Water: Beer is Basically Gatorade
By Kate Van Doren
Water is more important to beer than we often give it credit for; we are more focused on hops, malt, yeast, and all the other goodies that make our favorite beer taste the way it does. Brewers refer to water as “hot liquor” or “brewing liquor” and use water throughout the brewing process for things like cooling wort and cleaning equipment. When it comes beer itself, different types minerals present in the water provide various characteristics: sodium can add fullness and a subtle sweetness, sulfate gives beer dryness, iron can provide an off-putting metallic flavor, and chloride also increases a beer’s fullness. Today, brewers can alter water to have the mineral content to create the perfect brewing liquor, but in the past breweries would build their breweries next to fresh sources of water that best suited the style they wished to brew. Burton-upon-Trent, in the English Midlands, is situated on a large limestone deposit, giving the water of this region a sulfuric whiff—which is fantastic for brewing English style IPAs. Plzn, in the Czech Republic, is home to Pilsner Urquell—a brewery renowned for its upstanding pilsner, thanks in part to the fresh water spring near by. It’s also important to note that beer is 85-95% water, so, basically you’re just hydrating, right? Exactly. Drink up!