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Beer brewing water quality requirements and the relationship between water quality and brewing?

Views: 1838     Author: Alice     Publish Time: 2021-01-06      Origin: https://www.downtheroadbrewery.com/

Historically, the style of beer that can be brewed in a region has both benefited from and been limited by local water quality. The water in Ireland, for example, is rich in calcium ions and bicarbonate, balanced by the acidity of roasted barley, which makes for a dry world. The water in the Pilsen region of the Czech Republic is extremely soft and contains almost no mineral salt, giving rise to the Bohemian Style of Pilsen. The water in Bolton Trent is extremely hard and rich in calcium sulfate and bicarbonate, which aggravates the bitter taste of hops and makes the mouth plump and dry, resulting in the British IPA.


If our goal is to produce a wide variety of beers, there is no way to avoid understanding the impact of water quality on beer brewing. Simply put, water affects the malt sugar during the saccharification process and itself affects the flavor of the finished beer.




Beer production water can be divided into five aspects, namely brewing water, cooling water, washing water, boiler water, wheatmaking water.
The production of light beer should be based on soft water; Water with temporarily higher hardness can be used in the production of thick beer. Boiler water must be soft water to prevent scale; Cooling water needs to be soft water, but also requires less metal salt, to prevent corrosion; Medium hardness water is preferred for wheat immersion; Washing water should not contain microorganisms.


The water quality requirements for beer brewing and the relationship between water quality and brewing

Quality requirements of saccharifying water
1. Appearance: colorless and transparent, without suspended matter and sediment.
2. Taste: It has a refreshing taste. No salty, bitter, astringent odor.
3. PH value: 6~7 is appropriate.
4. Hardness: It is advisable to serve the environment up to 8˚ s with total hardness, while it is good for 2˚ ~5˚ s.
5. Organic matter: Potassium permanganate consumption should be 0~3mg/L.
6. Total dissolved salts: the content of solids should be 150~200mg/L.
7. Chlorine and chloride: chlorine content shall not exceed 0.3mg/L. The optimal chloride content is 20~60mg/L.

 Water hardness 

It is the sum of the alkali metal salts dissolved in water, while calcium and magnesium salts are the basis of hardness index.
The calcium and magnesium ions in water are called hardness. Water high in calcium and magnesium is called hard water and vice versa. The common unit of hardness is mg/L in terms of CaCO3.
If the water contains heavy metal ions such as manganese, iron and chromium, they also count towards the total hardness. So the hardness in the water quality report will be higher than the actual calcium and magnesium hardness.


German hardness 10mg of calcium oxide per liter of water is 1 degree.
The hardness of the water is normally between 1˚~30˚.

0~4˚ is the softest water. 4.1˚~8.0 is soft water. 8.1˚~12.0˚ is normal soft water.
12.1˚~18.0˚ is medium hard water. 18.1˚~30˚ is very hard water.


Brewing beer

There are three kinds of hardness of water:

  • Temporary hardness: The hardness of calcium and magnesium bicarbonate dissolved in water.

  • Permanent hardness: The hardness of calcium and magnesium sulfate, nitrate, or chloride dissolved in water, also known as non-carbonate hardness.

  • Negative hardness: Bicarbonate and carbonate of potassium and sodium dissolved in water. The presence of negative hardness makes the water alkaline.


 Effects of calcium and magnesium ions in water on beer brewing 

1. Acid lowering effect of calcium and magnesium bicarbonate in water

Ca(HCO3)2+2KH2PO4 → CaHPO4↓ +K2HPO4+2H2O+2CO2↑

2. Buffering effect of calcium and magnesium bicarbonate in water

Ca(HCO3)2  → Ca2++2HCO3-HCO3-+H+  →  H2CO3

3. Acidification of calcium and magnesium sulfate in water


4.Other functions of calcium and magnesium ions


Calcium ion: Protects alpha-amylase against heat, promotes wort clarification, and increases yeast cohesivity.
Magnesium ion: unfavorable to beer flavor, but some enzymes coenzyme factor.


 PH value of water 
The reason why pH has no units is because it represents the level of the exponent. The number of pH (full potential of Hydrogen) is the negative of the log base 10 of Hydrogen ion concentration (pH = -log10[H+]). So the concentration of hydrogen ions in a solution with a pH of 4 is 10 times that in a solution with a pH of 5. Therefore, the increase or decrease in pH is not a linear relationship, which is why the seemingly small change in pH represents a significant change during saccharification and fermentation.

It should be noted that the pH reading for the same solution depends on the change in temperature. By definition, pure water at 25 degrees Celsius corresponds to pH neutral 7. Also pure water, at 10 degrees Celsius, the pH reading is 7.27, and at 50 degrees Celsius it's 6.63. This does not mean that the water has become more acidic or alkaline, but that the pH number has shifted simply because of the temperature.

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