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Old 11-08-2012, 04:50 AM   #1
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Default 6 Mash options for a very pale beer?

Goal is an American style crowd pleaser.
IBU around 20, some hop flavor, a faint hop aroma.
6 pounds of Pilsner malt, 2 pounds of flaked corn.
Mash 1.5 qt per pound, at 150f for 60 minute.
All reverse osmosis water.
Mash PH goal of 5.3 to 5.5

Six differrent mash options...

Beer 1:
Use acidulated malt
Beer 2:
Use a step mash that includes an acid rest
Beer 3:
Use Phosphoric acid
Beer 4:
Use enough Calcium Chloride to lower the mash PH
Beer 5:
Use a balanced combonation of Calcium Chloride and Gypsum to lower the mash PH.
Beer 6:
No special process, just mash with ro water. As long as it stays below six, it will be fine.

How would these beers differ? Why?
Would certain hops go better or worse with certain mash options? Why
Would ale vs lager yeast work better or worse with certain mash options? Why
Is there a better way I haven't noted? Please explain.



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Old 11-08-2012, 12:02 PM   #2
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Beer 1 could be brought to proper mash pH which lends 'bright' flavors which in this case would include the subtle but unique flavors associated with acidulated malt. I'm pretty sure I'd like this one.

Beer 2 in the absence of any other pH controlling operation would not come to proper mash pH and would have dull flavors. It would be drinkable and perhaps even quite good but not as good as Beer 1. This is definining an acid rest as 15 - 20 minutes during which the phytin calcium reaction takes place. If 'Acid rest' is defines as keeping a portion of the mash at elevated temperature for a day or 2 that is equivalent to Beer 1 and would give similar results.

Beer 3 could be brought to proper mash pH resulting in the bright colors but without the unique qualities associated with sauermalz. As those are subtle the fact that they are missing would not be a major loss to many but beauty is in nuance. This should be a good beer.

Beer 4: To get the correct mash pH this would take a lot of calcium chloride. A pH shift of about 0.3 would require nominally 2.65 grams of calcium chloride (anhydrous) per gallon. That results is 253 mg/L calcium and 447 mg/L chloride. The secondary MCL for chloride in drinking water is 250 mg/L. The beer would taste very salty/minerally and such high levels of chloride are not good for yeast and lead to a 'pasty' tasting beer. I put 'pasty' in quotes because I don't know what that means but that's what the books say excess chloride leads to.

Beer 5. Don't know what 'balanced' means but assuming you would cut the chloride content in at least half to get under it's MCL you would then have 1.33 grams of calcium chloride and 2 grams of calcium sulfate per gallon of water which would give the same calcium level (and approximate pH shift of 0.3) with chloride at 223 and sulfate at 303. Chloride is now under the SMCL but sulfate is over its SMCL which is also 250. Despite this many people actually like beers with sulfate at this level but I don't know of any lagers. Some Exports perhaps? The beer would definitely have a strong mineral character and of course the high sulfate levels would have large effect on the hops perception.

Beer 6: Just RO and malt is going to make a pretty lifeless beer. Beers, especially light ones, need some chloride for body/mouthfeel and without an acid source pH is going to be above 6 with most Pilsner malts. This too causes relatively insipid flavors.

In the soft water options you can use pretty much any hops you want but with the high sulfate option noble hops should be avoided as they don't seem to mix well with sulfate.

Yeast choice is pretty much up to you depending on the character you want for the beer. The main choice is, of course, lager or ale. Ales tend to be made with high mineral water and lagers, because of the influence of the big name continental lagers tend to be made with softer water but plenty of lagers are made with hard water too.

Is there a better way? Yes, for a particular style of beer there is a water treatment scheme that works better than others. Perhaps the simplest example is what you would do for something like a Bohemian Pils (which is more or less what August Busch based his beers on): RO water plus modest calcium chloride plus sauermalz. I often recommend the suggestions of the Primer. This is in essence what it recommends. What goes with this recommendation is experimenting with the sulfate and chloride levels (absolute and relative) until you find what suits you best.



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Last edited by ajdelange; 11-08-2012 at 01:15 PM. Reason: Quatities of salts are per gallon
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Old 11-08-2012, 12:41 PM   #3
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Thanks Ajdelange. I like the sound of the combined approach you mentioned. There is a lot of mention of a minimum calcium level for beer clarity etc. For beer 2 the acid rest really needs some calcium to be effective? Most say 50ppm. I noticed Martin Brungard mention 40 ppm a couple of times. In general do you have a minimum level you think is effective for all the benefits listed for calcium?

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Old 11-08-2012, 01:16 PM   #4
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I agree largely with what AJ says, but there are caveats.

First is that any acidification for this beer will only require a small amount of acid. The difference in flavor attributed from one acidification method or another is going to be quite small. Acid malt, Lactic acid, phosphoric acid, etc are going to be similar. If this was a more alkaline water, the effect would be more pronounced.

Brewing a beer with RO water and no mineral additions produces a blandness in my opinion. RO water with proper acidification will work, but it won't have 'pop' in my opinion.

AJ's comments regarding boosting the water hardness to get the mash pH in line are very accurate. That would take the mineralization too high. A pasty or muddy beer could be a result. The approach I recommend is to include modest mineralization and proper acidification to produce good beer. The color-based water profiles in Bru'n Water provide modest mineralization with the ability to bias some flavor perception in the finished beers.

The 40 ppm Ca concentration in brewing water is anecdotal. That is based on observations from hundreds of brewers and some technical literature. The popular lore is that we want 50 ppm Ca in our brewing water, but we know that great beer can be brewed with lower Ca concentration. My research indicates that 50 ppm does provide more opportunity for good results, but 40 ppm still provides some benefit for oxalate reduction. If a brewer is willing to work around the detriments of low Ca in their water, they certainly can brew great beer with less water mineralization. Cleaner, clearer malt flavor can be a result. That could be an advantage in light lagers. But I still find that moderate mineralization is tastier for most beers.

The recipe above suggests a light American lager, cream ale, or CAP. Either an ale or lager yeast would be fine, but the ale yeast would provide more esters that could add flavor. If 'cleanness' is most desirable, then using the lager yeast is a must.

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Old 11-08-2012, 04:26 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bigdaddybrew View Post
In general do you have a minimum level you think is effective for all the benefits listed for calcium?
I do nearly all my beers with 25 mg/L. Note that this is half the oft quoted 50 mg/L. Using calcium chloride exclusively that gives me 43 mg/L chloride. Am I getting all the benefits of calcium at this level? Possibly not but that seems to be the level at which the beers come out best to my way of thinking. I have tried less and found the beers lacking in body and just less interesting. This is because of the reduced chloride, I believe, and not because of the reduced calcium.
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Old 11-09-2012, 12:36 AM   #6
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I like the idea of acidulated malt adding brightness/flavor as my lighter beers have been good, but not great, lacking brightness or pop sounds about right. So I'm not arguing Beer 4 or 5 would be better. I'm just not getting the numbers I expected. When I plug the numbers for Beer 4 into Brunwater using 2.65 grams/gallon calcium Chloride, I get an estimated PH of 5.1. This seems low.

The ideal mash PH range varies by author and I have noticed a trend that the ideal range may be getting higher. I read older articles that suggest 5.1 to 5.3, newer articles I am seeing 5.2 to 5.4, 5.3-5.5 or wider ranges like 5.2-5.6. Recently I watched a video of John Palmer recorded a few months ago and he was suggesting 5.4-5.8.

Have you noticed this trend? What is your opinion on ideal range? Should the ideal PH vary by style?
Being a lighter colored beer are you making the mash more acidic than normal for the brightness?

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Old 11-09-2012, 04:34 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bigdaddybrew View Post
I like the idea of acidulated malt adding brightness/flavor as my lighter beers have been good, but not great, lacking brightness or pop sounds about right.
The 'bright flavors' come from getting the pH into the right range irrespective of how you do it. Using sauermalz instead of phosphoric, lactic, sulfuric or hydrochloric acid adds the unique flavors of sauermalz which has it's own flavor profile as does any specialty malt. As I noted in an earlier post, its flavors are quite subtle.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bigdaddybrew View Post
So I'm not arguing Beer 4 or 5 would be better. I'm just not getting the numbers I expected. When I plug the numbers for Beer 4 into Brunwater using 2.65 grams/gallon calcium Chloride, I get an estimated PH of 5.1. This seems low.
The 2.65 grams/gallon number would get you a drop of 0.3 pH relative to a distilled water mash using Kolbach's nominal number. But Kolbach's number is a nominal number for base malt only presumably lager base malt. 5.1 does seem low. It suggests that the base malt pH would be 5.4 and that's not reasonable for pale malt. We need to re-emphasize that Kolbach's number is a nominal number and that the drop actually refers to the drop in kettle pH relative to a distilled water mash. As there is usually additional pH drop in the kettle we would expect the drop in mash pH to be less than 0.3.


Quote:
Originally Posted by bigdaddybrew View Post
The ideal mash PH range varies by author and I have noticed a trend that the ideal range may be getting higher. I read older articles that suggest 5.1 to 5.3, newer articles I am seeing 5.2 to 5.4, 5.3-5.5 or wider ranges like 5.2-5.6. Recently I watched a video of John Palmer recorded a few months ago and he was suggesting 5.4-5.8.
Have you noticed this trend?
There has been a lot of confusion over this as much of the older literature (with the exception of, for example, deClerck), does not specify whether pH values are referred to room temperature or mash temperature. In the professional literature it is usually safe to assume that laboratory temperature is being used because in the days this literature was written there were no pocket pH meters. Mash and wort sample were transported to the lab for analysis and were either cool when they arrived or were cooled when they got there. Home brewers tended, conversely, to think of mash pH in terms of mash temperature. Some of us have been making a big fuss about this in the last few years pointing out that the professional literature referred to lab temp and that it is useless to say 'mash temp' unless yoy say whether that means in the cold, a beta glucan rest temp, protein rest temp... That may have had little influence but when we pointed out that measurement at mash temperatures would shorten the lives of their electrodes home brewers began to listen. I think the 'trend' you have observed may be caused by this rather than by thinking that mash pH should be higher than previously thought.


Quote:
Originally Posted by bigdaddybrew View Post
What is your opinion on ideal range?
When people ask that question I often note that I went to a 3 day conference in Belgium a few years back and the session was titled 'The pH Paradox'. The paradox is that there is no ideal pH.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bigdaddybrew View Post
Should the ideal PH vary by style?
I rather think it is like any other parameter such as mash temperature. It would probably be best to brew a particular recipe at different values of mash pH, ceteris paribus, to see whether any particular pH gives better results than others. I will say that I think the best target for the beers I brew (German and Bohemian lagers) is 5.4 - 5.5. As I don't do other styles that often I can't comment as to whether a higher pH is, for example, desirable in ales. In brewing texts you will sometimes find higher targets in German books and lower ones in British books.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bigdaddybrew View Post
Being a lighter colored beer are you making the mash more acidic than normal for the brightness?
Do I add more acid? Yes - because there is very little acid in pale malt and more external acid must be added to hit a particular pH than would be the case with a darker beer in which the dark malts supply some acid. If you are alluding to the charts, calculators and spreadsheets which indicate that a certain RA is 'required' for a beer as dictated by its color depth (SRM) try to forget that you ever saw that.
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Old 11-09-2012, 03:19 PM   #8
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Ajdelange, I have been reading various forums and finding very positive comments about using the Brunwater spreadsheet especially since the latest updates. Those comparing actual mash PH with Brunwater estimates are reporting the estimates often right on or within 1 or 2 tenths.

Do you use a spread sheet? Which one? How close is it getting to actual mash PH?

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Old 11-09-2012, 03:31 PM   #9
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Mabrungard, Thanks for weighing in. Your posts have been very helpful. Are you seeing a trend, would you say your spread sheet runs a little high or a little low when compared to actual mash PH? Does it trend differently for certain ingredients or styles?

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Old 11-09-2012, 03:46 PM   #10
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I do use a spreadsheet but I use it mostly to answer questions people ask here. In my own brewing I know from experience where the mash pH is going to fall and don't use it except when I want to know how much calcium chloride gives me a certain level of calcium and chloride. I only use it to predict mash pH occasionally because I don't have the data to model even the few malts I use and that data is very hard (lots of labor in the lab) to get.

I don't advertise this spreadsheet because I think it's a bit advanced for most just starting out in brewing water adjustment. It asks about things like what form you assume calcium carbonate is in, what the pH of the water is, what pH was used as the end point in the alkalinity titration, what you want the pH of the treated water to be, whether you want to consider the effects of ionic strength on activity coefficients, allows you to input alkalinity as alkalinity or as moles of total carbon, accepts hardness data in milliequivalents, grains per gallon, as calcium carbonate or mg/L and in return furnishes information on electrical balance, how close the water is to saturation WRT CO2 and whatever form of calcium carbonate you assumed, how much lime to try for softening, what the limiting salt in an RO system is what the osmotic pressure is and so on. There are lots more but this should be enough for you to see that it's really not for beginners.

That said, you are welcome to a copy of it if you want one.



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