One ingredient of which there was an abundant local supply was water. Just as well, as importing would have been enormously impractical.
Lloyd Hind classified six types of brewing waters, five hard and one soft:
|Types of brewing water|
|Saline composition||Special use||Typical locality|
|(1) Hard Waters|
|(A)||Very hard gypseous waters. High proportion of Ca and S04, moderate quantity of Mg, comparatively small proportion of Na and C03.||Pale ale.||Burton-on-Trent.|
|(B)||Gypseous waters. Generally not so hard as (A) with greater proportion of C03 and Cl usually higher.||Pale lager and ales.||Dortmund.|
|(C)||Sulphate waters. With still greater proportions of CO 3 and increasing quantities of Na and Cl. Frequently characterised by the presence of sodium and magnesium sulphates in place of calcium sulphate.||Full-flavoured pale ales.||Edinburgh.|
|(D)||Carbonate waters. Many city supplies fall in this group, Ca and C03 predominant, with lower proportion of S04, moderate Na and Cl. Require treatment for pale ales after removal of carbonates.||Mild ales and stouts.||London (Metropolitan Water Board).|
|(E)||Carbonate ;waters. Very small quantities of ions other than Ca, Mg and C03. Treatment for pale ales as (D).||Dark lager, stouts, mild ales.||Munich, Dublin.|
|(2) Soft Waters|
|(F)||Containing up to about 10 parts per 100,000 of total solids, with the individual ions in varying proportions corresponding with those found in hard waters. Very readily treated for ales.||Pale lager.||Pilsen.|
|Brewing: Science and Practice 1: by Herbert Lloyd Hind, Chapman & Hall, London, 1940, page 437.|
Different water profiles suited different types of beers Something brewers learned through experience. Though, initially, they weren’t fully aware of which specific minerals were important.
Once the importance of water chemistry had been twigged in the middle of the 19th century, brewers stated to fiddle with their water if it didn’t fit the profile for the type of beer they wanted to brew.
Initially, treatment was all about mimicking Burton water. There was huge incentive to recreate Burton water. The alternative being to build, or buy, a brewery where that water profile was naturally available.
With the essential elements of what made Burton water so suited for Pale Ales identified, brewers began to “Burtonise”. Which, essentially, entailed dumping a load of gypsum into it.
It didn’t stop there. The more sophisticated breweries began treating the water for all their beers, leaving some with no beer brewed from liquor which hadn’t been tweaked.
A good example is Barclay Perkins. Who treated the brewing water for all of their beers, whatever, the style, except for Lager.
|Barclay Perkins water treatment in 1941|
|Mild Ale||Company's liquor, treated cold. 2/3 oz. salt and 7/12 oz gypsum per barrel in hot liquor back. Heated to 170º F, allow to drop to mashing heat. Half hour before mashing add 1/8 pint per barrel bi-sulphate of lime. Salt in copper: 3 ozs per barrel.|
|Burton Ales||Company's liquor, treated cold. 3 ozs. salt and 3 ozs. gypsum per barrel in hot liquor back. Boil overnight. Half hour before mashing add 1/8 pint per barrel bi-sulphate of lime. Salt in copper: 1 oz per barrel.|
|Bitters and DB||Company's liquor, treated cold. 1.5 oz3. salt and 4 ozs gypsum per barrel in hot liquor back. Heated to 170º F, allow to drop to mashing heat. Salt in copper: 2 ozs per barrel. DB nil|
|Porter and Stout||Company's liquor boiled for 30 minutes, allow to drop to mashing heat. 2 ozs. Salt and 1 oz gypsum per barrel of liquor used over the goods added to grist. Salt in copper: 3 ozs per barrel.|
|PA Ex||Company's liquor, treated cold. Boiled 5 minutes, allow to drop to mashing heat. 5 ozs CaS04 and 1 oz MgS04 per barrel in liquor backs.|
|Barclay Perkins brewing record held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number ACC/2305/01/624.|
You’ll note that each class of beer had its own, distinctive, treatment. Not all breweries were quite as pernickety, but pretty well everyone, outside Burton, treated the water for their Pale Ales.