We did some searching around and our local water district posts a water “confidence” report for our area. We get our water from a combination of 4 deep wells in the area apparently.
They are fed by a major local river and replenished by two other regional streams, at least that’s how the report puts it. While the water report lists things like benzene, arsenic, and chlorodibromo-methane (all below levels of detection -thank you); it does indeed list a couple of useful brewing related minerals.
In short, our town water report mentions these minerals:
- Calcium- 26 ppm
- Sulfate – 17 ppm
- Potassium- 29 ppm
- Alkalinity (CaCO3) – 51 ppm
Our town does use a little chlorine, but it was listed as parts per billion. Our water out of the tap has no detectable chlorine taste. What little there is likely off gases fairly quickly.
The nice thing is that there is no mention of Chloramines in the water.
So, at first pass, these few minerals seem to tell me a few things.
Our water is pretty soft, meaning low overall mineral content. This is good news because its always easier to add to your water salts you don’t have, than take away excess of minerals you don’t want.
The other thing that is striking to me is that our Calcium is fairly low. A general brewing guideline for Calcium is 50ppm to 150ppm. Calcium is interesting to me because while my beers aren’t overly hazy, they are generally cloudier than they could be, but they get better with time.
Calcium is critical to yeast metabolism but also yeast flocculation which produces a slightly cloudier profile that goes away with extended “lagering”.
Another potential result of our water is that I often feel that when I brew hoppier beers from established recipes the hops don’t seem as exciting as the recipe or the original brewer seemed to intend. This is likely directly correlated to the low sulfates in the water too. Sulfate tends to accentuate hop bitterness and creates a crisper presentation in the final beer’s hop to malt balance.
That’s the first pass look at our water. We are actively looking into and preparing to compare this to a sample sent to Ward Labs for a water analysis.
Comments are always welcome especially on this new and challenging topic.