Spring has sprung! This time of the year is the kick-off of pool parties, patio gatherings and BBQ season. Nothing beats cooling down while the weather heats up than an ice-cold refreshment. But this no longer means a cooler full of generic bottled beer and pour-your-own rum and Coke stations. Today, it’s about providing guests with a selection of craft beers, homebrews and premium bar options.
Dubbed part of the “Maker Movement,” in which consumers are taking the DIY approach over traditional spending (but out of interest and self-enrichment more than need), people are investing their time and effort in creating signature homebrews and restaurant-quality craft cocktails they can be proud to serve their guests.
So, what exactly is water’s role? When it comes to crafting the perfect summer ale or sunset cocktail, water is more crucial that you may think.
Rock Your Cocktails
If you fancy yourself a mixologist more than a brewologist, you’ll probably be using a lot of ice in your summer cocktails. While it may not come down to an exact science as in homebrewing, the type of ice used can greatly change the flavor and appearance of your cocktails.
As mentioned before, tap water has tons of micro-chemicals and sediments with a noticeable effect on taste. When the ice made from tap water melts and combines with your carefully curated ingredients, those chemicals seep in. Plus, frozen tap water can take on a more salty, brackish taste – even more noticeable in blended frozen drinks that are synonymous with summer!
Ice cubes made from tap water can form with a foggy, unappetizing appearance. Filtered cubes are clear, giving your creations a more appealing look. Ice made from filtered water ensures clean, fresh tasting cocktails down to the last sip.
Best for Brewing
While there isn’t much that can be done to your store-bought six-packs, beer enthusiasts are trying their hand at crafting their own signature brews. According to the American Homebrewers Association, there are an estimated 1.2 million homebrewers in the US brewing more than 2 million barrels of beer each year.
Homebrewers are also fairly evenly distributed around the country, which can mean vastly different water profiles. Water makes up more than 95 percent of beer’s composition and is the foundation for brewing, so it is just as – if not more than – important as any other ingredient used. Brewers from coast to coast need to take a good hard look at the water that goes into brewing the perfect pint.
Beer taste comes down to chemistry. Chemicals and minerals in water can make significant changes to the profile of the beer, as well as pH levels, alkalinity and other factors brewers need to take into consideration.
Tap water can contain chlorine, limescale, and organics (dead microorganisms killed by the chlorine). Levels vary due to a number of factors such as location and environmental influences. Not only will these alter the flavor, uncontrolled variables in tap water will make it hard to duplicate the batch and affect the quality control of each one.
Also, be wary of distilled water. While this may seem like an alternative to ensure consistency, distilled water is entirely void of minerals and will absorb impurities more quickly than water with some minerals.
Bottled water enhanced with minerals could be a good option for balanced and consistent ingredients. That is, if you’re fine with pouring literally hundreds to thousands of dollars down the drain. The cost of using bottled water for a five-gallon output could run you up to an additional $80 per batch.* Plus, the combination/level of minerals is determined by the manufacturer – so if the resulting flavor doesn’t suit you, you’re out of luck…and money.
Easy and cost effective solutions to gain total control over your water include using a Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) meter to help you gauge the purity levels and know exactly what’s going into each batch. What’s more, our “Create Your Own” Home Master Filter allows brewers to adjust the levels and try different combinations for the best final product.
Being able to control your water is a game changer for brewers, providing another level of differentials to be experimented with. Brewers can spend weeks testing and trying different hops, barleys and malts, so why should water make-up be any different? If replicating another brewer’s recipe, keep in mind the water profile used and adjust accordingly to ensure the true character of the beer shines through.
And of course, we can’t forget the kiddos! We’re not implying they should toss back any sort of alcoholic beverage, but the warmer months mean lemonade stands and Kool-Aid by the pool. Or maybe the budding makers want to imitate mom and dad’s creations with their own virgin “mocktails” or homebrewed root beer. Like their adult counter parts, these kid-friendly drinks are mostly made up of water and can take on the foul tastes of tap. Even though their palates may not yet be refined, clean and healthy water that is free of chemicals is the focus here – plus helps keep kids hydrated in the summer months!
For more ways to keep your homebrews, cocktails and summer thirst quenchers free of contaminants and tasting their best, check out our blog or visit our Facebook page.
*Calculated using 5.5 gallons of water used per 5-gallon output, with average cost of 11.2 oz bottled water at $1.37 per bottle.