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The first Israeli beer news portal in Israel. Founded in 2008. All about beer, accessible and professional.

Beer ABC
05/01/2024
238

Brewing water

Brewing water

Beer water is what most of the arguments of pseudo beer experts are related to: Do you know why Czech beer is so tasty? – It’s because of the special water! And they are right, but only partly.

Water is actually one of the most important ingredients in the preparation of beer, which is at least 90% water. That is why the organoleptic properties of beer depend to a great extent on the quality and properties of water, and not only on the secrets of production. For the brewing of beer, a lot of water is needed, so on average up to 4-5 liters of water are used for the production of 1 liter of beer. This includes support processes such as equipment washing and water utilization for boiler rooms, bottling plants, etc.

Special requirements in brewing are placed on water hardness. How does hard water differ from soft water? – The high content of Calcium (Ca) and Magnesium (Mg). Carbonate hardness is related to the amount of calcium and magnesium ions dissolved in water as bicarbonates Ca (HCO3)2 and Mg (HCO3)2. Normally, water derived mainly from precipitation dissolves salts as it passes through the ground strata on its way to water aquifers. If the ground consists of hard rocks, the amount of these salts is minimal and the water is called “soft”, if the ground is soft, the amount of dissolved salts increases many times and the water is called “hard”. For comparison, the content of salts in water near the Czech city of Plzen is 30.8 parts per million, and in the birthplace of classic English ales in Burton-on-Trent the water is very hard and contains 1226 parts of salts per million.

Most often hardness of water is caused by an increased content of calcium bicarbonate. This salt slows down the fermentation process and reduces the effectiveness of other minerals. On the other hand, brewers often add calcium sulfates CaSO4 or gypsum to beer – it accelerates the work of enzymes that break down starch chains.

Historically, famous beers were born in a certain area, so they were brewed with certain “local water” and ingredients popular there and matched with appropriate, also “local” appetizers.

Czech lagers brewed with local water have a very mild flavor and can be drunk a lot. Another historical brew, Goze, was originally brewed in a small village on the coast of a river. There were salt mines not far from it, so the water in the river was… salty. Accordingly, the beer had a brackish flavor. A classic Gose should have a slight sourness and a brackish flavor.

Originally, breweries were built close to water sources. This tradition, because of its expediency, still exists today. So, not far from the brewery where I work, we originally purchased an underground spring with water suitable for beer. Of course, water is very important for brewing beer. Marketers are taking full advantage of this: only our beer is brewed from pure spring water! And so on. Once they even brought in a piece of iceberg and melted it and brewed it with this water.

In fact, it’s a bit different: no serious brewery supplies water to the brewhouse directly from the source. There are water treatment stations or simple filters everywhere. No one can afford to let anything foreign get into the beer bypassing the filters. Very often at the entrance they only check the water for foreign impurities and remove excess chlorine. Water treatment stations can produce water of different types and properties, depending on the requirements. In some large breweries, reverse osmosis purification is carried out and then the necessary microelements are added to it in the right quantities – the ideal water for brewing beer is obtained.

Where’s the romance in that, you ask? – The brewer has to brew the same beer he brewed yesterday. That’s why computers and various complex programs are used. And the rest comes from his hands and his heart, because without true love for this magical drink it is impossible to create good beer!

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