One of the most important ingredients in a well crafted beer, one that beer drinkers often forget about, is the water. Most people think that ‘water is water’, but they couldn’t be more wrong. Good quality water is an essential part of crafting a good beer. Water makes up 90-95% of a beers total mass, and its chemical make up plays a HUGE role in the overall flavor profile of a beer. But the flavor it imparts is only part of the reason why good water quality is so important. Water also support yeast, which as we all know, eat sugar which turns into alcohol.
Which chemical components influence a beers flavor? Calcium, Magnesium, Chlorine, Sodium, Sulphates, trace elements such as Zinc and Copper, and Carbonites. Each of these components plays a vital role in the fermentation process, as well as the flavor of a beer. The delicate balance of these components can make or break a beer.
With the rapid expansion of micro breweries here in the United States, small breweries are having to rewrite their recipes to account for differences in water composition. Since every region has different water composition, if you were to try and make a beer with the same ingredients, you’d end up with a wildly different flavor profile. The term for this difference of flavor is “terroir”. “Terroir”, loosely translates to “a sense of place” and describes the special characteristics that the geography, geology and climate of a certain place bestow upon particular produce (beer). To account for these differences in water composition, breweries are putting in a lot of effort to ensure their customers are drinking the same quality of beer they’ve come to expect. So when one of your favorite beers finally makes it to your area, just remember that a love of love and work has been put into each and every sip.