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Lessons Learned: Garden hoses aren’t meant for homebrewing

March 22, 2011 By: jeff Category: Beer learnin', Homebrew

hose ber

If we only knew...

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.
Garden hose

4 Comments to “Lessons Learned: Garden hoses aren’t meant for homebrewing”

  1. Appreciate the post (and two pictures)! I worried, as we brewed outside the last two weekends, about the hose smell — after kegging the beer today and smelling it/tasting it — we realized that we brewed 10 gallons of undrinkable all-grain beer.

    On the upside, we got to enjoy two really nice days outside while be brewed (it’s been a miserable Spring here in Seattle…). Here is hoping that we see the sun again before the end of May and can make up for the loss!

    Thanks again!

  2. Ahh. Sorry to hear you were had by the hose as well. I like the positive attitude about brewing and sunshine. Cheers.

  3. Alexander says:

    On the other hand, I’ve brewed many batches of delicious homebrew using the hose! Maybe it depends on the hose, and also on the local chlorination practices?

  4. Four and a half years too late. I’ve always used my water from my utility sink in the basement, but just moved to space where I may be forced to grab water outside. To be clear, it’s just the hose that’s an issue, right? Brewing with water from the outdoor tap should be good. Essentially, I would just need campden and a food grade hose, no?


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