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Beer’s magic ingredient is not what you think

Just like our bodies (but with less belly bulge, more froth), beer is mostly water. H20 is a crucial first step in any beer-brewing journey; it can take a beer from ‘meh’ to magic before you can say, ‘Get to the pint, will ya?’ As it makes up around 95 per cent of a beer, water is a brew’s bloodline, and you have to get it right: it’s way more than just turning on a tap. Here’s a quick chemistry lesson (stay with us): the flavour of the water can be affected by compounds such as calcium, magnesium, sulfates, sodium, chloride and bicarbonate. For example, high levels of sulfates will make the hops taste sharp and chalky, and too much chloride will be a medicinal mess.

Generally, water for brewing should be moderately hard and have low-to-moderate alkalinity. But it depends on what you’re brewing. Water’s mineral composition differs all around the globe due to geography, the rocks and the groundbeds that water travels through. Stout in Dublin tastes so delicious thanks to the city’s hard water, and Pilsen’s soft water is perfect for pale lagers and pilsners.

At 4 Pines, our first step in the brewing process is to carbon-filter local water twice to remove any impurities, stripping it back to a clean water source and storing it.

But here’s the beer-illiant bit: thanks to technology, brewers are no longer restricted by their local water source as to what types of beers they’re able to produce. For example, next time you’re swilling a 4 Pines ESB, which originates from Old Blighty, you’ll know that while we haven’t used water directly from Burton-on-Trent, it’ll taste just like it’s been brewed there. Clever, eh?

We’re all about protecting this magic ingredient fiercely and using it responsibly, especially in these drought-stricken times. We’ve implemented a number of water-saving measures, from improving the quality of our wastewater with an innovative treatment system, to undergoing annual water-risk assessments so we have a better understanding of the impact we have on local watersheds. We do our best to make our beer with much less water than the industry average – check out our ‘Beer Print’ HERE for more info. That’s worth drinking to.

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