When I moved from an apartment to a house, I finally had the storage and work space to go from extract brewing to all-grain. With a designated area to brew (i.e., the garage), that meant that I would no longer be getting my water from the kitchen sink. No big deal, I thought. I’ll just hook up the garden hose and run it right into my kettles.
Well, the first beer we brewed at the new house was a robust porter we did with a partial mash. It was our first time actually trying to mash and hit a mash temperature. Needless to say, we missed our temps and ended up adding way too much water in an effort to get our mash temp up. The beer ended up tasting insanely acrid, harsh and plastic-like. After looking into it, we thought because we added so much water that maybe we extracted the tannins from the roasted grains, resulting in a nasty, throat-clawing beer.
Our next beer was a special bitter that marked our first attempt at all grain. The brew day went remarkably smooth, but when we cracked that first beer a few weeks later, the room filled with the smell of a plastic swimming pool. When we drank it, it tasted the same way and left an awful taste in the back of your throat.
At this point, we started to go a little crazy before discovering the culprit — a garden hose.
Apparently, it is common knowledge that the typical garden hose is not safe, or tasty, to drink from. (I don’t remember minding it as a kid, though).
In all my reading and preparation not once did anybody ever mention the need for a food-grade or RV hose when you plan on brewing outside.
So I’m here to tell you, don’t even think about using your garden hose to supply the water you need for brewing. It was completely wishful thinking that the swimming-pool-plastic aroma and taste would dissipate if we let it age. I just gave up hope last week — after a year — and had to dump my remaining bottles.
While we were thinking about water I also went ahead and got a carbon filter that I could attach to the new potable hose to make sure there wasn’t any chlorine in the water. I followed the steps from this thread over at homebrewtalk.com to get it all together.