fci watermakers blog importance of water quality in brewing

What Does Reverse Osmosis Have To Do With Exceptional Craft Beer?

Brewers instinctively understand the importance of water quality in brewing, but what’s in the science?

We turned to the experts at Green Biz to sum up the critical importance of water quality in beer making:

Today, modern brewers rely on clean water to make their product. Because no matter how carefully craft brewers tweak their malt, hops and strains of yeast, at the end of the day, beer is about 90 percent water.

Why exactly is water quality so important in the brewing process?

The entire brewing process is water-centric. The basic brewing and fermentation process begins with water and ends with exceptional craft beer. First, full and fair disclosure for any professional brewers reading this post—we do not pretend to be brewers! But we do love your delicious beers!

Brewing consists of the following steps:

  • Steeping specialty grains in hot water producing a wort or mash
  • Boiling the wort and adding malted barley to produce fermentable sugars
  • Adding hops to the boiling wort for added aroma and flavor
  • Adding yeast to the cooled wort—the liquid is now in a fermenter 
  • Letting the wort ferment to turn the sugars into alcohol

Brewers demand a tightly controlled water quality for several reasons. Minerals can actually aid in fermentation, so beer is never made with distilled water. Minerals can also add subtle but significant flavor and aroma to beer. 

How do brewers get to that perfect mix of pure water and subtle mineral content?

According to the adult beverage experts at Vine Pair, reverse osmosis is the most efficient, precise method to produce pure water for brewing.

How pure is your water?

It’s critical that brewers have an understanding of their water quality and composition. Brewers will often use reverse osmosis to bring the water to a baseline, then add minerals to the brewer’s specification. Water purification is an essential component of this process.

Alkalinity can neutralize acids produced in the boiling process, which can alter the beer’s flavor. Calcium in the water can yield hoppier, or more bitter-tasting, beers. RO can purify a brewer’s water to remove these impurities.

Want to find out what’s in your water? It might be impacting your beer’s taste, aroma, and alcohol content. Let’s find out. Get in touch with our team, and let’s discuss a water source analysis

How can you get control over your brewing water quality?

Reverse osmosis is the most scientific method available. RO is a chemical process that removes contaminants, like calcium and magnesium salts, from a water source.

Here’s how the basic reverse osmosis process works from our FAQ:

  1. Impure water is pumped through prefiltration to remove particulates down to 5 microns. This prepares it for reverse osmosis and to protect the membrane from damage.
  1. The impure water is then fed to a high-pressure pump for delivery to a pressure vessel that houses the semi-permeable membrane. Water is then fed to a High-Pressure pump for delivery to a pressure vessel that houses a membrane. This is where the separation of purified water takes place.
  1. The product water that successfully passes through the membrane is then routed to a salinity probe to ensure its quality.
  1. If the product water is acceptable, it is diverted to a fresh water holding tank.
  1. If the product water does not pass the salinity test, it is discarded and diverted with the brine discharge.

Once a master brewer has control of their water’s purity, they can craft-engineer any desired water conditions that they might want to produce specific beer qualities. The critical objective is to get your water to a baseline that the brewer controls. 

Where can you go for more information, cost, installation, etc.? 

We’ll need to calculate your required volume of pure water to size the RO equipment. This is based on your water storage capacity and daily volumetric flow requirements. We’ll collaborate with your team to understand exactly what you’re trying to accomplish with an RO system. We’ll also need to test your water source composition. 

Then we can discuss your physical space and RO equipment logistics. 

What’s the bottom line? 

We’re here to make RO systems easy for brewers to understand and implement. 

Our team has over 30 years of experience designing and building reverse osmosis water purification systems. In the constantly changing world of water purification, you need a partner with the experience and knowledge to keep pace. That partner is FCI Watermakers.

Innovation, engineering excellence, and unsurpassed product quality are at the core of everything we do. Want to talk about the right solution for your brewing process? Or maybe you just have some questions? 

Either way, call us at 800.850.0123 or get in touch with our team online today.