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CCHBS News for November 2004

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  1. November Recipe Specials
  2. Partial-mash Brewing Class Sunday November 7th!
  3. Farmhouse Ales Book Coming Soon
  4. Five Star pH Stabilizer and More!
  5. Spotlight on Theory- The Importance of Water pH

November Recipe Specials

In January, Pacific Gravity will feature a new BJCP style: Irish Red Ale. Our Kilkenney Red Ale is a fine example of this style, so we're putting it on special to encourage folks to try it for $22. Our second featured beer is Angeles Alt. This style is a Pacific Gravity favorite, for good reason. Try it for $22 in November. It may seem like Yellow Brick Road Wheat Beer has been on special all summer, but the weather is cool enough to make an American Wheat Beer, using one of the American ale yeasts - $22, Last, but not least, King Kong Porter is an old favorite. This Robust Porter is an award winning recipe, now on sale for only $30.

Partial-mash Brewing Class Sunday November 7th!

Teach a Friend to Homebrew day is this weekend, so we're celebrating it by conducting a class for you extract brewers who would like to do a little more. You don't need more equipment to mash a few pounds of grain, and it gives you much more control over the ingredients used in your recipes. We'll be focusing on an approach you can use on the stove top, so there's no reason why everyone can't take advantage of this class. Noon Sunday, Nov. 7th.

Farmhouse Ales Book Coming Soon

If you've seen ads for the new book "Farmhouse Ales" in Zymurgy or Brew Your Own, don't worry we've got it on order. We're also planning on matching the pre-order price offered to AHA members, but only for this initial order. So get your copy soon!

Five Star Chemicals pH Stabilizer and More!

We've decided to try some of the Five Star Chemicals product line. The most exciting is their 5.2 pH Stabilizer (if you don't know why pH is important, see below). This blend of food grade phospates locks mash (or steep) pH at 5.2 - the ideal range for beer. We're also stocking two other Five Start products: IoStar, a new, more convenient packaging for iodophor; and Powdered Brewery Wash, an alkaline-based alternative to Straight-A, and only requires a single rinsing.

Spotlight on Theory - The Importance of Water pH

The pH of water is a shorthand way for indicating it's relative acidity. The value is scaled from 0 (maximum acidity) to 14 (maximum alkalinity). 7 is neutral. Adding grain to the water will lower the pH, hopefully into ideal pH range for a beer mash: 5.2-5.4. Even if you're not mashing, the pH of your water will still affect the flavor and clarity of your finished beer.

Historically, the single most important factor in determining the kind of beer brewed in a certain area has been the pH level of the local water. How does this affect you? Well, if you're content with brewing amber-colored ales, it doesn't. But if you'd like to brew light golden beers that are clear, it does. And if you like to brew dark Stouts or Porters that aren't astringent it does. It doesn't matter if you brew all-grain or with extract, the pH levels of your brewing water has an effect on the beer you brew. Which only makes sense, since water is the biggest ingredient in beer.

The traditional approach to pH adjustment was to adjust the beer to suit the water. The high pH water of London was great for Porters because the dark grains used in Porter would lower pH to just the right level. But when Pale Ale became all the rage, Burton's low pH water made it the brewing capital of England. Europe was no different. Lagers were first brewed in Munich, but they were dark because their high pH (high carbonate) water made it nearly impossible to make a beer that was both light and clear (Helles came along later). Once the lager yeast found its way to Bohemia though, the low pH of the water there made it possible to brew those light-colored, clear beers. In Los Angeles, the pH of our water is slightly to moderately high, depending on the season. While this is great for anything in the middle of the beer color range, it means that we have to make adjustments for anything at the t op or bottom of the color range.

Adjustments can be made in several ways. Some people add Lactic acid to lower pH. Others use naturally occuring minerals to try to approximate the water originally used to brew the style in question. Diluting our local water with distilled water is still another approach. The easiest approach yet may be to use the 5.2 pH Stabilizer from Five Star Chemicals. Reports from those who've tried it have been favorable, so I know I'm looking forward to giving it a try.

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