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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > General Techniques > Pilsner ale and PH
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Old 03-07-2013, 03:15 AM   #1
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Default Pilsner ale and PH

i'm thinking about brewing a pilsner with ale yeast (US-05) and i've never brewed with just pilsner malt. i'm wondering if i need to worry about PH since there are no roasted grains to balance it out. should i use a couple oz of acid malt, or just not worry about it?
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Old 03-07-2013, 04:05 AM   #2
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A pils is very delicate and it’s traditionally brewed with very soft water. Personally, I wouldn’t chance surface water, especially first time out. Go RO or distilled and add some calcium chloride.

Check this primer: http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f128/bre...primer-198460/

AJ ( the author) says a little acid or sauermalz is necessary. I won’t argue that, AJ is wicked smart.

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Old 03-07-2013, 04:07 AM   #3
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It really depends on the water being used in the brew. Adding acid is probably advisable, but how much totally depends on the water chemistry you're starting with.

Asking if you should add acid, without knowing the water make up, is like me asking if I should add salt to my chicken soup. If you don't know if there is already salt in there, how could anybody guess?

Whenever you brew, you should worry about mash pH. Even with dark malts, often the pH can be too high.

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Old 03-07-2013, 04:29 AM   #4
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What temps are you thinking of for fermentation and lagering? US-05 does not like it below 50.

I've used WLP802 (Czech Budejovice) for an Urquell Pilsner Clone and although it was a slow start due to heavy underpitching (I was clueless about starters then), it turned into a very reasonable brew in the end, but nothing like the pilsner I was aiming for.

The cold lagering turned out to be the hardest. 35°F is very cold to sustain for any length of time unless you have the right setup. If I had to do it now, I'd probably take 2 shelves out of the fridge. Or to keep my wife happier, use the "garden room" at this time of the year. It's getting warmer soon, though.

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Old 03-07-2013, 05:20 AM   #5
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awesome help folks, i never really worried about ph with my previous beers and they turned out fine, but now i'm going to pay more attention. i looked up my city's water profile and also found a spreadsheet for calculating mash ph that i plugged the water profile numbers into. i'll probably go with half distilled water, and then add 3 oz of acid malt, which is enough according to the spreadsheet to get me where i need to be ph wise.

i was thinking US-05 because it usually ends up pretty clean. i will use a lager yeast next time if it ends up tasting good with 05. i just want a quicker turn-around which is why i'm going with ale yeast. hope that makes sense...

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Old 03-07-2013, 05:31 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IslandLizard View Post
I've used WLP802 (Czech Budejovice) for an Urquell Pilsner Clone and although it was a slow start due to heavy underpitching (I was clueless about starters then), it turned into a very reasonable brew in the end, but nothing like the pilsner I was aiming for.
Hardly surprising since 802 gives a character very like that of Budvar. In fact this strain (from either Wyeast or WhiteLabs) makes a beer so much more like Budvar than the Urquell offerings of either make a beer like PU (at least in my hands) that I have more or less chosen this as my favorite yeast. Not that the Urquell strains don't make a good beer - it's just not very much like the Prazdroj.

Yes, I do advocate very soft water for these which, if you follow that recommendation, will require some sauermalz for proper mash pH. 2-3% should do the job.
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Old 03-07-2013, 06:27 PM   #7
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just a follow up question - if i use 100% chicago water with no distilled water, according to the water spreadsheet i used, if i add 4 oz of acid malt and 1 tsp of calcium chloride my mash ph will be 5.57. is this close enough that i'll be fine or should i try and add something else to get the ph down closer to 5.2. i guess i'm more concerned with ph than i am fitting into a pilsen water profile.

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Old 03-07-2013, 06:48 PM   #8
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There are two parts to water adjustment.
1) Getting the pH right. This is the sine qua non.
2) Getting the stylistic ions right. These are the ions that, as the name suggests, define the style. For a Bohemian Pils you want very little of anything, especially sulfate. For a German Pils you can tolerate more, including sulfate.

Your pH is going to go where it is going to go without much regard for which spreadsheet you used. As mash pH is a big factor in the overall nature of the beer those interested in the best beer find themselves using pH meters until they gain the experience which lets them put them back on the shelf (not there yet after over 20 yrs). Fiddling with sulfate and chloride is like seasoning a stew. Adjust until the beer tastes good to you. For Boh. Pils that's easy as sulfate is a no no. Increment chloride until you stop noticing improvement.

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Old 03-07-2013, 10:36 PM   #9
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thanks! your answer was the sine qua non for my question.

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Old 03-08-2013, 01:05 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NorthSide View Post
awesome help folks...i was thinking US-05...i just want a quicker turn-around...hope that makes sense...
When you talk "pilsner" the term "quick turnaround" is a bit out of context.

I gather you want to brew this experimental "lager" using ale yeast, which may turn out to be a great version of steam beer when all is done. And yes, I too love experimenting and running things (way) outside the box. I am very curious to know how it turns out. Just don't expect to find a "pilsner" in the end.

Say, brewing a Pilsner is a yard long.
Ingredients, water, and fermentation are each 1 foot.

Paying a lot of attention to correct pH and water composition, but ignoring the fermentation methods (yeast, temperature, lagering time) only gets you a 2-foot pilsner.
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