Author Topic: Looking for info on magnesium additions.  (Read 451 times)

Offline swlusk

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Looking for info on magnesium additions.
« on: June 11, 2014, 03:43:52 PM »
I'm brewing a cream ale and I'm building my water from distilled for the first time. My yellow/balanced water profile in Bru'n water suggests around 7ppm of magnesium. I understand that malt does indeed contribute magnesium but...
1. how much does it contribute, and does this amount change from maltster to maltster and kilning to roasting?
2. Should I assume my malt is providing sufficient Mg or should I bump my additions a tiny bit with a little Epsom salt as my now has a "zero" level of Mg.
I think I'm overthinking it again! but I am curious. :)
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Offline Steve in TX

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Re: Looking for info on magnesium additions.
« Reply #1 on: June 11, 2014, 04:16:34 PM »
I skip Epsom salts unless I am looking to add sulfates without adding more calcium.
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Offline HoosierBrew

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Re: Looking for info on magnesium additions.
« Reply #2 on: June 11, 2014, 04:22:09 PM »
I skip MgSO4 altogether. Malt has enough magnesium as is. I know some brewers here use it though.
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Offline mabrungard

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Re: Looking for info on magnesium additions.
« Reply #3 on: June 11, 2014, 07:21:20 PM »
As Steve mentioned, there is no need to add Mg unless you are adding a lot of sulfate. For most profiles, that means that Epsom salt is not required. When targeting a pale profile, then you definitely want to add the Epsom salt so that you provide a portion of the sulfate without too much calcium. There are no benefits from creating very high calcium level in brewing water and there is some evidence that it may actually be detrimental. The Epsom salt is desirable then.
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Offline swlusk

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Re: Looking for info on magnesium additions.
« Reply #4 on: June 12, 2014, 04:35:10 AM »
As Steve mentioned, there is no need to add Mg unless you are adding a lot of sulfate. For most profiles, that means that Epsom salt is not required. When targeting a pale profile, then you definitely want to add the Epsom salt so that you provide a portion of the sulfate without too much calcium. There are no benefits from creating very high calcium level in brewing water and there is some evidence that it may actually be detrimental. The Epsom salt is desirable then.
That's what I was thinking from what I've been reading but wasn't sure. This will be the most pale brew I've tried to date. My first profile using Bru'n water, built with distilled, looked like this:
Calcium - 60
Magnesium - 0
Sodium - 0
Sulfate - 66
Chloride - 57
bicarbonate - 0
total hardness - 150
Alkalinity - 0
RA -  -43
PH - 5.4

I thought, maybe I don't need quite that much calcium, If I add in a tiny bit of Epsom salts and drop my sulfate a bit, I could maintain my balance of chloride and sulfate, drop the calcium to around 40-50 and it would bring my Magnesium up to around 7. Since the acceptable levels of Mg are pretty low, I was afraid of overdoing it, not knowing what the actual Mg contribution would be from my malt. My feeling is, I'm probably OK adding the Epsom salts. What do you think?
« Last Edit: June 12, 2014, 04:38:04 AM by swlusk »
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Offline dmtaylor

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Re: Looking for info on magnesium additions.
« Reply #5 on: June 23, 2014, 06:47:00 AM »
Magnesium ion tastes horrible and is usually/easily overdone.  As such, I do not recommend its use unless you are absolutely sure of what you are doing.  Or if in doubt, cut the amount you think you should add in half or down to 1/3 as much.  Don't overdo it!  Tastes like friggin poison.  Taste some raw Epsom and see for yourself -- tastes the same in beer.
Dave

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Offline swlusk

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Re: Looking for info on magnesium additions.
« Reply #6 on: June 23, 2014, 04:28:03 PM »
Magnesium ion tastes horrible and is usually/easily overdone.  As such, I do not recommend its use unless you are absolutely sure of what you are doing.  Or if in doubt, cut the amount you think you should add in half or down to 1/3 as much.  Don't overdo it!  Tastes like friggin poison.  Taste some raw Epsom and see for yourself -- tastes the same in beer.
Thanks for the reply. I opted to leave the magnesium alone and brewed without it. When in doubt, leave it out!
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Offline mabrungard

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Re: Looking for info on magnesium additions.
« Reply #7 on: June 23, 2014, 06:58:26 PM »

I thought, maybe I don't need quite that much calcium, If I add in a tiny bit of Epsom salts and drop my sulfate a bit, I could maintain my balance of chloride and sulfate, drop the calcium to around 40-50 and it would bring my Magnesium up to around 7. Since the acceptable levels of Mg are pretty low, I was afraid of overdoing it, not knowing what the actual Mg contribution would be from my malt. My feeling is, I'm probably OK adding the Epsom salts. What do you think?

There is no problem what so ever with a Mg level that low. A case in point is that almost all southern Bavarian waters have 10 to 20 ppm Mg. I'm doubting that anyone is going to say that beers like Spaten, Paulaner, or Weihenstephaner are terrible tasting beers. So the premise that ANY Mg in brewing water is to be avoided, is clearly false. However, it does rapidly become poor tasting in water when above 40 ppm, so there isn't a lot of latitude in dosing.

The problem I find is that a brewer adds epsom salt to a tap water that already some Mg in it and quickly over runs that upper limit. Be sure you know where your Mg level is before ever considering adding it. 

While I am a fan of tasting ingredients by themselves, be aware that in the case of water minerals, adding a pinch to your mouth probably puts the concentration of those ions in the parts per hundred range. That is a bit higher than the parts per million concentrations that may be desirable in brewing water. Trying to draw a conclusion about epsom salt's contribution from tasting a pinch is not going to be telling. Remember, the difference between a medicine and a poison, is dose.

Minor concentration of Mg in brewing water is OK and it definitely is desirable in hop forward and bittered styles.
Martin B
Carmel, IN

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