Brewing a German Pilsner

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Brewing a German Pilsner

Postby ArrogantDan on Thu Feb 02, 2012 1:10 am

I'll be brewing my first German Pils next week doing a decoction with the mash. My question is, is it best to use RO water and then treat it or simply treat my filtered tap water. For what it's worth, I live in Yorba Linda and do not have a local water report.
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Re: Brewing a German Pilsner

Postby DrDually on Thu Feb 02, 2012 9:13 am

You can go online to the city site and get the report
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Re: Brewing a German Pilsner

Postby dhempy on Thu Feb 02, 2012 10:06 am

FWIW ... The water here is pretty hard and I typically go buy some distilled water and dilute my filtered tap water.

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Re: Brewing a German Pilsner

Postby Marotte Brewery on Thu Feb 02, 2012 12:30 pm

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Re: Brewing a German Pilsner

Postby ArrogantDan on Thu Feb 02, 2012 4:44 pm

Thanks Jeremy.
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Re: Brewing a German Pilsner

Postby ArrogantDan on Sat Feb 04, 2012 12:22 am

Is soft water necessary for this style of beer?
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Re: Brewing a German Pilsner

Postby lexuschris on Sat Feb 04, 2012 3:37 am

Personally, I think my lighter beers taste better with softer water. I make a lite American Wheat, and use 25% distilled water to my 75% tap water.

It also has something to do with keeping your mash pH in the 5.2-5.4 range. Without the heavier roasted malts adding acidity, your pH can be too high. I think some folks add acidulated malt to remedy this ...but I've never done that ...or a pilsner... oops... maybe I shouldn't be offering advice on this thread... :oops:

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Re: Brewing a German Pilsner

Postby dhempy on Sat Feb 04, 2012 2:07 pm

ArrogantDan wrote:Is soft water necessary for this style of beer?


I found this on the web ...
"The home of Pilsner is the Czech town of Pilsen where the water is very soft and produces a very mild lager in most cases. The lagers from Munich, by contrast, are delightful in part because of the hard water used by brew meisters there for centuries. Dortmund, home to a famous lager style, has very hard water with high levels of most minerals found in water."

Brew and find out! Because there is nothing to hide behind, you need to minimize any unintended effects of the water. If you have high carbonates (i.e. hard water), the carbonates buffer much of the acidity created by mashing so there can be a tendency to extract tannins and therefor make your beer more astringent. If you want to minimize this effect, then you need to soften your water.

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Re: Brewing a German Pilsner

Postby ArrogantDan on Sun Feb 05, 2012 1:24 pm

Thanks Dan for the input. Since posting this question, I've done some research and found that the Bohemian Pilsner requires a softer water but the Norther German style, which is more bitter and hoppier requires hard water. I'm just gonna use my carbon-filtered water and add 5.2 pH stabilizer as I do for all beers. The yeast starters are already churning away for a Tuesday brew day. I went with WLP830, the German Pilsner yeast strain. This is my first attempt at a lager...can't wait to taste the hoppy goodness.
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Re: Brewing a German Pilsner

Postby BrewMasterBrad on Wed Feb 08, 2012 10:32 am

For what it's worth, I used to use John Palmer's residual alkalinity spreadsheet to try to figure all this stuff out. I now just play it by ear since the spreadsheet would generally get me in the ballpark and I have a good idea of what I am doing now. For my lighter colored beers, I will generally add in some gypsum or calcium chloride to the mash to help lower the pH since the pale malts tend to be less acidic than darker malts. On my amber beers I sometimes won't make any mash mineral additions since my water is just about right for those types of beers. For darker beers like porters and stouts and I will add chalk or calcium carbonate to the mash to bring the pH up a little bit. I don't pretend to know the science behind all this, but it has worked for me for several years now. Oh yeah, I also acidify my sparge water with some lactic acid to get it in the 6.5 to 7.0 pH range.
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Re: Brewing a German Pilsner

Postby dhempy on Wed Feb 08, 2012 4:31 pm

I was hoping we'd hear from the former Guru Du Style on this subject ... always good to hear from Brad on these subjects ... he's BTDT.

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Re: Brewing a German Pilsner

Postby ArrogantDan on Wed Feb 08, 2012 6:12 pm

Indeed, I was hoping to get Brad's 2 cents. Like I posted earlier, I've always used 5.2 pH stabilizer with filtered water. Perhaps this info will motivate me to start treating my water on a more precise level.
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Re: Brewing a German Pilsner

Postby BrewMasterBrad on Wed Feb 08, 2012 6:23 pm

ArrogantDan wrote:Indeed, I was hoping to get Brad's 2 cents. Like I posted earlier, I've always used 5.2 pH stabilizer with filtered water. Perhaps this info will motivate me to start treating my water on a more precise level.


I tried 5.2 for a few batches and felt like it was causing some clarity issues with the finished beer. I did not have the equipment to measure if it was actually helping managing the mash pH, but I did not care for the haze it was leaving in my finished beer. Other people have used it and love it. Maybe it was just my water and the 5.2 not playing well together.
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Re: Brewing a German Pilsner

Postby bwarbiany on Sat Feb 11, 2012 2:29 pm

I've read mixed reports on the efficacy of 5.2. Apparently it may not do anything unless your water is relatively close to the target.

Adding a little acid malt (pilsner malt sprayed with lactic acid) can bring you down in range without affecting flavor, as long as you keep it below 5% of the grist. Apparently acid malt was originally created to help german brewers acidify the mash without violating the Reinheitsgebot.
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