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In chapter 22 of how to brew by john palmer there is a section called adjusting water for style. further down there is a handy brew cube: enter image description here

Across the bottom there is a vector called "beer structure" with measures of soft, medium and firm - this is based off the calcium in the water.

there are no references to beer structure anywhere else in the book and everywhere else on the internet - it's like it's just been made up for the book.

What does it mean/feel/look/taste like?

  • I looked it up. This is the first time I see it mentioned that the amount of Ca gives a change in the palate. It probably does, but I always got the impression that is was only noticeable above 150 ppm, and that below this it is not noticeable. And furthermore that the amount of Ca is more of interest for the yeast, than for the taste. – chthon Jan 12 '18 at 10:17
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    I suppose Palmer added this to his latest edition after writing 'Water' with Kaminsky. I have the impression that this cube is not present in my copy of "How to brew". – chthon Jan 12 '18 at 10:21
  • Not in my copy of How to Brew either. – Mr_road Jan 12 '18 at 15:15
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In this case, structure refers to the perception of mouthfeel.

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  • Wouldn't light, medium, full. Be better descriptors? – Evil Zymurgist Jan 13 '18 at 3:47
  • Indeed Palmer does go on to describe a firm-bodied beer having 150ppm calcium. – Evil Zymurgist Jan 14 '18 at 17:13
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My guess is that he is referring tangentially to mouthfeel, I have never heard of beer structure as a vector of beer quality.

Let Me Google "Beer Structure"... not really anything there (12 Jan 2018), I feel he may have just made up a term, which being John Palmer I think he is entitled to do.

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I've only seen this term in reference to wines and how tannins give "structure".

If I had to guess I would say this is how the bitterness from IBU is perceived in the beer. For example doing a FWH will have a "softer" bitter perception than a normal bittering addition of the same IBU.

Though "firm", "medium", "soft" are usually descriptors for mouthfeel and head texture.

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  • But it says "Beer Structure". That doesn't imply bitterness to me. – Denny Conn Jan 14 '18 at 16:39
  • @DennyConn I did find a snip of what Palmer was trying to convey in the section of his beer cube. "The TDS gives structure to the beer and effects how the beer presents itself to the palet, that structure can be soft, medium, or firm." Seems to just be an ambiguous term to describe the beer flavor and palet sensations, much like the "intangibles" on a BJCP scoresheet. I focused on the bitterness perception as it seemed to fit how calcium effects beers. – Evil Zymurgist Jan 14 '18 at 17:03

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