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General Category => General Homebrew Discussion => Topic started by: klickitat jim on January 06, 2018, 04:25:36 PM

Title: NaCl?
Post by: klickitat jim on January 06, 2018, 04:25:36 PM
I'm puzzling over a very minor thing I find in a few of my beers. Difficult to properly describe but I'll do my best. Currently I have a nice pale ale on tap. It probably has too much hop flavor and aroma to nail the BJCP description, more of an IPA with lower end hop bitterness and on the low end of abv. It has no off flavors, it's properly carbonated, looks great, smells great. Upon taking a drink, it starts great and ends great, but there is a middle that seems, for lack of a better term, hollow.

I have two theories.
1. When you first take a drink it's full of carbonation, which amplifies everything, but as the carbonation diminishes it seems like the flavor and aroma and mouthfeel drop. Then after swallowing it kicks back up because now you have retronasal. In other words, nothing is wrong.

2. I'm missing some water ions and that is causing the mid palate hollow thing. My well is quite low in NaCl and I don't ads any.

The adjusted water on this beer is
100 Ca
10 Mg
8 Na
46 Cl
134 SO4

Thoughts?
Title: Re: NaCl?
Post by: mabrungard on January 06, 2018, 04:45:19 PM
While I use about double the sodium level that you do, I don't believe its going to make a big difference in flavor in a pale ale. I'm leaning to the fact that you're using a very modest sulfate content and I find that it leaves the palate too 'full and quenched' to allow the hop flavor and bittering to be percieved. Sulfate dries the finish of any beer and for a pale ale, I find that the level needs to be in the 200 to 300 ppm range to be satisfying (for me).

I recommend you try a test in which you take a thin pinch of gypsum between your thumb and finger and add that to a pint of that pale ale. Mix it into the beer and see if that improves the beer for your tastes. That amount is obviously not exacting, but I estimate that it adds about 100 ppm sulfate to a pint of beer. If you like it, I recommend boosting your gypsum and/or epsom additions to boost sulfate in future brews.
Title: Re: NaCl?
Post by: klickitat jim on January 06, 2018, 05:47:15 PM
I will try that tonight Martin. Thanks
Title: Re: NaCl?
Post by: klickitat jim on January 06, 2018, 07:20:20 PM
Martin

My next brew day includes an English IPA. How does this profile look?

146 Ca
10 Mg
27 Na
103 Cl
210 SO4
Title: Re: NaCl?
Post by: mabrungard on January 06, 2018, 10:25:06 PM
That'll be fine, but I find that keeping the chloride in the 50 to 70 ppm range is better when boosting sulfate.
Title: Re: NaCl?
Post by: Robert on January 06, 2018, 11:44:17 PM
Martin,

As long as you're giving advice on Na and SO4, my next brew will be a Dunkel.   I'm thinking RO with 0.7g/gallon sodium bicarbonate and 0.7g/gallon calcium chloride.   How's that look? I'm thinking that should get me where I need to be for alkalinity, and will put sodium in the range you've recommended elsewhere in a dark beer.  I wonder, though, if I should consider any sulfate, or will chloride alone be more appropriate? (Last one was a Pils with only CaCl2 and acid.  When it's on tap I'm going to try your pinch of gypsum trick!)
Title: Re: NaCl?
Post by: klickitat jim on January 07, 2018, 12:07:16 AM
That'll be fine, but I find that keeping the chloride in the 50 to 70 ppm range is better when boosting sulfate.
Thanks
Title: Re: NaCl?
Post by: erockrph on January 08, 2018, 03:12:17 PM
Jim, I have found that sodium in the 40-50 ppm range does give a small boost to counteract that "something's missing" character in the mid-palate. My only caveat is that I was getting this in my lagers, that use a far softer water tham my typical English ales. I end up in the 50-80 ppm range on Sulfate and Chloride in those typically. I switched from using CaCl2 for my chloride adjustment to kosher salt. That cut my Calcium (not a big deal in lagers) and boosted my Sodium. I don't have a specific description for the change, other than that my palate isn't hunting for the malt flavor during the middle like it was before.

As Martin stated, English Ales with more ions already in the water may be a different can of worms. I'd try adding a sprinkle of salt to your problem beer and see if that makes a change for the better. For these purposes, salts are simply flavorings and can be added to taste in the finished beer similar to flavor extracts, coffee, etc to determine effect and dosage rate.
Title: Re: NaCl?
Post by: klickitat jim on January 08, 2018, 03:17:51 PM
Excellent, thanks. I'll play around with that.
Title: Re: NaCl?
Post by: mabrungard on January 08, 2018, 06:29:52 PM
I wouldn't expect that a Munich Dunkel would require alkalinity in the mashing water, so the sodium bicarb is a surprise. But if the pH prediction says it'll need it, then add it.

I know a lot of brewers rely on the advice posted on the HomebrewTalk forum in which only RO and calcium chloride are recommended for most brewing. That advice is based on an adversion to sulfate from one of the lead members. However, I find that adding sulfate salts to brewing water can help improve the dryness of the beer's finish and its overall impression. Sulfate does not make beer bitter, it makes it dryer.

So if you feel your Dunkel doesn't finish dry enough, then it calls for sulfate. I do include a light sulfate content in all my brewing, say in the 20 to 50 range for malty beers. 
Title: Re: NaCl?
Post by: Robert on January 08, 2018, 07:34:00 PM
I wouldn't expect that a Munich Dunkel would require alkalinity in the mashing water, so the sodium bicarb is a surprise. But if the pH prediction says it'll need it, then add it.

I know a lot of brewers rely on the advice posted on the HomebrewTalk forum in which only RO and calcium chloride are recommended for most brewing. That advice is based on an adversion to sulfate from one of the lead members. However, I find that adding sulfate salts to brewing water can help improve the dryness of the beer's finish and its overall impression. Sulfate does not make beer bitter, it makes it dryer.

So if you feel your Dunkel doesn't finish dry enough, then it calls for sulfate. I do include a light sulfate content in all my brewing, say in the 20 to 50 range for malty beers.
Bicarb was based on assumption that with RO some alkalinity is needed.  I rarely brew dark beers (in fact I may not this time, I was just thinking of shaking things up) but have found moderate alkalinity gave a good pH in the past.  And call me crazy, but I've never used brewing software, I prefer to continually upgrade the wetware. That's where your advice is much appreciated!  (If I do a pale lager this week, I intend to try the 20-50 sulfate. Thanks for confirming that. The Pils and Helles do need some more crispness.)
Title: Re: NaCl?
Post by: denny on January 08, 2018, 07:45:08 PM
I wouldn't expect that a Munich Dunkel would require alkalinity in the mashing water, so the sodium bicarb is a surprise. But if the pH prediction says it'll need it, then add it.

I know a lot of brewers rely on the advice posted on the HomebrewTalk forum in which only RO and calcium chloride are recommended for most brewing. That advice is based on an adversion to sulfate from one of the lead members. However, I find that adding sulfate salts to brewing water can help improve the dryness of the beer's finish and its overall impression. Sulfate does not make beer bitter, it makes it dryer.

So if you feel your Dunkel doesn't finish dry enough, then it calls for sulfate. I do include a light sulfate content in all my brewing, say in the 20 to 50 range for malty beers.
Bicarb was based on assumption that with RO some alkalinity is needed.  I rarely brew dark beers (in fact I may not this time, I was just thinking of shaking things up) but have found moderate alkalinity gave a good pH in the past.  And call me crazy, but I've never used brewing software, I prefer to continually upgrade the wetware. That's where your advice is much appreciated!  (If I do a pale lager this week, I intend to try the 20-50 sulfate. Thanks for confirming that. The Pils and Helles do need some more crispness.)

Especially for a German pils I've found a moderate amount of sulfate a must.
Title: Re: NaCl?
Post by: Robert on January 08, 2018, 08:07:51 PM
I wouldn't expect that a Munich Dunkel would require alkalinity in the mashing water, so the sodium bicarb is a surprise. But if the pH prediction says it'll need it, then add it.

I know a lot of brewers rely on the advice posted on the HomebrewTalk forum in which only RO and calcium chloride are recommended for most brewing. That advice is based on an adversion to sulfate from one of the lead members. However, I find that adding sulfate salts to brewing water can help improve the dryness of the beer's finish and its overall impression. Sulfate does not make beer bitter, it makes it dryer.

So if you feel your Dunkel doesn't finish dry enough, then it calls for sulfate. I do include a light sulfate content in all my brewing, say in the 20 to 50 range for malty beers.
Bicarb was based on assumption that with RO some alkalinity is needed.  I rarely brew dark beers (in fact I may not this time, I was just thinking of shaking things up) but have found moderate alkalinity gave a good pH in the past.  And call me crazy, but I've never used brewing software, I prefer to continually upgrade the wetware. That's where your advice is much appreciated!  (If I do a pale lager this week, I intend to try the 20-50 sulfate. Thanks for confirming that. The Pils and Helles do need some more crispness.)

Especially for a German pils I've found a moderate amount of sulfate a must.
Ca ~65
Mg~13
Cl~89
SO4~89
Excessive for German Pils? Alternative is dropping Ca to 50, SO4 to 50, leave the others?  I'm thinking sulfate/chloride ratio which has always been way toward Cl using my natural water (RO now.)
EDIT Or, as last was 50 Ca 89 Cl 0 Mg 0 SO4  I might just start inching up Epsom and see when I like it. Start at 20 sulfate?
Title: Re: NaCl?
Post by: mabrungard on January 08, 2018, 09:09:56 PM
Bicarb was based on assumption that with RO some alkalinity is needed. 

A program like Bru'n Water is very helpful for estimating the likely bicarb content needed in the mash. A dunkel has only a teeny bit of roast to add color, but not much else. It probably doesn't affect pH that much.

The proposed calcium, sulfate, and chloride levels might be a bit high for G Pils. I like Jever Pils and the water there has 75 ppm SO4 and only 30 ppm Cl. The calcium is likely to be lower too. Lagers don't need ANY calcium since the malt provides all that the yeast need, but you'll probably want to have some in there for oxalate reduction.
Title: Re: NaCl?
Post by: Robert on January 08, 2018, 09:24:35 PM
Bicarb was based on assumption that with RO some alkalinity is needed. 

A program like Bru'n Water is very helpful for estimating the likely bicarb content needed in the mash. A dunkel has only a teeny bit of roast to add color, but not much else. It probably doesn't affect pH that much.

The proposed calcium, sulfate, and chloride levels might be a bit high for G Pils. I like Jever Pils and the water there has 75 ppm SO4 and only 30 ppm Cl. The calcium is likely to be lower too. Lagers don't need ANY calcium since the malt provides all that the yeast need, but you'll probably want to have some in there for oxalate reduction.
Thanks, I'll likely try incrementally adding sulfate by the batch.  I do feel 50 Ca is helpful for palate reduction -- I destined equipment less often.
As I said, I'm just not philosophically inclined to use software, but I DID download Bru'n Water for kicks, and I couldn't get it to run on the mobile version of Excel.  Read only.  Any solution? If it's PC only, I'll happily stick with scratch paper and brain.

EDIT Hmm, Jever looks like 0.5g/gal gypsum and 0.2g/gal  table salt, Ca ~30.  Easy peasy.  I still remember the first Jever I had in Hamburg long long ago.  Quite an impact.
Title: Re: NaCl?
Post by: erockrph on January 23, 2018, 06:51:53 PM
I just saw this recent xBmt and found the results quite interesting. The test beer was brewed with 100 ppm of sodium, and the experimenter found that it led to cleaner flavors, a more pronounced hop aroma, and a crisper finish compared to the low sodium (8 ppm) control beer, and without a noticible saltiness. The other tasters were split over which version they preferred, but this does seem to support the notion that increased sodium levels have an impact on the beer (and potentially a positive impact).

It also sounds like there is quite a bit of headroom above the usual 40-50 ppm I shoot for. I might try bumping this to the 80ppm range on my next pale lager to test this out.

Here's the xBmt:

http://brulosophy.com/2018/01/22/water-chemistry-pt-10-the-impact-of-sodium-on-beer-exbeeriment-results/
Title: Re: NaCl?
Post by: klickitat jim on January 23, 2018, 07:01:56 PM
I have wondered, 2 or 3g of Na doesn't seem like much in 6gal of beer. I might replace my CaCl with NaCl on my next APA just for kicks
Title: Re: NaCl?
Post by: mabrungard on January 23, 2018, 07:04:37 PM
While sodium isn't the big, bad boogey man that some make it out to be, I wouldn't purposely bump sodium content up too much for most brews. As I've mentioned in the past, sodium can have beneficial flavor effects in beer...just don't overdo it.

The World Health Organization has established an aesthetic limit for sodium in drinking water as 250 ppm. That is generally the point at which most people can taste 'salty' flavor. As shown in the Brulosophy trials, 100 ppm sodium doesn't taste salty at all in beer.

While you can try elevated sodium in your beers, I caution against levels greater than about 70 ppm. I get minerally perceptions above that level. Not bad, just different. This is especially true when the sulfate level in the water is greater than 100 ppm. Sodium and sulfate at high levels do not play well on your palate.

Enjoy!
Title: Re: NaCl?
Post by: klickitat jim on January 23, 2018, 07:15:38 PM
My quick check...  getting my Cl from NaCl end up with
107Ca 10Mg 73Na 101Cl 217SO4
Calculater says I'll need an extra 1ml of Lactic than normal. Usually 4.5ml on this beer, now 5.5ml
Title: Re: NaCl?
Post by: mabrungard on January 23, 2018, 09:11:38 PM
107Ca 10Mg 73Na 101Cl 217SO4

I don't know what your goals are for this brew, but I'm leery of having that much sodium along with the elevated chloride and sulfate levels. If this is for an IPA, I would decrease both Na and Cl by about half.
Title: Re: NaCl?
Post by: klickitat jim on January 23, 2018, 09:18:29 PM
107Ca 10Mg 73Na 101Cl 217SO4

I don't know what your goals are for this brew, but I'm leery of having that much sodium along with the elevated chloride and sulfate levels. If this is for an IPA, I would decrease both Na and Cl by about half.
APA ish... thanks Martin, I'll make that change


Edit, now at

107Ca 10Mg 40Na 50Cl 217SO4