That claim may have been marketing shtick, but Medford home brewer Steven Wyatt really does believe starting with the right water is the foundation for a great beer.
“If you speak to any beer connoisseur, they will tell you their favorite beer comes from a region because of the water,” he says.So Wyatt hiked to Boundary Springs, headwaters of the Rogue River, and packed out fifteen gallons of water. His father-in-law, a hydrologist, put the bug in his ear: “The real definition, if somebody said something is pristine. That’s what I think the Boundary Springs headwaters of the Rogue tastes like.”
The irony, of course, is that all of this is marketing shtick. OPB takes the story in a slightly more reputable direction, discussing water conservation among breweries, but they leave this kind of thing hanging out there:
[Standing Stone brewer Larry] Chase has never heard of anyone hiking and packing out water to brew with, but he says that differences in water quality helped shape the history of brewing and the different styles of beer that become popular in Europe.No doubt Chase would have also told them that it's completely beside the point now, since breweries have chemical control over their water. They take stuff out, they put stuff in. And unlike brewing in the 19th century and earlier, breweries make tons of different beer styles, not limited to those of a single style or within a narrow range of styles suited to their water.
For generations, breweries across the country have used the purity of their water to sell beer. (It's not limited to North America, but I don't think any place took to the levels we did.) It has become an unshakable belief, now, one repeated on radio stories. "Rocky Mountain Spring Water," "Land of Sky Blue Waters," and my fave, Oly's artesian series from the 70s and 80s:
There's not great crime here, except that OPB just perpetuated that old myth. It would have spoiled a fun, evocative little piece, but one sentence discussing 21st century brewing would have been better journalism.