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Removing Chlorine from Brewing Water

Learn the science behind the most common methods of removing chlorine from your brew water to ensure your beer is free of off flavors.

| July 2019

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Microbiological contamination is the main concern of any municipal water supplier. These contaminants can be bacteria or other organisms such as cryptosporidium and giardia intestinalis. Residual disinfection is needed to profide constant protection after the water leaves the treatment plant. A good disinfectant is a strong and lingering disinfectant – one that doesn’t lose effectiveness over time as the water sits in a tank or pipe.

Low-flow regions of piping or “dead legs” can be a particular problem in breweries because the chlorine/chloramine residual disinfectants have typically been removed to prevent off-flavors in beer, such as chlorophenols. Bacteria can form deposits or biofilms in low-flow regions that are subsequently hard to disinfect because the thickness of the deposit can prevent cleaners and sanitizers from reaching the entire colony.

However, with good sanitation practices in the brewery, getting rid of the chlorine and chloramine in the first place is the challenge. Chlorine disinfectant is either added as “free chlorine” or chloramine. Water may be chlorinated at several places in the initial treatment process and the chlorination level may be adjusted throughout the year. Free chlorine is the older method of chlorination that produces hypochlorite ion OClin the water to oxidize and kill organisms.

When chlorine is dissolved in water the following reaction takes place:

CL2 +H20 <-> H+1 + CL -1 + HOCl (hypochlorous acid)



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