Water, the Essence of All Beers
How does water affect beer?
Water brings with it an impact on pH and flavours influencing the final beer profile, it affects the brewing process and brewers need an understanding of their base water chemistry before brewing. If you’re tasting a beer which has a pronounced malty character, a stout without acidity or a tart, lively wheat beer – water has a role in it.
Is it true that stouts are brewed best with Dublin water?
Although the iconic Guinness originated from Dublin, water profiles can be replicated elsewhere in the world with the appropriate science and technology. In this case of Guinness, the base water has an appropriate level of hardness that balances out the acidity imparted from roasted malt. As time went by in Dublin, it is also likely that the water chemistry changed over years, and brewers met the challenges by adjusting the water as necessary.
What about Hong Kong water? There are many breweries here – is the water good for brewing?
Hong Kong water is great – in the sense that it is relatively soft and neutral. In that light, it has a similarity with an artist with a blank canvas. Chlorine and chloramine are commonly used by the public utilities to treat municipal water and they should be removed with appropriate filtration. One issue with Hong Kong is old piping – which may pick up sediment and rust if not identified.
How do breweries treat their water?
Most breweries will have a basic sediment and/or carbon filtration unit for city water. More advanced filtration may be needed if groundwater or natural water is used. In certain areas, water has a high mineral content and requires reverse osmosis processing before usage. Water is usually pre-heated to over 70 celsius for brewing, with possible pH adjustments to the water. Finally, mineral salts such a gypsum are added to the brew to achieve the desired water profile.
You mentioned pH – does it affect flavour as well?
Good question. Simply put, most beers have a final pH of 4.0 to 4.6 when consumed. As you can imagine, a lower pH will result in the beer being perceived as lively and tart, while a higher pH helps richer beers in maintaining their dense, inviting malt profile. pH is influenced by the malt combinations, base water chemistry and fermentation activity by the yeast. Generally, beers with a lower pH value include Gose, German/ Belgian Wheats and beers fermented with wild yeasts that contribute to the acidity. On the higher end of the spectrum would be high gravity beers, such as barleywines or stouts – where the higher pH balances out the acidity of specialty malts and maintains the perceived richness of the beer.
Some popular beer styles influenced by water profiles:
• English IPAs brewed in Burton on Trent had high sulphate levels in source water. It later evolved into the West Coast IPA style brewed in America. West Coast IPAs finish dry and often have higher levels of sulfate in water to enhance perception of bitterness and enhance hop character. Sulfate tends to lend a crisper character to a beer, which enhances the perception of fresh and lively aromatics.
• Stone IPA, Ballast Point Sculpin, Aooni IPA(Yo-ho).
• German Goses are brewed with the addition of salt in the water – which contains sodium and chloride. The salt addition is cornerstone to the style, which creates a savoury balance to an otherwise low-hopped beer. Sodium is perceived as malty in lower concentrations, and savoury in high. Chloride creates a full, sweet profile to the beer, which enhances the perception of fullness – e.g. bumping up the impression of richness in a session stout.
• Young Master Cha Chaan Teng Gose, Magic Rock Salty Kiss, Anderson Valley Blood Orange Gose.
香港的水又怎麼樣？ 這裡有很多啤酒廠 ， 本地的水源是否適合釀造啤酒？
香港的水源質素很高 ——比較中性而柔軟，相當於一張純白的畫布。公眾所獲得的水通常會預先加入了氯和氯胺，這些物質在釀酒前應適當地過濾掉。香港水源的一個主要問題是水管殘舊 - 如果沒有檢驗， 我們可能要被逼飲用鏽蝕和沉澱物。
大多數啤酒廠都配置有基本的沉澱物/ 碳過濾裝置來處理一般公用水，如果使用地下水或天然水，則需要更高級的過濾設備。在某些地區，水的礦物含量高，需要經「反滲透」裝置處理後才能使用。釀造啤酒前，他們會預熱水份至攝氏70 度，並調節pH 值。最後，會加入無機鹽以達致理想的效果。
好問題。簡單地說，大多數啤酒最終pH 值為4.0 至4.6。您可以想像，較低的pH 即較酸，讓啤酒嚐起來口感更活潑，而較高的pH 值可以幫助啤酒保持其濃郁迷人的麥芽味道。 pH 受麥芽成份， 水份和酵母發酵活性的影響。pH 值較低的啤酒包括Gose、德國/ 比利時Wheats，以及一些採用野生酵母發酵的啤酒。相反，大麥啤和黑啤等就有較高的pH 值，平衡了部分麥芽的酸度，有助保持啤酒的豐郁質感。
● 在伯恩伯頓釀造的英國IPAs，水中含有較高的硫酸鹽；後來它演變成美國西岸IPA 風格。西岸IPAs 的收結乾身，通常具較多硫酸鹽，因此增強了其苦味和啤酒花的作用。硫酸鹽往往能讓啤酒更為爽口，增強其新鮮感及芳香。
● Stone 印度淡色艾爾、Ballast Point 大頭魚、YO-HO 印度青鬼 Aooni。
● 少爺啤鹹檸啤、Magic Rock Salty Kiss、安德森山谷啤酒廠血橙小麥酸酒。