Good Water Makes Good Beer – and Good Water comes from the JWC!
Joint Water Commission (JWC) operators work hard to deliver a good-tasting product to their customers. Part of this process involves studying the mineral make-up of the source and treated water. JWC operators have been collecting and analyzing water characteristics for years to improve treatment techniques and produce water that is safe to drink, and that also tastes good. Knowing what is in the water is also important to the increasingly popular hobby of home-craft beer brewing, so this page has been designed to provide the most common water content information that is important to the home-brewing process.
Do you make your own beer? Depending on the process you use (all-grain brewing vs. malt extract brewing), water characteristics can make a difference in how the final product tastes. The all-grain brewing process is most significantly impacted by water chemistry. Minerals in the water can affect the starch-to-sugar conversion of the mash and change the beer’s taste. This can be good or bad. Beers from around the world have unique flavors that are partly due to the water available in that region. In malt extract brewing, the starches have already been converted into sugars (in the malt extract), so the effects of water minerals on the flavor of the beer are greatly reduced.
If you are using the all-grain brewing process, the following information could be important to the resulting flavor:
(These minerals are found in JWC water and could influence an “all-grain” brewing process)
|Test Date||Calcium (CA+2)||Chloride (Cl-1)||Magnesium (Mg+2)||Sodium (Na+1)||Sulfate (SO4-2)|
|August 2015||6.3 ppm||4 ppm||2 ppm||8.5 ppm||11 ppm|
|February 2015||8.3 ppm||5.28 ppm||2.7 ppm||10.4 ppm||NA|
|August 2014||6.8 ppm||4.0 ppm||2.3 ppm||8.3 ppm||10 ppm|
|February 2014||8.2 ppm||5.28 ppm||2.8 ppm||8.7 ppm||11 ppm|
pH and Hardness
Water leaving the JWC Water Treatment Plant has a target pH of 7.7, and has a hardness measurement of approximately 2 grains per gallon, or 34 ppm. Recent data on pH and Hardness is available by clicking here.
Minerals, Influences, and Ideal Brewing Ranges
|Mineral||Influence||Ideal Brewing Range|
|Calcium (Ca+2)||Promotes clarity, flavor & stability in finished beer; needed to assure sufficient enzyme activity in mashes||50 – 150 ppm|
|Chloride (Cl-1)||Accentuates the flavor and fullness of beer, but can cause a “medicine-like” flavor if concentration is too heavy.||0 – 250 ppm|
|Magnesium (Mg+2)||An important yeast nutrient in small amounts, but too much can give beer a sour/bitter taste.||10 – 20 ppm|
|Sodium (Na+1)||Just like in food, the right amount of sodium rounds out a beer’s flavor & accentuates the sweetness of the malt. Too much and the beer will taste salty. Sodium & sulfate can also combine to create a harsh bitterness, so avoid high concentrations of both minerals together.||0 – 150 ppm|
|Sulfate (SO4-2)||Accentuates hop bitterness, makes it seem drier and crisper. However, at high concentrations the bitterness can become astringent and unpleasant.||50 – 150 ppm(normal bitter)
150 – 350 ppm (very bitter)
|pH||Water pH influences pH of the mash. Mash pH is important to the brewing process.||Mash pH: 5.1 – 5.5|
Other Water Quality Information
The Joint Water Commission performs a detailed water analysis of its treated water twice a year. If there are other minerals or aspects of JWC water that you would like to consider as part of your home-brewing process, complete water analyses reports are available here.