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General Category => Ingredients => Topic started by: mabrungard on November 03, 2010, 06:18:28 AM

Title: Chloride Sulfate Ratio
Post by: mabrungard on November 03, 2010, 06:18:28 AM
I am reading Charles Bamforth's (UC Davis Brewing professor) book "Beer: tap into the art and science of brewing, 2nd Ed".  On page 73, I noted a damning statement regarding the validity of the chloride to sulfate ratio.  His comment follows.

"The importance of this chloride to sulfate ratio is one example of the plethora of dogmatic beliefs held by many brewers.  In fact, there is little if any published scientific data to justify the conclusions made concerning this ratio - which is not to say that it is not important but rather that, if it were in the dock in a court of law, it wouldn't have much of a hard-and-fast defense."

There has been similar skepticism expressed by myself and AJ DeLange in the past regarding this ratio.  The contention that this ratio is applicable or appropriate for brewing without caveat is misguided in my opinion.  Any respected brewing text generally cautions against having the water's chloride concentration above 100 ppm when the sulfate also exceeds 100 ppm. A review of water profiles from the historic world brewing centers shows that all profiles (Burton, Dublin, Edinburgh, London, Munich, Vienna, Pilsen) have chloride concentrations under 100 ppm.  Burton and Edinburgh both have sulfate concentrations above 100 ppm. 

The only historic water profile that has elevated chloride (~130 ppm) in conjunction with elevated sulfate (~330 ppm) is the Dortmund profile.  Interestingly, this is a profile that is known for imparting a minerally character to beer.  Also notable is that the chloride concentration is not too far above 100 ppm, so that points to the suggestion that the 100 ppm limits mentioned above are somewhat soft and possibly imprecise. 

So, what I'm suggesting in this post is that the chloride to sulfate ratio may not be applicable under all conditions.  But it does appear that the ratio can be useful when the chloride concentration is less than about 100 ppm.  I've heard of software and other brewing water recommendations that utilize the chloride to sulfate ratio to characterize the beer flavor between bitter and malty.  While I agree with the general concept of the ratio, its apparent that the 100 ppm (or thereabouts) chloride caveat needs to be inserted into its use.
Title: Re: Chloride Sulfate Ratio
Post by: denny on November 03, 2010, 09:03:16 AM
Thanks for the info, Martin.  I always look forward to hearing what you have to say about water.
Title: Re: Chloride Sulfate Ratio
Post by: tschmidlin on November 03, 2010, 09:17:40 AM
Yes, thanks Martin.  I would probably never approach 100 ppm Cl since I start with 3 ppm, but it's good to know in case I ever consider adding only CaCl to my mash.
Title: Re: Chloride Sulfate Ratio
Post by: hopfenundmalz on November 03, 2010, 09:31:55 AM
I haven't been too hung up on this.  If Charlie Bamforth, AJ, and Martin question it, I don't think I will change my viewpoint.

As you look around the brewing forums in the net, it has become a mantra on some of them.
Title: Re: Chloride Sulfate Ratio
Post by: tygo on November 03, 2010, 10:07:21 AM
I do try to keep the Cl:SO4 ratio in the ballpark of the flavor profile I'm trying to achieve but I've also read or heard (somewhere, can't remember exactly where now) about the 100ppm threshold for Cl and try to live by that as well.  Glad to see that's consistent with what Dr. Bamforth is recommending.
Title: Re: Chloride Sulfate Ratio
Post by: johnf on November 03, 2010, 10:34:58 AM
I do try to keep the Cl:SO4 ratio in the ballpark of the flavor profile I'm trying to achieve but I've also read or heard (somewhere, can't remember exactly where now) about the 100ppm threshold for Cl and try to live by that as well.  Glad to see that's consistent with what Dr. Bamforth is recommending.

I've never read or heard Bamforth proscribe a 100 ppm limit for chloride. The initial quote in the OP is from Bamforth, the rest is referring to different unnamed sources, I believe.
Title: Re: Chloride Sulfate Ratio
Post by: tygo on November 03, 2010, 11:06:43 AM
Yeah, now that I re-read it I see you're right.  Like I said though that isn't the first place I've read/heard that before.  Unfortunately I can't remember where so that's another unnamed source  :-\
Title: Re: Chloride Sulfate Ratio
Post by: denny on November 03, 2010, 11:17:57 AM
Martin himself is about as reliable a source as you can get when it comes to water.
Title: Re: Chloride Sulfate Ratio
Post by: bluesman on November 03, 2010, 11:38:03 AM
This is good info. to keep in mind while adjusting your water.  Thanks Martin!
Title: Re: Chloride Sulfate Ratio
Post by: beveragebob on November 03, 2010, 12:27:45 PM
I really never pondered the ratio. I always figured chloride for malty and sulfate for hoppy. Thanks for the insight Martin!
Title: Re: Chloride Sulfate Ratio
Post by: gordonstrong on November 03, 2010, 03:18:04 PM
I think sulfate has a noticeable flavor (and dryness).  I tend to only use it when I want that flavor, otherwise I use CaCl2 for almost all my beers.

AJ has an interesting podcast on his website on water.  He did an English IPA with both traditional Burton salts as well as just some CaCl2.  It's funny to hear the tasters say they preferred the non-traditional one.

Again, I prefer to use my tongue rather than a spreadsheet to tell me when my beer tastes right.
Title: Re: Chloride Sulfate Ratio
Post by: Thirsty_Monk on November 03, 2010, 05:41:50 PM
AJ has an interesting podcast on his website on water. 
Do you have link to that podcast?
Title: Re: Chloride Sulfate Ratio
Post by: richardt on November 03, 2010, 05:52:24 PM
From what I've just read, it appears that I've erroneously chased the Cl:SO4 while adjusting my water profile to get the Ca levels higher.  Problem was that it made the Cl level around 124-140 ppm.  Resultant beers did have a "minerally" taste to them, not unlike a Dortmunder.

Thanks, Martin.  Looks like I'll be redoing my BeerSmith water profile calculations to adjust the Cl levels back under 100. 
Title: Re: Chloride Sulfate Ratio
Post by: johnf on November 03, 2010, 05:58:01 PM
AJ has an interesting podcast on his website on water. 
Do you have link to that podcast?

http://ajdel.wetnewf.org:81/

audio and ppt are separate (adjacent) links.
Title: Re: Chloride Sulfate Ratio
Post by: Thirsty_Monk on November 03, 2010, 06:14:11 PM
johnf
Thank you
Title: Re: Chloride Sulfate Ratio
Post by: dmtaylor on November 03, 2010, 08:10:02 PM
MOST of my beers lately have had more than 100 ppm chloride.  And, MOST of my beers lately have been pretty darn good.  I never cared about the chloride:sulfate ratio before, and I'm not about to anytime soon.  If I need calcium in my beer, I usually add CaCl2 first, because chloride is a mellow salty flavor, whereas gypsum has a bitter harshness to it.  I see no reason to use more gypsum and less CaCl2 just because of some "minerally" character.  I don't pick up minerallyness in my beers.  Granted, I have not made a pilsner or a Dort lately, either, where it might be easier to pick up.  But anyway... I don't fear "the ratio".  Get that calcium in there any way you can, and don't fear the chloride.
Title: Re: Chloride Sulfate Ratio
Post by: johnf on November 03, 2010, 08:50:09 PM
As a random datapoint, the most decorated brewery at the 2010 GABF adjust their water to have 100 ppm each chloride and sulfate. I don't find this company's (Firestone Walker's) beers to be particularly minerally which is not surprising as the absolute levels of sulfate and carbonate are low compared to Dortmund.
Title: Re: Chloride Sulfate Ratio
Post by: thcipriani on November 03, 2010, 09:12:51 PM
Quote
As a random datapoint, the most decorated brewery at the 2010 GABF adjust their water to have 100 ppm each chloride and sulfate. I don't find this company's (Firestone Walker's) beers to be particularly minerally which is not surprising as the absolute levels of sulfate and carbonate are low compared to Dortmund.

I thought that they adjusted to 100ppm hardness as CaCO3 using CaCl2.H20 and CaSO4...or maybe it was 100ppm Ca++...or maybe I have no idea...
Title: Re: Chloride Sulfate Ratio
Post by: johnf on November 04, 2010, 05:20:12 AM
Quote
As a random datapoint, the most decorated brewery at the 2010 GABF adjust their water to have 100 ppm each chloride and sulfate. I don't find this company's (Firestone Walker's) beers to be particularly minerally which is not surprising as the absolute levels of sulfate and carbonate are low compared to Dortmund.

I thought that they adjusted to 100ppm hardness as CaCO3 using CaCl2.H20 and CaSO4...or maybe it was 100ppm Ca++...or maybe I have no idea...

Maybe. I actually quoted that second hand from someone who had heard it on a CYBI show. The second hand quote was clear, but that person may have misunderstood what Brynildson said. I'll try to check the show today and get it from the horse's mouth.
Title: Re: Chloride Sulfate Ratio
Post by: denny on November 04, 2010, 09:50:37 AM
Again, I prefer to use my tongue rather than a spreadsheet to tell me when my beer tastes right.

I completely agree, but I use a spreadsheet the first time I do a recipe.  Then, after I taste it, I decide how or if to change the treatments the next time.