If left in, chlorine or chloramine can give beer a band-aid or plastic taste.

A few notes on what water to use for brewing:

If your city water is soft (low in minerals/salts) and tastes fine then cold tap water is perfectly adequate, as you can always add minerals or salts but cannot easily take them away (distillation or reverse osmosis must usually be performed). Do not confuse soft water with water that's been passed through a water softener. They are not the same thing. Soft water is simply a term to describe water that is low in minerals/salts. A water softener on the other hand replaces minerals like calcium and magnesium that we want in our beer (to varying degrees) with sodium which, while we do need a bit, we want to limit in our beer as too much gives it an unpleasant metallic/bitter aftertaste. Do not use a water softener to treat your brewing water.

Some brewers choose to use hot tap water to reduce the heating time required. We do not recommend doing this. While a newer hot water tank may be fine, an older one that has not been properly maintained may introduce a 'minerally' taste to the water. In some cases there may also be higher levels of lead in the water. We recommend that you follow the advice of the EPA who recommend that hot tap water not be used for cooking or drinking - brewing is both! If you use tap water to brew, it's best to use cold tap water that comes straight from your city's water supply.

For in-depth information on water and brewing, refer to the book Water: A Comprehensive Guide for Brewers.

Hot Liquor Tank filled to the top with 20 gallons of cold tap water:

The video below shows the quick disconnects in use: