Vienna, Munich or MO as a general base?

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I like brewing with Voyager Vienna as a base malt (well all of the voyager malts) but can I suggest that you try brewing a couple of low hop rate beers with 100% vienna and 100% munich with a clean yeast? That way you'll get a first hand understanding of what the malt brings to the beer and you can base your decisions on that.
 

MHB

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Ok nothing wrong with either of those and having a look at them -
Both ~1.060 OG, Both ~30IBU, Both more hops early and less late (from the better recipes/info I can find).
Might give you some directions to start looking.

Shepheard's Neame makes a bit of noise about their water coming from a Chalk aquifer, I would take that with a pinch of salt (sorry) sounds more like marketing spin than brewing science. I would think they will be modifying the hell out of their water, I would stay away from Gypsum, takes very little to make the beer quite harsh.

Note that both beers are well attenuated, mashing hot will head more toward sweet than malty. The 1698 claims to be just pale malt, Hobgoblin is more of a mixed bag, the best clone I have seen was by "Orfy" The recipe in Brewers Friend is well worth a bash.
Mark
 

DustyRusty

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Thanks for all your help mark. How do I get the calcium level up without gypsum? I could just add more chloride but we’d get to very high levels of chloride to hit the calcium levels. Chalk is alternative but everything I’ve read suggests it’s virtually impossible to dissolve, making the addition fairly pointless.
 

kadmium

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Thanks for all your help mark. How do I get the calcium level up without gypsum? I could just add more chloride but we’d get to very high levels of chloride to hit the calcium levels. Chalk is alternative but everything I’ve read suggests it’s virtually impossible to dissolve, making the addition fairly pointless.
Chalk will also add bicarbonate.

Use calcium lactate as MHB suggested and adjust pH with lactic acid as needed.
 

MHB

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Well close Carbonate in any case, pretty hard to hit your mash pH with much in your water.
Chalk will dissolve if there is dissolved CO2 in the water so plenty of mineral waters have a swag of Carbonate.
In a mash, it is pretty much insoluble but it will react with acid, and even the acidic Maillard products in dark malts.
Which is why where the water was high in carbonates (London, Dublin...) the beers were traditionally dark, to neutralise the carbonate.
These days a half decent pH meter isn't too expensive and is a very good investment.
Mark
 

DustyRusty

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It seems like Calcium Lactate doesn't feature in Brewers Friend or most of the water spreadsheets/apps/software. How do i calculate it?
 

MHB

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My local stocks it, its about 13% Calcium by weight and has that info on the label. Its pretty easy to calculate how much you want to add, just work out how much Ca you want and multiply by percentage. Sample equation on the label to.
Used with Lactic acid it forms a very powerful buffer and will help lock your pH in where you want it. Works better than the pH setting powders and costs less.
Mark
 

DustyRusty

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My local stocks it, its about 13% Calcium by weight and has that info on the label. Its pretty easy to calculate how much you want to add, just work out how much Ca you want and multiply by percentage. Sample equation on the label to.
Used with Lactic acid it forms a very powerful buffer and will help lock your pH in where you want it. Works better than the pH setting powders and costs less.
Mark

ok that sounds simple. But does it affect ph at all? I already use lactic acid but wasn’t sure if the Calcium Lactate raises or lowers it too. Thanks again for all the help
 

MHB

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This is pretty important to understand if you want to play with water chemistry.
None of the common salts change the pH much in and of them selves, most in solution have a pH close to 7 (not Carbonates/BiCarbonates...).
How they change the pH is by Ca reacting with Phosphates from the malt, this forms insoluble Calcium Phosphates and leave H Ions in solution. pH is the count of the number of H ions in solution.
Calcium from any source reacts with and reduces the pH by the same mechanism. Clearly the limiting factor is the amount of Phosphate available. Some is freely soluble, some bound up in organic complexes, the free stuff reacts quickly and lowers the pH to mashing range, some becomes available during the mash, boil and ferment which is in part why the pH falls at every stage of the brewing process.
But (time) once you have used up all the available Phosphates adding more salts wont help you much.

Acids are different in that they just add H ions. Lowers the pH
Bases (Alkaline) like Carbonates mop up H ions less of them and the pH will rise. Which is why its pretty crazy to be adding carbonates to anything other than very dark beers. Dark beers get some of their acidity from Melanoidins and other Maillard products and can be too acidic (under the recommended mashing range)

If you add 100ppm of Ca in the form of Chloride, Sulphate or Lactate its the 100ppm of Ca that will affect the pH and if they are all fully dissolved to pretty much the same amount. Where it changes and what I like about Lactate is that both Cl and SO4 have pretty emphatic effects on flavour, Lactate doesn't so we can add the ideal amount of either/both Cl and SO4 then bring the Ca to target without screwing with the flavour we want.

Where it gets much more complex is when we start to look at buffers, if your interested Kai at Braukaiser treats the subject very well, well worth a read.
Buffers resist change in pH, a well designed buffer complex will basically superglue your pH right where you put it and it wont move much at all. Lactate/Lactic Acid falls into this class - very handy.
Mark
 

DustyRusty

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Great. This is great news. Never thought it was possible to raise calcium without either Chloride or gypsum. Was always stuck adding gypsum to everything. Looks like this has solved it. Yep sounds like I need to do some more work on Ph. Thanks again mate big help today.
 

An Ankoù

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Hi,

Couple of years into all grain brewing. Going well but struggled to get a big malty flavour i've wanted in a lot of the beers, even with higher mash temps. Been using Coopers Pale Ale Malt as my base. I tend to brew Red Ales, Brown Ales, Stouts, the occasional Belgian or yeasty German and always a Saison around Christmas time. Considering making Vienna, Munich or Marris Otter a major part of my base bill rather than the Coopers. Anyone want to recommend which one would be the most versatile? I'd like to store all three but i don't really have the space to do that. I tend to like to buy a 25kg bag for the value too. Any recommendations?

Thanks for your help
I recently thought of having a go at an altbier (German "old (fashioned) beer"). I'd never tried the style before, but something about the recipe made me think it would be a good'n. As soon as you said "big. malty flavour" I thought of this: it's really malty, but without the cloying sweetness afforded by adding loads of crystal malt. Here's the recipe if you want to try it yourself:

Batch size 23 litres. OG 1050. Expected FG 1012. IBUs 35

Dusseldorf water is hard so 2 tsp Calcium Sulphate and all water treated for chlorine / chloramine anyway.
3 Kg Bestmalz Pilsner malt
2.5 Kg Bestmalz Munich 15 ebc
350 g Wheat malt
145 g Caramunich III
75 g Carafa Special # 3
Magnum to 25 IBUs and Saaz to 10 IBUs FWH
I'd planned a flameout addition of 12g Saaz, but didn't do it in the end.

75 minute boil. ½ tablet of protofloc last 15 minutes.
Collected 26 litres at 1049. Pitched with Wyeast 1007, which is now going like something that properly belongs in Mordor. Have moved it into a cold room where ambient temp is 12-13 C. Bottom of fermentation range for 1007 is 13C.

You don't need to use Bestmalz. It's just that that's what I had in stock.

By the way, MO isn't especially expensive here, but I'm not a great fan unless I'm copying a commercial beer that uses it.
 
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DustyRusty

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Just am update. Very positive results. Brewed this:

21Litre Batch

3.5kg BB Alt Malt
1.5kg Weyermann Munich T2
200g JW Light Crystal
320g Flaked Barley
200g Melanoidin
75g Roasted Barley

20g Magnum (10.2%) 30min
15g Cascade (5.3%) 10min
15g Centennial (10%) 10min
IBU: 29.24

Yeast: S-04

Mash temp 67c for 45 min mash.
OG: 1.059
FG: 1.014

Split my dechlorinated tap water with RO water adding Calcium Lactate and a small amount of Gypsum (0.25tsp - my water has no sulfate in it). Ended up with this:

Calcium: 75.3
Magnesium: 1.7
Sodium: 48.4
Chloride: 73.2
Sulfate: 24.6
Bicarbonate: 0.164

Thanks to your help, it seems that reducing hops, using a little munich and using Calcium Lactate rather than gypsum resulted in a much tastier and smoother beer than I had been making. The dominant bitterness is gone and i can taste and smell the malts. It tastes remarkably like Hobgoblin (and looks identical). Best beer I've made in a very long time. I still have some work to do to get a bigger malty richness but i believe this is a perfect starting point and i can adjust malts, hops and salts to get me there.

Thanks again!
 

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