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Old 09-24-2012, 06:54 AM   #31
gbx
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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. QED.
Sure, I'll concede that low ion water is key to the pilsner style as is gypsum to IPA. Maybe as a model for what ideal brewing water for the style is I can accept. As a model of why styles developed (which is what I was originally objecting) I think there would need to be some historical evidence. But Dublin and Dry Stout? Historically there is zero evidence supporting the idea that the style's evolution had anything to do with the water and mountains of evidence that it had nothing to do with the style (aside from the obvious "you can't brew a good beer of any style with ****ty water"). As a predictive model how is it of any value? If I run a "traditional" dry stout grist of pale, flaked and roast barley through Bru'n Water with the Dublin Profile, it returns a predicted mash pH of 6.0 which we know can't be right. So clearly the numbers are way off or they altered the water. But the entire association of dublin water and dry stout is because of guinness but they don't use the hard dublin water but rather soft wicklow water. Is there any way you can claim dry stout's rise as a style has anything to do with the water of dublin and that any practical predictive value can be obtained from the entire concept? To claim there is seems like some sort of circular special pleading: We know the water affected the style but since the water profile doesn't support it, the water profile must be incorrect because we know it influenced the style. The water profile is the one piece of the equation could be verified independently. If it doesn't work in the model, does it make sense to alter the profile fit the thesis or should it be counted as evidence against it?

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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.
I guess the reason I'm having trouble letting this go is it was reading your posts that lead me to this opinion. How many times have you answered questions from brewers who are having problems because they were concerned about RA and are trying to replicate classic brewing centre profiles? I was one of them! Your water primer is the best practical guide to home brewing water treatment and it doesn't really on questionable fables. Based off of your information, a superior dry stout (the quintessential dark beer) can be brewed with Pilsen water vs Dublin water. Can any beer be brewed with the levels of bicarbonate shown in the profiles without some serious adjustment? And I'm quoting How to Brew and Palmer partly because it is like the bible of homebrewing these days but mainly because it is online and easy to grab quotes from. Of the books I own, the same basic thing appears in complete form in Noonan's Lager Beer and referenced in Designing Great Beer in various chapters.


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Old 09-24-2012, 09:59 AM   #32
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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.
Much of the IPA sent out into the world came from Scotland, not Burton. Younger's IPA was as defining to the style as Bass's.

It seems that you're ignoring any bits of beer history that don't fit in with your water theory.


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Old 09-24-2012, 02:14 PM   #33
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This is a very entertaining discussion. I note a few points that need correction and explanation.

It's troubling that GBX relies so heavily on texts with very poor knowledge and understanding of brewing water and water sources. I've noted that the same mis-information gets redistributed and repeated in those texts and others. Its unfortunate that this leads to some of the discussion in this thread. As AJ pointed out, there are many water profiles quoted in various forms that are not well researched and not possible ionicly. I suggest that less reliance on those sources and a little more consideration of the profiles that are quoted in Bru'n Water. I've performed extensive research through my engineering channels to define the original sources and the chemistry that was probably their condition.

This discussion also focuses on the chicken and egg scenario of local water and beer styles. Given the unlikelihood of significant water chemistry adjustment or mineral additions a century or two ago, I feel that local water was always the prime factor that drove the evolution of beer styles. Sure, a brewer can brew a pilsner, stout, or IPA with any water source. But to brew a GREAT pilsner, stout, or IPA, the water HAS to have some characteristics that benefit the flavor and perception.

GBX and AJ do point out some inconsistency in the seeming excessive alkalinity of some profiles, particularly Dublin. Fortunately, the moderating effect of decarbonation by boiling corrects that seeming inconsistency. As long as the mashing liquor was heated sufficiently to decarbonate the water, that alkalinity is reduced significantly. That is why Bru'n Water includes 'Boiled' versions of those historic profiles. If AJ plugs in his stout grist and uses a more appropriate boiled version of a Dublin profile, the mash pH will be in a much more appropriate range.

Another thing about brewing in a place with low alkalinity. Its very difficult to brew a great stout or other beer with a more acidic grist without enough alkalinity to moderate the mash pH. Back in the days before an understanding of chemistry and having a way to adjust it, you were probably stuck with what your water would do for you. We know that adding alkalinity to low alkalinity water is a tough thing to do. Chalk doesn't work at all without proper measures and lime is tough to dose accurately. Lime certainly has been available for millenia, but I've not heard of historic brewers using it to alter water chemistry. Therefore, having a source with moderate to high alkalinity and having the ability to reduce it to a usable level to brew a great dark beer is an advantage. The brewers in Dublin and the American Midwest are 'blessed' with water like that and do create excellent dark beers. While its true that Guinness uses water from the mountains to the south of Dublin that is not as alkaline as the rest of Dublin water, the rest of Dublin does have quite alkaline water. The other breweries that don't have access to that less mineralized water that Guinness uses have always had the utility of boiling to create an ideal brewing liquor for their stouts.

I have seen resources in print and on the web that state that over 150 ppm alkalinity is needed to brew a stout and other dark beers. I cannot agree with that. Everything I have examined suggests that 150 ppm would be the highest that would ever be needed. AJ has correctly proven that some stouts can be brewed with far less. But the need for alkalinity can be further circumvented by other brewing techniques. In fact, we know that Guinness uses their 'flavor extract' to add color and flavor to their stout. This sounds a lot like the technique where the dark grains are reserved from the main mash and either steeped separately or added at the end of the mash to avoid having the main mash pH dropping too low. I would not be surprised if Guinness mashes with a primarily pale malt grist, that is well suited to the low alkalinity water of those southern mountains, and the more acidic 'flavor extract' is added to bring the flavor and color into spec for a stout. To tell you the truth, I have preferred other Irish stouts such as Murphy's over Guinness for years. I feel that Guinness is too sharp and less smooth than those other stouts. Guinness' technique may produce that result. I feel that a better stout or porter is made with the appropriate alkalinity to allow the entire grist to be mashed together. There are definite flavor benefits that I term 'smoothness' that arise from that approach. If the overall pH of the resulting beer is depressed too far because a work-around was used due to low alkalinity water, it can affect flavor and perception.

I had not heard an argument that Scotland was known for great IPA's prior to this discussion. Unless there is a locality with a high sulfate water source up there, I'm doubting that this was a 'natural' progression and creation of a similar style to IPA. More likely, it is just a copy of the successful style popularized in London and Burton with the addition of gypsum to the local water. I contend that local styles evolved somewhat to fit local water and most certainly where the local water's character meshed well with that style...great beer could be made.

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Old 09-24-2012, 02:45 PM   #34
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Surely Dublin is totally irrelevant to the argument, as Stout developed in London. And looking at the composition of modern Guinness is equally irrelevent bcecause that post-dates WW II. 19th-century Guinness was very different. London water is what you should be looking at for Stout.

Alloa and Edinburgh were two of the most important early centres for brewing IPA.

One of the large London brewers, Barclay Perkins, has water treatment details in their brewing records from the 1920's onwards. They treated the water for all their beers with one exception: the Lagers they brewed. Which implies that London really should have developed Lager brewing, rather than the styles theat did originate there, namely Porter, Stout, Pale Ale, Mild Ale and Brown Ale.

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Old 09-24-2012, 03:21 PM   #35
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Yes, do look at the Barclay data. They brought the mashing liquor to 170F and allowed to cool to appropriate mashing temp. That is all that is needed to get a portion of the alkalinity out of solution.

Indeed, stout porter was apparently developed in London. London's alkalinity does lend itself to these darker and more acidic grists. This is true whether the liquor is decarbonated fully to around 80 ppm bicarbonate or partially decarbonated to some value below its typical bicarbonate content in the 160 ppm range. With the decarbonation of the typical Dublin profile from the sources west of town, this can create a very similar brewing liquor for both places. A partial decarbonation or introduction of a dose of unboiled or less heated water could allow a brewer to target a degree of alkalinity that better suites the grist.

I agree to a point that the Dublin profile is relatively irrelevant to the brewing of stouts since its quite clear that the level of alkalinity presented in the water sources from the west of the city is far more than needed or desired to brew that style. When decarbonated, then that water is well suited to brewing a stout. So, maybe the profile has relevance, but only as a historical starting point for an untreated liquor.

Thanks for pointing out Edinburgh. Its modest sulfate content in the 140 ppm range could be quite sufficient to bring out the dryness desired in an IPA. I concur that they could have been a bellweather. I don't know about the Alloa water quality. It isn't terribly far from Edinborough, but things can change waterwise in short distance.

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Old 09-24-2012, 08:13 PM   #36
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It's troubling that GBX relies so heavily on texts with very poor knowledge and understanding of brewing water and water sources. I've noted that the same mis-information gets redistributed and repeated in those texts and others.
The 3 books I quoted (Noonan's Brewing Lager Beer, Daniels' Designing Great Beer, and Palmer's How to Brew) are highly regarded books on the subject of homebrewing. Its rare to have a discussion on water treatment or beer history where someone doesn't quote at least one of these sources or recommends listening to John Palmer's hour podcast episode on water that pretty much echos the same thing as his book.

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GBX and AJ do point out some inconsistency in the seeming excessive alkalinity of some profiles, particularly Dublin. Fortunately, the moderating effect of decarbonation by boiling corrects that seeming inconsistency. As long as the mashing liquor was heated sufficiently to decarbonate the water, that alkalinity is reduced significantly. That is why Bru'n Water includes 'Boiled' versions of those historic profiles. If AJ plugs in his stout grist and uses a more appropriate boiled version of a Dublin profile, the mash pH will be in a much more appropriate range.
Yup...i just used the Dublin (boiled) profile and its predicting 5.2pH. I brewed a dry stout with Vancouver's 3ppm bicarbonate water and had a pH in the 5.6 range http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f128/brewing-water-chemistry-primer-198460/index27.html#post3834653 ...not that it really proves or disproves anything as my tests are a long way from what anyone would call "scientific"

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I agree to a point that the Dublin profile is relatively irrelevant to the brewing of stouts since its quite clear that the level of alkalinity presented in the water sources from the west of the city is far more than needed or desired to brew that style. When decarbonated, then that water is well suited to brewing a stout. So, maybe the profile has relevance, but only as a historical starting point for an untreated liquor..
I would say the profile is irrelevant to the brewing of Stout because Guinness doesn't use Dublin's water, Murphy's and Beamish are both in Cork so its probably safe to say they don't either. If Dublin has the perfect water for dry stout, it would be purely coincidental...but if the water at all worked for brewing (boiled or unboiled), Guinness probably would have used it. Maybe there are local stout brewers in Dublin who use the water, but they are not the reason Dublin is famous world wide for stout.
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Old 09-25-2012, 12:18 PM   #37
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If we accept the assertion that Arthur Guiness used soft water from another source then that, of course, supports the model. Soft water requires some source of acid because the calcium is not there to lower pH. If you don't know about sauergut or sulfuric acid you get that acid from dark malt.

Michael Lewis, professor (emeritus) of brewing at UCD, instructed his students not to alter their brewing water as water is the brewing equivalent of terroir. Guess he is another fool that subscribes to the theory. What are the consequences of following his advice? Your beers have certain stylistic characteristics which make them uniquely yours and that is why he advocates doing this. Whatever malt, hops ... you used there is something in your entire portfolio that is uniquely yours. And that is precisely what we mean when we say that water is a major style driver. Not the only one by any means but a major one.

Iconoclasm is a fine thing as it brings into question many long held beliefs and finds their weaknesses. In this discussion we have learned, for example, that though the water used by Arthur Guiness doubtless did have a great influence on the beer he brewed it was not the water that everyone says he used with the evidence being that the water he is widely supposed to have used doesn't fit the style. Justifiably or not, Guiness is what most people still think of when they think of stout even though there are many other stouts with their own characteristics determined in large part by the characteristics of the water used to brew them. Same with Pilsner. Plznesky Prazdroj is not the only Pilsner in the world by any means. There are some brewed in Bohemia with much harder water and there are some brewed in Germany with harder waters but they are different beers. The former of these are only known to those who have traveled in Bohemia but the German ones are well known and are considered a separate (but similar) style. According to the BJCP guidelines a German Pilsner is:

"Drier and crisper than a Bohemian Pilsener with a
bitterness that tends to linger more in the aftertaste due to higher
attenuation and higher-sulfate water"

The bottom line is that style is very much an arbitrary thing. Today's Guiness is doubtless very different from the original Guiness and Guiness doesn't define stout any more though it may be a representative example of one substyle. Thus to me the whole idea of styles represents a shaky model but as there isn't really a better system it's pretty much what we are stuck with. If we decide to use that model then we have to accept that a major driver in the nature of a style (but not the sole one) is water. Actually we don't have to accept that at all. Creation 'scientists' don't accept evolution.



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