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Water profile for a light lager...


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#1 ER Pemberton

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Posted 14 February 2011 - 03:59 PM

Anytime I make a beer like this, I wonder about my water. The specifics of my water are ON THIS PAGE. I have some filtered tap water and also some distilled water. I plan to mash with 50/50 and use 50/50 for the sparge water too... I was going to add some calcium chloride to the mash. When I look at water profiles of Pilsen or whatever, I wonder whether those beers are actually made with that water or if there is some treatment going on. I have enough distilled to go 100% distilled and then add back anything from CaCl, Epsom Salt, Gypsum, etc. I have already mixed my mash water (1½ gals of distilled and 1½ gals of filtered tap) but I suppose I could live with that. Anyone got any thoughts?Ps. The recipe is the OLD HAVANA LAGER from THIS page. Cheers.

#2 Steve Urquell

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Posted 14 February 2011 - 04:51 PM

Anytime I make a beer like this, I wonder about my water. The specifics of my water are ON THIS PAGE. I have some filtered tap water and also some distilled water. I plan to mash with 50/50 and use 50/50 for the sparge water too... I was going to add some calcium chloride to the mash. When I look at water profiles of Pilsen or whatever, I wonder whether those beers are actually made with that water or if there is some treatment going on. I have enough distilled to go 100% distilled and then add back anything from CaCl, Epsom Salt, Gypsum, etc. I have already mixed my mash water (1½ gals of distilled and 1½ gals of filtered tap) but I suppose I could live with that. Anyone got any thoughts?Ps. The recipe is the OLD HAVANA LAGER from THIS page. Cheers.

Ken, I've been doing pretty much the same thing as you. I build my water from RO b/c of bad well water(iron) but test strips are frustrating to try and read, so I've decided not to brew until I get a pH meter and use this as a guide: https://www.homebrew...-primer-198460/Seems to make the most sense of any water modding I've seen.
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#3 Zsasz

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Posted 14 February 2011 - 05:15 PM

Ken, I've been doing pretty much the same thing as you. I build my water from RO b/c of bad well water(iron) but test strips are frustrating to try and read, so I've decided not to brew until I get a pH meter and use this as a guide: https://www.homebrew...-primer-198460/Seems to make the most sense of any water modding I've seen.

what strips were you using? I was using some cheap ones and upgraded to colorphast and it made a big difference.
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#4 ER Pemberton

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Posted 14 February 2011 - 05:37 PM

Chils: Thanks for that link. Yes, good stuff there but they don't tell you what to do if your water is not on the soft side... unless I just didn't see it. The guys there AJDELANGE is very big on the BN forum too and he clearly knows his stuff. On the last beer I made like this, I used a 50/50 combination of distilled and filtered tap water and then just added about 4g of calcium chloride to my mash. The beer was good, but it lacked a certain crispness that I see to be missing. I also have lactic acid at my disposal but I have never used it. Cheers & thanks for that link.

#5 Zsasz

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Posted 14 February 2011 - 05:51 PM

Chils: Thanks for that link. Yes, good stuff there but they don't tell you what to do if your water is not on the soft side... unless I just didn't see it. The guys there AJDELANGE is very big on the BN forum too and he clearly knows his stuff. On the last beer I made like this, I used a 50/50 combination of distilled and filtered tap water and then just added about 4g of calcium chloride to my mash. The beer was good, but it lacked a certain crispness that I see to be missing. I also have lactic acid at my disposal but I have never used it. Cheers & thanks for that link.

gypsum is the answer!
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#6 ER Pemberton

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Posted 14 February 2011 - 05:53 PM

gypsum is the answer!

I plan to use some, but I'm going to be careful with it. What about adding lactic acid here? I have read of a number of people using sour malt/sauermalz in lighter colored beers like this (including kolsch) and really enjoying the results. Thoughts?

#7 ER Pemberton

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Posted 14 February 2011 - 07:37 PM

I also found THIS good article by Chris Colby. Cheers.

#8 shaggaroo

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Posted 14 February 2011 - 07:59 PM

Ken, I used 4 oz of sauermalz in a 5 gal batch of your helles and it turned out great.

When I look at water profiles of Pilsen or whatever, I wonder whether those beers are actually made with that water or if there is some treatment going on.

When I was in Czech Republic in 2008 at the Starobrno Brewery, they told us that they always treat/adjust their water. They didn't tell us exactly how, but they did say it is not what directly comes out of the ground.
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#9 orudis

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Posted 14 February 2011 - 09:59 PM

I use the John Palmer spreadsheet incorporating residual alkilinity. We have very hard water and I end up using from 75 to 90% RO water when making a light beer, and especially bopils. Then just add salts. His spreadsheet and also another one I will try to find a link to are great for tinkering with different amounts of CaCl vs. gypsum.
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#10 Zsasz

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Posted 15 February 2011 - 03:46 AM

I plan to use some, but I'm going to be careful with it. What about adding lactic acid here? I have read of a number of people using sour malt/sauermalz in lighter colored beers like this (including kolsch) and really enjoying the results. Thoughts?

never tried lactic or sauermalz but I'd be interested to hear. Can an RA adjustment due to sauermalz be estimated?
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#11 Malzig

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Posted 15 February 2011 - 05:15 AM

Here's a useful calculation from Kai Troester for using Sauermalt:"Each kg of acid malt can neutralize ~17-18 g of alkalinity as CaCO3. I.e. to lower a residual alkalinity of 100 ppm to -100 ppm in 16 l water you need to neutralize 200 mg/l * 16 l = 3.2 g as CaCO3 which takes ~ 0.18 kg of acid malt."I've read that they add Gypsum to 50 ppm Ca, in Plzen, but I have no direct evidence.
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#12 ER Pemberton

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Posted 15 February 2011 - 06:21 AM

Thanks guys.I was also talking to one of the guys on our local board and he was saying that the biggest issue with making a beer like this with water like mine is the high level of bicarbonate (138). But he said that the good news is that this is temporary hardness and that preboiling the water and decanting off the precipitate could work nicely here. He also mentioned using slaked lime which I probably won't look into. But the question is... if I preboil, how do I know the level of bicarbonate left in my water afterwards? Has anyone done this?

#13 Steve Urquell

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Posted 15 February 2011 - 12:26 PM

Thanks guys.I was also talking to one of the guys on our local board and he was saying that the biggest issue with making a beer like this with water like mine is the high level of bicarbonate (138). But he said that the good news is that this is temporary hardness and that preboiling the water and decanting off the precipitate could work nicely here. He also mentioned using slaked lime which I probably won't look into. But the question is... if I preboil, how do I know the level of bicarbonate left in my water afterwards? Has anyone done this?

Why not just go with 100% RO? I get mine from the culligan machine at Sprawlmart for $.36/ga. I figure $3.60 a batch is cheap enough. For my tastes and 100% RO, I'd go with 1.8g of gypsum for 40ppm of sulphate to make the hops pop, and then 3g calcium chloride (59ppm) to smooth it out. That gets the Ca+ to 50 ppm for the yeast health also. Then adjust the pH(if necessary) with acidulated malt or phosphoric acid. I usually add 1/2 tsp. of 10% phosphoric acid to my first sparge, and then 1 tsp. to the second one. If I only do one sparge addition, I use 1tsp.
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#14 ER Pemberton

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Posted 15 February 2011 - 01:23 PM

Why not just go with 100% RO? I get mine from the culligan machine at Sprawlmart for $.36/ga. I figure $3.60 a batch is cheap enough. For my tastes and 100% RO, I'd go with 1.8g of gypsum for 40ppm of sulphate to make the hops pop, and then 3g calcium chloride (59ppm) to smooth it out. That gets the Ca+ to 50 ppm for the yeast health also. Then adjust the pH(if necessary) with acidulated malt or phosphoric acid. I usually add 1/2 tsp. of 10% phosphoric acid to my first sparge, and then 1 tsp. to the second one. If I only do one sparge addition, I use 1tsp.

Yeah, as I have been thinking this over, it appears that starting with 100% RO or distilled is the way to go. AJDeLange mentioned to me that he would cut my tap water with RO or distilled at a rate of 9:1. If I'm going that far, I might as well just use all RO/DI. I can sometimes find gallons of distilled at my local grocery store for 49¢ and they may have the big blue bottles too. I haven't checked Walmart but I could do that too. I don't need this for all beers, clearly... just this style. I made the beer today with 50/50 distilled and filtered tap (mash & sparge) and added 3g of CaCl, about 1g of gypsum and 1g of epsom salt. I checked the pH with colorphast strips and it appeared to be right on. Cheers!

#15 Malzig

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Posted 22 February 2011 - 04:38 AM

But the question is... if I preboil, how do I know the level of bicarbonate left in my water afterwards? Has anyone done this?

I don't have any Carbonate, to speak of, in my water, so I don't use this technique. However, from what I've read, you should be able to remove the bicarbonate down to ~60-80 ppm as long as there is enough Calcium to pair up with it. You'll lose just over 3 ppm of CO3 for every 1 ppm of Calcium. For example, if you have 150 ppm of Carbonate and 50 ppm of Calcium, you should lose 70-90 ppm of Carbonate and 23-30 ppm of Calcium. In that case, the final should be about 60-80 ppm Carbonate and 20-30 ppm Ca.
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#16 ER Pemberton

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Posted 28 August 2011 - 09:41 AM

I may have had a breakthough on this "water profile for light-colored beers" thing. In early August, I made a "Czech Lager" of sorts with about 70% Best Malz Pils, maybe 25% Munich and the rest was Carafoam. The hops were Tettnanger and Hallertau Mittelfruh to about 25 IBUs. The yeast was 2782 Staro. For the water, I used 75% distilled and 25% filtered tap. In the mash I used 4.75g of CaCl2 and just a ½g of Magnesium Sulfate. The mash pH was right on (I may have slightly adjusted it w/lactic acid) and the overall water numbers were: Ca: 51, Mg: 5, Sodium: 3, Chloride: 81, Sulfate: 9, Alkalinity/Bicarb: 28. It sat in secondary on my cool basement floor for about 10 days and got as clear as any beer I have seen in awhile. I sent it to a keg today to chill it & carb it and I tasted a little bit during the rack and it was really, really nice. I realize that it was warm and flat but I am very encouraged by this. This was a standard single-infusion 150° mash. It will probably sit around 35° for 3-4 weeks and then hit the taps. My guess is that low sulfate and low bicarb levels are the biggest key. Nothing was added to the sparge or BK. Cheers & thanks for all of the assistance w/this topic. I have set the expectations very high on this style and I don't just want GOOD, I want GREAT! :covreyes:

#17 Genesee Ted

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Posted 22 April 2019 - 06:48 AM

So where are we on this topic these days?

#18 ER Pemberton

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Posted 22 April 2019 - 07:19 AM

So where are we on this topic these days?

Anytime I make a very pale beer (that might include pilsner, helles, American-, Mexican-,Caribbean-lager), I use my tap water (Cl=21, SO4=27) and add three grams of CaCl which puts my chloride around 60ppm and leaves the SO4 at 27.  With 27ppm of sulfate in the water, there is more than enough crispness for the style.  Occasionally I even mix in 25% distilled to lower the sulfate even further but it's really not necessary.  Then I just have to make sure I neutralize the bicarbonate which usually takes about 4ml of lactic acid and I'm good.  Another 2ml of acid in the sparge water (I typically use 5 gallons for the mash and 3 for a sparge) to keep that pH down as well.   I whiffed mightily on pale styles for many years and produced batch after batch of dreadful beer and most of that was pH control as opposed to water composition.  But I have been able to reproduce these styles over and over and they come out really nicely.  



#19 pkrone

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Posted 22 April 2019 - 04:59 PM

Since my water is pretty much only good for the darkest out stouts (total alkalinity of 390, pH 8.8), I use RO water for all my beers.  For light lagers I just add some CaCl and that's about it.    If I'm doing a yeast de-oxygenation, I'll add some gypsum and less CaCl to account for the acid from yeast metabolism.  Simple works well for me. 


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#20 Genesee Ted

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Posted 22 April 2019 - 07:36 PM

Ill post my profile tomorrow but I just added acid


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