How To Design Your Own Beer Recipe – Step 5 – Water

February 15, 2012

2012, General posting

When it comes to water for brewing it isn’t a thing that keeps me up at night.  Yeast, hops, grains might but water not so much.  With that said there are a few things to note and a few important aspects to consider.

I was taught this phrase and maybe this explains a lot why water doesn’t keep me up but the phrase is, if you can drink it you can use it use it.  With my brewing experience I haven’t strayed away from this to much. I’ve used hose water, I’ve used water from my shower faucet, water from the tap, bottled nice water and every single one of them has not faulted because of the water.   I still haven’t used rain water yet, but this summer I will.

You do not want to use distilled water when brewing though.  You need those minerals and salts in the brewing process.  If you do use only distilled water, usually your beer will have some harsh flavors to it.

If you choose to use only distilled water then you need to add things like, “burton water salts” or “gypsum”  to build up your water.  The water salts make it so that the beer is hoppier and reduce the harsh flavors that will come out.

All that brings me to my next point.  I had a customer tell me a story which I will nutshell for you because I find it hilarious.

He went to this workshop on how to build water for brew, how to make your water exactly like the country-style you were brewing.  They did one with regular tap water and one with water built from Czech (they were making a pils).  At the end they did a blind taste test.  Hands down everyone liked the one from tap water better than building their water table up.  The class costed $500.

 (worse class ever…)

The moral of the story is: If you are doing it to be authentic that’s fine but at the end of the day it can be a lot of work for little pay out.  In my opinion unless you live in a place where your water is horrible or extremely soft, the juice isn’t really worth the squeeze.

In general I just consider to brew to the styles that line up with the water.  If you have soft water, IPA’s and Pales will probably not work out so well unless you add gypsum.  If you have hard water you can be limited too unless you cut it with distilled water.

Honestly that pretty much wraps up the water part.   If you want a hoppy beer add some gypsum and don’t used distilled water.   Those two points really are the important aspect for water in my opinion.

The next part to this series should be something more to chew on which is about what to consider when choosing yeast.  We are extremely close to having all the knowledge we need to put together our own recipes on the fly.

Until then, leave you comments and questions in the space provided below.


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  1. How To Design Your Own Beer Recipe – Step 4 – Malt Extract | Jay's Brewing Blog - February 15, 2012

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