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Brews & Views Bulletin Board Service * Brews and Views Archive 2010 * Archive through July 07, 2010 * Chemistry: Mash salts vs brew kettle salts < Previous Next >

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Tex Brewer
Advanced Member
Username: Texbrewer

Post Number: 560
Registered: 03-2004
Posted From: 99.49.36.0
Posted on Sunday, May 02, 2010 - 12:00 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Palmer's residual alkalinity spreadsheet is set up for mash water volume, not total water volume. Calculations are made for Ca, Mg, and alkalinity (CO3/HCO3) that allow you to get the mash water where you need it. But he also has other ions, like Na, Cl, and SO4, which don't affect that. However, he calculates, for example, the Cl/SO4 ratio to tell you whether the balance is "bitter" or "malty." Should those other ions be adjusted for the full volume of the beer (batch size)? In other words, do you add more salts to the brew kettle and not the mash tun to achieve the levels of Na, Cl, and SO4 desired?
 

Graham Cox
Senior Member
Username: T2driver

Post Number: 2410
Registered: 11-2004
Posted From: 72.15.105.173
Posted on Sunday, May 02, 2010 - 12:34 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Tex, it is my opinion that the "desired level" of the flavor ions is generally quite low in most beers, and many people who do much tinkering with them go overboard. I think John, through the use of those cells on the spreadsheet, is just showing the brewer what his salt additions are doing to the beer in terms of optimization for malty-versus-hoppy.

I try to adjust my salt additions to:
a) Adjust mash pH into the optimum range for residual alkalinity
b) Always have 50 ppm Ca minimum going into the kettle

For that, I will use calcium carbonate for dark beers (and often some NaHCO3, baking soda, to keep the calcium in check, with the ancillary benefit of adding some sodium), calcium chloride for light, malty beers, and calcium sulfate, gypsum, for hoppy beers. I try to keep the flavor ions at reasonable levels, certainly below 100 ppm in every case. Obviously, sodium and chloride enhance malty flavors, while sulfate enhances hop bitterness and can assist in adding a dry crispness to those beers that can be so affected.

I have added a section to the bottom of John's spreadsheet that does calculate the ion concentrations in the finished product. It figures it in a vacuum, however, not taking into account any losses to the grain bed, trub, etc. In other words, it's better than a WAG but there is obviously going to be some difference between the calculations and reality.

The short answer to your specific question, though, is that I rarely if ever add any salts to the kettle. My water is soft and low in dissolved solids overall, so I generally have to add enough salts to the tun that it would be undesirable (IMHO) to add more later.
 

Tex Brewer
Advanced Member
Username: Texbrewer

Post Number: 561
Registered: 03-2004
Posted From: 99.49.36.0
Posted on Sunday, May 02, 2010 - 02:43 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Good answer, Graham. I want to enhance the malty flavors with more Na and Cl, and bring both of them to the 70-100 mg/L range. The RA has me adding chalk and baking soda to the mash to get the Ca to at least 50 and the RA correct for mash pH. But it's not enough Na and Cl considering my source water. I'm going to add enough NaCl to the kettle for the full batch volume to brings the whole batch to that range, since I don't see much point in adding that to the mash.
 

Steve Pierson
Intermediate Member
Username: Stevepierson

Post Number: 472
Registered: 03-2003
Posted From: 67.41.32.102
Posted on Sunday, May 02, 2010 - 03:49 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Tex, I have very alkaline well water - very high in bicarbonate and low in sulfate and chloride.

I do exactly as you do. I adjust the mash water by dilution with distilled water and add salts to get mash pH and residual alkalinity in the right range. I then add salts to the boil kettle to adjust sulfate and chloride levels to the desired range.

Graham makes a good point about keeping the ion levels fairly low. I think of it like using seasonings in cooking. A little is a good thing - but too much is TOO MUCH.

I've also wondered how much of the ions are left in the grain bed and how much makes it to the kettle. Has anyone seen any research on this topic?
 

Bill Pierce
Moderator
Username: Billpierce

Post Number: 11648
Registered: 01-2002
Posted From: 24.141.103.148
Posted on Sunday, May 02, 2010 - 03:57 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

The influence of sulfate, chloride and sodium on beer flavor are very subtle, and the balance among the ions is "fragile" (for lack of a better word). Be careful with kettle salt adjustments; it's easy to do more harm than good.

Graham is entirely right with his recommendation to bring the mash pH into the proper range and provide enough calcium (for good enzyme conversion in the mash, protein break during the boil and yeast health during fermentation). Beyond that it's best to work with a light hand.
 

Jeff Rankert
Member
Username: Hopfenundmalz

Post Number: 191
Registered: 06-2008
Posted From: 76.122.184.226
Posted on Sunday, May 02, 2010 - 04:03 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Using RO water, I build to some level that gets the RA right, and adjust SO4 and Cl to style. I don't try and go overboard.

With the RO, I get the Mg level up to the 8-10 ppm range for yeast health. Anyone have thoughts on that?
 

Tom Meier
Advanced Member
Username: Brewdawg96

Post Number: 955
Registered: 03-2003
Posted From: 76.73.219.58
Posted on Sunday, May 02, 2010 - 05:00 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I am continually stunned how people use gypsum.. Personally I find the bitterness imparted by gypsum to be unacceptable..

AFAIAC, the sulfate to chloride ratio should be as small as you can get it.

I use CaCl2 for all my calcium needs, and it gives a very pleasant 'hook' to the malt quality. rounder brighter but mellow maltiness.

Case in point a guy in my local club started asking and learning alot about water, and I advised him on how to treat the local water for hoppy beers with CaCl2.

He made a IIPA that blew everyone away, including seasoned 10, 20, and 30 year brewers who are hard to impress, and did it without gypsum.. some said they best they have had commercial or otherwise.

(Message edited by brewdawg96 on May 02, 2010)
 

Graham Cox
Senior Member
Username: T2driver

Post Number: 2412
Registered: 11-2004
Posted From: 72.15.105.173
Posted on Sunday, May 02, 2010 - 05:25 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

That's interesting, Tom, and further underscores my belief, and I think Bill's as well, that chasing the historical water profile of a classic brewing center is a waste of time, unless you're deliberately trying to brew a historical clone of something. The fact that the lads in Burton-on-Trent, for example, found that they could successfully brew pale ale and IPA with that water doesn't mean the water is optimal for that style. Local styles usually developed not so much because of what brewers could brew with the local water as what they could not (e.g. pale ale in Dublin).
 

Steve Pierson
Intermediate Member
Username: Stevepierson

Post Number: 473
Registered: 03-2003
Posted From: 67.41.32.102
Posted on Sunday, May 02, 2010 - 08:32 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)


quote:

With the RO, I get the Mg level up to the 8-10 ppm range for yeast health. Anyone have thoughts on that?




Jeff - I do the same thing with my diluted water. Palmer lists 10-30 ppm as optimum for Mg levels - I just shoot for 20 and call it good.
 

John McElver
New Member
Username: Johnmc

Post Number: 10
Registered: 04-2010
Posted From: 69.134.51.112
Posted on Sunday, May 02, 2010 - 11:45 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Tom,
The CaCl2 probably makes for a maltier profile because of the calcium improving the mash efficiency and the Cl being an ion humans like; a little salty.
And +1 on not liking gypsum so much, well, it's ok in sheet rock.
 

Tex Brewer
Advanced Member
Username: Texbrewer

Post Number: 564
Registered: 03-2004
Posted From: 69.148.170.26
Posted on Monday, May 03, 2010 - 02:48 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Now we need someome to do an experiment with a split mash - CaCl2 in one and CaSO4 in the other. A pale ale or IPA would be good. So many experiments, so little time...