October 9, 2014 Hop Bombshells Meeting

We had a water presentation by Geoff Fischer from BSG.  He gave us 4 samples of water to try, Tap, Distilled, Pilsen and Burton.  The Pilsen and Burton water had been modified using added chemicals to mimic the water from Bohemia and England.  The counties send out a water analysis every year; it can also be found online.

Why is water so important as one of our main ingredients in brewing?  Beer styles have developed around water and the varying characteristics of water from region to region.  For example: it's hard to get a smooth pilsener with high sulfates.  

Another reason why water is so important: it affects the mash pH.  If the pH is off, you won't get as great of a yield or it won't clarify as easily after fermentation.

Basic tap water has a lot of Chlorine in it.  Because it is bad for yeast growth and produces band-aid type flavors, it is best to filter it out if you want to use tap water. Some cities use Chloromine, which is harder to get out of water than Chlorine is.  Treating your water with Campden tabs (used as a preservative in wine making and available at your LHBS) should help with this.

If a brewer wanted to get a specific water type, one thing they could do is get distilled water and add chemicals.  This can be done using premade blends (also at your LHBS) or adjusting them with specific chemicals: gypsum, Epsom salt, powdered chalk, etc.  You can also try using your filtered tap water and make adjustments using the water analysis from your local county.

There is also a 5Star pH Mash Stabilizer that works well with the SL County medium-high bicarbonate water.  When added to the mash, it's combination of buffer salts keeps the mash pH at 5.2—regardless of the pH of your brewing water.

~Tiffany

© Hop Bombshells 2014