H2O, H2O everywhere

Catching up on my reading in the airport en route to NHC – this is a few days old, via FlandersNews.be:

The monks of the Notre-Dame Abbey of Saint-Remy are deeply concerned about the quality of their famous Trappist Beer Rochefort. The source providing the water for the making of the beer, is bound to dry up due to developments in a limestone quarry nearby. The abbey is situated 5 kilometres from Rochefort, in Namur province in the Ardennes.

Full story here.

This resonates with me as a fly fisher, with competition for water rights, access, and environmental concerns an increasing part of the culture.

What do you think? Limestone is pretty good for building stuff, not so great for drinking out of a chalice. Rochefort 8 is delicious but makes a pretty crappy structural material.

What do you do at your monastery – brew with the water you have, truck in RO from the supermarket, use what you capture it your stillsuit?

14 thoughts on “H2O, H2O everywhere

  1. Compare the two sources of water to see that they are the same make up and taste. If so, go ahead. If not, long live Rochefort, and the quarry people can bugger off.

  2. I just use my northern MI well water that has been run through a filter then I add a little bit of brewing salts to it.

  3. Since water chemistry tends to make my head spin I subscribe to the beliefs that if the water tastes good you can brew with it. With the caveat of potassium metabisulfite to de-chlorinate.

  4. I custom tailor the water with RO and mineral additions. My stance is that I agonize over a brew enough, why not go the extra step? So far I’m reaping the rewards.

  5. I typically use delivered bottled spring water (it is frquently my single most expensive ingredient), but when out, RO from the store with CaCl and/or CaSO4. My house water comes from a well and is hard as water can get – I have a water softener and iron filter for other household uses. I am considering a whole house RO system or a smaller unit for the beer.

  6. Damn you Rock Biter! Get on your giant tricycle and go find your delicious gourmet limestone rocks someplace else!!

  7. I guess the future of Rochefort really just depends on how much the monks rely on the brewery to support the monastery. Those guys are an industrious bunch. Anyways, if you believe the water profiles put forward by Bertens and Baert (p. 158 of Brew Like a Monk), there’s nothing really special about Rochefort’s brewing liquor. Like Orval and Chimay, Rochefort has to reduce bicarbonate by dropping the mash and kettle pH with an exogenous food-grade acid. IMHO, this is a rather trivial problem for any brewer with a working knowledge of water chemistry; something that any Trappist brewer worth his weight in salt could overcome. See what I did there? Salt…

    • Just to be clear here, I believe the monks could source water elsewhere in southwestern Belgium (not necessarily RO) and ultimately make it work for them. “Improvise, adapt and overcome.” Or go extinct, I suppose.

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