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Water: the medium of brewing


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Although little mentioned, water is by far the most preponderant ingredient in beer.

By: Stephen Beaumont


Typically, 90-95% of beer is water, yet it is frequently overlooked as an important flavour component of beer. Historically, entire styles of beer, such as the English pale ale or Czech pilsner, have been defined to a great degree by the mineral content of the water originally used to brew them, with higher mineral content in the former case and lower in the latter.


What is important is that the water’s composition be appropriate to the beer being brewed. What is not important is whether that water is treated tap water or specially obtained spring water, since modern technology has long since enabled brewers to treat their water, adding or removing minerals as necessary.


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Whether it is treated tap water or from a spring, what’s most important is the mineral content of the brewing water.

While brewers will carefully consider the composition of the water they use for brewing, it is not something the average consumer should really concern themselves with, since very little information on water will be available for most beers. With practice and beer style knowledge, however, an experienced taster will be able to tell the difference between a beer brewed with hard water and one created from softer water.



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