Brewing beer? Make sure to choose your water very carefully.
Did you know that the actual water you use in the beer is so vital for the type of beer you want to make? Each beer style has an ideal PH level and details required to ensure it is brewed in the perfect style!
Few points to know:
1- Most lagers and stouts require soft water while most pale ales need hard water (calcium sulphate and calcium chloride))
2- Hardness is mainly due either to lots calcium and magnesium in the water (permanent hardness) or bicarbonate in the water (temporary hardness) — which can be precipitated out in boiling
3- Calcium promotes the bittering contribution of hops and magnesium enhances beer flavour, like salt in food but the main effect is to affect the pH or acidity of the liquid during brewing
4- If the pH level is comfortable for the yeast, they can do their job well
5- Deoxygenating water removes free oxygen that is dissolved in water (equate this to fish needing oxygen to breath) Burton on Trent has very mineral rich water (calcium and magnesium). Also rich in sulphate which add a characteristic flavour and improves stability which enabled it to travel far during the 16–18th centuries.
6- The chemistry of water is greatly influenced by the geology of the aquifer in which it has resided
7- The bedrock beneath Burton consists of sedimentary Strata formed around 250 million years ago — rich in gypsum (calcium sulphate) and Epson salts (magnesium sulphate) 8- Burtonization refers to conditioning water with salts — there is a lot of Gypsum in the ground surrounding Burton
8- Bicarbonate rich water — such as that in Munich and Dublin — creates a high pH (too alkaline for the yeast to do their thing properly) but using roasted grains lowers the pH in the mash — leading to the creation of darker beers in these brewing centres
Minerals in water and their effect
• Calcium: reduces colour & lowers bitterness
• Magnesium: can produce sour, bitter flavour
• Sodium: produces salty taste
• Potassium: produces salty taste
• Manganese: can cause discolouration
• Zinc: can cause haze
• Sulphate: produces dry, bitter taste
• Chloride: contribute to a full palate
• Iron: metallic flavour (blood or copper)
• Nitrite: can create a reddish colour (carcinogen)
• Nitrite can create a reddish colour (carcinogen)
Pretty cool stuff. The more you know, the better beer you brew!