What gives a beer it’s crispness? I taste or feel it when I drink many craft brews but can’t seem to get mine there. Is it the extract? Do I need to go to all grain? What’s the secret?
There are several factors. In my opinion, you have much more control of your brews with all grain. Crispness could come from a thousand different places. Hops,yeast, whatever. I would say my brew quality leapt with three major steps. All grain, yeast starters and a controlled fermentation chamber.
Crispness is a major result of appropriate mash and wort pH, which is to say that dullness is a result when the pH is too high.
If you have been brewing with extract and have been reconstituting with tap water that has alkalinity, then the resulting wort can easily have a too high pH. Using distilled or RO water is desirable when reconstituting since it generally replaces the water content that was extracted during manufacture without adding minerals or alkalinity.
Sulfate content is a component that can increase dryness in the beer finish which can be a component of ‘crispness’. More than likely, most extract is produced with low sulfate water and adding sulfate MAY improve the character that you are seeking. This is a factor that you can explore in your glass by adding teeny amounts of gypsum to the glass of beer, letting it dissolve, and tasting the result. Recognize that the amounts of gypsum are very small since we might be adding a teaspoon or two to an entire batch of beer and the glass represents only a percent or two.
Using well water to brew. Would gypsum help that?
Not unless you knew what was in that water and knew that sulfate was lacking. Get the water tested!