Experimenting With my Latest Batch

John Drinks

This might not sound newsworthy to you, but I am conducting a bit of an experiment with my next batch of beer. I know, I know. The saying is that just about every homebrew batch is an experiment unless you only make the same thing using the same ingredients every time (and I’ve never met anybody who does that—it feels like it defeats the purpose of making your own beer to me.) But this is a little different. I am using the same beer making ingredients in each batch because they aren’t the part I am experimenting with.

I am trying to find out what kind of water makes the best beer. This could be a giant waste of my time, but I figured I would try. There are a couple of standing opinions on this, and of course they disagree. As a kid, I was always taught to form my own opinions, and that is what I am trying to do. First, I had to familiarize myself with the two most common camps of theory in the matter.

The first argument is that water doesn’t really matter in the long run. As long as it isn’t polluted or otherwise obviously bad, it will have no adverse effect on whatever you make. The logic behind this theory is that water doesn’t actually add flavor to the beer. That’s what the hops/malts/yeast do. And I agree with that, to an extent. For the most part, I can’t even taste the difference between water that comes out of a bottle and the water I get from the dispenser on my fridge. So I can see where this school of thought comes from.

However, I am starting to shift my opinion to the other theory in homebrewing. It states that because water is actually the largest component in the beer, it plays a vital role that should not be overlooked. Their theory is that the pH of the water can actually mess with the character of the ingredients that do give beer its taste.

My interest started after I had a long conversation with my brother in law, who just moved with my sister down south. They are having hard water problems and he was saying how it even changes the properties of the soap down there—it is hard to get soap to do anything. It made me wonder if the wrong type of water could affect the processes necessary to make beer and develop flavor. Because I can buy the finest ingredients in the world, but if that water is ruining the ingredients or hampering the yeast growth or something, it won’t matter.

So I decided to try some distilled water, two brands of bottled water, and then regular tap water that I put through a filter. I want to see which one ends up tasting the best. I’ll let you know if there is a significant difference between them once everything is ready!