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Old 04-27-2011, 01:20 AM   #1
michaeltrego
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Default Building Pilsner Water

I just received my Ward Labs report, and will be attempting to refine my brewing water for the first time on the next batch. Here is the report:

pH 7.4
Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) Est 145
Electrical Conductivity, mmho/cm 0.24
Cations / Anions, me/L 1.7 / 1.7
Sodium, Na 31
Potassium, K 1
Calcium, Ca 6
Magnesium, Mg < 1
Total Hardness, CaCO3 19
Nitrate, NO3-N 0.5 (SAFE)
Sulfate, SO4-S 3
Chloride, Cl 25
Carbonate, CO3 < 1
Bicarbonate, HCO3 46
Total Alkalinity, CaCO3 38

Pretty soft water, right? I don't have a pH meter (next toy on the list), but I have read AJ's water chemistry primer and many threads on other folks' water additions, as well as a variety of water calculators. I'm brewing a Czech pilsner. Assuming I should strive for a mash pH between 5.3-5.5, minimum Ca around 50, Mg around 5, and SO4/Cl ratio around 1.3 (balanced).

I have plugged my numbers into Martin's Bru'n water spreadsheet. Grist: 14 lb Pilsner malt, 2 lb Munich, and 2 lb Cara Foam -- and 7 gallons of mash water (step infusion). With the addition of .33 g/gal Gypsum, .2 g/gal Epsom Salt and .33 g/gal Calcium Chloride -- this will get the mash to 5.3 pH and an adjusted water profile of:

Calcium, Ca 50
Magnesium, Mg 5.7
Sodium, Na 31
Sulfate, SO4-S 78.3
Chloride, Cl 67.1
Cations / Anions, me/L 4.3 / 4.3
Bicarbonate, HCO3 46
Total Hardness, CaCO3 149
Total Alkalinity, CaCO3 38
RA -1
SO4/Cl ratio 1.2

It seems like I am adding a lot of salts to get the desired minimum values of Ca and Mg, and still maintain balance across the other areas. It also seems like I am diverging away from the "classic" Pilsner water. Am I in the right ballpark?

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Old 04-27-2011, 01:24 AM   #2
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I wouldn't use any salts I don't think. Certainly not gypsum or mag sulfate. I'd love to have water like yours!

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Old 04-27-2011, 01:40 AM   #3
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I wouldn't use any salts I don't think. Certainly not gypsum or mag sulfate. I'd love to have water like yours!
Thanks for the quick reply Yoop -- up until now I have made good beer with the base water and no additions, so that is definitely an option -- just stay the current course.

But I shouldn't be concerned with the low Ca and Mg? And with the base water, the calculator estimates a mash pH of 5.6.
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Old 04-27-2011, 01:43 AM   #4
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For a 12 gallon batch, I add about 1/2 tsp of cacl to the mash when I dough in. You won't need any minerals for the rest of the brew day. Just use your water as is for everything on a pils.

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Old 04-27-2011, 02:39 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by michaeltrego View Post
Thanks for the quick reply Yoop -- up until now I have made good beer with the base water and no additions, so that is definitely an option -- just stay the current course.

But I shouldn't be concerned with the low Ca and Mg? And with the base water, the calculator estimates a mash pH of 5.6.

At 50ppm I wouldn't call the Ca+ low for a pilsner and all you need is a tiny amount of Magnesium. For that you are fine. However, I would suggest using a little more Calcium chloride and a little less Calcium Sulphate to get the SO4 down a bit.
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Old 04-27-2011, 03:12 AM   #6
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At 50ppm I wouldn't call the Ca+ low for a pilsner and all you need is a tiny amount of Magnesium. For that you are fine. However, I would suggest using a little more Calcium chloride and a little less Calcium Sulphate to get the SO4 down a bit.
Sorry I meant that the Ca is low on my base water, when comparing it to the general guideline of "at least 50". But when comparing it to the classic Pilsner profile, it is spot on. Thus my quandary.
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Old 04-27-2011, 04:18 AM   #7
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Boh Pils is brewed with pretty soft (i.e. low mineral content) water. I would cut the water you have 2+1 with RO water to drop the alkalinity and sodium down to about 10 for each and the chloride down to about 23 and then add perhaps half a teaspoonful of calcium chloride to get the calcium back up a bit. It doesn't have to be as high as 50. Budvar and PU are not made with calcium that high and your pils doesn't need to be that high either.

Be sure to use 3% sauermalz to set mash pH to about 5.4. Forget about sulfate chloride ratio. For Boh. Pils the proper ratio is 0 i.e. as little sulfate as possible so definitely don't add gypsum. Also don't worry about magnesium. Your malt will give you about 500 mg/L.

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Old 04-27-2011, 01:36 PM   #8
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Thanks for the feedback AJ and all - very helpful. I'll give it a shot next weekend, and unfortunately the final results will require a couple of months of patience...as always.

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Old 05-11-2011, 03:21 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ajdelange View Post
Boh Pils is brewed with pretty soft (i.e. low mineral content) water. I would cut the water you have 2+1 with RO water to drop the alkalinity and sodium down to about 10 for each and the chloride down to about 23 and then add perhaps half a teaspoonful of calcium chloride to get the calcium back up a bit. It doesn't have to be as high as 50. Budvar and PU are not made with calcium that high and your pils doesn't need to be that high either.

Be sure to use 3% sauermalz to set mash pH to about 5.4. Forget about sulfate chloride ratio. For Boh. Pils the proper ratio is 0 i.e. as little sulfate as possible so definitely don't add gypsum. Also don't worry about magnesium. Your malt will give you about 500 mg/L.
I'm brewing a Boh Pils this weekend and was looking at the '97 Brew America 'Lager Beer' lecture slides on wetnewf and it says the final pH of PU is 4.6. IMLE, if I have a mash pH of 5.4 I'll have a final beer pH lower than 4.6 (probably closer to 4.3). It seems almost all of my beers, since I've been actually measuring them that is, end up on the low side for final beer pH. I can only think of one that ended higher than 4.5 and it was an Imperial Pils @ 4.7. As a result I almost never shoot for a mash pH even as low as 5.4, usually 5.5 (which means a calculator should say 5.3...because my mash is almost always ~.2 higher than calculators predict).

Any ideas on how to get a higher final beer pH while still getting good mash pH? Or why my final pH's seem a bit low? It could always be contamination but it's quite consistent over a number of batches and it doesn't get worse over time.

I did notice once I started using Martin's calculator that if I pay closer attention to the net mash acidity (instead of predicted mash pH) that I'm much less likely to over-acidify my mash (wrt final beer pH, I've never had a mash pH as low as 5.3). I found that just looking at a predicted mash pH it was easy to go too far. It seems once you get down to 5.3 or so, you can keep acidifying the mash and pH doesn't drop much if at all.
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Old 05-11-2011, 03:50 PM   #10
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The mashing pH results from all the beta testers for Bru'n Water showed a distinct resistance to pH drop when the net mash acidity gets high. There is a relatively linear range between roughly 5.8 and 5.25 where pH and net mash acidity correlate well, but that goes out the window as the acidity gets high. I attribute that to the phosphate buffer system inherent in the mash. Assuming that the net mash acidity is due to either decreasing Residual Alkalinity or to increasing grain acidity and not to a direct acid addition (including acid malt), then the premise holds. pH will generally not fall below about 5.1 and it takes an effort to get it to drop to 5.2 or less.

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