Author Topic: Sulfate levels for west coast IPA  (Read 342 times)

Offline trapae

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Sulfate levels for west coast IPA
« on: November 28, 2021, 08:24:53 pm »
I’m starting to finally get into water chemistry and just wondering what most of you all like for sulfate levels and Cl levels in an IPA or American pale ale?  (Not a New England IPA).  A lot of the water profiles say sulfate up to 300, but it seems like that might be super dry and harsh. Just wondering what you all prefer. Thanks.
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Offline Andy Farke

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Re: Sulfate levels for west coast IPA
« Reply #1 on: November 28, 2021, 10:01:23 pm »
I usually aim for around 150 ppm of sulfate and 50 to 75 ppm of chloride. I know some people like their sulfates higher...but this is what I've found works for my taste.
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Offline mainebrewer

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Re: Sulfate levels for west coast IPA
« Reply #2 on: November 29, 2021, 04:15:24 am »
My IPA water profile is 300 ppm SO4 and 50 ppm Cl
My APA water profile is 110 ppm SO4 and 50 ppm Cl
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Offline Megary

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Re: Sulfate levels for west coast IPA
« Reply #3 on: November 29, 2021, 06:58:14 am »
All these numbers are just theoretical, of course.  Who really knows their mineral content to a ppm accuracy??

But, my last IPA was:
120 SO4 - 50 Cl
With gypsum additions, at this point, my Ca = 102

I think another question should be, "How do you raise your SO4 way up without moving the Ca (gypsum) or Mg (epsom) needle too far"?  Or, can you even raise the Ca and Mg needle too far?  Yeah, I've read the water knowledge section in Bru'n Water and I know the recommended limits, but I don't take those limits as cast iron rules.


Offline tommymorris

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Re: Sulfate levels for west coast IPA
« Reply #4 on: November 29, 2021, 08:06:27 am »
I have tried lots of levels. Lately, I have settled in around 225 SO4.  I think trying various levels for yourself is worth while and not much risk.

Offline BrewBama

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Re: Sulfate levels for west coast IPA
« Reply #5 on: November 29, 2021, 09:08:01 am »
This is my hoppy profile for 6.5 post-boil gallons:

Calcium: 118.4 ppm - Magnesium: 7.9 ppm
Sodium: 0.0 ppm - Sulfate: 210.3 ppm
Chloride: 77.4 ppm - Bicarbonate: 0.0 ppm
Residual Alkalinity: -89.2 ppm
Sulfite/Chloride Ratio: 2.72

I get there by adding 1 tsp CaCl, 1 tsp Gypsum, .5 tsp Epsom Salt to distilled or purified water. I add the CaCl to the mash but hold the Gypsum and Epsom Salt until the boil.



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Offline Bob357

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Re: Sulfate levels for west coast IPA
« Reply #6 on: November 29, 2021, 10:06:06 am »
It's more the ratio between Sulfate and Chloride that's important than the concentration. I usually shoot for ~ 2:1 Sulfate/Chloride for Pale Ales and 3:1 for West Coast IPAs, while keeping the Calcium ~100 ppm.
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Offline RC

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Re: Sulfate levels for west coast IPA
« Reply #7 on: November 29, 2021, 11:09:21 am »
It's more the ratio between Sulfate and Chloride that's important than the concentration. I usually shoot for ~ 2:1 Sulfate/Chloride for Pale Ales and 3:1 for West Coast IPAs, while keeping the Calcium ~100 ppm.

I only use gypsum in my American IPAs and I target between 200-250 ppm sulfate. Above 250 makes the bitterness too edgy and below makes the beer taste too soft. I have seen recipes that go as high as 500 and I'm pretty sure that would dissolve my teeth.

I have played around plenty with the sulfate-to-chloride ratio and I come to the conclusion that it is bunk.

Offline denny

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Re: Sulfate levels for west coast IPA
« Reply #8 on: November 29, 2021, 12:10:00 pm »
It's more the ratio between Sulfate and Chloride that's important than the concentration. I usually shoot for ~ 2:1 Sulfate/Chloride for Pale Ales and 3:1 for West Coast IPAs, while keeping the Calcium ~100 ppm.

It's both.  2ppm sulfate and 1 ppm chloride is the same ratio as 200 sulfate and 100 chloride, but will produce very different results.
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Offline erockrph

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Re: Sulfate levels for west coast IPA
« Reply #9 on: November 29, 2021, 12:50:03 pm »
It's more the ratio between Sulfate and Chloride that's important than the concentration. I usually shoot for ~ 2:1 Sulfate/Chloride for Pale Ales and 3:1 for West Coast IPAs, while keeping the Calcium ~100 ppm.

I disagree with this completely, for the reason mentioned by Denny - 2ppm:1ppm is the same ratio as 200ppm:100ppm and 600ppm:300ppm. The resulting beers will be completely different.

Personally, 200-250ppm is my upper limit for sulfate, but I usually target closer to 150ppm for hoppy beers. I use kosher salt to get to about 50ppm of sodium, and with my water that gets me to about 80ppm of chloride, which is fine to me.

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Offline mabrungard

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Re: Sulfate levels for west coast IPA
« Reply #10 on: November 29, 2021, 05:57:32 pm »
As mentioned, the ratio is useless and deceiving.  What a great way to get hopelessly lost in the weeds.

Regarding sulfate level, its dependent upon your tastes and its also dependent upon the hopping and bittering formulation of a particular beer's recipe.  Its not appropriate to surmise that there's an ideal sulfate level.  About the only thing that I can advise is that a west coast IPA is likely to have a decent sulfate content in order to dry the beer's finish...sufficiently.  That drying effect is what helps accentuate the bittering and hoppiness.  Don't be surprised that a 300 ppm sulfate works with one west coast IPA recipe and its overbearing in another recipe.   
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Offline erockrph

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Re: Sulfate levels for west coast IPA
« Reply #11 on: November 29, 2021, 09:30:37 pm »
As mentioned, the ratio is useless and deceiving.  What a great way to get hopelessly lost in the weeds.

Regarding sulfate level, its dependent upon your tastes and its also dependent upon the hopping and bittering formulation of a particular beer's recipe.  Its not appropriate to surmise that there's an ideal sulfate level.  About the only thing that I can advise is that a west coast IPA is likely to have a decent sulfate content in order to dry the beer's finish...sufficiently.  That drying effect is what helps accentuate the bittering and hoppiness.  Don't be surprised that a 300 ppm sulfate works with one west coast IPA recipe and its overbearing in another recipe.
That's a great point, Martin. A strongly resinous hop bitterness may get pushed over the top by a high sulfate level, while something softer might want a bit more sulfate to add some snap to the finish.
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