Author Topic: Ca & Mg in Brewing Water article questions  (Read 1107 times)

Offline jjflash

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Ca & Mg in Brewing Water article questions
« on: March 18, 2015, 04:11:58 AM »
Just got done rereading Martin Brungard's "Ca & Mg in Brewing Water" article in the new Zymurgy. 
Correct me if I am wrong in my interpretation of the article.

Calcium levels of 40-50ppm is optimal for enzymatic conversion in the mash.
Magnesium is of minimal importance in the mash.
Malted barley generally contains enough calcium for the mash.

Calcium is of minimal importance for yeast growth.
Magnesium levels of about 42.5ppm is optimal for yeast growth.

Maintaining a Mg:Ca ratio of > 1.8 improves yeast growth and fermentation.

My brewing water has Ca 42ppm and Mg 18ppm.
So there is really no need to add additional Ca as I have been doing in the form of CaCl2.
I can in Mason jars starter wort, these starters would benefit from Mg additions up to about 40ppm.
My Mg:Ca ratio is 1:2.3 so that is spot on for fermentation.
Should my take home message be no additions of Ca to the mash, but add Mg to my canned starters?
I would try this but would appreciate confirmation before the attempt.

Thanks Martin for Brun Water, use it all the time!
 
 

 

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Offline JT

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Re: Ca & Mg in Brewing Water article questions
« Reply #1 on: March 18, 2015, 10:07:59 AM »
You likely have plenty of Mg in your starter wort from the DME.

Offline mabrungard

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Re: Ca & Mg in Brewing Water article questions
« Reply #2 on: March 18, 2015, 08:52:48 PM »
Oh come on! That 42.5 ppm Mg level is just a quote from that source. There is no way that we can define it as 'optimum'. The other thing that you should take away from that article is that the malt contributes 100% of the Ca and Mg that the yeast need for their fermentation. Adding any more of those ions via the water is at the brewer's discretion and should be made based on their goals. For instance, if you wanted the beer to clear rapidly, then do add Ca. If you want more Cl or SO4, then the brewer might consider more of a salt that contains Ca or Mg to supply those anions for flavor.

I wouldn't worry too much about the Mg:Ca ratio, but it is important to recognize that you may not want to add a boatload of Ca to your brewing water and push that ratio into an unfavorable range. You should recognize that the additions of Mg and Ca to the water are typically going to be modest in comparison to the concentrations of those ions added by the malt. So as long as you aren't overdoing mineral additions in the water, your wort is probably going to be in an OK range.

Regarding starter preparation, yes it may be reasonable to add a Mg salt to the water. I suggested that in the article as a way to help infuse the yeast with a little extra Mg for the main ferment. However, I suggest that you might best prepare your yeast by generally mimicking the water profile that you will be brewing that next batch with. I wouldn't worry too much about it though. 

Let me correct your take home message! Ca additions for the mash ARE beneficial since they help precipitate oxalate from the wort. I suggest that all brewers always include at least 40 ppm Ca in the mash for that purpose. But that does not mean that your overall Ca content in the kettle needs to be that high. For my recent lagers, I've been adding Ca salts to the mash and none to the sparging water in order to end up with low Ca content in the kettle. So target at least 40 ppm Ca in the mash and whatever you want in the kettle (may be higher or lower). By the way, the latest supporter's version of Bru'n Water includes a setting so that you can tell the program that you want to add all the sparging minerals to the mash to create the technique I mention above. The program also reports the ion levels in the mash and kettle separately so that you can assess that you are boosting that Ca level to that desirable 40+ ppm level.
« Last Edit: March 18, 2015, 08:54:34 PM by mabrungard »
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Offline denny

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Re: Ca & Mg in Brewing Water article questions
« Reply #3 on: March 19, 2015, 03:58:39 PM »
Martin, I love you...in a manly kinda way!  ;)
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Re: Ca & Mg in Brewing Water article questions
« Reply #4 on: March 19, 2015, 04:53:14 PM »
I mentioned this information in another thread (https://www.homebrewersassociation.org/forum/index.php?topic=22472.msg286711#msg286711), but flocculation is also dependent on calcium (Ca2+) ions.  The substance on the surface of yeast cells that causes them to stick together is a lectin-like protein that is encoded to recognize sugars. Lectins require Ca2+ for binding activity.

Offline narcout

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Re: Ca & Mg in Brewing Water article questions
« Reply #5 on: March 19, 2015, 05:46:46 PM »
By the way, the latest supporter's version of Bru'n Water includes a setting so that you can tell the program that you want to add all the sparging minerals to the mash to create the technique I mention above.

I have subscriber edition 2.12, can what you describe above be accomplished in that version?  I generally add all my minerals to the mash and sparge with RO or distilled water, so this would be very helpful for me.

Offline YooperBrew

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Re: Ca & Mg in Brewing Water article questions
« Reply #6 on: March 19, 2015, 08:18:42 PM »
Martin, I love you...in a manly kinda way!  ;)

You made me laugh, Denny.  Thanks for that!

Martin, thanks for the great info- I appreciate it.

Offline ynotbrusum

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Re: Ca & Mg in Brewing Water article questions
« Reply #7 on: March 20, 2015, 11:02:59 AM »
I had not thought of nor heard about the strike water addition only with no adjustment to the sparge.  I use RO and use the supported version, so I will have to see if my version covers that (mine is about a year old).  How does one adjust for that in the spreadsheet?  I will gladly pay for and download the newest supported version, if necessary and would like to incorporate this into my batch tomorrow!
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Offline mchrispen

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Re: Ca & Mg in Brewing Water article questions
« Reply #8 on: March 20, 2015, 02:25:49 PM »
There are drop down boxes on the Water Adjustment sheet that allows you to "Add Sparging Water mineral additions to the mash"

I think this would work great for light mineral additions, but for any APA profile styles, I would probably not add all of that mineralization into the mash and have to put pickling lime or baking soda to counter the acidity. YMMV

Offline narcout

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Re: Ca & Mg in Brewing Water article questions
« Reply #9 on: March 20, 2015, 04:16:21 PM »
There are drop down boxes on the Water Adjustment sheet that allows you to "Add Sparging Water mineral additions to the mash"

I think this would work great for light mineral additions, but for any APA profile styles, I would probably not add all of that mineralization into the mash and have to put pickling lime or baking soda to counter the acidity. YMMV

Can you tell me the cell in which that drop down box appears?  I just don't see it.

Yeah, if I'm going to be adding a lot of gypsum, I'll add it directly to the kettle.

Offline mabrungard

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Re: Ca & Mg in Brewing Water article questions
« Reply #10 on: March 20, 2015, 04:55:24 PM »
Matt,

You are forgetting that you have version 3.0. That is where that new feature was included. Narcout may not have that version yet.

Oh, don't forget that if you add a bunch of Ca and Mg salts to the kettle, it will still drive the kettle wort pH lower. While you will protect the mash from overly low pH, you won't protect the beer. The proper alkalinity level is still required if you want to end up with a certain pH in the kettle.
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Offline mchrispen

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Re: Ca & Mg in Brewing Water article questions
« Reply #11 on: March 20, 2015, 06:28:58 PM »
Good point Martin... I am working on a new version of the walk through showing those features and options.

Sales pitch - apologies to mods if this is not appropriate...

I cannot encourage people enough to donate and get the new version. I know Martin will not ask... but folks like him deserve to get paid for their excellent work. A small donation supports the ongoing development and new features... and keeps Martin in malt, yeast and beer!

V 3.0 has reordered worksheets that are more natural (less jumping around), options for multiple acid utilization, and just a much cleaner and easier to use UI. Also - you can now see ion concentrations into the kettle which is just plain cool. And, my favorite, grouped flavor ions and alkali additions that make more sense as you work with it. Oh and if you want to work with CaCl solutions, rather than dry - there is a neat little calculator to help with that. I am leaving off a laundry list - but rather enjoying the new spreadsheet.
« Last Edit: March 20, 2015, 06:35:32 PM by mchrispen »