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Pilsner/lager - water?

I am brewing a light lager. Trying to decide on mix of water for mash.

option 1 - 3 gallons R.O water/1 gallon of tap water. Ca would still be about 16 and Mg about 5 and alkalinity about 52 or so with one gallon of tap water.

option 2 - 4 gallons R.O water.

Either way, I am going to need to add CaCl or CaSO4 to bring the water in line for mash pH.

Trying to decide two things. 1.) which water option should I use. 2.) Should I use CaCl or CaSO4 for the water addition?

Thoughts?

When I brew a pilsner I use 50% filtered tap water and 50% distilled water and don’t worry about adding anything and it comes out good. My water is slightly hard.

I usually go either 50/50 or 25% filtered tap and 75% RO. My tap water looks like this…

[color=#808000]Sodium: 13
Potassium: 2
Calcium: 34
Magnesium: 12
Total Hardness: 135
Nitrate, No3-N: 0.4
Sulfate, SO4-S: 9
Chloride: 21
Carbonate, CO3: <1
Bicarbonate, HCO3: 138
Total Alkalinity, CaCO3: 113 [/color]

It’s good to get your sulfates and your bicarbonate low. I will typically add 4-5g of CaCl to the mash and then keep lactic acid nearby when I’m checking the pH of the mash. If I need it, I’ll use a small amount (like .5ml) and then check the pH again. Then I’ll use the same percentage of water (50/50, 25/75) for the sparge and make no additions there. I have heard that the pH of the sparge shouldn’t really cause a problem especially with a good amount of RO water being used. This is a complex area and a tough style to make and make WELL. Everything has to be done right because flaws are hard to hide. Good luck and let us know how it comes out.

This is how I used to do it too, with good results, though I never knew my water make up. Now I pull 5 gallons of RO water and add a half tsp of calcium chloride and 3 % acid malt to the grain bill. Whatever I don’t use for the mash water I add carbon filtered water to it for the sparge water.

I use carbon filtered tap water. It tastes good and makes great coffee (my litmus test for good water)…and great lagers too.

:cheers:

[quote=“StormyBrew”]I use carbon filtered tap water. It tastes good and makes great coffee (my litmus test for good water)…and great lagers too.

:cheers: [/quote]
Some of you bastages have been blessed with great, soft brewing water. Now I know why various breweries settled in certain parts of the country. I can get away with making a hoppy blonde ale or other light-colored beer with 100% filtered tap water but for something that requires that soft mouthfeel, I have to cut my tap water with bulk RO water that I pick up at the grocery store. For all you guys with soft tap water… kneel and thank your personal God for what you have! :cheers:

I ended up going with 100% RO water and .75 tsp of CaCl.

My water is very high in Bicarbonate (268) - so, there is really no way to get it down. Figured I would go with the CaCl to avoid the SO4 in gypsum.

sodium - 5
Potassium - 2
Calcium 65
Mag. - 24
Tot. Hard - 263
Nitrate - .1
Sulfate - 13
Chloride - 3
Carbonate <1
Bicarb - 26
Tot. Alk - 219

Makes a mean stout or porter, but troublesome for hoppy pale ales and light lagers.

Is “artificial” soft water bad for lagers? Our water from water softener has basically no minerals in it, but the Bicarb is still 270 and and the total alk. is 220. On top of that , there is 125 for sodium. I assume that this would not be good for brewing???

oops - bicarb should be 268 in the water report.

I believe that water that goes through a water softener is unsuitable for brewing but I seem to remember a recent conversation where someone said that this theory was nonsense. I can’t comment because I don’t have a softener but I think your idea of using 100% RO/DI for this style is a good one. My only concern would be that .75 tsp may not be enough calcium. What does that come to, about 3 grams?

Okay, I just went and measured out .75 tsp of CaCl on my gram scale and it came to about 3.5g. 3.5g in 100% RO water (depending on volume… I used 8 gallons total in the EZ_Water spreadsheet) will come to about 32ppm of calcium which is probably low. The downside may be clarity issues but it’s hard to tell. I know some people who say to get it to 50ppm and others who swear by 100ppm and you can’t really know until you’ve done it yourself and seen (and tasted) the results. Again, the 100% RO water was a good call here based on your tap water. Remember too that “hop presense” can seem reduced in softer water so some brewers use a little more hops in a beer like this. One thing I notice with the RO water is that it’s easier to taste the beer. That sounds stupid but the beer flavor is cleaner and you can actually pick out the grains and hop flavors easier when all of that bicarbonate is out of the way. I can’t really explain it but it’s like the difference between looking out a dirty or a clean windshield. I hope it comes out the way you envisioned. Good luck and keep us posted.

Personally, I would avoid softened water. I used it once (brewed at my parents’ house and didn’t know they had a softener) and the finished beer literally tasted salty.

[quote=“Ken Lenard”][quote=“StormyBrew”]I use carbon filtered tap water. It tastes good and makes great coffee (my litmus test for good water)…and great lagers too.

:cheers: [/quote]
Some of you bastages have been blessed with great, soft brewing water. Now I know why various breweries settled in certain parts of the country. I can get away with making a hoppy blonde ale or other light-colored beer with 100% filtered tap water but for something that requires that soft mouthfeel, I have to cut my tap water with bulk RO water that I pick up at the grocery store. For all you guys with soft tap water… kneel and thank your personal God for what you have! :cheers: [/quote]

LOL. Is there a beer-god? if so, ptl. :wink:

cheers

[quote=“StormyBrew”][quote=“Ken Lenard”][quote=“StormyBrew”]I use carbon filtered tap water. It tastes good and makes great coffee (my litmus test for good water)…and great lagers too.

:cheers: [/quote]
Some of you bastages have been blessed with great, soft brewing water. Now I know why various breweries settled in certain parts of the country. I can get away with making a hoppy blonde ale or other light-colored beer with 100% filtered tap water but for something that requires that soft mouthfeel, I have to cut my tap water with bulk RO water that I pick up at the grocery store. For all you guys with soft tap water… kneel and thank your personal God for what you have! :cheers: [/quote]

LOL. Is there a beer-god? if so, ptl. :wink:

cheers[/quote]
I’m no zealout but I think there might actually be a beer God and he makes sure that your beers come out delicious. I figure that once the wort has been carefully prepared by mortal hands and the yeast has been pitched, some higher power takes over and steers the boat in the right direction. This higher power has also shined down on you soft-water types and that same power has (for one reason or another) frowned upon us bicarbonate-heavy and otherwise unfortunate souls. :lol:

I was probably somewhere over .75, but less than 1. I was shooting for something in the neighborhood of 50-60 on the Ca.

One question though - I only have been considering my 4 gallons of mash water. Should I be considering and treating my sparge water too? For sparge water I used 2 gallons RO and 4 gallons of tap water - with the above outlined mineral content.

Would it be better/necessary to use 100% RO for mash and sparge - treating both with CaCl?

Another lager today - so treated 4 gallons of mash water (RO) with 1 full tsp of CaCl. 2 gallons RO and 4 gallons tap for sparge water. See if there is any difference down the road.

[quote=“Braufessor”]I was probably somewhere over .75, but less than 1. I was shooting for something in the neighborhood of 50-60 on the Ca.

One question though - I only have been considering my 4 gallons of mash water. Should I be considering and treating my sparge water too? For sparge water I used 2 gallons RO and 4 gallons of tap water - with the above outlined mineral content.

Would it be better/necessary to use 100% RO for mash and sparge - treating both with CaCl?

Another lager today - so treated 4 gallons of mash water (RO) with 1 full tsp of CaCl. 2 gallons RO and 4 gallons tap for sparge water. See if there is any difference down the road.[/quote]
What sized batch are we talking about?

Probably 6 gallons when done.

Well, for my batches I treat the mash water and that’s it. I have heard that RO/DI/very soft water will not futz with your pH very much so there should be no reason to adjust the sparge water. I have also had conversations with people who say that salt additions made to the brewpot are for actual “flavor”, not adjusting pH, etc. So I add CaCl, gypsum, etc. to the mash and that’s it. The various spreadsheets will show you your mash numbers (based on qts of water in the mash) and will also show you your overall numbers (based on total water used) so you can get a feel for your ppm numbers.

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