Treated water affects beer quality

Posted in: Food & Beverage, Municipal, Water

Interior-view-of-micro-brewery-processing-300x200pxHave you ever considered how the minerals in your water affects the taste of your beer? Minerals can have either a positive or negative effect on flavor. The water concentration in beer is greater than 90 percent, which means that a higher quality water will produce a higher quality beer. Also the presence of minerals during the brewing process affects the brewing process itself.

The tips below can help you tweak your water quality and provide you a delicious and unique beer flavor.

  • Treating your water supply with chlorine protects it from harmful bacteria, but chlorine may cause a bitter taste and kill some of naturally occurring bacteria necessary in the brewing process.
  • Calcium and magnesium in the water supply can cause “hardness”. This is desirable in the brewing process at certain concentrations. Brewing experts say greater than 20/mg/l can cause taste issues. These elements can help balance the pH by controlling the acidity in the water, which is critical to keep happy bacteria and enzymes in the beer-making process. Magnesium is also used by enzymes within the yeast.
  • Sodium can cause a salty taste. It can also act as a disinfectant, hurting the bacteria in the brewing process.
  • Other elements, such as sulfates, zinc and copper are utilized in yeast metabolism, converting the sugar into alcohol (and carbon dioxide). Most of these elements can provide a unique change in flavor, but may be a negative attribute of the beer if there are high concentrations.
  • Some beer recipes require no water treatment while others need a high level of treatment such as reverse osmosis.

So whether you are a larger brewer, restaurant or home brewer dabbling in beer making, it’s very important to understand your water source and if it requires treatment.

Troy Gallagher

About the Author

Troy Gallagher has focused his 25-year+ career in the water and wastewater field, working for both industrial and municipal clients. Before joining Mead & Hunt, he started and built his own water and wastewater consulting, engineering and training company. Troy now serves as Market Leader responsible for new business development and teaming relationships to pursue nationwide opportunities in  water and wastewater treatment within diverse markets (municipal, aviation, food and dairy, and industrial).

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