What can really be said about water? It's just the vehicle for all the other wonderful components of beer, right?
In fact, water has again a rich story in the history of brewing. Certain styles of beer developed in the regions that they did because they were a good match for the characteristics of the local water. Famously, the pure water of Pilsen used for brewing crisp, clear pilsners, and the chalky water of Burton, where many classic British ales are brewed.
For the homebrewer, the biggest challenge is removing chlorine from municipal water supplies. Chlorine can combine with organic compounds from the malt and produce medicinal off-flavors. But some brewers take things a step further in adding specific minerals to their water to replicate water profiles from around the world. In any case, some minerals and ions are vital to ensuring healthy yeast growth.
These post barely scape the surface of what there is to be know about even these four simple components of brewing. I plan to revisit these posts and update them as I have the time. For now I hope they will be useful in allowing non-brewers to follow along with my descriptions of my brewing adventures.