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Old 06-29-2012, 07:05 PM   #1
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Default Oktoberfest Water Numbers

I'm brewing an Oktoberfest next week, and have fairly soft water so planning on using 100% distilled and adjusting the water up to the proper chemical levels per the EZ_water_calculator.

The recipe calls for:
5 lbs of Pils malt
5 lbs of Munich
1 lb of Munich Dark
0.5 lbs of Caramunich 46 SRM
and I am adding one ounce of Chocolate malt to up the color a little.

Mash and mash out calls for 6.61 gallons. Sparge is 2.53 gallons.

Right now my salt additions are:
Calcium Chloride 7 grams mash, 2.7 sparge
Epson Salt 4 and 1.5
Baking Soda 2 and 0

This gives me final numbers of:
PH 5.52
Effective Alkalinity 48
Residential Alkalinity -16
Calcium 76
Magnesium 15
Sodium 16
Chloride 135
Sulfate 62
Chloride to Sulfate Ratio: 2.17

Long story short, does that look like good numbers for brewing an Oktoberfest?

Listened to the Brewing Network show on the style and they recommended no gypsum, calcium level between 50-100 and low sulfate. They also said the water should be medium carbonate between 150-300, how do you determine that?

Any help would be greatly appreciated!

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Old 06-29-2012, 07:52 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by jdauria View Post
I'm brewing an Oktoberfest next week, and have fairly soft water
Actually, very soft water makes a very nice O'fest. Just add enough CaCl2 to get the calcium to around 35 mg/L.

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...so planning on using 100% distilled and adjusting the water up to the proper chemical levels per the EZ_water_calculator.
That works too. Again, add enough CaCl2 to get to about 35 mg/L. Don't add any CaSO4.

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Originally Posted by jdauria View Post
The recipe calls for:
5 lbs of Pils malt
5 lbs of Munich
1 lb of Munich Dark
0.5 lbs of Caramunich 46 SRM
and I am adding one ounce of Chocolate malt to up the color a little.
You should have plenty of color without the chocolate malt. If you want more I'd use a bit of Sinamar in preference to black malt.

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Right now my salt additions are:
Calcium Chloride 7 grams mash, 2.7 sparge
Epson Salt 4 and 1.5
Baking Soda 2 and 0
Skip the baking soda. It will only add alkalinity which will pull the mash pH high. You will need to pull the pH low with some sauermalz. It is best to check mash pH where colored malts are used. It may also be wise to do a test mash prior to brew day to see how much acid malt you will need. Probably 2% of grist.


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Originally Posted by jdauria View Post
Listened to the Brewing Network show on the style and they recommended no gypsum, calcium level between 50-100 and low sulfate.
That's all spot on.

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Originally Posted by jdauria View Post
They also said the water should be medium carbonate between 150-300, how do you determine that?
John Palmer used to advocate alkalinity levels determined by the color of the beer. This level of alkalinity would not be beneficial to the beer at all. It would pull mash pH high and you will need (most probably) to pull it lower. You do not need that level of alkalinity for this grain bill in all probability but as malts vary in acid content and you are using Munich I and II there is a chance that you may need some. There is a greater chance that you will need sauermalz.
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Old 06-29-2012, 07:54 PM   #3
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Your mash water seems too much, 4.25 gal for 11.5625# of grain gives 1.47 qt/lb.

I'd do 0.60 grams of CaCl2 for each gallon of water you prepare. End water profile with 100% distilled water:

Ca: 43 ppm
Mg: 0 ppm
Na: 0 ppm
Cl: 76 ppm
SO4: 0 ppm

You would need from 0 - 2 oz of acid malt added to your mash, probably would do 0 oz and check pH with an accurate and calibrated meter if possible.

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Old 06-29-2012, 09:38 PM   #4
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Thanks for the info! I am still clueless on water chemistry! Use the EZ_water spreadsheet and just adjust everything until all numbers in the suggested range and ratio is right for style!

I do have a mash ratio of 1.5 qt. per gallon, which is around 4.75 gallons...then a mash out too. I usually start my boil at 7.5-8 gallons due to my boil off and cooling loss experience. Need a PH meter, that's my next buy.

Now if I can get some yeast! Using White Labs 833, German Bock...just got 2 vials at brew shop, got home and realized it's 3 months old and only has a 29% viability per Mr. Malty. So much for starter starting today, need 3 more vials (for 2L starter) per Jamil's site! Will have to go back tomorrow and see what they have left!

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Old 09-26-2014, 02:00 PM   #5
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I'm brewing this style soon as well and planning things out. Just started reading the recent "Water" book (nice forward AJ!) but won't be finished with it before planned brew day so searching here for info on building my own water. I have terrible water in FL, and have an RO system and test report on it. I have seen comments about carbonate levels, but is my understanding that it only makes it more difficult to properly acidify the mash (more acidulated malt or straight acid additions needed), so why add any at all? My RO water is very low in Carbonates, as should be expected. Recent "style guideline" article in BYO also advocates adding chalk to the mash 1 tsp per 5 gallons if memory serves. For folks with RO water this seems like its going to be more a hindrance than help. Also, I note the value of 35mg/L Aj recommended for Ca level. I have thought to shoot for 50 minimum.

I think I'll fiddle a bit with my the water preparation tool I like best and see where that gets me, with just using CaCl2 to get me to 35 mg/L calcium. I know that it is going to warn me that 50 is a better place to be. The rest of the levels are all going to be pretty close to zero except the Cl of course. Just wondering why AJ recommends only 35? To keep the CL down and the SO near zero is my guess.

Anyways, thanks for any help offered. By the way to the OP, what did you end up doing and how did it turn out?

TD

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Old 09-26-2014, 04:49 PM   #6
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The problem is that brewers look at the water profiles from those historic brewing cities like Munich and think that this is the profile needed to brew styles that originated in that location. They don't understand that the brewers actually did a number of things to the water and their process to correct or overcome the raw water. You can read about what Munich brewers did to their water in the article on Bavarian water in Zymurgy.

With that said, there is no reason to add alkalinity to a O'fest mash water. The take away message is that low mineralization and low alkalinity are what the treated Munich water actually was for most brewing. Starting with RO water or distilled water and adding a bit of calcium chloride and maybe a touch of gypsum is all you need. There is a chance that a bit of acid will also be needed in the mash. That will put your water in the right ballpark to allow your brewing to create a great beer!

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Old 09-26-2014, 05:10 PM   #7
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Just wondering why AJ recommends only 35? To keep the CL down and the SO near zero is my guess.
Munich water is, after decarbonation, pretty much devoid of anything so my argument would be that you would want to brew a Munich beer with pretty soft water. I found by experimenting (with the experiments motivated by the desire to avoid any further experience with the biological forms of calcium oxalate) with higher levels of calcium chloride that what one would find in, for example, Plzen water, that the extra chloride benefited the beer and so began experimenting with CaCl2 additions that led to well less than 50 mg/L Ca++ but appreciably more than Plzen levels.

Roger the SO4 comment. We usually make these beers with noble hops and so want as low a sulfate level as we can get.
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Old 09-26-2014, 07:36 PM   #8
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Wow. Two experts both in agreement! Appreciate the advice. AJ, you'll have to read about how you can acidify your own biological calcium oxalate solution to limit precipitation! No fun I'm sure!
That said, looks like I'm going to use just enough CaCl2 to get my Ca to 35 as advised. I'll make up any necessary pH with some acid malt and/or phosphoric acid guided by Martin's spreadsheet.


As an aside, I had been planning to make a concentrated wort boiled then diluted to working strength for two beers and brew to a lower IBU than desired for the Oktoberfest half, making up the IBUs with Isomerized Alpha Hop Extract after fermentation. Reason was that the other beer half was for a sour beer and IBUs too high. Ultimately, I decided against that, and going to brew same wort, but do separate boils instead - My HLT gets to grow up and do double duty that day.

So my question then as regards this plan, when adding water to the two beers at two points: one is after the mash, water added in the boil kettle, the other is in the fermenter (to adjust % ABV and avoid having boilovers), should I treat ALL this pre-fermentation water in the same manner as the mash water? I'm thinking the answer is of course yes.

Thanks! You guys are a great.

TD

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Old 09-26-2014, 08:11 PM   #9
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I think doing all the water the same way is the easiest but you don't have to do that if you want to try to keep track of ion concentrations in the finished wort. I doubt this is worth doing as your response to flavor ions is probably, as is the case with most perceptions, governed by geometric rather than arithmetic relationships i.e. the JND (just noticeable difference) is probably based on percentages for example a doubling of sulfate content rather than an increase of, say, 50 mg/L.

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Old 09-26-2014, 10:06 PM   #10
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I found by experimenting (with the experiments motivated by the desire to avoid any further experience with the biological forms of calcium oxalate) .
AJ, I enjoyed the fact that you made this response to TrickyDick! That is a compounded message!
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