It’s about time we finish this series, procrastination has really taken over us. Finally, the last and we would think, the most important ingredient in beer making; WATER!
Now why is water the most important ingredient? Think of it this way, the beer that we end up drinking is really just a glass of water that has been infused with the flavours whatever the brewer has thrown in; such as malts and all the yummy flavourful hops. It is really like boiling a pot of broth, along the way throwing in your vegetables, herbs, spices and whatever not. Brewers take this step a little further and convert its essence - the sugars in the liquid into alcohol (Refer to the previous blog post on yeast here).
You can also consider beer as the foundation of beer, with the malt being the base structure and the hops and yeast as the decorations. Every single beer needs a solid foundation and it varies, depending on the style of beer being brewed. The mineral composition in water is very much dependent on the geographical location, water from a tap in different cities around the world will give you subtle differences.
Water also comes in two forms, and you probably would have heard of soft and hard water, the difference between them being their mineral content. Rainwater is naturally soft, absorbing minerals from the ground. Therefore, depending on where the water comes from and what the water has flowed through, the mineral content will differ. For example, water from a city in the mountains will vary from water from a city by the sea. Hence, breweries cannot use water straight from the tap as it could introduce trace minerals or other elements that could react to the beer in unexpected ways.
Instead, there are few options in which breweries can prepare the water. Reverse osmosis, particle and carbon filtration. So, for instance if the brewery is looking to recreate a certain European beer style, say a Czech Pilsner, they are looking at the traditional water profiles and its mineral content, mimicking that to match the profiles and characteristics of the beer to be produced.
Water seems like the easiest of ingredients, yet one of hardest to fully explain and understand. No wonder Bruce Lee asked us to “Be Wataaaah, my friend…”
Beer For Noobs: WTF is Water?
July 27, 2022