Ask Mr. Wizard

Chlorinated water


Dale Engstrom • Salem, Oregon asks,

I recently moved from Montana to Salem, Oregon. When I brewed in Montana I used well water for my brews and there was never a problem — they were wonderful beers. Now that I am an “urban” brewer, I seem to have too many instances of beers fermenting with dry yeast that will not take off — the fermentations just sit there, never going into kräusen overnight (like they did in Montana). Could it be chlorine in my water? It may be my imagination but I think I even smell chlorine in the shower. I have tried adding a Campden tablet to my brewing water to little effect. I have thought of brewing with bottled water as a test to see if the local city provided stuff is the problem. Do you think this is a good approach, or do you see some other brewing aspect I am missing? How can I, other than giving up my job and moving back to Montana, get back to brewing wonderful beers?

You are one of those patients who comes in to the doctor’s office with a cold and already have your mind made up about the cause! Since you are convinced that you
Response by Ashton Lewis.