Author Topic: Light Lager Water Chemistry - Advice Desired  (Read 1527 times)

Offline DKensil

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Light Lager Water Chemistry - Advice Desired
« on: April 26, 2017, 01:23:20 PM »
Happy Wednesday All,

I am planning out a Light Lager recipe to brew soon and was looking a lot into the water chemistry as it is something I'm trying to learn more about. I'm still very new to this but I found the following post on another forum (homebrew talk) regarding the matter.

http://www.homebrewtalk.com/showthread.php?t=198460#post2310230

"The following recommendations apply to “soft” water. Here we will define soft as meaning RO or distilled water or any water whose lab report indicates alkalinity less than 35 (ppm as CaCO3 – all other numbers to follow mg/L), sulfate less than 20 (as sulfate – Ward Labs reports as sulfur so multiply the SO4-S number by 3 to get as sulfate), chloride less than 20, sodium less than 20, calcium less than 20 and magnesium less than 20. If your water has numbers higher than these, dilute it with RO or DI water. A 1:1 dilution reduces each ion concentration to 1/2, a 2:1 dilution to 1/3 and so on. If your water contains chloramines add 1 campden tablet per 20 gallons (before any dilution)

Baseline: Add 1 tsp of calcium chloride dihydrate (what your LHBS sells) to each 5 gallons of water treated. Add 2% sauermalz to the grist.

Deviate from the baseline as follows:

For soft water beers (i.e Pils, Helles). Use half the baseline amount of calcium chloride and increase the sauermalz to 3%"


After seeing this my thought was to use distilled water and add the recommended calcium chloride and sour malt. Does this seem like an adequate way to start off with the light lagers? I've heard lots of people messing up gallons and gallons of beer by tweaking around with the water chemistry so i'm a little hesitant. I am open to any and all advice. Recipe is currently as follows:

Recipe:
4.5 German Pilsner (48.6%)
2.5 Belgian Pilsner (27.0%)
1.0 Flaked Corn (10.8%)
1.0 Flaked Rice (10.8%)
0.5 Acid (Sour) Malt (2.7%)

0.25 oz EKG (60 min)
0.25 oz EKG (30 min)
0.25 oz Mt Hood (15 min)
0.25 tsp Irish Moss (10 min)
0.15 oz Hallertauer (5 min)

Saflager S-23

Offline brewinhard

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Re: Light Lager Water Chemistry - Advice Desired
« Reply #1 on: April 26, 2017, 02:12:56 PM »
If you plan on using distilled water for this (which is a wise idea, I use RO and get it cheaply from the kiosk at local walmart) you may need more than just 2.7% acid malt to get your pH down to a proper 5.2-5.3 for a nice crisp light lager. You could start with that acid malt and then add additional mL of lactic acid to get you the rest of the way.

Without plugging those numbers into a water software (Brunwater), I would guess that you would need closer to about 5% acid malt and close to 2 mL lactic acid (88%) to bring you down appropriately.

Lately, I have only been adding enough CaCl2 to net me about 40 ppm Ca and 70 Cl with good results in light lager styles. Trying to keep minimal additions with these style is crucial to allow the malts to shine. A little Na (think 10-12 ppm) and light SO4 (25-30 ppm) can also help to keep things crisp and rounded.

Offline DKensil

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Re: Light Lager Water Chemistry - Advice Desired
« Reply #2 on: April 26, 2017, 03:23:02 PM »
If you plan on using distilled water for this (which is a wise idea, I use RO and get it cheaply from the kiosk at local walmart) you may need more than just 2.7% acid malt to get your pH down to a proper 5.2-5.3 for a nice crisp light lager. You could start with that acid malt and then add additional mL of lactic acid to get you the rest of the way.

Without plugging those numbers into a water software (Brunwater), I would guess that you would need closer to about 5% acid malt and close to 2 mL lactic acid (88%) to bring you down appropriately.

Lately, I have only been adding enough CaCl2 to net me about 40 ppm Ca and 70 Cl with good results in light lager styles. Trying to keep minimal additions with these style is crucial to allow the malts to shine. A little Na (think 10-12 ppm) and light SO4 (25-30 ppm) can also help to keep things crisp and rounded.

Is it worth dropping the Acid malt for just lactic acid additions? According to Beersmith, my color is already a little over the 2-3 SRM range because of the acid malt.

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Re: Light Lager Water Chemistry - Advice Desired
« Reply #3 on: April 26, 2017, 03:29:03 PM »
If you plan on using distilled water for this (which is a wise idea, I use RO and get it cheaply from the kiosk at local walmart) you may need more than just 2.7% acid malt to get your pH down to a proper 5.2-5.3 for a nice crisp light lager. You could start with that acid malt and then add additional mL of lactic acid to get you the rest of the way.

Without plugging those numbers into a water software (Brunwater), I would guess that you would need closer to about 5% acid malt and close to 2 mL lactic acid (88%) to bring you down appropriately.

Lately, I have only been adding enough CaCl2 to net me about 40 ppm Ca and 70 Cl with good results in light lager styles. Trying to keep minimal additions with these style is crucial to allow the malts to shine. A little Na (think 10-12 ppm) and light SO4 (25-30 ppm) can also help to keep things crisp and rounded.

Is it worth dropping the Acid malt for just lactic acid additions? According to Beersmith, my color is already a little over the 2-3 SRM range because of the acid malt.

IMO, yes.  I think acid malt is not nearly as exact as using acid.
Life begins at 60.....1.060, that is!

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Offline brewinhard

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Re: Light Lager Water Chemistry - Advice Desired
« Reply #4 on: April 26, 2017, 03:43:05 PM »
If you plan on using distilled water for this (which is a wise idea, I use RO and get it cheaply from the kiosk at local walmart) you may need more than just 2.7% acid malt to get your pH down to a proper 5.2-5.3 for a nice crisp light lager. You could start with that acid malt and then add additional mL of lactic acid to get you the rest of the way.

Without plugging those numbers into a water software (Brunwater), I would guess that you would need closer to about 5% acid malt and close to 2 mL lactic acid (88%) to bring you down appropriately.

Lately, I have only been adding enough CaCl2 to net me about 40 ppm Ca and 70 Cl with good results in light lager styles. Trying to keep minimal additions with these style is crucial to allow the malts to shine. A little Na (think 10-12 ppm) and light SO4 (25-30 ppm) can also help to keep things crisp and rounded.

Is it worth dropping the Acid malt for just lactic acid additions? According to Beersmith, my color is already a little over the 2-3 SRM range because of the acid malt.

IMO, yes.  I think acid malt is not nearly as exact as using acid.

Agreed. But either way visiting some water software (Brunwater) will help you to predict your mash pH and instruct you on how much acid to add properly.

Offline DKensil

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Re: Light Lager Water Chemistry - Advice Desired
« Reply #5 on: April 26, 2017, 03:48:39 PM »
If you plan on using distilled water for this (which is a wise idea, I use RO and get it cheaply from the kiosk at local walmart) you may need more than just 2.7% acid malt to get your pH down to a proper 5.2-5.3 for a nice crisp light lager. You could start with that acid malt and then add additional mL of lactic acid to get you the rest of the way.

Without plugging those numbers into a water software (Brunwater), I would guess that you would need closer to about 5% acid malt and close to 2 mL lactic acid (88%) to bring you down appropriately.

Lately, I have only been adding enough CaCl2 to net me about 40 ppm Ca and 70 Cl with good results in light lager styles. Trying to keep minimal additions with these style is crucial to allow the malts to shine. A little Na (think 10-12 ppm) and light SO4 (25-30 ppm) can also help to keep things crisp and rounded.

Is it worth dropping the Acid malt for just lactic acid additions? According to Beersmith, my color is already a little over the 2-3 SRM range because of the acid malt.

IMO, yes.  I think acid malt is not nearly as exact as using acid.

Thanks Denny, that's going to be my move then.

Brewinhard - Thanks for the other mineral suggestions, I will be looking into these as well.

As far as usage, am I just making these salt and acid additions to my strike water and bringing it up to temp for mashing or do this additives get mixed in at other points? I've read different people doing different procedures (in sparge, not in sparge, added to mash, added before mash, etc) I'm just looking for the simplest method at this point. Please note I use a BIAB brewing method and full volume mashing etc. Something like 8 gallons of water to accommodate a 90 min boil.

Offline brewinhard

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Re: Light Lager Water Chemistry - Advice Desired
« Reply #6 on: April 26, 2017, 04:54:31 PM »
All of your salts can be directly added to your full volume of strike water for your no-sparge volume prior to doughing in. If you add your salts to your water after it has heated up a bit, then it will be easier for them to dissolve.

Offline denny

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Re: Light Lager Water Chemistry - Advice Desired
« Reply #7 on: April 26, 2017, 05:15:01 PM »
If you plan on using distilled water for this (which is a wise idea, I use RO and get it cheaply from the kiosk at local walmart) you may need more than just 2.7% acid malt to get your pH down to a proper 5.2-5.3 for a nice crisp light lager. You could start with that acid malt and then add additional mL of lactic acid to get you the rest of the way.

Without plugging those numbers into a water software (Brunwater), I would guess that you would need closer to about 5% acid malt and close to 2 mL lactic acid (88%) to bring you down appropriately.

Lately, I have only been adding enough CaCl2 to net me about 40 ppm Ca and 70 Cl with good results in light lager styles. Trying to keep minimal additions with these style is crucial to allow the malts to shine. A little Na (think 10-12 ppm) and light SO4 (25-30 ppm) can also help to keep things crisp and rounded.

Is it worth dropping the Acid malt for just lactic acid additions? According to Beersmith, my color is already a little over the 2-3 SRM range because of the acid malt.

IMO, yes.  I think acid malt is not nearly as exact as using acid.

Agreed. But either way visiting some water software (Brunwater) will help you to predict your mash pH and instruct you on how much acid to add properly.

Absolutely!
Life begins at 60.....1.060, that is!

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Offline DKensil

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Re: Light Lager Water Chemistry - Advice Desired
« Reply #8 on: April 26, 2017, 05:26:50 PM »
Excellent, thanks for the help guys!

Offline erockrph

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Re: Light Lager Water Chemistry - Advice Desired
« Reply #9 on: April 27, 2017, 12:04:41 AM »
First of all, if you decide to start dabbling in water chemistry, I'd highly recommend checking out Brun'water. Water treatment is a great way to subtly enhance an already good beer. It is also an easy way to royally screw one up.

I've done my share of experimenting with water chemistry, and I've pared it back to simply targeting chloride and sulfate levels and targeting a particular mash pH. For a light lager I target about 80ppm chloride and about 50ppm sulfate, and a mash pH of 5.2. Your actual additions will depend on your source water and grain bill (this is where Brun'water or Brewer's Friend's advanced water calculator comes in). Personally, I use kosher salt for my chloride and gypsum for my sulfate. Calcium chloride works fine for chloride, but I think a small amount of sodium in the 40-50ppm range actually enhances the flavor in malt-forward beers.
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Offline mabrungard

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Re: Light Lager Water Chemistry - Advice Desired
« Reply #10 on: April 27, 2017, 12:13:48 PM »
The May/June 2017 issue of Zymurgy has a sidebar discussion of what you might be looking for in light lager water. It is part of the Mexican Lager article. 

It's another reason for brewers to be AHA members.
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Re: Light Lager Water Chemistry - Advice Desired
« Reply #11 on: April 28, 2017, 04:09:39 PM »
The May/June 2017 issue of Zymurgy has a sidebar discussion of what you might be looking for in light lager water. It is part of the Mexican Lager article. 

It's another reason for brewers to be AHA members.

Your water comments/adjustments as part of the style articles are really helpful, Martin!  Thank you for providing that so often.  I really upped my game when I started using your spreadsheet a few years back.  Way easier to use than trying to understand some of the technical parts of the Water book (though that helped solidify some general concepts for me, as well, so I recommend it to those wanting to "dive deeper" into their water chemistry).
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