Author Topic: Water for an Oktoberfest?  (Read 3299 times)

Offline BrodyR

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Water for an Oktoberfest?
« on: July 20, 2015, 01:48:51 PM »
I'm about to try my first true lager and had a question about water. I've been messing around a lot lately with Sulfate & Chloride in my pale ales but wasn't sure what an appropriate level is for a malty lager.

My first thought was to target around 50 or 60ppm each of sulfate & chloride, shoot for a 5.3ph, and at least 50ppm calcium. Any thoughts?

Offline bboy9000

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Re: Water for an Oktoberfest?
« Reply #1 on: July 20, 2015, 02:14:14 PM »
Are you using tap water or building from scratch?  Either way, I highly recommend getting a copy of your water report and downloading Martin Brungard's Bru'n Water spreadsheet. Also, check out the book written by John Palmer and Colin Kaminski.
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Re: Water for an Oktoberfest?
« Reply #2 on: July 20, 2015, 02:31:38 PM »
Don't use any sulfate in a malty beer.  If using tap water, it should be safe to add about a teaspoon of calcium chloride per 5 gallons.  If using distilled or RO water, you'd probably need more calcium chloride.  Skip the sulfate (gypsum).
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Offline bboy9000

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Water for an Oktoberfest?
« Reply #3 on: July 20, 2015, 02:45:38 PM »
Just to add a thought.  You really need to know the mineral profile of the water you are starting with before adding minerals to your brewing water.  If your tapwater already makes good beer I wouldn't worry about adding minerals for now.  If it is your first true lager brew pitching a proper amount of yeast and controlling the fermentation temperature will be more important IMO.
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Offline kramerog

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Re: Water for an Oktoberfest?
« Reply #4 on: July 20, 2015, 03:06:26 PM »
There was an article in a recent Zymurgy about the water of Munich you might want to read.

Form this artice or a different one, it turns out the calcium needs for lager yeast are less than than ale yeasts so yes get rid of the gypsum as recommended by others and you probably don't need to bump up your calcium chloride to get to ~50 ppm calcium.

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Re: Water for an Oktoberfest?
« Reply #5 on: July 20, 2015, 03:45:22 PM »
I believe I read on some forum post where AJ DeLange mentioned using RO or distilled water and just adding some Calcium Chloride.  This is pretty much what I'm doing now...my calcium is about 40ppm and my chloride is around 70ppm.

I've also seen numerous sources that say keep your sulfates low if using a noble hop variety.
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Re: Water for an Oktoberfest?
« Reply #6 on: July 20, 2015, 04:59:46 PM »
My tap water is more or less distilled. I add 2 g CaCO3 to the mash to get the pH to ~5.5, and 5 g CaCl2 to the boil for ~80 ppm chloride.
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Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: Water for an Oktoberfest?
« Reply #7 on: July 20, 2015, 05:01:23 PM »
I believe I read on some forum post where AJ DeLange mentioned using RO or distilled water and just adding some Calcium Chloride.  This is pretty much what I'm doing now...my calcium is about 40ppm and my chloride is around 70ppm.

I've also seen numerous sources that say keep your sulfates low if using a noble hop variety.

That comes from AJ, he like Czech styles, so it works there. For a German pils with noble hops I like the sulfate around 90 ppm to give that dry finish many have, and those use lots of noble hops.
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Offline denny

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Re: Water for an Oktoberfest?
« Reply #8 on: July 20, 2015, 07:12:55 PM »
I believe I read on some forum post where AJ DeLange mentioned using RO or distilled water and just adding some Calcium Chloride.  This is pretty much what I'm doing now...my calcium is about 40ppm and my chloride is around 70ppm.

I've also seen numerous sources that say keep your sulfates low if using a noble hop variety.

If all you brew is light lagers, like AJ, that's good advice.  Otherwise, ignore it.
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Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: Water for an Oktoberfest?
« Reply #9 on: July 20, 2015, 08:09:41 PM »
I believe I read on some forum post where AJ DeLange mentioned using RO or distilled water and just adding some Calcium Chloride.  This is pretty much what I'm doing now...my calcium is about 40ppm and my chloride is around 70ppm.

I've also seen numerous sources that say keep your sulfates low if using a noble hop variety.

If all you brew is light lagers, like AJ, that's good advice.  Otherwise, ignore it.
If all you brew is light Czech lagers...
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Offline erockrph

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Re: Water for an Oktoberfest?
« Reply #10 on: July 21, 2015, 02:12:21 AM »
I like to keep it pretty soft on this style. I like Cl around 40 and Na around 20-30. This leaves me with Ca in the 40ppm range, which is fine for a lager. I like 5.3 for my mash pH as well.
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Offline wobdee

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Re: Water for an Oktoberfest?
« Reply #11 on: July 21, 2015, 11:42:29 AM »
So what's a good ratio for Calcium, Sulfate and Chloride for an Ofest? Do you keep the calcium higher than Sulfate?

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Re: Water for an Oktoberfest?
« Reply #12 on: July 21, 2015, 01:16:54 PM »
Ratio schmatio.  I don't believe in the ratio thing at all, and here's why:

Calcium tastes like rock or chalk, slightly metallic.

Sulfate tastes bitter to nasty bitter, depending how much is used, and thus enhances hop bitterness.

Chloride tastes like salt and enhances malt flavor just like it enhances flavor in foods.

Pick the characteristics you want, and use it, regardless of ratios.  In other words, if you don't care about bitterness, it's fine to skip the sulfate altogether, and not adhere to some arbitrary 50/50 or 90/10 ratio or whatever.  If you want to enhance malt flavor, use chloride.  If you want to enhance bitterness, use some sulfate.  If you want both, use both.  If you don't care, then don't worry, you'll still make great beer.

In my opinion, chloride is great in every beer style.  Sulfate is a good option mainly in either hoppy styles, or where you purposely want to jack up the minerally character and thus are forced to use something with more calcium in it, maybe even a little magnesium but go easy on that one, it's pretty nasty metallic.

I suppose I should also mention, sulfate and chloride can't be added all by themselves.  They're always attached to either a calcium or magnesium or sodium.  So then you need to pick which one of those you want as well.  For brewing purposes, calcium works great because it lowers mash pH and has a fairly benign or even beneficial flavor characteristic.
« Last Edit: July 21, 2015, 01:26:09 PM by dmtaylor »
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Offline BrodyR

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Re: Water for an Oktoberfest?
« Reply #13 on: July 21, 2015, 02:05:43 PM »
Thanks for the help everyone, I've been working off this thread and Martins Amber Malty profile as a guide too and ended up with this at the moment (distilled blended with Philly tap, 3g CaCl addition, 2g Gypsum addition, acid malt for pH)

Finished Water Profile         

Ca 49   
Mg 2   
Na 5   
S04 43
Cl 62   
Bicarbonate 13

pH 5.3

Anything stand out that should be improved?

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Re: Water for an Oktoberfest?
« Reply #14 on: July 21, 2015, 02:12:07 PM »
That should work!
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