Author Topic: How important are trace minerals in brewing water?  (Read 1356 times)

trentm

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How important are trace minerals in brewing water?
« on: April 11, 2016, 02:10:01 AM »
How important are trace minerals in brewing water?  Minerals such as copper, zinc, lithium, etc...  Some are important to yeast health and reproduction but do these trace minerals contribute to enhancing aspects of the beer?

Has anyone tried adding trace mineral supplements to their brewing water?

Offline narcout

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Re: How important are trace minerals in brewing water?
« Reply #1 on: April 11, 2016, 02:38:18 AM »
Has anyone tried adding trace mineral supplements to their brewing water?

I add Wyeast yeast nutrient to the boil, which contains zinc, manganese, and magnesium.
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trentm

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Re: How important are trace minerals in brewing water?
« Reply #2 on: April 11, 2016, 02:51:52 AM »
I add Wyeast yeast nutrient to the boil, which contains zinc, manganese, and magnesium.

Yes, at times, so do I.  It does seem to improve the health of the yeast but I'm more interested in if trace minerals in the brewing water improve the overall beer.

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Re: How important are trace minerals in brewing water?
« Reply #3 on: April 11, 2016, 02:42:44 PM »
For anyone brewing with RO or distilled water, the number one deficiency is likely to be zinc. Zinc is present in most water supplies at low levels and is typically sufficient for yeast nutrition. However, the RO process reduces that by at least 90% and that leaves the water too low in zinc. The other trace ions seem to be less important for the brewing water or they are supplied sufficiently by the malt.

One option for supplying zinc, is to use zinc sulfate heptahydrate. That mineral is readily available as a nutritional supplement from healthfood and vitamin vendors.

It turns out that ale yeast prefer more zinc than lager yeast. The dosing rate for ales is 3.2 milligrams of the zinc sulfate heptahydrate per gallon of wort. The dosing rate for lagers is half that (1.6 mg/gal). As you can see, these are exceeding small doses and they require exacting measurement since you don't want to overdose the zinc. It creates a metallic flavor at pretty low concentrations. So, DON'T overdo it!!

The other ion that you should include in your brewing practice is copper. It is needed by yeast to scavenge sulfurous compounds from the wort and beer. All you need to do to supply this ion is to have some copper metal somewhere in your brewing system so that wort comes in contact with it. If you have all stainless equipment, I recommend placing a short length of copper tubing in your boil kettle and that should supply all the copper that is needed. Don't worry too much about overdosing with copper since the yeast remove virtually all free copper from the wort and the beer will be almost copper free.
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Offline homoeccentricus

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Re: How important are trace minerals in brewing water?
« Reply #4 on: April 11, 2016, 03:13:59 PM »
For anyone brewing with RO or distilled water, the number one deficiency is likely to be zinc. Zinc is present in most water supplies at low levels and is typically sufficient for yeast nutrition. However, the RO process reduces that by at least 90% and that leaves the water too low in zinc. The other trace ions seem to be less important for the brewing water or they are supplied sufficiently by the malt.

One option for supplying zinc, is to use zinc sulfate heptahydrate. That mineral is readily available as a nutritional supplement from healthfood and vitamin vendors.

It turns out that ale yeast prefer more zinc than lager yeast. The dosing rate for ales is 3.2 milligrams of the zinc sulfate heptahydrate per gallon of wort. The dosing rate for lagers is half that (1.6 mg/gal). As you can see, these are exceeding small doses and they require exacting measurement since you don't want to overdose the zinc. It creates a metallic flavor at pretty low concentrations. So, DON'T overdo it!!

The other ion that you should include in your brewing practice is copper. It is needed by yeast to scavenge sulfurous compounds from the wort and beer. All you need to do to supply this ion is to have some copper metal somewhere in your brewing system so that wort comes in contact with it. If you have all stainless equipment, I recommend placing a short length of copper tubing in your boil kettle and that should supply all the copper that is needed. Don't worry too much about overdosing with copper since the yeast remove virtually all free copper from the wort and the beer will be almost copper free.


Would adding yeast nutrient to the starter solve this problem? Because that's all I do right now (I brew with demi-water).
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Offline mabrungard

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Re: How important are trace minerals in brewing water?
« Reply #5 on: April 11, 2016, 07:20:46 PM »
Many yeast nutrients do include zinc. That should do it, but check to make sure that the brand you use includes zinc.
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Offline brewinhard

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Re: How important are trace minerals in brewing water?
« Reply #6 on: April 11, 2016, 08:49:00 PM »
Martin,

How did you find out that ale strains prefer more zinc than lager strains, and why is that? Does their more active fermentation allow them to utilize more in their fermentation pathways?  Just curious...

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Re: How important are trace minerals in brewing water?
« Reply #7 on: April 12, 2016, 12:46:25 AM »
How did you find out that ale strains prefer more zinc than lager strains, and why is that?

Research by AB. One of their brewers posted that information on Probrewer.com
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trentm

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Re: How important are trace minerals in brewing water?
« Reply #8 on: April 12, 2016, 12:44:19 PM »
Zinc and copper are the two always mentioned but what about other (ultra)trace minerals.

Not sure it's possible to find a clean trace mineral supplement without a lot of extras.

Something like this without the major/minor minerals (not suggesting or promoting it's use, could be snake oil for all I know, just using it as an example):

http://www.ahs6.com/450x/?gclid=CLq-7JePicwCFQ2QaQod7X8LIQ

Perhaps it wouldn't even make that much of a difference in the final beer but an interesting thought none-the-less.

Offline zwiller

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Re: How important are trace minerals in brewing water?
« Reply #9 on: April 12, 2016, 02:36:29 PM »
Interesting info.  My beers with distilled and just Ca salts have turned out pretty good but nothing conclusive.  I was under the assumption that there are always plenty of dead yeast in a pack and that would be suffice.  In addition, I recall malt has loads of trace minerals as well. 
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Re: How important are trace minerals in brewing water?
« Reply #10 on: April 12, 2016, 03:27:07 PM »
Interesting info.  My beers with distilled and just Ca salts have turned out pretty good but nothing conclusive.  I was under the assumption that there are always plenty of dead yeast in a pack and that would be suffice.  In addition, I recall malt has loads of trace minerals as well.

The one thing malt does not have in sufficient quantity is zinc. I used to add 1/2 of a zinc diet supplement tablet to my 10 gallon batches. Now I add Wyeast yeast nutrient, and zinc is fairly high on the ingredient list, so I stopped adding tha diet supplement.
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Re: How important are trace minerals in brewing water?
« Reply #11 on: April 13, 2016, 09:22:55 PM »
Has anyone tried adding trace mineral supplements to their brewing water?

I add Wyeast yeast nutrient to the boil, which contains zinc, manganese, and magnesium.

I use yeast nutrient in most of my starters.