Author Topic: Munich Helles Water Profile--Need Advice  (Read 4114 times)

Offline richardt

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Munich Helles Water Profile--Need Advice
« on: February 04, 2011, 07:10:08 PM »
I want to brew a great Munich Helles.
But I'm having a hell of a time figuring out the water.  I'm trying to build it from scratch, i.e., RO water + brew salts.
Can you help me out?

I'm watching LM's Vienna Lager thread closely as I suspect "Munich" water profile has similar issues. 
BJCP guide says to use moderate carbonate water. 

JP's HTB lists the Munich water profile as: 
Ca = 76, Mg = 18, Na = ?, SO4 = 10, Cl = 2, and HCO3 = 152.

BeerSmith lists the Munich water profile as;
Ca = 75, Mg = 20, Na = 10, SO4 = 10, Cl = 2, and HCO3 = 200

Seems impossible to build.  How does one get such high Mg but low SO4 levels? 
Did the Munich brewers basically boil the water and leave much of the HCO3 behind, like the Vienna brewers did?

I'm brewing a Munich Helles (SRM = 5).  I don't want it to end up like a dunkel. 
 

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Re: Munich Helles Water Profile--Need Advice
« Reply #1 on: February 04, 2011, 07:34:19 PM »
Don't try and match those profiles.  You have to remember that they were known for Dunkel in Munich before helles, and those profiles will make a good Dunkel.  Why try and get higher carbonate, when you would have to take it out like they do in Munich to make a Helles?

Kai has this water recipe, Helles is listed high on the list to use it for.
http://braukaiser.com/wiki/index.php/Various_water_recipes#very_soft_water

A guy in the club used to brew professionally, and is now a chemistry teacher.  He says you could use Magnesium Chloride to get the Mg without raising the SO4.  The hard part is finding it at the homebrewer level.  I don't know what would cause the high Mg level vs Cl or SO4 in the soil geology.  Maybe Martin has some input 
Jeff Rankert
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Offline Pawtucket Patriot

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Re: Munich Helles Water Profile--Need Advice
« Reply #2 on: February 04, 2011, 08:00:42 PM »
+1 to Jeff's reference to Kai's site.  My natural tap water profile is remarkably similar to Kai's recommended profile and it makes a fantastic helles.  The only thing I do to my tap water for a helles is even out the Cl:SO4 ratio by adding a little gypsum to the kettle prior to boiling (incidentally, this bumps the calcium level up a tad too, but in a good way).
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Online hopfenundmalz

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Re: Munich Helles Water Profile--Need Advice
« Reply #3 on: February 04, 2011, 11:44:19 PM »
I have been doing some study for the BJCP, and was looking at a water lecture by Kristen England.

You could get Mg with low/no sulfates from Dolomite = CaMg(CO3)2
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Offline mabrungard

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Re: Munich Helles Water Profile--Need Advice
« Reply #4 on: February 05, 2011, 08:41:55 AM »
Kai's information on the Munich profile that he shows on his site is reasonably accurate for the Munich water after it is boiled.  I just posted a lengthy discussion and presentation of the effects of boiling on the resulting hardness and alkalinity of water profiles with high temporary hardness in the Ingredients forum (Decarbonation by Boiling).  

Magnesium carbonate and magnesium chloride are both available from places that sell health supplements.  So you can get food-grade compounds.  I'm not sure about the chemical purity and make up of the magnesium carbonate though.  It exists in several hydrate forms and some say they have differing amounts of magnesium which makes it harder to know how much Mg you're actually adding (even when you're weighing it out).  Magnesium chloride has several hydrate forms, but it seems more typically available in a single form.  

You only need small Mg concentrations for yeast health (5 to 30 ppm), so I don't think its terribly critical to go out of your way to pick up either of the minerals above to perfectly mimic a certain water profile.  But if I were to pick one, it would be the MgCl2.   I agree that recreating the Munich profile is one that could use MgCl2.
« Last Edit: February 05, 2011, 09:10:37 AM by mabrungard »
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Offline richardt

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Re: Munich Helles Water Profile--Need Advice
« Reply #5 on: February 05, 2011, 09:25:01 AM »
Great info--thanks guys.

I looked at Kai's link.  I've tried using his calculator in the past and really struggle with the "ppm" figures rather than just using "grams"--Nonetheless, I pulled up EZ Water Calculator and came up with a similar profile:

EZ Water Calculator:
For a 10 gallon batch using 16 gallons total of RO water and dividing equally 8 gallons for mash and 8 gallons for sparge.
Add 2.4 gm CaCl and 2.4 gm MgSO4.  Deselect "No adjust for sparge H2O."
I get the following:
Ca = 22, Mg = 7, Na = 0, SO4 = 31, Cl = 38, HCO3 = 0, RA = -20, Estimated Mash pH = 5.51

If I add 3 ml of Lactic Acid 88% it lowers the pH from 5.51 to 5.36.  (I don't have Sauermalz).


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Re: Munich Helles Water Profile--Need Advice
« Reply #6 on: February 05, 2011, 09:35:06 AM »
Martin, thanks for the input on the health food store to source MgCl.

Richardt, glad to be of some help.
Jeff Rankert
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Offline richardt

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Re: Munich Helles Water Profile--Need Advice
« Reply #7 on: February 05, 2011, 07:52:44 PM »
I'm also struck by the irony that if I use this new water profile, it actually has NO carbonates in it.

The 2008 version of the BJCP Guidelines lists "moderate carbonate water" under ingredients for a Helles.
Yet does not mention that boiling the water or treating it as Martin has described actually results in a vastly different profile (closer to Pilsen, actually) and a much lower residual alkalinity that permits brewing a pale-colored beer.

The more I learn about water profiles, the more I realize how one can do more harm than good trying to replicate a posted "water profile."

Martin, I especially appreciate your insights and explanations.  Your expertise is evident.  You have a real knack for communicating the complicated water chemistry concepts and for bringing our understanding to a higher level rather than dumbing it down or not explaining why.  Thanks for taking the time to explain.



Offline Kaiser

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Re: Munich Helles Water Profile--Need Advice
« Reply #8 on: February 05, 2011, 10:45:12 PM »
Munich water and Munich Helles is one of those cases where the water profile doesn't match the beer style.

In addition to what has been already said: Paulaner, who makes an excellent Helles, uses brewing water that comes from a deep well. This water has a hardness of 2 dH (~50 ppm as CaCO3). The alkalinity should be similar. This is an example of a brewery that doesn't even have to deal with the typical Munich water.

Kai