When sipping a pint of beer, you likely notice things like hop, malt flavors, the fruity or spicy tastes, or the acidity; and if you’re a home brewer, you’re probably taking mental notes about such details as yeast strains or the length of the secondary fermentation. What may have escaped your scrutiny is the quality of the water that was used in brewing. Water quality is often overlooked, despite being the most abundant ingredient in beer, and therefore, an important factor affecting the brew’s flavor.
Beer is essentially 95% water, so it’s easy to see that when you use “good” water, you’ll produce good beer. As experts say, no amount of tasty malts and good-smelling hops will help make bad water good. Water is also the only ingredient which stays relatively unchanged from the early stages of the brewing process down to the final beverage. If you’re trying to perfect your beer recipe, you’ll have to take note of all four main ingredients and make sure you get them right: barley, hops, yeast, and of course, water.
The quest for the right-quality water has led many craft brewers (large or small scale) to reverse osmosis (RO) water. All in all, you need to get rid of 10 undesirable elements in the water: chlorine, iron, manganese, chloramines, tannin, nitrate, TDS (total dissolved solids), sodium, chlorides, and sulfates. In some cases, micron filtration or nanofiltration may be the answer. This is true for brews which require higher amounts of salt in the water.
On the other hand, brewers who want purer water to start with find RO water to be ideal. An RO membrane from reputable suppliers like AXEON Water Technologies can filter out as much as 99.5% of the salts and minerals in water, allowing you all the flexibility you need in adding brewing salts, and coming up with your desired mineral composition.
Hitting the ideal pH target in the mash is a common concern among home brewers. Some have found that it’s much easier to hit pH targets using RO water with only calcium salt as an additive, claiming that several batches with RO water rarely required further acidic additives to reach a mash pH level of around 5.3, which is considered ideal.
As RO membranes come with varying rejection elements, craft brewers can achieve the water alkalinity they want for each recipe without changing their water source. They simply need to use the right RO membrane. It also helps to have the right RO membrane housing that’s not only durable but easy to use, especially when you want to change membrane types.
Into The Brew: It Really Is In The Water, WestCoasterSD.com
Reverse Osmosis Water For Brewing, MyNerdlyEndeavours.com, June 23, 2014
Basic Water Chemistry For Brewing, HomeBrewing.com
Designing Your Water For Brewing Beer, AXEONWater.com, September 16, 2014
Water: The Most Essential Ingredient In Beer Brewing, USWaterSystems.com
What Is The Best Way To Treat Water To Brew Beer? USWaterSystems.com, May 10, 2015