I used campden, used tried and tested recipes, my technique, yeast handling and sanitation were all sound.....yet I could not produce beer that was acceptable. In truth, I almost gave up.
That is one of the important messages I make in my recent presentation at NHC and in my upcoming article in Zymurgy (Nov-Dec 2015 issue). The mantra that: water is the LAST thing ANY brewer should take on, is just not correct. There are brewers that have water that may be poorly suited for a beer style they really want to brew and it can ultimately end in frustration and failure...and this is with perfecting all those other important techniques.
We need to stop perpetuating the myths about brewing water such as 'if the water tastes good, you can brew with it'
and 'water is the last step to take in perfecting your brewing'
. There are brewers that can't wait to the last step. Their beers are so disappointing due to the damage their water inflicts and there are few process and technique improvements that they could take that can overcome that. These myths are probably cutting short the enjoyment of thousands of hobbyists who quit before they can produce good or great beer. For those of us that enjoy the occasional pint from a new brewery, only to find that their beer isn't that great. I have to wonder how many are fighting water conditions with no knowledge and no tools...since water is the last thing they should worry about...or worse yet, they think we worry too much about water.
Understanding your brewing water and having the knowledge and capability to make it better for your brewing IS an important factor in brewing. Water is NOT the last step.