Beer is 95% water, and here in the Skagit Valley, our breweries have been able to thrive thanks to reliable access to good-tasting, clean water.
“You may assume water is just water,” said Kevin Tate, community relations manager for Skagit Public Utility District, “but the quality of water used in brewing beer will make a big difference in the final product.”
Distinct styles of beer require different types of water to create the desired taste and flavoring. The same recipe using another water source can produce a drastically different beer. Brewers need to know what’s exactly in their water because there are so many variables. Hard water, high in calcium and magnesium, can lead to an intensely hoppy flavor, while water with chloride in it is great for those malty porters and stouts.
In other parts of the country, breweries may choose to invest in filtration systems to strip everything out of their water before adding back in desired minerals. However, here in the Skagit Valley, brewers can pull their water straight out of the tap.
“Skagit PUD maintains a profile that is a good starting point for brewers,” Tate said. “Skagit PUD has relatively soft water, which makes it an excellent base to create certain beers.”
Tate says Skagit PUD regularly communicates to its customers about water quality. Because the source is surface water, seasonal changes can dramatically affect pH and alkalinity and require the PUD to adjust its water treatment process.
“Skagit PUD helps support the Valley’s beer industry by providing area brewers with a chemistry report to look at the water’s exact chemical composition,” Tate said. “It’s a way for brewers to know whether they’re getting a consistent profile. Consistency is one of the biggest things they need.”
To ensure long-term reliability, Skagit PUD is investing $160 million over the next 10 years in infrastructure to aid in efficiency, conservation, and maintaining water quality. The investment is good news for brewers since it takes 3 to 7 gallons of water to brew a single gallon of beer. That’s not including the gallons of water needed to keep equipment clean and sanitary during and after the brewing process.
“Sound infrastructure ensures that we deliver water safely and dependably while saving water by reducing leaks,” Tate explained. “Communities can grow when a public water system has the water resources and infrastructure to deliver a reliable supply of clean, safe water.”
Skagit PUD encourages local breweries also to keep conservation in mind. Keeping track of water usage to see where they can conserve and ensure no accidental water loss due to a rogue leaky valve. It’s all to keep Skagit’s water clean, reliable, and beer-friendly for years to come.
“Great water makes great beer,” Tate said. “We are excited that the brewing industry is growing here in the Valley and that Skagit PUD’s water can play an essential role in its success.”