Image showing water optimised for Beer Taste
Guide, Homebrewing-101

Beer is 90 to 95 percent water and critically, water quality affects yeast fermentation and beer taste. It must not come as a surprise that water quality or composition significantly contributes to flavour. People used water for centuries in brewing and giving their beer a distinct, local taste. For instance, in regions where hard water, composed of high quantities of sulfates, chlorides, and calcium, is available, the beer taste is hoppy and crisp. 

Water is key to consistent beer taste

Brew science and chemists have established that the composition of water and its quality can give unique flavours to beers. This has empowered brewmasters to express their creativity and use water profiles to bolster their beers with new recipes. 

Water quality affects yeast fermentation and beer taste.

Water can boost the brew performance and flavour. The minerals found in water change the taste. The two main elements that can impact the beer are its pH level and mineral composition. Wort pH drives yeast productivity and health during fermentation. High alkalinity helps stabilise pH levels during the brewing process and puts a break on bacterial growth.

What the Brewing Process involves

A rough view of the brewing process involves certain stages:

  • Mashing
  • Boiling
  • Fermentation
  • Bottling and 
  • Filtering

At a brewery, mashing, also called ‘hot water steeping,’ starts the brewing procedure. It involves crushing barley and soaking them with filtered warm water. This gives a chunky mixture and helps to activate enzymes. The enzymes produced change soluble starches of grains into fermentable wort. The wart is composed of protein and carbs – it influences the mouthfeel, brew body, and malt.

The wort comprises 80 percent water when ready. It gets flavorful when it is boiled. Here water is important again because it determines good performance and beer taste. So, consider water as the basic element in the whole (brewing) procedure.

Ions that Affect the Process of Brewing

As mentioned, hard water makes the beer hoppy when tasted. Higher quantities of chloride give it a rich mouthfeel. Sulfates, carbonates, and sodium make the fermentation flavorful. The presence of each mineral in water gives the beer a different taste. 

Therefore, it is important to use them deliberately to maintain balance. It is because adding a greater amount of any mineral can make the beer unpleasant. 

The ions found in minerals also combine with alkalinity and pH during the process of brewing. Bicarbonates and carbonates make the pH level more stable while mashing. Excess chloride can kill the yeast in the fermentation process. 

This shows awareness of the chemical composition of the water used in the brewery is highly important. It can improve brew performance as well as taste. 

Good and bad beer ions

There are both good and bad ions present in the beer. For example, calcium (Ca+2) is a beneficial ion in beer water. It boosts the clarity of your beer. Manganese (Mg+2) is also a crucial ion, according to those active in brewing science. It is a nutrient for yeast. A moderate quantity of manganese can drastically improve beer taste.

Chloride, sulfate, carbonate, and bicarbonate are also beer performance and taste boosters. In contrast, iron, chlorine, chloramines, and nitrate are bad for the brewing process. 

The Bottom Line: Water quality vs beer taste

Water is essential when it comes to brewing beer. Water Quality affects yeast fermentation performance as well as taste. You can create different beer-making recipes and offer the best beer in town with good knowledge of the minerals and ions found in your water.

Happy brewing!

The team

To learn more about brewing beer that tastes better, please visit and read our articles in the Homebrewing 101 and brewing guide series. If you are interested in learning more about the science of brewing, visit our partners at The Beerologist.

Image Credits

Photo by Izzy Gerosa on Unsplash

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