How to adjust water profile for American Ales?

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NoCornOrRice

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A bunch of the people in my brew club are on city water, and all of our beers have a characteristic that I can only describe as "softer" than commercial beer. The few guys on wells have higher mineral content and are able to generate beers of better quality (better bitterness and finish). Can anyone weigh in on what sorts of salts need to be added in what quantities, as a general rule for American Ales? Here is a link to the city water stats for the most current year available:
http://www.fredericton.ca/en/environment/resources/TypicalResults2010.pdf

- thanks
 

ajdelange

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I think 'American Ale' is much too broad a style to be associated with a particular water. It seems that the trend these days is to brew with soft (by which I mean low mineral content) water both in commercial and home brew settings but beyond pH control, over which hardness (by which I mean, in this instance, calcium content) definitely has an influence, mineral content can be though of like the seasoning in a stew. You use as much or little of it as is required to give the flavor/body/mouth feel you want. As it's much easier to add salts than take them out I recommend starting with low mineral (RO, DI, distilled,....) water and building up over successive brews until you get to the level you want. See the Primer.
 

mabrungard

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That is a fairly nice water with modest mineralization. Boosting the calcium level is recommended. If brewing a hoppy beer, then boosting the sulfate content will "sharpen" the hop bittering and flavor. Maybe this is the component you seek? I suggest reading the information about brewing water on the Bru'n Water website for further guidance.
 
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NoCornOrRice

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thanks for the replies - I'll read the resources you mentioned.

Also, yes, the "sharpening" of the hop character is what I meant. Its really amazing how different the exact same recipe (done on same system) tastes when using well vs city water.
 
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