What properties and characteristics does a brewer want from water? What kind of water should be used to make stouts? IPAs? These are the kinds of questions I am frequently asked. Fortunately, the answers aren’t hard.
Brewing water affects the beer in three ways: It affects the pH of the beer, which affects how the beer flavors are expressed to your palate; it provides “seasoning” from the sulfate-to-chloride ratio; and it can cause off-flavors from chlorine or contaminants.
In general, brewing water should be clean and free of any odors, such as chlorine or pond smells. Usually, good brewing water for conducting the mash and creating the wort should be moderately hard and have low-to-moderate alkalinity. But it depends (doesn’t it always?) on the type of beer you want to brew and the mineral character of your water.