In my quest to make Pilsners, American Lagers, Blondes, Cream Ales, light-colored Oktobers, Kolsch, American Wheat, Helles, etc., I have been spending some time getting my water, my recipe and my process to agree. I realized that the higher bicarbonate level in my water was causing some issues in my pale-colored beers and began down the path to dilute my brewing water with distilled or RO water. Eventually I started making softer water beers but then had some pesky haziness and some harshness as well and I realized that I may not be paying enough attention to mash and sparge pH. I was also mashing too thick and saving too much water for the sparge (and not checking the pH of the sparge) so I evened that out a bit and started mashing thinner so there would be less sparge water. Another thing I recently learned was that heating sparge water (for batch sparging) to 175° may not have any real benefit and may increase the chances of leeching tannins into the wort so I have been heating my sparge (or “rinse”) water to just 160°. The latest batch is just finishing up in primary so the jury is still out. But all of this prompted me to add some of this information to my BREWING WATER
page (go to the blue PALE BEERS logo about halfway down the page). For those out there with water that is not well-suited for these styles (and you’ve had the desire to brew these beers), please give me any insight you may have collected on this topic and let me know if I’ve missed anything or if I’m out in left field on any ideas on that page. There are links to Kai’s pH page (very helpful stuff there) and also the water primer put together by AJ DeLange with comments by Martin Brungard. One thing I took away from the water primer is that AJ has been experimenting with RO water and has gotten to the point of making beers with 100% RO water and little-to-no salt additions. He says that the softer the water and the lower the water ions are, the better the beer. Cheers Beerheads.