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Old 10-25-2012, 09:53 PM   #1
jbock220
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Default Water Treatment Contradictions and Clarification

So I'd planned to do my first German Pilsner. I based much of it on a BYO American Pilsner article. Part of which said..."For 15 gallons (58 L) of distilled water or water purified by reverse osmosis (RO), adding 3.0–4.5 teaspoons of calcium chloride or gypsum will get you in the target range." It also said..."For a 5-gallon (19-L) batch, about 1/4–1/2 tsp of calcium chloride or gypsum during the boil is sufficient." I'd planned to do a 10 gal batch, meaning 2tsp at mash and 1tsp at boil. No problem...

So I go to my local water store to get my water on brew-day and see their chart saying "Purified RO water pH 4.0.", trusting the BYO article I don't think much of it (my memory is terrible and it doesn't register that I may be lowering my pH). I go ahead and stick to the plan and brew... Now, the wort tastes good, but the water felt very soft on the palate. I think, I better look into this more. And today I read this from Brewsmith... "Three salt: Gypsum (CaSO4), Epsom Salt (MgSO4) and Calcium Chloride (CaCl) can be added to lower your pH." I realize my water should finish at 5.2ish. I wouldn't want to lower my pH from 4.0, I'd want to raise it. Something isn't jiving.

Which leads to my next question...Can I adjust my water after the beer is ready to drink to find the balance/crispiness I am looking for? (I DO NOT want a Czech Pils)

Recipe: 10 gallon batch
11# pilsner malt
1# wheat malt
1# vienna
(4)oz. Hallertau - 25 min.
(1)oz. Tettnanger - 1 min.
90 min. boil
Single Infusion Mash 152d
OG was 4pts low at 1.044 (target 1.048)
Mash went a little long and had some trouble sparging, also my grain was milled a week and a half before brewday (don't get me started on my LHBS).
Split into (2) 5gl WLP830/Wyeast 2007 (1gal starters each)

Any help is appreciated.
Thanks

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Old 10-26-2012, 03:37 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by jbock220 View Post
So I'd planned to do my first German Pilsner. I based much of it on a BYO American Pilsner article. Part of which said..."For 15 gallons (58 L) of distilled water or water purified by reverse osmosis (RO), adding 3.0–4.5 teaspoons of calcium chloride or gypsum will get you in the target range."
It will make a big difference whether you use calcium chloride or gypsum. The calcium chloride will give a pretty good beer but the gypsum probably won't as sulfate and the noble hops used in Pils don't seem to mix.

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It also said..."For a 5-gallon (19-L) batch, about 1/4–1/2 tsp of calcium chloride or gypsum during the boil is sufficient."
Sufficient for what? What's the point of adding more calcium to the kettle. You already have plenty.



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So I go to my local water store to get my water on brew-day and see their chart saying "Purified RO water pH 4.0."
It can't be terribly pure if it has a pH that low. There is 0.1 mEql/L hydrogen ions in it and they had to come from somewhere so there is 0.1 mEq/L cation of some acid as well. I suspect that number. Most low ion content waters have a pH in the high 5's or low 6's. pH 4 just doesn't sound right.

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Originally Posted by jbock220 View Post
trusting the BYO article I don't think much of it (my memory is terrible and it doesn't register that I may be lowering my pH). I go ahead and stick to the plan and brew... Now, the wort tastes good, but the water felt very soft on the palate.
That is something many Pilsner brewers strive for in the beer and get it by using water that tastes that way. It is why we use RO water supplemented with minimal calcium - and not the sulfate.

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Originally Posted by jbock220 View Post
I think, I better look into this more. And today I read this from Brewsmith... "Three salt: Gypsum (CaSO4), Epsom Salt (MgSO4) and Calcium Chloride (CaCl) can be added to lower your pH."
Magnesium is a poor choice for pH reduction as it is only half as effective at lowering mash pH (per equivalent) as calcium and is considered flavor negative by most drinkers.

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Originally Posted by jbock220 View Post
I realize my water should finish at 5.2ish. I wouldn't want to lower my pH from 4.0, I'd want to raise it. Something isn't jiving.
What doesn't jive (to me) is the pH 4 value for the 'purified' water. But taking that as written for the moment the actual pH of the water has very little to do with the pH of the mash. What does effect it is the buffering capacity of the water as expressed by it's acidity in this case as its alkalinity is negative given that its pH is less than 4.5. Assuming that the acid in the water is a strong acid only about 0.1 mEq/L would be required to 'acidify' it to pH 5.3 or so. Thus, even with a 'pure' water at pH 4 you would still require acid in the grist to reduce mash pH to the proper level.

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Which leads to my next question...Can I adjust my water after the beer is ready to drink to find the balance/crispiness I am looking for? (I DO NOT want a Czech Pils)
No - the object of pH control is to establish a favorable environment for the starch and protein lysing enzymes found in the mash tun. Without this you do not get the 'bright' flavors of a properly mashed beer. But you can add sulfate and chloride to beer in the glass to determine whether you want more or less sulfate/chloride in subsequent brews.

As you do not want a Czech pils I must assume that you want the hops bite that comes with higher sulfate levels as some German Pils is like that though some have the soft water qualities of Boh. Pils differing from it mostly in dryness.

You have not mentioned the use of acidulated malt (sauermalz). As minerals have a relatively small effect on mash pH especially at the low levels required for Pilsner brewing you will require some acid malt (or other source of acid) to get proper mash tun pH.
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Old 10-26-2012, 05:55 PM   #3
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Default Interesting you say that...

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That is something many Pilsner brewers strive for in the beer and get it by using water that tastes that way. It is why we use RO water supplemented with minimal calcium - and not the sulfate.
Because this is from the BJCP...
"Overall Impression: Crisp, clean, refreshing beer that prominently features noble German hop bitterness accentuated by sulfates in the water."

BTW, to look up any of my previous quotes you could probably copy and paste them into a browser to get the full article.
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Old 10-27-2012, 04:08 AM   #4
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Yes, that is an interesting point. Some German lagers are made with higher sulfate water and noble hops. I don't know how they are doing it but they are. I don't know how high the sulfates are and I don't know what the hops varieties, charges or schedules are but I certainly would have to say that my recollections of the Pils I drank in Germany was that it was not particularly bitter - the main characteristic of the hops I remember in those beers was floral. It has been a while though.

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Old 10-27-2012, 02:24 PM   #5
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I have enjoyed the assertive bitterness in a Jever Pils and recognize that the character of that beer is significantly dryer than a PU. I suppose that there could be a little more sulfate in the Jever brewing water, but its probably still not very high. If you take a look at a Pilsen quality water, the flavor ions: chloride and sulfate, are quite low. Boosting the sulfate level to the 20 to 50 ppm mark could make a noticeable difference in the beer perception in comparison to Pilsen water.

PS: Jever is now made with a stabilized hop extract and cannot be skunked even though it is packaged in a green bottle.

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Old 10-27-2012, 02:46 PM   #6
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And it doesn't taste anything like the way it used to. Hops wimped way down.

[Edit] Or, horrible thought that just occurred to me, my palate is going!

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Old 02-17-2013, 11:52 PM   #7
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Well, for what it's worth. The beer tastes good, malt backbone is apparent. I liked the wheat, but gave it a haze. The water was too soft. Next time more gypsum. It was too light too, so more of everything.

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Old 02-18-2013, 02:16 PM   #8
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If its this BeerSmith article that you are talking about: http://beersmith.com/blog/2008/10/05/beer-ph-hard-water-treatment-for-brewing/

I have to say that it is one of the worst articles on mash pH out there. I made a comment to that extent and am surprised it made it past review and got approved.

Kai

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Old 02-18-2013, 02:26 PM   #9
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PS: Jever is now made with a stabilized hop extract and cannot be skunked even though it is packaged in a green bottle.
I don't think the German version is since that hop extract is not RHG compatible.

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Old 02-19-2013, 01:54 AM   #10
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Kai, I assure you that Jever is therefore not RHG. Try it for yourself. Stick a nice green bottle of Jever in a sunny window for a few days and then cool it off and enjoy it. It won't be the skunk bomb that you would expect, virtually nothing.

By the way, thanks for pointing out that flawed info posted on Beersmith and your correction. We have to keep trying to erase (counter) all that misinformation out there. Its sad that Brad posted on something he apparently knows little about.

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