Author Topic: Calcium Carbonate  (Read 8582 times)

Offline WesKinetic

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Calcium Carbonate
« on: July 11, 2012, 02:02:15 PM »
OK, I freely admit that a lot of the water chemistry stuff is over my head, so I'll apologize in advance for a dumb question. But here goes anyway: I know that calcium carbonate can be used to enhance the sweetness of some beers. But is there a downside to using it if your pH is fine and your water doesn't need additional calcium? In other words, if I'm brewing a really malty beer, could I add some calcium carbonate, not because it's needed, but just to enhance that flavor?  What is the danger of having too much chalk in the beer?

Thanks.

Offline majorvices

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Calcium Carbonate
« Reply #1 on: July 11, 2012, 02:16:54 PM »
I don't recall ever hearing that calcium carbonate can enhance the sweetness of beers, but that doesn't mean there isn't come truth to that. To answer your question, yes, it can certainly affect your pH and I wouldn;t just go arbitrarily throwing it in any recipe, except perhaps dark beers - but even then you really are better off knowing if you need it or not. Most likely,for dark beeers, you  will.
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Offline punatic

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Re: Calcium Carbonate
« Reply #2 on: July 11, 2012, 03:19:30 PM »
I just dropped a seashell in my beer and stirred it for a while.  It's not one bit sweeter now than without the seashell.   ;)
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Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: Calcium Carbonate
« Reply #3 on: July 11, 2012, 04:02:05 PM »
The last I checked the White Cliffs of Dover were still there. Chalk does not dissolve easily, even at beer pH as Carl points out.

Do not remember chalk making a beer sweet. You add Ca and CO3, which can become HCO3, or at lower pH H2CO3. I know that bicarbonate, HCO3 does not enhance the flavor of beer. Too much and you get what Gordon calls an Alka Seltzer beer.

CaCl2 helps enhance malty flavors, as the Cl does that. Is that what you are thinking?

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Offline narvin

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Re: Calcium Carbonate
« Reply #4 on: July 11, 2012, 06:06:23 PM »
Calcium chloride, or even sodium chloride (non-iodized), can accentuate the fullness or sweetness of beer. 

http://howtobrew.com/section3/chapter15-1.html

The only effect calcium carbonate will have on the flavor of your beer will be negative, unless you're making a dark beer and know that you need it based on a complete water report.  Carbonates are only useful to balance out the correct amount of acidity.  In most cases, I find that chalk is often not needed.  It's better to err on the side of caution with water additions, especially with chalk.
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Offline WesKinetic

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Re: Calcium Carbonate
« Reply #5 on: July 12, 2012, 07:38:24 AM »
Thanks everybody. It appears I have been misinformed (although, given that my last chemistry class was 19 years ago, that's not a surprise). And hopfenundmalz is correct--I think I was confusing calcium carbonate with calcium chloride. 

So I'll ask the question again, with the right term, is there a downside to adding extra calcium chloride in a malty beer? Or does it just depend on what's already in your water?

Offline morticaixavier

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Re: Calcium Carbonate
« Reply #6 on: July 12, 2012, 07:50:08 AM »
Thanks everybody. It appears I have been misinformed (although, given that my last chemistry class was 19 years ago, that's not a surprise). And hopfenundmalz is correct--I think I was confusing calcium carbonate with calcium chloride. 

So I'll ask the question again, with the right term, is there a downside to adding extra calcium chloride in a malty beer? Or does it just depend on what's already in your water?

it depends what's already in your water. greatly. Calcium Chloride will raise the pH of the wort, if only slightly it also adds Chloride, which in the correct concentrations is good and in incorrect concentrations is not so good. Check out Martins spreadsheet bru'n water for more info and a great tool for figuring this stuff out.
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Offline WesKinetic

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Re: Calcium Carbonate
« Reply #7 on: July 12, 2012, 08:01:06 AM »
Thanks everybody for your help and for putting up with all my dumb questions.  I've got a copy of our city water report coming shortly, so I'll hopefully be able to ask more educated ones in the future.  :)

Offline nateo

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Re: Calcium Carbonate
« Reply #8 on: July 12, 2012, 08:02:33 AM »
Ca+ will lower the mash pH if it's not coupled with a base (like HCO3).
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Offline mmitchem

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Re: Calcium Carbonate
« Reply #9 on: July 12, 2012, 08:21:14 AM »
Ca+ will lower the mash pH if it's not coupled with a base (like HCO3).

+1 - I got schooled on this a couple of months back. Calcium will help to acidify the mash. Around 50-100ppm is the good range. If you are mashing a lot of crystal and roasted malts, the mash pH will acidify much more and you might need some chalk to help get your pH back up to the 5.2-5.5 range.
Or you could do like Gordon Strong and start with RO water. Adjust your strike water pH to around 5.5 before mashing and then add calcium chloride or gypsum to the mash. Add your crystal and roasted grains at the recirculation.
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Offline WesKinetic

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Re: Calcium Carbonate
« Reply #10 on: July 12, 2012, 12:36:47 PM »
OK, here's what I just got from our city water report. Now can someone tell me what the heck it means?  :) And, more specifically, any help with what this means for water treatments I should be using?

Total  Dissolved Solids   591
Phenolphthalein Alkalinity as CaCO3   13
Total Alkalinity as CaCO3   36
Hardness as CaCO3   228
Calcium as CaCO3   130
Hardness in grains per gallon   13
Bicarbonate Alkalinity as CaCO3   10
Calcium as Ca++   52
Magnesium as Mg++   25
Sulfate   211
Chloride   125
Bromide   <0.25
Fluoride   0.54
pH (Std. Units)   9.8

Online kramerog

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Re: Calcium Carbonate
« Reply #11 on: July 12, 2012, 01:11:33 PM »
OK, here's what I just got from our city water report. Now can someone tell me what the heck it means?  :) And, more specifically, any help with what this means for water treatments I should be using?

Total  Dissolved Solids   591
Phenolphthalein Alkalinity as CaCO3   13
Total Alkalinity as CaCO3   36
Hardness as CaCO3   228
Calcium as CaCO3   130
Hardness in grains per gallon   13
Bicarbonate Alkalinity as CaCO3   10
Calcium as Ca++   52
Magnesium as Mg++   25
Sulfate   211
Chloride   125
Bromide   <0.25
Fluoride   0.54
pH (Std. Units)   9.8

Sulfates and chloride are really high!  Where do you live?  Where does your water come from?  How does it taste?  Your water might be unsuitable for brewing or limited to certain styles.

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Offline WesKinetic

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Re: Calcium Carbonate
« Reply #12 on: July 12, 2012, 01:38:34 PM »
Oklahoma City's finest. :) Comes from a local lake. The water itself tastes fine. For lack of a better term, a little more full-bodied and not as "crisp" as distilled water or some othe places I've been.

Most of the beers I've brewed have come out OK or good, but not a lot of ones I would consider really great. So I'm looking for any improvement I can find and it looks like water might be a good place to start.

Online kramerog

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Re: Calcium Carbonate
« Reply #13 on: July 12, 2012, 02:30:14 PM »
I wasn't expecting you to say lake or that the water tastes fine.

Some quick internet research leads me to believe that your water may be fine for IPAs but should probably be diluted 1:1 with RO or distilled water for most other styles to lower the sulfate and magnesium levels. See http://www.antiochsudsuckers.com/tom/brewingwater.htm

You should run your water profile through one of the water spreadsheets to see roughly what adjustments you might need to make to get a suitable mash pH.
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Offline garc_mall

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Re: Calcium Carbonate
« Reply #14 on: July 12, 2012, 05:58:46 PM »
I would use 1:1 ratio of RO/tap for hop forward beers, and 3:1 RO/tap with some extra CaCl for Malty beers. That is a LOT of Sulfates you need to account for in your recipes. On the plus side, looks like you will have no need for Gypsum! Agreed with using a water spreadsheet for adjustments. I recommend Martin's Bru'n Water.
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