I was gone for a few days on a little trip to Mexico and thought I’d write about something that just dawned on me when I cracked open an ice cold Cerveza Tecate Light… No it wasn’t the idea of getting some salt and lemon (I’d already done that)…

Instead I started to think about why the beer brewed in Mexico tastes different?

Well it could be that you are usually drinking it while you are sitting on a nice warm beach fantasizing about the ladies walking by wearing bikinis which seem to get smaller every year (I don’t have a problem with that…) or maybe munching on some really good Mexican food, at which point you kind of forget about what you are chugging. Unless you are a girl reading this, multi tasking is just not a guy thing… But no, that’s not the reason why it tastes different.

See, there are many factors that become obvious about the taste of beer when you change the recipe, boiling times, hopping methods, etc., but what if you don’t change the recipe, just the location where you brew? You would think you’d get the same beer… well after a few days of Socrates-like thinking, I came to the conclusion that it is the water that makes it different…

I think we’ve all heard “Don’t drink the water” when you go down to Mexico… I would add to that and say “Drink the beer instead”…

Anyways…

When you get into all-grain brewing, the end product, your beer, your brew, your life water, will be greatly impacted by the water that you use. When you are using kits, you may not care much about it because you are using extract. This means the sugar coming from the malt has already been extracted. That’s why kit brewing is really not harder than making chocolate milk… add powder or syrup to liquid, mix, let sit, drink…

When you are doing all-grain brewing, however, the very first step is to extract the sugar from the malt… a process called mashing.

Water becomes extremely important then. Depending on the hardness of water, you can run the risk of extracting tannins and and enzymes or get mash pH levels that will change the flavor of the beer. Having hard water is not necessarily bad, depending on what type of brew you want to make. Now, depending on where you get the water you use to brew, the pH on your mash will change and will need to be adjusted. Usually the lighter the beer, the lower the mash pH will have to be.

Now, the question you may be asking is what can you do to lower or raise the pH of the mash?

Simple, to lower the mash pH you can do some Calcium additions or acid additions. To raise the Mash pH you can do Bicarbonate additions.

And that’s all she wrote… with that tip, you are one step closer to making better brew…

By the way… if you plan on going to the beach in Mexico, water is still pretty freakin cold!!!


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