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Old 09-13-2012, 06:03 AM   #21
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Not really. Brewers could change malts, change hops, have malt and hops shipped in etc but they couldn't change their water nor have it shipped in. What makes Pilsner Urquel Pilsner Urquell is the water. What makes Export Export is the water. Brewers had to adapt to the water they had available. At Pilsen they found the best beers were made with pale malts by triple decoction mashing using an acid rest, Saazer hops, bottom fermenting yeast and lagering given the water they had available. Were they working in Dublin they would have used darker malts, an ale strain, different hops and an infusion mash because that made the best beer given the water they had.
They did change their water - they boiled to precipitate carbonate and added gypsum. And I'm not denying that certain water profiles may have been better suited for some beer styles but I don't think it really influenced the creation of the style. I don't know much about lager history but did they invent pilsner lagers or did the style rise in popularity and it just happened that it worked best with pilsen water? Burton on Trent didn't become a big brewing centre until pale ales became popular and possible due to malting advances and the water there happened to great for the style. When guinness started brewing porter in dublin, they had to brew dark beers because brown malt was all they had and everyone was brewing porter regardless of their water....and what is the water guinness uses anyways? Apparently its soft wicklow mountain water not the ridiculously high carbonate water you see in tables like this http://www.howtobrew.com/section3/chapter15-2.html
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Old 09-13-2012, 03:12 PM   #22
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They did change their water - they boiled to precipitate carbonate and added gypsum.
Ah you mean 'Burtonizing salts'. They certainly didn't add Burtonizing salts to the water at Burton. Burton water is already very gypseous. This is one of the things that makes Burton Ales what they are. The brewers that add Burtonizing salts to their water are the ones that want to brew Burton style beers but who don't have Burton-like water. The water drives the style.

It is, of course, impossible to brew beer without heating the water and therefore the decarbonation that occurs in the HLT is not, IMO, treatment of the water. At Burton they heated the water before adding the malt. This is sufficient to precipitate carbonate as Burton water obviously contains lots and lots of permanent hardness. This characteristic of Burton water is what makes Burton beers Burton beers. At least from the perspective of someone trying to brew a Burton Beer. He must add Burtonizing salts but, of course, he must also use pale ale malt, the proper crystal malts and a suitable hops cultivar.



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And I'm not denying that certain water profiles may have been better suited for some beer styles but I don't think it really influenced the creation of the style. I don't know much about lager history but did they invent pilsner lagers or .....
The city fathers of Pilsen wated a brewery that could compete with the German lager breweries and so the Burgerlisches Brauhaus was constructed starting in 1853 (?). It happens to be located over deep very soft wells. After some experimentation they discovered that the available water allowed them to brew a soft, flavorful, intensely (without harshness) bitter beer that is the basis for most of the beer drunk in the world today. They did not treat the water. They adjusted materials and techniques to fit the water they had. The water defines Pilsner Urquell and Budvar (which also has access to soft water). The other Pilsners of the region are also defined by their water which isn't so suitable for this style of beer. Ever heard of any of them? Actually some of them are quite good but not as good as PU or Budvar. The best Pilsners world wide are brewed with very soft water. This is what defines the style. Of course Pilsner wouldn't be Pilsner if it weren't brewed with decoction mashing and lager yeast and if it weren't lagered so there are other factors at play.

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...did the style rise in popularity and it just happened that it worked best with pilsen water?
Consumers loved the clean taste of the lagers and the soft water made it posssible to brew a clean, soft lager without the use of dark malts. As the Czech glass industry was developing at the time the availability of clear drinking vessels made it possible to see the beer and this gave PU with its light color a tremendous marketing advantage. You can say none of this would have happened without refrigeration, none would have happened without bottom fermenting yeast and maybe even none of this would have happened without clear glass so of course those are factors. But clear glass would have been a factor for Burton too. It would not have happened without the water as Saazer hops, which are definitetely a big part of Bohemian Pils, could not have been used. I guess we could do the chicken and egg debate here but as I am a water guy I focus on the water and it certainly is a sine qua non for many if not most styles. Thus I, and most other people I talk to about such things, consider water to be the thing that drove beer styles.

The question I answer more than any other is: 'Here's my Ward Labs report. What styles of beer can I brew?' I can usually answer that question pretty easily. The fact that people ask that question and that I am able to answer it suggests strongly that water is major factor in beer style.

But then I suppose someone could ask 'I have some Saazer hops. What styles of beer can I brew?' and again this would be easy to answer as certain styles of beer are associated with certain hop cultivars. So water is not the whole story by any means.




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Burton on Trent didn't become a big brewing centre until pale ales became popular and possible due to malting advances and the water there happened to great for the style.
It didn't become a great brewing centre until perhaps the 18th century (again no reference materials available) but brewing has been going on there since the abbey was established in 1002 and here the high sulfate levels are mainly what defines the style though the low to negative RA also meant that it was not necessary to use dark malts to obtain the pH necessary for good beers. Burton is the classic example of the style being defined by the water.

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When guinness started brewing porter in dublin, they had to brew dark beers because brown malt was all they had and everyone was brewing porter regardless of their water and what is the water guinness uses anyways? Apparently its soft wicklow mountain water not the ridiculously high carbonate water you see in tables like this http://www.howtobrew.com/section3/chapter15-2.html
I don't know but I have called BS on the commonly published Dublin water profiles as a basis for stout brewing because I have found that even a modest alkalinity cannot be overcome by the typical roast barley (10%) content of a typical dry Irish stout grain bill. So if you try to brew stout with one of those recommended profiles you come up with a stout that is not very good. It's not that the water doesn't determine style characteristics, it's that you used the wrong water and so missed the style. Again, the style is defined by the water it was made with.

The situation is, of course, changing. Today you can brew any style you want with any water supply. It is apparent that the Burton regions ales are no longer brewed with 'Burton' water as the beers have lost the minerally character that was so much a part of their character. Similarly, Exports no longer have the mineral crispness that was so much a cornerstone of that style. Even BJCP have dropped this mineral character from their guide. This is too bad in one sense as stylistic distinctions are part of what makes brewing fascinating but, OTOH, I really think beers made with low mineral content water are better. Those who feel the way I do are making beers with this soft water. Again, the character of the beer we are making, its stylistic character, is being driven by the water.
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Old 09-13-2012, 07:05 PM   #23
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It is sort of a chicken/egg argument but the original comment I was disputing was "different styles evolved largely to address the shortcomings of the local water". Clearly water is important to beer styles but if the water is the egg and everything else that influences style is the chicken (technology, available malts and hops, consumer preferences) then clearly the chicken came first. In the industrialized world, brewers would relocate to places with appropriate water for the styles that were popular and rely on shipping to get the ingredients and to export the beer to the markets (like burton and india). The style became possible and popular for other complicated reasons first, then the water was optimized and it became associated with a specific locality with that water. To talk about beer styles from before the industrial revolution is pointless as the technology and available ingredients were so limited that it was clearly more important than the water in determining the local beer.

Low gravity dry irish stout using unmalted flaked and roast barley is a post WWI invention, likely due to available ingredients of the day. Aside from the technical reasons you mentioned, I don't think it is valid to use it as an example of water profile influencing styles as guinness had been brewing porters for more than 100 years by the time of the dry stout style's creation. Prior to that it probably would have been the standard porter grist of pale, brown and black patent malts. The brewers were probably just trying to continue brewing something similar to what they had always brewed.

There are some articles here about historic water treatment: http://barclayperkins.blogspot.ca/se...er%20treatment unfortunately the units are in something like oz/barrel...maybe patto1ro will see this and comment, I'm sure he has some interesting thoughts on this.

Water is a complicated enough topic (which is why I like your water primer) without adding a bunch of myths involving classic brewing center water profiles that are either fantasy or gross oversimplifications.

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Old 09-13-2012, 11:55 PM   #24
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It is sort of a chicken/egg argument but the original comment I was disputing was "different styles evolved largely to address the shortcomings of the local water". Clearly water is important to beer styles but if the water is the egg and everything else that influences style is the chicken (technology, available malts and hops, consumer preferences) then clearly the chicken came first. In the industrialized world, brewers would relocate to places with appropriate water for the styles that were popular and rely on shipping to get the ingredients and to export the beer to the markets (like burton and india). The style became possible and popular for other complicated reasons first, then the water was optimized and it became associated with a specific locality with that water.
The only problem with that reasoning is that, AFAIK, Burton brewers did not 'optimize' the water. They took it from the well and put it in the mash tun, heated it and added the grain. Makes sense compared to the alternative: doughing in cold and then heating the mash. Given that they could make a perfectly good beer with the water they had why would they choose malt, hops yeast and process that would require water treatment? Thus it is pretty clear to me that in this case, at least, the water drove the beer. Furthermore they did not relocate to Burton - they had been brewing there since 1002. Those that built the Burton breweries knew that Burton water made good beer and so they located there. Same with Pilsen.

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To talk about beer styles from before the industrial revolution is pointless as the technology and available ingredients were so limited that it was clearly more important than the water in determining the local beer.
Then why did they locate at Burton? "Say, for what are hop yards meant / and why was Burton built on Trent?" If your thesis were correct they could have located anywhere and saved having to dig the canals, build the railroads etc. Similarly with Pilsen. It would have been un necessary to build and run the Vienna "beer train". They could have just brewed the beer at Schwechat and the Viennese would have been happy with it.

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Aside from the technical reasons you mentioned, I don't think it is valid to use it as an example of water profile influencing styles as guinness had been brewing porters for more than 100 years by the time of the dry stout style's creation.
Well the technical reasons can't be dismissed. But as I know very little about what went on at St. James gate I will not argue for Guiness as an example further.

But lets go back to Pilsen - a clear post industrial revolution example of the water driving the design of the beer. Beer had been brewed there since the 15th (?) century but the city fathers weren't interested in brewing those beers. They wanted to beat the Germans at their own game - lagers. They could, of course, have treated their water in any way they wanted to as it is so low in ion content. It's almost like RO water. They could have, for example, added Burtonizing salts, used the less expensive English hops and ale yeast strains but they didn't choose to. Rather they chose ingredients that worked well with the water they had e.g. the previously mentioned Saazer hops, lower kilned malts and a lager yeast strain. The water wasn't optimized for the style. The style was invented right there to fit the water. This was probably done elsewhere too but we know Pilsner because it was such a great success.

Obviously we can go around like this until St. Swithin's day but the discussion and thinking about it have only made it all the more clear to me that in the case of Burton and Pilsen, at least, the water was the main factor in what wound up as what we consider to be Burton and Bohemian Pilsner today. I think 'largely' is exactly the right term to use.


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.. without adding a bunch of myths involving classic brewing center water profiles that are either fantasy or gross oversimplifications.
Which parts of the Burton and Pilsen histories do you consider to be mythical? As noted I don't have access to my library at the moment so I can't come up with chapter and verse but I believe I have stated the cases at those 2 locations essentially correctly. Now I agree that the published Burton profiles may be mythical in the sense that they are not physically possible and I have no problem with cautioning brewers to take such profiles with a grain of salt. But if one is to brew a Burton style beer he'd better use a gypseous water with moderate hardness. On cannot argue much about the Pilsen profiles. If one wants to brew a Boh. Pils successfully he'd better use very soft water.
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Old 09-14-2012, 07:43 AM   #25
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Which parts of the Burton and Pilsen histories do you consider to be mythical? As noted I don't have access to my library at the moment so I can't come up with chapter and verse but I believe I have stated the cases at those 2 locations essentially correctly. Now I agree that the published Burton profiles may be mythical in the sense that they are not physically possible and I have no problem with cautioning brewers to take such profiles with a grain of salt. But if one is to brew a Burton style beer he'd better use a gypseous water with moderate hardness. On cannot argue much about the Pilsen profiles. If one wants to brew a Boh. Pils successfully he'd better use very soft water.
I think we maybe arguing different things, I don't dispute that there is right and wrong water for brewing certain beer styles, I dispute the notion that styles were invented to match a particular water profile. Part of the problem with this discussion is I know nothing about continental european beer history...but I'll speak to the UK/Irish classic city profiles from how to brew and appearing in multiple brewing books. from http://www.howtobrew.com/section3/chapter15-2.html

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London - The higher carbonate level dictated the use of more dark malts to balance the mash, but the chloride and high sodium content also smoothed the flavors out, resulting in the well-known ruby-dark porters and copper-colored pale ales.
The problem with this is those copper-coloured pale ales (bitters) are all done with burtonized water and the copper colour is often a result of E150 caramel colourant, not dark malts. And as you have pointed out the numbers don't add up.

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Edinburgh - Think of misty Scottish evenings and you think of strong Scottish ale - dark ruby highlights, a sweet malty beer with a mellow hop finish. The water is similar to London's but with a bit more bicarbonate and sulfate, making a beer that can embrace a heavier malt body while using less hops to achieve balance.
Edinburgh had multiple water sources, to put it down as one profile is a gross oversimplification. ...and despite what the marketing copy says on the back of a bottle of belhaven wee heavy, the modern idea of a scotch ale isn't really an historic style. ..or maybe it is but it certainly wasn't the only thing they brewed in edinburgh.

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Burton-on-Trent - Compared to London, the calcium and sulfate are remarkably high, but the hardness and alkalinity are balanced to nearly the degree of Pilsen. The high level of sulfate and low level of sodium produce an assertive, clean hop bitterness. Compared to the ales of London, Burton ales are paler, but much more bitter, although the bitterness is balanced by the higher alcohol and body of these ales.
As you have pointed out, the numbers don't add up. As cause precedes effect and IPA wasn't first brewed here, I think that debunks the entire "water causes style" argument for Burton and IPA. Style first, water second. Maybe the Burton water was best for the style, but it did not influence the creation of the style. ...and as you have pointed out, you can brew better tasting burton-style ales without using burton water. Maybe they just liked salty, minerally beer back in the day or maybe more evidence that the numbers in the tables isn't representative of the water that was coming out of the wells back then.

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Dublin - Famous for its stout, Dublin has the highest bicarbonate concentration of the cities of the British Isles, and Ireland embraces it with the darkest, maltiest beer in the world. The low levels of sodium, chloride and sulfate create an unobtrusive hop bitterness to properly balance all of the malt.
As you have pointed out the numbers don't add up and it isnt the right water to brew a dry stout anyways. As previously mentioned, dry stout is a modern style and guinness has been brewing dark beer since long before they had a choice (no pale malt and everyone was drinking/brewing dark porters). Style first, water second.

So that's 4 of the 8 cities listed, did they just get those wrong and nailed it on the other 4? I'm inclined to believe the entire thing is BS.
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Old 09-22-2012, 02:00 PM   #26
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Not really. Brewers could change malts, change hops, have malt and hops shipped in etc but they couldn't change their water nor have it shipped in. What makes Pilsner Urquel Pilsner Urquell is the water. What makes Export Export is the water. Brewers had to adapt to the water they had available. At Pilsen they found the best beers were made with pale malts by triple decoction mashing using an acid rest, Saazer hops, bottom fermenting yeast and lagering given the water they had available. Were they working in Dublin they would have used darker malts, an ale strain, different hops and an infusion mash because that made the best beer given the water they had.
So if water's what drives beers styles, why did IPA start in London which supposedly has rubbish water for PAle Ales? And why was Burton originally famous from sweet, dark beers if its water should have induced to brew pale, bitter beers?

Basing an analysis all around water chemistry is a very simplistic way of looking at how styles developed.
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Old 09-22-2012, 02:36 PM   #27
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Because styles evolve. What we think of as IPA today isn't what they brewed in London but rather what they brewed in Burton. Why did they move to Burton? Because Burton water makes better IPA than London water. I never tasted the London stuff, of course, but I'm guessing it's different from what came out of Burton later on. I never tasted the original Burton beers either but I dare say they had that characteristic gypseous quality. I have tasted the more recent versions of Bass. They don't have that quality. Obviously they are being brewed with mains water now (I don't think they are even brewed in Burton) rather than the traditional and Bass Ale isn't Bass Ale anymore.



Yes, of course it's a simplistic model but it is an excellent teaching tool and one that will stay in place until all the traditional styles are long forgotten. And it has a lot of validity. Those of you who can't appreciate that are free to use your own models.

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Old 09-23-2012, 08:11 AM   #28
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I don't understand how it could have value as a teaching tool aside from serving as an example of how so much that has been written in homebrew books on the subject of water treatment and beer history is incorrect. It isn't "a simplistic model", its an incorrect model. There is more to the profiles than just the Cl:SO4 ratio, How to Brew uses it to support the concept of residual alkalinity but the numbers in the water profiles are questionable if not outright wrong and often don't match the style they purportedly are necessary for (which often are questionable styles to associate with the city). How much of the theory that "water is responsible for beer styles" has to be demonstrated as false before the entire concept is abandoned?

For the theory to be true:
1. The style must originate in the classic brewing city its associated with.
2. The style must originate as a response to the water profile, not other microbiological, technological, economic or cultural reasons
3. The water profile must be plausible - is there evidence that this is/was actually the water profile for the city?
4. The alleged water profile of the city must be appropriate for the style.

If anyone one of these is demonstrated to be false, the entire premise falls. Do you disagree with this assessment? Have you seen any beer style/brewing city profiles that stand up? Definitely none of the UK profiles do.

…and the evolution of beer styles…I guess there should be a 5th point: Is what we are considering as our example of the classic style representative of what it was at the time of its creation. It definitely isn't true for Dublin and Stout. I doubt what we on the west coast consider IPA these days (bong water with cat piss proprietary hop blends) is at all representative of what was brewed in Burton in the 1800's and what they call an IPA in England the enlightened BJCP disciple would probably call a bitter.

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Old 09-23-2012, 02:17 PM   #29
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I don't understand how it could have value as a teaching tool...
Apparently not.

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....aside from serving as an example of how so much that has been written in homebrew books on the subject of water treatment and beer history is incorrect.
There are lots and lots of errors in home brewing books especially on water but that really has nothing to do with whether the model is incorrect or not. Models aren't incorrect or not- they are all incorrect to some extent - their value derives from whether they are applicable or not.

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It isn't "a simplistic model", its an incorrect model.
No it isn't. I have previously in this discourse cited several examples of cases where the model and data fit. There is probably a case where it doesn't fit but I haven't found it yet. Maybe something like a Gose which I'd guess derives its nature from added salt - not that the water it was brewed from is naturally salty.


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There is more to the profiles than just the Cl:SO4 ratio, How to Brew uses it to support the concept of residual alkalinity but the numbers in the water profiles are questionable if not outright wrong and often don't match the style they purportedly are necessary for (which often are questionable styles to associate with the city). How much of the theory that "water is responsible for beer styles" has to be demonstrated as false before the entire concept is abandoned?
The examples you cite (I guess you don't like Palmer's approach and there are errors in it) don't disprove the model. They prove that people can and do make mistakes which result in misapplication of the model. Apparently you don't have much experience with modeling - of course most people don't. If I say there is a duality between energy and matter given by E = m*c that doesn't mean there isn't a duality between mass and energy. It means I have bobbled the expression of what that duality is. Similarly if Palmer publishes a gypseous profile for Burton water that is electrically imbalanced it doesn't mean that Burton water isn't gypseous. It means that Palmer mis-stated the details of Burton water.


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For the theory to be true:
1. The style must originate in the classic brewing city its associated with.
Who ever said that? As I pointed out in my last post what we think of as IPA is definitely a Burton style beer though it was originally brewed in London.

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2. The style must originate as a response to the water profile, not other microbiological, technological, economic or cultural reasons
No, the model does not say that technology etc. aren't factors but only that water was a major factor - the one over which the brewer had least control. Thus the style is largely in response to the water. I weary of explaining this over and over but Pilsner beer, while it would not be Pilsner beer without decoction mashing, wouldn't be Pilsner beer without Pilsen water. And the same for Export, Dunkles, IPA etc.

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3. The water profile must be plausible - is there evidence that this is/was actually the water profile for the city?
Yes, of course. When I teach this I don't tell the students that Pilsner beer is what it is because of the nature of its water and that its water is carbonaceous. As noted above, even if I did that it would not invalidate the statement that Pilsner beer is what it is because of the nature of its water. The fact that someone else may misstate what the nature of Pilsen water neither invalidates the model or my teaching of it.



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4. The alleged water profile of the city must be appropriate for the style.
The alleged water profile as treated by the brewery(ies) with which the style is associated must be appropriate for the style.

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If anyone one of these is demonstrated to be false, the entire premise falls. Do you disagree with this assessment?
Yes, most of it as noted above. Also, as noted above, you are apparently unfamiliar with the concept of modeling. A model is a device, physical, mental, computer code... that is used to explain some aspect of the real world when it is impractical or impossible to directly observe the actual world. A common application in brewing is estimation of the mash pH given grist bill and water characteristics. The details of the chemistry are intricate and nobody really cares about them. All the brewer wants to know is if the pH of his mash will be correct. So all that chemistry modeled by gross simplifications that fit into a modest size spreadsheet. It's been interesting to watch the progression in these. They now actually come pretty close to actual mash tun pH's though they are laden with errors, do not consider things like ionic strength etc. The fact that they make these errors, the fact that a guy may have put in the wrong pK for dibasic phosphate ion, the fact that they model malt buffering as a linear function of pH when it is not in no way invalidate the utility of these spreadsheets because they lend valuable information to the brewer.


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Have you seen any beer style/brewing city profiles that stand up? Definitely none of the UK profiles do.
Pilsen, Dortmund, Munich, Ceske Budejovice, Burton, Dublin...

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…and the evolution of beer styles…I guess there should be a 5th point: Is what we are considering as our example of the classic style representative of what it was at the time of its creation.
That is an important point and one I think you misunderstand. Styles definitely evolve. Most of the beer brewed in America in the period after prohibition and before the brewing revolution were 'Pilsners' and they were, from what very little of what I can remember from those long ago days they did resemble Pilsner beer to some extent - i.e. malty, bitter, dark in color but as time passed they became paler, less bitter, less malty as more and more adjunct was added. So what is Pilsner beer today? That depends on whom you ask. To me it is what came from the Ur Quell and that is what is described in the style guidelines - not Bud Light. With IPA the story is essentially the same but in this case IPA is defined not by the Urquell but by the version of it brewed in Burton as that it is from Burton that the world got IPA - not London even though it may have been brewed there first. Therefore, it is not London water that defines what we call English IPA but rather Burton water. Now just as there is Urquell Pils, German Pils, American Pils there is American IPA which bears little resemblance to the defining IPA. And no one would suggest that American Pils or American IPA are other than superficially similar. Yet they are both derivative.

The water of Pilsner was a major driver in Pilsner Urquell and therefore in its derivatives. The water of Burton was a major driver in IPA and therefore its derivatives. The water of Dublin (even if it's not the water quoted in a particular book) was a major driver behind Stout and threfore all its derivatives. QED.


I find your arguments most unconvincing and I'm sure you feel the same way about mine so let's quit wasting our time. I'm sure readers here (if any) have seen enough point and counterpoint to form their own opinions.
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Old 09-23-2012, 05:19 PM   #30
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The water of Pilsner was a major driver in Pilsner Urquell and therefore in its derivatives. The water of Burton was a major driver in IPA and therefore its derivatives. The water of Dublin (even if it's not the water quoted in a particular book) was a major driver behind Stout and threfore all its derivatives.
It was malting technology that was the real key to Pilsner Urquell.

And Stout was a style that originated and was defined by London, not Dublin. It was old hat by the time Guinness came around.

Mild Ale - which water defined that?
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