Beer doesn't grow on trees but believe it or not, the forest is vital to the production of beer. It’s no coincidence that the two largest rivers in the United States converge to provide the main ingredient for Schlafly Beer: water. Clean water allows brewers around the world produce quality beer.
At Schlafly Beer – The Saint Louis Brewery, Lead Brewer Jared Williamson knows that clean, mineral-rich water is crucial to the quality of the brews.
"From a water standpoint, it's really about the mineral composition of the water that determines how good or bad it is for brewing," says Williamson.
As water accumulates in bodies of water such as rivers and streams, it picks up minerals from rock, earth and soil. While not all minerals are safe for consumption, there are non-toxic minerals that create different flavor profiles for styles of beer.
"Historically, there had been a lot of European regionalized styles born due to the water type that they had in that area. Some areas had harder water, some places had softer water, some areas had salt content. Traditionally, people learned how to brew according to the water where they lived."
However, brewers have since learned how to incorporate scientific techniques by treating the water, to remove and add certain minerals that replicate traditional beer styles and create new ones.
Trees play a big role in how water gets its minerals and nutrients. From the beginning to the end of the water cycle, trees support water by giving off nutrients from soil, protecting mineral-rich water and naturally balancing water levels.
Forests and trees assist 75 percent of the world's water supply with natural filtration, absorption and preservation. By facilitating watersheds and defining riverbanks, trees do more than their share to keep the beer flowing.
When it comes to testing the quality of water, brewers pull process water samples to measure levels of acidity. While a water source may not change drastically, sampling often can show minor differences. Closely monitoring the water is key to deciphering its performance in the beer.
"The quality of your grains is important, the quality of your hops is important and so is your knowledge base as brewers, but the main ingredient in beer production is the water," Williamson says. "So if your water isn't great, your beer won't be either."
The National Forest Foundation promotes the health of trees and grasslands. So it's no wonder Schlafly proudly supports the organization that sustains their main asset and your favorite beverage to enjoy on a shady afternoon.
Since 1991, Schlafly Beer has made a substantial effort to be environmentally-friendly. From using 100 percent renewable energy to remodeling old buildings into breweries, Schlafly leads simply by example and sets the standard for green practices. After all, Schlafly knows that it's the quality that counts.
"You can only build great beer off great water. Your beer can only be as good as the water you put in it," says Williamson."