Author Topic: Dortmunder Water Profile  (Read 2079 times)

Offline Tristan

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Dortmunder Water Profile
« on: June 09, 2011, 08:32:38 AM »
What do you feel is the ideal water profile when brewing a Dortmunder Export?  I've done quite a bit of searching and haven't found any new information.  I'm hoping Martin, Kai and Gordon can chime in on this particular topic.

A bit of background on where I am at with this recipe; I brewed a Dortmunder last year.  I thought the recipe was appropriate and it had the correct flavor profile.  However, it was lacking the "mouthfeel" that DAB has, minerally.  My white whale at this point of the brewing obsession is to be able to really nail this style.

I've been big on water spreadsheets for quite some time and tend to get anal about all the little details.  After reading constantly on the subject, Gordon's new book in particular, I've stopped getting so hyper critical about each detail.  I've started to focus more on just getting the mash pH and sparge water pH correct and then having enough calcium for yeast health.  This has yielded excellent results.  

This being said, I still want to get the water dialed in for this beer.  I don't necessarily think it's useful to try to build the listed water profile for Dortmunder, because I'm not sure what the brewers do with that water in particular.  They may boil before use or some other treatment that alters the mineral content from that which is listed.  I figure I will start by just upping the calcium chloride and calcium sulfate slightly from what I had last time unless I can find someone who has really nailed the water profile and use a similar treatment.

Tentatively, I plan on cutting my tap water with RO water using 9 grams of Gypsum and 8 grams of Calcium Chloride to treat 10 gallons of water to be used during my brew day.  I will use 2.4ML of Phophoric Acid as well, added to the HLT and then just enough Phosphoric Acid to the remaining sparge water to reduce alkalinity.  Here is what the water profile looks like, from Kai's water spreadsheet:

Calcium 117 ppm
Magnesium 1.5 ppm
Sodium 3.0 ppm
Sulfate 142 ppm
Chloride 99.7 ppm

estimated mash pH 5.35

Sorry for the lengthy dissertation.  

« Last Edit: June 09, 2011, 08:34:57 AM by Tristan »
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Offline jeffy

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Re: Dortmunder Water Profile
« Reply #1 on: June 09, 2011, 08:59:42 AM »
I have been using the water profile that is listed for Dortmund in Promash as a basis for my salt additions.   Sorry I don't have that info at work.  Lately I have been setting the pH with acid and adding the salts to the boil as flavor additions with good results.
The first time I made it using this method it triggered memories from 10 years ago of the flavor of DAB.
This beer has just recently become available here in cans after a long absence.  It is surprisingly light bodied and much more carbonated than I remember it, but otherwise the flavors match up to the brew I make with Promash additions.
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Offline Tristan

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Re: Dortmunder Water Profile
« Reply #2 on: June 09, 2011, 09:05:57 AM »
Would you say based upon your experience that this is a style that really benefits from getting as close as possible to the listed profile?

I remember reading this article before brewing my first Dort.  However, I was a bit worried about going to the extremes in water profile:

http://www.maltosefalcons.com/tech/dort-evolution-recipe
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Offline dbeechum

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Re: Dortmunder Water Profile
« Reply #3 on: June 09, 2011, 09:09:53 AM »
I'm not much of a lager brewer normally, but I can vouch for the Dortmunders brewed by the author of that link.
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Offline tom

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Re: Dortmunder Water Profile
« Reply #4 on: June 09, 2011, 09:15:25 AM »
AJ DeLange has 4 different profiles at:  http://ajdel.wetnewf.org:81/Brewing_articles/Recipes.pdf

They all have different residual alkalinities.  I just brewed one with the lowest residual alkalinity profile, but then sparged with my Denver water so the overall profile will be less in the finished beer (still fermenting).
« Last Edit: June 09, 2011, 11:19:57 AM by tom »
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Offline johnf

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Re: Dortmunder Water Profile
« Reply #5 on: June 09, 2011, 09:33:46 AM »
George Fix gave compelling evidence that Dortmund breweries are doing a lot of water treatment.

I drank lots of DAB products in Dortmund last fall, they did not taste minerally to me.

I never drink DAB in the US as green bottle and indeterminate length of time on the shelf and it isn't even the export.

I'm not convinced the minerally thing isn't more of a myth than reality. If adding as much minerals as Dortmund water has isn't getting you the characteristic taste you are looking for, I would look elsewhere. They certainly aren't adding more minerals there.

With German beers, if you drink them in the US, a lot of times what is missing is staling.

Offline jeffy

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Re: Dortmunder Water Profile
« Reply #6 on: June 09, 2011, 10:04:22 AM »
Would you say based upon your experience that this is a style that really benefits from getting as close as possible to the listed profile?

In a word, yes.  Without the salts you get something closer to a Helles in my opinion.
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Offline gordonstrong

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Re: Dortmunder Water Profile
« Reply #7 on: June 09, 2011, 10:10:13 AM »
I don't really get a minerally thing in Dortmunders.  They seem pretty smooth to me.  Kris England told me he did experiments and even when using mineral additions, it didn't seem to be that noticeable in the finished beer.  He's another one who feels the minerally quotes are overstated.  I've tasted more minerals in NHC 2nd round amber lagers than I ever did in commercial Dortmunders.

If you hit your mash pH target and your beer tastes good, I don't know that I'd worry about it.  For me, a Dort is more about the balance between malt and hops than it is about minerally flavors.

If you have finished beer, have you tried adding minerals to them to see if it affects the profile in a positive way?  If so, you could try adding them to the boil the next time.

So I'd probably use a water profile similar to what I use with a Kolsch, half calcium chloride, half calcium sulfate in RO water.

I think there is a wider range in water profiles than people might want you to believe.  Trying to match city water is a fool's errand unless you know that brewers there are using that water unmodified.  Get your mash pH right, then taste the beer and see if you like it.  Spreadsheets don't predict flavor.
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Offline denny

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Re: Dortmunder Water Profile
« Reply #8 on: June 09, 2011, 10:38:46 AM »
I never drink DAB in the US as green bottle and indeterminate length of time on the shelf and it isn't even the export.

Fortunately we get DAB in cans around here.
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Offline blatz

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Re: Dortmunder Water Profile
« Reply #9 on: June 09, 2011, 10:45:23 AM »
With German beers, if you drink them in the US, a lot of times what is missing is staling.

+1!!  ;D

As was said by many above, the mineral thing to me is a bit overemphasized.  I make Dortmunder 3-5 times a year and while I do punch up the sulfates a bit - I usually get dinged in comps for the 'lack of minerally flavor' but it stands right up there with the likes of Great Lakes when my friends and I are just judging it on "taste and enjoyment" - and neither are 'minerally'.  While not German, I consider GLDG to be one of the hallmarks (I know I'm gonna get flamed on that)

FWIW, according to DAB, they use water that is very soft, almost pilsner like  - 60 mg/l calcium and <40 mg/l sulfate.  IIRC, Great Lakes also uses a similar water profile in theirs.


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Offline Tristan

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Re: Dortmunder Water Profile
« Reply #10 on: June 09, 2011, 11:12:20 AM »
Thanks for all the great replies.  Lots of food for thought.  I don't have any of my first batch of Dortmunder left, but I intend to do some experimenting with additions to finished beer to see how it effects the flavor.

Interesting how the "minerally" profile of DAB is hyped up.  Last time I had DAB the bottles were in really good shape in a closed 12 pack.  They didn't taste skunked or oxidized.  There is this "pucker" on the cheeks (mouthfeel) that I assumed was what people mean when they say "minerally."  Perhaps it isn't this quality but more a product of the overall flavor profile?

I've modified the recipe from the Maltose Falcons site, which I listed above, for my next attempt.  I deleted the wheat malt and subbed in some more Vienna.  Hopefully this will yield a more interesting beer than my first attempt.
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Offline mabrungard

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Re: Dortmunder Water Profile
« Reply #11 on: June 09, 2011, 12:15:24 PM »
Don't get too caught up in water flavor and certainly avoid going overboard with mineral additions. 

The OP's use of Kai's Dortmund profile is appropriate in that it does have modestly high chloride and sulfate levels and may provide slightly minerally flavor without excess.  The water profile that I obtained from the Dortmund water company is actually more mineralized than Kai's profile and would certainly affect flavor a little more.  But, that is not to say that it would make a better beer.  Given the ease with which breweries can deionize their water, I would not be suprised that DAB could be brewed with less mineralized water than available locally.   
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Offline Tristan

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Re: Dortmunder Water Profile
« Reply #12 on: June 09, 2011, 01:12:00 PM »
Don't get too caught up in water flavor and certainly avoid going overboard with mineral additions.  

The OP's use of Kai's Dortmund profile is appropriate in that it does have modestly high chloride and sulfate levels and may provide slightly minerally flavor without excess.  The water profile that I obtained from the Dortmund water company is actually more mineralized than Kai's profile and would certainly affect flavor a little more.  But, that is not to say that it would make a better beer.  Given the ease with which breweries can deionize their water, I would not be suprised that DAB could be brewed with less mineralized water than available locally.  

Thanks for the insight Martin.  Just to clarify the water profile from my OP is using values generated from Kai's spreadsheet when I plugged in my "draft" salt additions.  The salt additions were arbitraily entered by myself based upon a modest increase from my first attempt brewing a Dort.
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