The most prevalent ingredient in beer, and perhaps the most overlooked by consumers in terms of its impact on a beer’s flavor, water plays a significant role in the shaping of a great beer. In general, great tasting water can produce great tasting beer, but a conscientious brewer must carefully consider the pH and mineral content of their water source as it pertains to the style of beer (s)he is trying to create. For example, soft water is most notably used in traditional Bohemian Pilsner, while mineral rich (hard) water is more commonly used to brew English-style IPA.
Although not visible to the naked eye, microscopic yeast cells are responsible for converting fermentable sugars into alcohol and carbon dioxide, thereby creating beer. Dramatic advancements in technology and yeast management over the past decade enable breweries of all sizes to procure a huge variety of style-specific yeast strains. Yeast is often thought of as the soul of a beer, as it dramatically shapes the finished product. Different ale yeast strains are noted for providing fruity esters and spicy phenols to beer, while wild yeast strains provide a tart quality.