Best water for a hoppy lager

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Uncanny Athena

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Hello all! I am brand new to home brewing beer (just got my set up in December and have only bottled 6 batches so far), so be kind if my question is silly. I love dark beers and IPAs and had been reading up on the neurotic quest for a lovely mineral'd water for a perfect ale. I'm very lucky that I have access to a clean spring just down the road and I even hauled 20 ga of water from Hot Springs AR just to get great water for my beers. But, now it's warming and what I would really like to create would be a light, sweet, crisp lager, but with a lot of hop bitterness. I read that the best lagers have very little mineral, but that the minerals make the hop bitterness better in ales. So, to do this, should I used distilled water (I have a distiller at home), spring water, or distilled with certain minerals? Also, any opinions on the best...should I increase the boil time at hop addition, more hops, dry hop, etc? I'm planning on using a Mexican Cerveza recipe.
Thanks a bucket!
 

cmac62

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I'd use RO with 2x as much gypsum as CaCL. Not sure how much, in my 5 gal batch I'd use .5 tsp CaCL and 1 tsp gypsum with 2% acid malt or a tsp 88% Lactic acid. If anyone with more experience with the water stuff want to chime in that would be great. :mug:
 

Rob2010SS

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Hello, and welcome to the obsession!

In regards to your hoppy lager, here is my opinion. My wife and I do a Mexican Lager every year hopped with Tettnang and Motueka in the boil and dry hopped with Motueka at the end of the diacetyl rest (actually in the tank as we speak!). We like this beer with even/similar amounts of Chloride and Sulfate. The water profile and pH that we target on this after a few iterations is the following...

1649421224563.png


Now, some of this is recipe driven but the way I perceive this beer is nice a crisp with a good mouthfeel. I wouldn't call it a full body mouthfeel but it's not super dry either.

So, if I were you, I'd use distilled water and build your profile with mineral additions, such as @cmac62 recommended.

As far as hops, it's subjective. Our mexican lager has 19 IBU's and I wouldn't call it hoppy, but you do get a nice lime flavor/aroma from the late additions and dry hop of motueka hops. If it were my beer and I wanted a hoppy lager, I don't like lagers with substantial hop bitterness so I would keep your 60 min addition down to something like 10-15 IBU's and do more late addition hops with 15 min left in the boil or after and then do a small dry hop. If you like a little bitterness in your lagers from hops, then you could increase that 60 min addition as you see fit. The boil schedule on ours is as follows...

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Disregard the note about adding the dry hop with 4 gravity pts left. We don't do that anymore, it's an old note.

Hope this helps and gives you some things to consider!
 
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Uncanny Athena

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Thank you so much! I decided to use a Pilsner recipe instead of the Mexican because I didn't want to overpower the lime peel before I had a chance to try it unadulterated. Added the calciums as suggested by cmac62 and threw in a scooch of epsom salts because I read the sulfates are what enhance the hops. Did the hop addition as suggested by Rob2010SS, but with the hops I had (both low and high a little lower in the AA). More hops than I've ever added so far, even to my black IPA (my favorite)! Holy Moses! Going into the fermenter, this "Pilsner" looks like a stout. Eeeep. So, maybe back to the drawing board. Haha I'd like to create a light crisp beer, with a lot of hop flavor. Maybe some honey/royal jelly toward the end of the ferment. It's ultramarathon season and I need a good sports drink! ;) Haha
 

monkeymath

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Thank you so much! I decided to use a Pilsner recipe instead of the Mexican because I didn't want to overpower the lime peel before I had a chance to try it unadulterated. Added the calciums as suggested by cmac62 and threw in a scooch of epsom salts because I read the sulfates are what enhance the hops. Did the hop addition as suggested by Rob2010SS, but with the hops I had (both low and high a little lower in the AA). More hops than I've ever added so far, even to my black IPA (my favorite)! Holy Moses! Going into the fermenter, this "Pilsner" looks like a stout. Eeeep. So, maybe back to the drawing board. Haha I'd like to create a light crisp beer, with a lot of hop flavor. Maybe some honey/royal jelly toward the end of the ferment. It's ultramarathon season and I need a good sports drink! ;) Haha

Well, epsom salts also bring magnesium to the table, which is said to impart a harsh, unpleasant bitterness... so I'd stay away from those and rely on calcium sulfate (aka gypsum, CaSO4) to bring sulfates to the party instead.
But sulfate don't actually "enhance the hops" in a literal sense - it just gives the beer a sharper, drier edge.

Here's a link to possibly one of the best free online resources on brewing water:
Bru'n'water - Water Knowledge
 

marc1

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Thank you so much! I decided to use a Pilsner recipe instead of the Mexican because I didn't want to overpower the lime peel before I had a chance to try it unadulterated. Added the calciums as suggested by cmac62 and threw in a scooch of epsom salts because I read the sulfates are what enhance the hops. Did the hop addition as suggested by Rob2010SS, but with the hops I had (both low and high a little lower in the AA). More hops than I've ever added so far, even to my black IPA (my favorite)! Holy Moses! Going into the fermenter, this "Pilsner" looks like a stout. Eeeep. So, maybe back to the drawing board. Haha I'd like to create a light crisp beer, with a lot of hop flavor. Maybe some honey/royal jelly toward the end of the ferment. It's ultramarathon season and I need a good sports drink! ;) Haha

I'm not sure that extra hops are going to make a wort that looks like stout... what was your recipe? Floating hops are going to make it more opaque, but it shouldn't be black.

Another option is to let the hops settle out in the boil kettle and transfer wort without so much trub to your fermenter. The next one you could even make extra wort in the kettle, and leave the trub there so you can get more recoverable beer from your fermenter.
 
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Uncanny Athena

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I'm not sure that extra hops are going to make a wort that looks like stout... what was your recipe? Floating hops are going to make it more opaque, but it shouldn't be black.

Another option is to let the hops settle out in the boil kettle and transfer wort without so much trub to your fermenter. The next one you could even make extra wort in the kettle, and leave the trub there so you can get more recoverable beer from your fermenter.

I think I might have gone the wrong route switching my recipe to the Pilsner. I think I got a darker LME than I was looking for (I did mention I am brand new. Lol). I know absolutely zippo about lagers, so I think I missed the "dark Pilsner" part. Haha. I bet it's still gonna be damn good. I think tommorrow I will try again with the Mexican Cerveza recipe and the recs from here.

I kind of like really bitter, and harsh doesn't sound bad to me. Although it sounds like a joke, being able to make my beer a "superfood" actually is probably my number one incentive to brew at home. Mg is so good for sore legs ;). Do you think it ruins the beer? All the beers I made with the heavy mineral water of Hot Springs are still cooking in the bottles....and stouts or porters. So, I haven't had a chance yet to see if it has an effect.
 

marc1

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I think I might have gone the wrong route switching my recipe to the Pilsner. I think I got a darker LME than I was looking for (I did mention I am brand new. Lol). I know absolutely zippo about lagers, so I think I missed the "dark Pilsner" part. Haha. I bet it's still gonna be damn good. I think tommorrow I will try again with the Mexican Cerveza recipe and the recs from here.

I kind of like really bitter, and harsh doesn't sound bad to me. Although it sounds like a joke, being able to make my beer a "superfood" actually is probably my number one incentive to brew at home. Mg is so good for sore legs ;). Do you think it ruins the beer? All the beers I made with the heavy mineral water of Hot Springs are still cooking in the bottles....and stouts or porters. So, I haven't had a chance yet to see if it has an effect.

It sounds like you're having fun! Getting drinkable beer isn't super hard if you're not too picky. Dark lagers are good, too - there's a style called schwarzbier that is basically a dark pilsner.

You should try to keep track of your recipe and process for each batch, it can help figure things out later down the line. I haven't heard of a dark pilsner LME, but there's a lot of different kinds available.

There are a lot of recipes in the recipe section here, if you sort them by number of views or replies, you can find the most popular "tried and true" ones that you might want to try out.

Since you are using extract and not mashing, all of your water minerals are flavor additions, and you don't have to concern yourself with how it might affect mash or sparge pH. If you want to know what magnesium sulfate tastes like in beer, take a small spoon of Epsom salt, dissolve it in water, and add it dropwise to a beer in a glass, tasting as you go. It should help you hone in on what the flavor does so you can pick it out, and decide if you've got too much or not enough in your brews. Don't go too crazy with it though, Epsom salt is a laxative, and the medical dose is 2-4 teaspoons. So even if you for some reason love this flavor, it might not be wise to stir a spoon or 2 in every beer (I think this much would probably taste terrible, though).

You can also do that with gypsum, which replace the magnesium with calcium, and that should let you know what sulfate on its own is bringing (IIRC, calcium on its own doesn't have much flavor apart from the salt it was bound to).
 
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Uncanny Athena

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It sounds like you're having fun! Getting drinkable beer isn't super hard if you're not too picky. Dark lagers are good, too - there's a style called schwarzbier that is basically a dark pilsner.

You should try to keep track of your recipe and process for each batch, it can help figure things out later down the line. I haven't heard of a dark pilsner LME, but there's a lot of different kinds available.

There are a lot of recipes in the recipe section here, if you sort them by number of views or replies, you can find the most popular "tried and true" ones that you might want to try out.

Since you are using extract and not mashing, all of your water minerals are flavor additions, and you don't have to concern yourself with how it might affect mash or sparge pH. If you want to know what magnesium sulfate tastes like in beer, take a small spoon of Epsom salt, dissolve it in water, and add it dropwise to a beer in a glass, tasting as you go. It should help you hone in on what the flavor does so you can pick it out, and decide if you've got too much or not enough in your brews. Don't go too crazy with it though, Epsom salt is a laxative, and the medical dose is 2-4 teaspoons. So even if you for some reason love this flavor, it might not be wise to stir a spoon or 2 in every beer (I think this much would probably taste terrible, though).

You can also do that with gypsum, which replace the magnesium with calcium, and that should let you know what sulfate on its own is bringing (IIRC, calcium on its own doesn't have much flavor apart from the salt it was bound to).

Oh you are awesome! Yes, I am having a lot of fun. I am still just using kits. They're cheaper than individual ingredients and I bought a huge assortment to try just about ever style so I can learn how to do this, what I like, as homemade is way different, and then modify later. I've kept the instructions for each and make notes of my steep learning curve (who would have thought one should maybe check for leaks under pressure before one fills one's bottling bucket...Lol. So, my bathroom rug smells like beer now and it's also now my dog's favorite place to nap). The Pils I got was just "Justin's favorite" or something. It had a darker LME, but also 6.6lbs at the start of the boil, whereas the cerveza had extra light and just one at the start and late addition of the other. So, I'm betting I'm gonna get some carmalized with the Pils. I ain't gonna complain.

I haven't as of yet found a good source for ingredients around these parts. Online is pretty ok, but I do feel guilty that I can't support someone local. As soon as I do, I think I will move on to recipes.

I'm really anxious to start to add some extras that you couldn't buy anywhere, like wild collected reishi (that's some serious bittering there!), spruce nibs, roasted medicinal roots, carob, etc. So, yeah, I'm not picky and I'm never going to be someone who would fuss about not perfect.

Thank you so much! Such great advice and discussion is so cool. :)
 
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