How Much Water to Brew 500ml of Ale?

(That's water to the rest of us!) Beer is about 95% water, so if you want to discuss water treatment, filtering etc this is the place to do it!
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Fingar
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How Much Water to Brew 500ml of Ale?

Post by Fingar » Sun May 16, 2021 10:52 am

I had a bit of thought during a recent brew - 23L of Old Hooky at 4.1% - as to how much water I actually use (mashing, cooling, sterilising, rinsing etc) to brew what will be 40 x 500ml of ale. Pretty shocking findings it was too!

As for a bit of background, the equipment I used is a plastic boiler, coolbox mashtun, immersion cooler. In this case, I sterilised the bottles and equipment using 2 x 30L buckets with VWP and rinsed them with water via a homemade, 8 pronged bottle rinser.

On the brewday (1st May) the cold water temperature was 16 degrees C; I would use less in the depths of the Yorkshire winter.

Now for the scary bit:

- Total liquor usage: 33L (measured)
- Cooling: 50L (measured)
- Cleaning of mash tun and boiler: 25L (estimated)
- Sanitise 40 x 500ml bottles: 50L (measured)
- Rinse bottles and equipment: 50L (estimated)

Total water usage 208L or 5.2L to produce 1 x 500ml of lovely homebrew!

All I can say, is thankfully I am still on the old water rates!

Cheers... Fingar

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Re: How Much Water to Brew 500ml of Ale?

Post by vacant » Sun May 16, 2021 11:22 am

I collect the waste water from my RO filter. The waste water is run through my immersion chiller by a small submersible aquarium pump and the first 30 litres of collected again for cleaning at the end of the brew day.

Bottles are quickly rinsed then left to dry after use - on bottling day I squirt a bit of starsan in each one. Some more water used to clean the FV.

That's probably about 150 litres for the 32 litres I bottled. We're on a water meter in an expensive area but I don't worry about the water cost of brewing.

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Re: How Much Water to Brew 500ml of Ale?

Post by McMullan » Sun May 16, 2021 11:36 am

Only an issue in drought prone areas. It's probably not a bad idea to dilute all the toxic crap people pour down drains. Do you really need 50L to sanitise 40 bottles then another 50L to rinse, though?

https://www.brewuk.co.uk/bottle-rinser-80.html

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Re: How Much Water to Brew 500ml of Ale?

Post by Northern Brewer » Sun May 16, 2021 3:17 pm

10:1 is the traditional ratio for commercial brewing, although modern commercial breweries are something like 8:1, and with concerted efforts to minimise water use it is possible to get it down to 4:1 or so.

Cleaning is the bitch though.

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Re: How Much Water to Brew 500ml of Ale?

Post by f00b4r » Sun May 16, 2021 3:32 pm


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Re: How Much Water to Brew 500ml of Ale?

Post by Jim » Sun May 16, 2021 4:15 pm

That figure will include growing the hops and the barley I expect.
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Re: How Much Water to Brew 500ml of Ale?

Post by Fingar » Mon May 17, 2021 10:03 am

McMullan wrote: Do you really need 50L to sanitise 40 bottles then another 50L to rinse, though?
Probaly not, but the idea of using two buckets to sanitise the bottles is to save time. I have previously used 1 bucket for 20 bottles, then put in another 20, so that would be a saving of 25L of water. Additionally, having an 8 pronged rinser for the bottles is also to save time; I simply put them all on the pipes turn on the water and then get on with something else. I could contain the rinser in a deep tray and recycle the water, there are examples on YouTube of such systems. The single bottle rinser - https://www.brewuk.co.uk/bottle-rinser-80.html - is more mandrolic and certainly more time consuming, albeit a saving on water consumption. I will certainly consider using the water from the cooling to clean down the boiler and mashtun as per 'vacant' comment.

Cheers... Fingar

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Re: How Much Water to Brew 500ml of Ale?

Post by Meatymc » Mon May 17, 2021 10:57 am

Interesting numbers - particularly 50L cooling where I use at least half as much again if not more and that includes 25L at 2C - chilled overnight in the 'brewing fridge/freezer'. Having said that I use the 1st (hot) 25L from the chiller to wash kit post brew and everything else goes in water butts for the garden - not that it needs bloody watering at the moment!

I get being concerned about water use but until there's any possibility of a shortage, I'd chill as long as you're reusing as much as you can elsewhere.

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Re: How Much Water to Brew 500ml of Ale?

Post by Cobnut » Mon May 17, 2021 1:42 pm

I've given thought to the amount of water I use in a typical brew day, but nowadays I try to waste as little as practicable:

I collect "cooling" water from the GF CFC, but stop at about 60L as that's a) all I can reasonably collect; and b) it's about all I need to clean up afterwards.

I've never worried about the water I use for bottle washing, fermenter cleaning, etc., but doubtless this also contributes.

Even though my water is metered, it is not the cost I worry about (it's pennies!). I think I save more by collecting hot/warm water for cleaning rather than heating water from cold for cleaning.

I do think we should all be trying tour best to reduce consumption of water - it may not seem like there is a shortage, but demand on our water supply system is ever-increasing and climate change is going to increase this.
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Re: How Much Water to Brew 500ml of Ale?

Post by drjim » Mon May 17, 2021 9:03 pm

I have an IBC - 60 quid off eBay - connected to a drainpipe which has 1000L of nice cool water for cooling. Actually I have two. When I reorganise myself I plan to put the cooling water back in the top of the IBC system so it doesn't get wasted. Although being in Manchester there is an endless supply! I have considered using rainwater for some other steps of the process, but there is a risk of bugs in a secondhand IBC connected to my roof via a plastic pipe full of algae, so haven't risked it. I am thinking of catching some fresh rainwater and making a rooftop IPA or something.

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Re: How Much Water to Brew 500ml of Ale?

Post by MashBag » Tue May 18, 2021 6:13 am

You will need to look after that water.
A bit of copper sulphate is be a great fungicide and swimming pool chlorine is available everywhere. I would not worry about the pH.

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Re: How Much Water to Brew 500ml of Ale?

Post by MashBag » Tue May 18, 2021 6:38 am

Now for the scary bit:

- Total liquor usage: 33L (measured)
- Cooling: 50L (measured)
- Cleaning of mash tun and boiler: 25L (estimated)
- Sanitise 40 x 500ml bottles: 50L (measured)
- Rinse bottles and equipment: 50L (estimated)

Total water usage 208L or 5.2L to produce 1 x 500ml of lovely homebrew!
This is really interesting.
I always preferred drinking to washing up, so I reduced my water, when I decided to make brewday and brewing tasks easier.

Here's mine.

Total liquor usage: 35L (measured into BM 20)

Cooling: 0L
.... Don't any more
.... When I did saved it for cleaning

Cleaning of mash tun and boiler: 20L (estimated)
... Hose, truck wash & brush
... No soaking.

Sanitise 40 bottles: 20L (estimated)
... Wash once when emptied. Jet wash, (tap thingy) & truck wash
... Store clean (vodka) drain and use.

Rinse bottles 0L
... Bottles. Just drain and use
... Equipment: 0L (estimated). Alcohol wipes where required

Total water usage 75L total.
That's 1.8L. Let's say 2L to produce 1 x 500ml

That surprises me.
Last edited by MashBag on Tue May 18, 2021 6:47 am, edited 4 times in total.

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Re: How Much Water to Brew 500ml of Ale?

Post by MashBag » Tue May 18, 2021 6:38 am

Here is the link for the jet wash thingy............

https://www.home-brew-hopshop.co.uk/bot ... blast.html

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Re: How Much Water to Brew 500ml of Ale?

Post by orlando » Tue May 18, 2021 2:46 pm

Spare a thought for those that throw away perfectly good brewing water to eliminate minerals, some of which they are just going to put back later, by using an RO filter. :roll:
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