As amateur brewers, we give a lot of mental energy to ingredients like malt, yeast, and hops. In contrast, the primary component in our homebrew is typically left to chance and might be the single greatest cause for homebrew that isn’t fantastic. So, what exactly is this secret component in beer? Water. The answer is clear: water.
If you’re a beer drinker, when was the last time you thought about the water you’re using? But, of course, if you’re like most homebrewers, you probably don’t give your water any thought.
The issue here is that high-quality beer can’t be produced without water. Better beer may be brewed with only a few little changes, such as using a different water source. The quality of your next batch of beer is directly proportional to the time and effort you put into learning about and mastering the water you use in the brewing process.
Many homebrewers don’t give much thought to their water since they find water chemistry intimidating. In addition, the terminology of water chemistry might be difficult to understand if you are not a water expert or a science nerd.
In this post, we will try to break down the science of water related to homebrewing into terms that anybody can comprehend. Understanding the importance of water in brewing is crucial for producing a high-quality beer at home.
Water Source Vs. Water Supply
Let’s get started with this one, even if it’s a bit of a mouthful since it’s about the origin of the water.
“Water source” refers to the original location of a water supply. For example, all the water needed in brewing originates from two main sources.
In this context, “surface water” refers to any body of water on the planet’s outer layer. This includes water found everywhere, such as lakes, streams, rivers, or ponds. Because it is so simple to collect and purify, most municipal water supplies begin with water from the surface.
Most surface waters are low in dissolved minerals, including calcium, magnesium, and sulphates, making them ideal for brewing. However, organic chemicals from the decomposition of leaves, algae, and other organisms in and around the water are more prevalent in surface water sources. Organic compounds are an important class of
In this context, “groundwater” refers to water extracted from a well or pumped directly from the ground. There is considerable debate regarding whether or not spring water should be considered groundwater, but we agree that it should.
Water from a spring originates below the earth, yet it may be found anywhere above ground. Though it contains no living matter, groundwater may collect and retain minerals as it seeps through the earth. Minerals aren’t inherently harmful but may affect your beer’s looks and tastes.
This is where YOUR water comes from. Therefore it’s the source of the water supply. You may use water from your sink’s faucet or a water bottle. In addition, you may choose to have your water delivered to you, filter it yourself, or purchase it from a shop.
How Does Water Quality Affect Beer?
The water’s composition will significantly affect the beer’s ultimate taste.
Calcium may be found in many forms, including hydrated lime, calcium carbonate, calcium chloride, and calcium sulphate. They may be responsible for releasing the hops’ bittering chemicals. Certain salts may precipitate in their absence, leading to cloudiness or gushing (excessive or sudden gas discharge).
Magnesium is available as Epsom salt, which is used for bathing. It’s used to improve beer’s taste but may cause diarrhoea and dizziness in large doses. On the contrary, it may serve as a vital nutrient for yeast.
Baking soda and regular table salt are both salts in water. In higher amounts, it may overpower the beer’s flavour or impart an unpleasant bitterness or sour, salty taste. In addition, yeast may be killed by exposure to high concentrations.
Malt flavours may be enhanced by chalk and baking soda, but these same ingredients can also provide short, bitter notes to lagers.
Gypsum, included in Epsom salt, may enrich the beer’s flavour. However, beer may become bitter if too much is added. In addition, sulphates may lead to the creation of sulphur if the yeast utilised is prone to producing hydrogen sulphide.
You may increase the bitterness and depth of flavour by using a different kind of table salt or calcium chloride, but be careful not to use too much! For yeast, too much of this may be deadly.
It is normal practice to add fluoride to public water supplies in order to strengthen tooth enamel and prevent tooth decay. It seems to have no effect on the brewing process or the final beer’s taste or fragrance, which is excellent news. Indeed, some brewers have publicly declared their support for water fluoridation.
Choosing The Best Brewing Water
We poured a lot of time and energy into studying the various kinds of water most often used by brewers. You may utilise the water for drinking and brewing, a recurring motif.
This is a reasonable assertion. However, it can also be deceptive. Instead, one should say that if the water is fit for human consumption, it may be used for brewing. On the other hand, this doesn’t guarantee that any water will produce a beer that tastes well. The quality and flavour of your beer might be drastically altered if you use water that isn’t ideal.
Filtered water is superior to plain old tap water, and it’s a terrific choice if you’re trying to get rid of chlorine or chloramines. Popular options include a water filter attached to the sink’s faucet or a pitcher designed to filter water.
These low-cost filters efficiently get rid of harmful contaminants, including chlorine, dissolved minerals, metals, and chloramines. Planning can help you avoid running out of filtered water on brew day if you use a pitcher filter.
Some homebrewers may go so far as to build a water purification system on their kitchen sink or dishwasher, from which they get their brew water. However, an under-sink filtration system is a better and more affordable approach to acquiring clean water in the house.
Distilled water is water that has been heated until it turns into steam and then cooled back to its liquid state. Water that has been distilled has had all of its impurities and minerals removed. That doesn’t, however, make it a very good brewing ingredient.
You shouldn’t use distilled water when brewing from grain since minerals contribute to the beer’s flavour, texture, and fermentation.
Some brewers prefer distilled water because it eliminates the need for water quality testing, and the extract is effectively concentrated wort. For this purpose, distilled water is added to the wort to reduce its concentration of the wort.
Distilled water also has the disadvantage of being more costly than tap water. It’s important to remember that distilled water is more expensive per bottle and that you may need to modify the water temperature and volume before brewing.
The majority of us brew using tap water. This is quite acceptable given that most tap water comes from a municipal or locally-owned source. The “bad” pollutants in source water are mostly eliminated during municipal water treatment, although certain minerals are retained.
Using a chemical disinfectant to treat tap water is a major drawback. Chlorine and chloramines are the most widely utilised disinfectants in the world’s water treatment facilities. Both of these chemicals eliminate the risk of waterborne illness by preventing the growth of harmful microorganisms in the water.
From a health and safety standpoint, this is fantastic news, but it’s not so wonderful from a beer lover’s point of view. Beer contaminated with chlorine or chloramines may not ferment properly or have an off flavour.
You should know the water quality of your tap water if you want to utilise it for beer production. You may do your tests or take the easy route, contact your local water utility, and ask for the latest water quality data.
Your request for this data will be met with enthusiasm. The water quality report for your city’s supply may also be found on the city’s official website.
Bottled water is an option if the water from your tap isn’t potable (we’ll cover this in more detail later). However, bottled water may be sourced from a wide number of locations, and the origin may not always be indicated.
Most bottled water undergoes some treatment, and when the treatment is complete, you may notice that the mineral content has increased in your water. If you’re concerned about the water quality in your beverage, you may either do a water quality test or request a report on the water’s quality from the bottler.
The water quality of most bottled water brands may be obtained from the manufacturer upon request. However, we recommend buying 1- or 2-gallon bottles if you’re going to utilise bottled water. Your neighbourhood supermarket could even have a water filling station where you can buy 5 gallons at a time, which is excellent for making a 5-gallon batch of beer.
Water And Beer Styles
It’s a good idea to learn about the water used historically in the brewing of a beer style you’re interested in recreating. If you’re brewing your beer, this will offer you a great starting point for adjusting the water.
- Brewers in Burton-upon-Trent, England, where India Pale Ales were first brewed, had to pre-boil their water to lessen its hardness because of the high sulphate levels in the water, which amplified the bitterness from the hops.
- Historically, water with low bicarbonates and extremely low quantities of minerals were used to produce pilsners. The brewers in Pilsen, the city that gave its name to the style, used salt to make the water harder.
- When brewing a WestCoast IPA, use more sulphate (magnesium sulphate) and less chloride. If you want to make a hazy or a juicy IPA, you’ll need to adjust the proportions accordingly.
Best Water For Homebrewing
While many amateur brewers use their special techniques, most believe filtered water is the best option for home brewing. You want to improve your homebrewing method. Three ways to make your water better:
Schedule A Water Test
Homebrewers who don’t initially determine the water quality they’re working with risk producing subpar results.
Homeowners may take advantage of Aquarius Water Conditioning’s free water analysis service to learn more about the minerals and chemicals found in their drinking water.
Evaluate Your Options
After we’ve completed the no-cost water study, we’ll sit down with you to talk about your priorities, requirements, and potential solutions for raising the quality of your water supply. There are various water problems that might be plaguing your home, and each has its unique set of causes and symptoms.
Then, we’ll work with you to assess your needs and budget to determine the most cost-effective strategy for improving the quality of your home’s drinking water and the pipes and appliances that deliver it.
Purchase A Home Filtration System
It may be challenging to choose which of the numerous available drinking water systems that aid in reducing toxins is most suited to your house, family, and water supply requirements. One of the best methods for cleaning water is called reverse osmosis (RO).
It uses a semipermeable membrane to do its work. as well as one that is highly recommended by prominent homebrewers for producing high-quality beer: After passing the water through a filter and a semipermeable membrane, the RO system will only leave behind water that is free of solids and silt. Therefore, regarding water quality, we advise using filtered water or RO water.
Beer of any calibre requires the use of water in its brewing process. There are two primary sources from which all the water used in brewing is drawn. Surface water is the source of origin for most municipal water systems. The presence of organic compounds is an indicator of quality in a home brew. Though spring water originates below ground, it may be found almost anyplace above ground.
The water’s makeup will greatly influence the final flavour of the beer. Lacking them may cause the precipitation of certain salts, which may cause cloudiness or overflow (excessive or sudden gas discharge). The water may be used for brewing if it meets the standards for human consumption. To remove chlorine and chloramines, filtered water is preferable to plain tap water. Some brewers choose distilled water because it avoids the hassle of constant water quality checks.
Most water treatment facilities throughout the globe use chlorine and chloramines as disinfectants. If you want up-to-date information on the quality of your drinking water, call your municipal water provider.
The origin of bottled water may not always be clearly labelled, but it might come from anywhere. The free water analysis service offered by Aquarius Water Conditioning will aid in assessing potential solutions for enhancing water quality. Well-known homebrewers strongly suggest using reverse osmosis (RO) to make beer of the highest possible quality.
After going through a filter and a membrane, the RO system will only produce pure water devoid of sediment and other contaminants.
- The issue here is that high-quality beer can’t be produced without water.
- The quality of your next batch of beer is directly proportional to the time and effort you put into learning about and mastering the water you use in the brewing process.
- In addition, the terminology of water chemistry might be difficult to understand if you are not a water expert or a science nerd.
- In this post, we will try to break down the science of water related to homebrewing into terms that anybody can comprehend.
- Understanding the importance of water in brewing is crucial for producing a high-quality beer at home.
- This is where YOUR water comes from.
- Therefore it’s the source of the water supply.
- You may use water from your sink’s faucet or a water bottle.
- The water’s composition will significantly affect the beer’s ultimate taste.
- SulphateGypsum, included in Epsom salt, may enrich the beer’s flavour.
- We poured a lot of time and energy into studying the various kinds of water most often used by brewers.
- Instead, one should say that if the water is fit for human consumption, it may be used for brewing.
- The quality and flavour of your beer might be drastically altered if you use water that isn’t ideal.
- Planning can help you avoid running out of filtered water on brew day if you use a pitcher filter.
- Using a chemical disinfectant to treat tap water is a major drawback.
- Beer contaminated with chlorine or chloramines may not ferment properly or have an off flavour.
- You should know the water quality of your tap water if you want to utilise it for beer production.
- The water quality of most bottled water brands may be obtained from the manufacturer upon request.
- Water And Beer StylesIt’s a good idea to learn about the water used historically in brewing a beer style you’re interested in recreating.
- While many amateur brewers use their special techniques, most believe filtered water is the best option for home brewing.
- You want to improve your homebrewing method.
- After we’ve completed the no-cost water study, and we’ll sit down with you to talk about your priorities, requirements, and potential solutions for raising the quality of your water supply.
- Then, we’ll work with you to assess your needs and budget to determine the most cost-effective strategy for improving the quality of your home’s drinking water and the pipes and appliances that deliver it.
- Therefore, regarding water quality, we advise using filtered water or RO water.
FAQs About Water For Homebrew
Can You Use Bottled Water For Homebrew?
Using bottled water for homebrew is not recommended, as it can contain chemicals that can affect the flavour of your beer. Instead, stick to using filtered or spring water for the best results.
Can I Use Spring Water To Brew Beer?
It is not recommended to use spring water to brew beer. This is because spring water contains minerals that can affect the brewing process.
Can I Use Tap Water For Distilling?
You can use tap water for distilling, but it is not recommended. Tap water may contain impurities that can lead to off flavours in your distilled spirits. It is best to use distilled or filtered water for the best results.
What Must Not Be Present In Brewing Water?
Healthy brewing water must not contain harmful chemicals or bacteria. Harmful chemicals can come from agricultural runoff, urban runoff, groundwater contamination, and leaching from pipes and storage tanks. Bacteria can come from sewage, animal waste, and contaminated surfaces.
Is Tap Water OK For Homebrew?
Some people think that tap water is OK to use for homebrew, while others believe that it can drastically affect the taste of your beer. It is important to note that different municipalities have different water quality, so it is important to check with your local water supplier to see if the water is suitable for brewing.