Quick water question - pilsner

Brewing a pilsner, using Brun water. Planning/thinking of using the “yellow bitter” profile - yes, no, other suggestions?? Experience using this profile?


Will your pilsner be a German or a Czech or neither? I recently made a Pilsner that might be a cross between German and Czech (some Munich and Saaz hops on the Czech side and WLP830 on the German side) and I used BruNWater’s YELLOW BALANCED. I have higher bicarbonate than you might like to see in a pils so I cut the water 50/50 with RO (which got me to 57 bicarb) and then I used gypsum and CaCl to get to the other numbers. That beer is in cool secondary so I can’t comment on its character yet. Everything I see suggests that you want softer water and lower overall numbers in a pils and I’ve also seen quite a few people say that Noble hops and high levels of sulfates clash and create a harshness. If you were going for German Pils and you’re use of hops was restrained, you might be okay. In other news, I have been using those water profiles (amber balanced, brown malty, yellow balanced, etc.) and not only are my beers coming out better but my mash pH is right on without adjustment. Bonus!

I’ll report back once this beer is on tap here. Cheers.

Probably a BoPils using 2278 (czech pils yeast). Some magnum or perle to bitter and then probably sazz for the rest. I am using 80% RO water and would end with the following with some additions of CaCl, Gypsum and Epsom Salt:

Calcium Magnesium Sodium Sulfate Chloride Bicarbonate
50.0 15.0 5.0 85.0 35.0 70.0

51.6 7.0 8.0 77.3 29.3 62.6

Top line is yellow bitter profile, bottom line would be my finished profile. Guess my main question would be to go that high on sulfate or not.

I don’t think I would. Not on a beer like that. I think that the standard strategy on a beer like a Czech Pilsner is to use softer water and then (if you want any kind of hop punch) you hop the bejesus out of it. The softer water will mute the hops so soft water + low hopping rate will probably not work just like harder (or higher sulfate water) with high hopping rates probably won’t either. I might use the yellow balanced profile which I think has slightly more sulfates than chlorides (55 and 45? Not sure now) and that would give you a better chance at getting a balanced beer. You’re using 80% RO water and still end up with 62ppm of bicarb? Holy-freaking-smokes. The bicarb level in your source water is around 300ppm? Ugh, I thought my water was rough with 113. AJ DeLange, water guru and all around good guy likes to make these styles and his conclusion is that the softer the water, the better the pilsner. I’m thinking that ‘yellow bitter’ is going to make your beer taste like Alka-Seltzer. YMMV.

270’s. I can make a mean stout though:)

Ok, so I am going to go toward the balanced profile - which calls for calcium, chloride and sulfate in the 50 range, giver or take 5. This still calls for bicarb of about 60 (which is what I would get if I use 20% tap water + other additions). Do you feel that this bicarb is still to high, even though it is in the suggested profile?

I have heard people say that getting bicarb under 50 for this style is beneficial… even lower if you can do it. But if I cut the water 50/50 with RO, my bicarb is 57 and I can tell the difference in the beer’s character for sure. I think I did try a larger water cut of 75/25 but I think I futzed up that batch somehow so the results were skewed. My bicarb would be about 28 if I went with 25% tap water and I may try that sometime soon. One thing I noticed when using water with less bicarb is that the subtle flavors of the ingredients come through so much clearer. The bicarbonate acts like a smokescreen on your tastebuds which might be fine for a pale ale or something but a pilsner is not supposed to be like that. Removing the bicarb is like washing your windshield… everything is clearer and smoother. I also think that the higher bicarb levels get in the way of good clarity. But the “gold lagers” I’ve made with 50/50 (and bicarb at 57) have come out very nicely overall. If you’re squeamish about it, cut it more and get your bicarb level to 30-40ppm. Pretty soon you’ll be all-RO water-all-the-time! :lol: Cheers.

Ps. Btw… just because the profile is “yellow balanced” or whatever, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s “pilsner”. Yellow balanced could apply to Belgian Golden Strong, Kolsch, Dortmunder, Blonde or Cream Ale, American Wheat, Helles, etc. “Pilsner” to me means softer water so adjust accordingly.

Sounds good - thanks for the insights - very helpful.

double post - sorry