Thursday, July 16, 2009

It's the water

I am continually reminded why I love living in the State of Jefferson and why I love brewing at French Street. The waters around these parts are known not only for their taste but their purity as well. Fall Creek, off the main stem of the Klamath River, is the source of our municipal water. It originates somewhere underground in the southern Oregon volcano country--I like to think of it as ancestral Mt. Mazama water. The latest water quality report from the city just arrived, and I was eager to compare my brew liquor to the famous waters** of brewing lore. Water from Pilsen, in Bohemia (Czech Republic), is renowned for its softness and for its contribution to the feel and flavor of those legendary beers. It clocks in at 30 ppm on the Hardness scale and 35 ppm in Total Dissolved Solids. My water? 61 ppm Hardness, 122 ppm TDS. Not as soft as the famous pilseners, but lovely to brew with nonetheless. Munich waters (250/275) and London waters (235/300), as you can see, are quite a bit harder, with more ionized matter. The most important thing in a brewery is to have clean, good-tasting water, and we have that in abundance. You can work with chemical profiles if you need to, but I don't have to because I'm lucky to have a great municipal source. The biggest contaminant in the water is the chlorine they put in to comply with federal drinking water standards! I carbon-filter the water for that very reason before it becomes my brew liquor. (Brewers call water "liquor" once it has been prepared for the mash tun.) I like to think that my twenty years of brewing experience is why my beers taste good. But I might just have to give the hat tip to Mother Nature for her Fall Creek water.

**The numbers are taken from Gregory J. Noonan's invaluable book, New Brewing Lager Beer.

a.d. XVII Kal. Aug.


Dave Bacon said...

I think you should do a controlled experiment and compare Yreka, Dunsmuir, Mt. Shasta, and McCloud (the last three all claiming to the world's best wateR?) for brewing. I mean, that's an experiment that can only have a good outcome :)

M.C. O'Connor said...

Ok. I'll need tasters!