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Old 06-01-2012, 12:28 AM   #381
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Guys: I wanted to bounce another thing off of you. AJ, earlier in this thread you mentioned that using soft water (RO or distilled) with very few additions seemed to be giving you the best beer (I'm paraphrasing and feel free to put me back on track if I've mispoken). In the December 2011 issue of BYO, there are some recipes for award winning lagers. In one (a Helles), the brewer scored a 46. The beer was pilsner malt, Munich and melanoidin, Herbsrucker hops and 833 Southern German Lager yeast. What got me was what he did with his water. He used all RO water and added 3g of gypsum, 9g of CaCl and 9g of chalk (calcium carbonate) to the mash (3.5 gals of water). The sparge was all RO with no additions except to get the pH right with lactic acid. His final numbers seem to be in line (RA of -26, pH would be acceptable for beers in the 3-8 SRM range, Cl:SO4 ratio was 2.59 [very malty but still reasonable] and his Ca was 223, Cl 143, SO4 55 and alkalinity was 146). My point is that the additions seem extreme to me especially when reading how you seem to be using softer water with fewer additions. Thoughts?

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Old 06-01-2012, 12:43 AM   #382
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I have been brewing with distilled water bought from the grocery store with minimal salt additions since the lager lecture/tasting AJ did at the BURP meeting earlier this year. Tasting the difference between AJ's beers brewed this way and Mad Fox's brewed with Washington Aqueduct water convinced me to do this.

Last brew I took it to an extreme. Brewed an American Brown ale, 26 SRM, and went with distilled water plus minimal salts route. I added the dark grains (chocolate and C120) during the last 15 minutes of the mash. My logic was that conversion would be pretty much over by then so if the mash pH dropped the impact on the conversion would be minimal. I'm also thinking that the reduced time the dark grains spent at high temperatures will result in a smoother tasting beer; we'll see in about a month.

Interesting thing is that I monitored pH throughout the mash with test strips and the pH didn't change after I added the dark grains. It could be that the test strips just don't have the accuracy to detect that small of a change.

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Old 06-01-2012, 03:41 AM   #383
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Originally Posted by kenlenard View Post
... BYO, there are some recipes for award winning lagers. In one (a Helles), the brewer scored a 46. The beer was pilsner malt, Munich and melanoidin, Herbsrucker hops and 833 Southern German Lager yeast. What got me was what he did with his water. He used all RO water and added 3g of gypsum, 9g of CaCl and 9g of chalk (calcium carbonate) to the mash (3.5 gals of water)... Ca was 223, Cl 143, SO4 55 and alkalinity was 146). ... Thoughts?
My first thought is that the indicated additions and the calculated ion concentrations are way out of whack. Just the calcium chloride (depending on what form he added) and gypsum in 3.5 gal of RO water would result in chloride of 434 mg/L and sulfate of 126 with calcium at 298. Adding the chalk would increase the calcium to as much as 576 if enough acid were added or present (not likely) to dissolve it all. The potential alkalinity in that much chalk is 640 ppm as CaCO3. So clearly someone doesn't know what he is talking about or is having us on or something of the sort. Everyone who knows anything about brewing water knows that Helles came into existence when the Munich brewers figured out how to soften the water and that Helles is a soft water - delicate beer. You do not make Helles by adding a ton of minerals to soft water. Based on everything I know a beer made as described here would be awful. That level of sulfate would be ruinous with the proper noble hops for a Helles. That level of chloride would produce a 'pasty' taste to the beer and that level of alkalinity would prevent malt enzymes from doing their jobs.

So I suspect the whole thing is someone's idea of a joke. Or that the judging panel was really incompetent. Of course I haven't tasted the beer. I think I know what it would taste like but I wouldn't really know until I actually did.
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Old 06-01-2012, 03:50 AM   #384
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How is excessive/appropriate being defined here?
Excessive would be defined as any level that resulted in a mash pH outside of the desired range or that pulled kettle pH high or that allowed runoff pH to go too high.

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My tap water has 177ppm CaCO3; and without dilution, trying to get my pH down with gypsum is getting my sulfates pretty high.
Yes, calcium is not very effective at offsetting alkalinity as it takes 3.5 equivalents of calcium to 'neutralize' 1 equivalent of alkalinity.

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Am I better off diluting to cut the alkalinity prior to any other adjustments?
That's the basic idea behind the Primer. Dilute enough to get the alkalinity under control then adjust the other ions to compensate for the fact that they got diluted too.
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Old 06-01-2012, 05:10 AM   #385
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Thanks AJ, as always.

When is the book coming out?

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Old 06-01-2012, 11:00 AM   #386
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The only word I have is that it is postponed for about a year. It was originally hoped that it would be ready for the AHA conference this year.

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Old 06-01-2012, 12:16 PM   #387
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My first thought is that the indicated additions and the calculated ion concentrations are way out of whack. Just the calcium chloride (depending on what form he added) and gypsum in 3.5 gal of RO water would result in chloride of 434 mg/L and sulfate of 126 with calcium at 298. Adding the chalk would increase the calcium to as much as 576 if enough acid were added or present (not likely) to dissolve it all. The potential alkalinity in that much chalk is 640 ppm as CaCO3. So clearly someone doesn't know what he is talking about or is having us on or something of the sort. Everyone who knows anything about brewing water knows that Helles came into existence when the Munich brewers figured out how to soften the water and that Helles is a soft water - delicate beer. You do not make Helles by adding a ton of minerals to soft water. Based on everything I know a beer made as described here would be awful. That level of sulfate would be ruinous with the proper noble hops for a Helles. That level of chloride would produce a 'pasty' taste to the beer and that level of alkalinity would prevent malt enzymes from doing their jobs.

So I suspect the whole thing is someone's idea of a joke. Or that the judging panel was really incompetent. Of course I haven't tasted the beer. I think I know what it would taste like but I wouldn't really know until I actually did.
I was thinking along the same lines when I first read the recipe and what the brewer did with the water. If this were something I found on a forum someplace, I would have just shook my head and moved on. But this was a published recipe in BYO with the idea that this was an award-winning beer. Btw, those numbers I posted were overall numbers that *I* entered into EZ_Water just to see what all of those additions came to and I assumed 8 gallons of water total (3.5 gallons mash, 4.5 gallons sparge). You're right that the mash numbers would've been way higher. I was talking with some other brewers who had mentioned that Helles came about to compete with the popularity of Czech Pilsner but that German brewers couldn't figure out how to make it with their water so they just hopped it lower. Bicarbonate levels in Munich are higher so maybe the brewer was attempting to boost the all-RO water to get closer to Munich. I appreciate the response & cheers to you.
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Old 06-01-2012, 12:59 PM   #388
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I was talking with some other brewers who had mentioned that Helles came about to compete with the popularity of Czech Pilsner but that German brewers couldn't figure out how to make it with their water so they just hopped it lower. Bicarbonate levels in Munich are higher so maybe the brewer was attempting to boost the all-RO water to get closer to Munich.
The first thing you would do in brewing a Helles with Munich water is remove the bicarbonate (alkalinity). This could potentially be done by no more complex a process than heating the water in an HLT prior to mashing. It that wasn't sufficient then lime treatment could be used (and would be preferable from the energy consumption standpoint) to get the alkalinity down to around 50 ppm as CaCO3.

Cheers.
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Old 06-01-2012, 01:02 PM   #389
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The first thing you would do in brewing a Helles with Munich water is remove the bicarbonate (alkalinity). This could potentially be done by no more complex a process than heating the water in an HLT prior to mashing. It that wasn't sufficient then lime treatment could be used (and would be preferable from the energy consumption standpoint) to get the alkalinity down to around 50 ppm as CaCO3.

Cheers.
Yep. If I've learned anything it's that pale-colored beers are better with lower bicarbonate and sulfate levels. Cheers.
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Old 06-14-2012, 03:12 PM   #390
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I'm appreciative of this thread but am still a bit overwhelmed by it. I'm confused by the baseline. Some of the styles listed after it include baseline additions and some don't. I believe the IPA says to double the gypsum but there is none in the baseline. Should I use the Hefe style for wheat also?

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