Charlotte’s water is safe for consumers, the city said in an annual report Monday that, for the first time, offers tidbits for the growing legion of home beer brewers.
In addition to pages of data on bacteria, lead and other potential nasties, Charlotte Water included a summary of minerals analyses just for homebrewers.
“We’ve been getting more and more calls,” from homebrewers, spokeswoman Jennifer Frost said. “They’re not concerned about the water’s safety, but just want to adjust (their brewing) accordingly.”
Minerals play a large role in brewing, with different beer styles best suited to different water profiles, said Jen Blair of Carolina BrewMasters, a homebrewers’ club.
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Calcium, for instance, promotes clarity, stability and flavor. Sulfate increases the bitterness of hops and makes their flavor crisper and drier. Sodium accentuates the malt's sweetness.
For homebrewers, Blair said, Charlotte water’s is low in the minerals calcium, magnesium, and sulfate, and has acceptable levels of chloride and sodium.
“Without adding any minerals to brewing water, a homebrewer using Charlotte water will be able to brew beer styles that call for softer water, such as pilsners,” she said by email. “However, adding minerals to brewing water is fairly simple and homebrewers in Charlotte can brew authentic versions of any beer style using mineral additions.”
The annual water report, which is based on 2016 data, says the city’s water tested within federal safety standards for contaminants such as bacteria, chlorine and parasites.
▪ A spike in byproducts of water disinfection, called trihalomethanes, were detected in 2015 but has subsided, the city said. THMs can cause liver, kidney or central nervous system problems.
▪ One of the 56 Charlotte homes and businesses sampled for lead tested above a federal safety limit, the report says, but lead was not detected in a second sample. Lead in tap water most often comes from corroded plumbing and prompted a long-running crisis in Flint, Mich.
Although testing for lead is required every three years, Charlotte Water will do tests each year in light of public concerns raised by Flint, Frost said.
▪ Tests also detected the metal thallium in one water sample from the Vest water treatment plant, although the level met the federal standard. The source is unclear, the utility said.