We are a bit biased, but we (and many, many others) consider Colorado to be home to both the best tasting water in the country AND some of the best tasting beer. Is it just a coincidence? The answer is no! Although hops, barley, and yeast get all the attention, water is actually the main ingredient in beer.
Many times brewers will ignore the quality of water used in their brewing process because they prefer to use what is most readily available and affordable. But, whether these brewers realize it or not, the quality, mineral composition and overall acidity of the water they use will bring out certain flavors in the beer. This is why some parts of the world are known for certain styles of beer. For example: Munich is known for dark and malty lagers and states in the Midwest are known for producing Pilsener-like lagers.
Before selecting the brewing water for your next batch, here are the three most important words in brew water vocabulary: pH, alkalinity, and softness.
pH is a numeric scale used to specify the acidity or basicity of an aqueous solution, or in this case, water. The scale runs from 0 to 14. If your water is located lower on the scale, it is more acidic and generally softer. If it is located higher on the scale, it is harder, or alkaline. Pure water is considered neutral—located right in the middle of the scale—with a pH of 7. However, due to environmental impact and plumbing, most water is not pure and is rarely ever at this actual level. So how does this affect your next batch of brew?
If water is hard, this means it has a greater amount of dissolved minerals in it. The taste of these different minerals contribute to different styles of beer. For example, calcium chloride can give beer a more full-bodied flavor and a slight sweetness, while calcium sulfate can cause dry, slightly astringent, and crisp characteristics that are best suited to lighter to medium-bodied ales.
If your water is soft or more acidic on the pH scale, you should consider yourself very lucky! Your water has a very low amount of dissolved minerals. This is a rare quality and this water lends itself to almost any style of beer you choose. Because it is much more difficult to take away hardness in water, soft water has the ability to be morphed into whatever mineral cocktail you prefer! Add in calcium carbonate or magnesium, or you can simply leave as is for a beautiful tasting, light, lager style beer.
So there you have it; a crash course in brew water chemistry! We invite all the brewers out there to visit our water analysis page for an in-depth look at our water’s mineral makeup. If you are interested in using our water for your commercial beer brewing equipment, give us a shout. We would be happy to help—as long as we get to taste the final product! Cheers!