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Author Topic: Do You Specifically Attempt to Control Sulfate to Chloride Ratio?  (Read 1041 times)

Offline CounterPressure

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As I've mentioned in other threads I've wanted for a long time to understand why my IPAs are substandard (according to me).  After Denny shot holes in my lower boil idea, I continued reading, listening to podcasts and searching for answers.  I don't think I have just one problem, I suspect there's several.  While searching last week I found a folder on an old computer that had my very first Bru'nWater spreadsheets I used on a couple batches before I got the paid version.  It so happens they were IPAs (and good ones).  My lack of "knowledge" evidently was a good thing. :D  Once I got the new paid version, I parked the free version files in a separate folder and decided to ignore them.  Till now. 

Listening to a BeerSmith podcast yesterday I heard a mention of sulfate to chloride ratio potentially being a concern when doing highly hopped beers.  This is something I never considered before, and wondered how common it is for folks to chase that.  I am considering trying another batch with a lower pH and more gypsum than calcium chloride. My method in the past has just been to massage the numbers till the adjustment cells are generally green, with perhaps a few yellow ones in there, but the final water profile all green. 

My version of Bru'nWater is quite old (V3.0 is says on the reports, but I noticed it says 3.4 on at least one of the spreadsheet tabs). Regardless, I am obviously not going to post up copies of my paid BW.  I'm not sure I could if I wanted to.  Images I post won't show here due to me not paying for a security certificate, so screenshots are not much use.  I did PM Martin last week to ask this but he may not monitor PMs and might also not respond to same for obvious time reasons.  I said in the pm I understand such a stance so that's no big deal. 

It goes without saying, if I listen to enough interviews or read enough web pages, opinions differ on proper ion concentrations for differing styles.  It seems like many folks simply jack up the calcium one way or another without regard to balancing ions and that seems to work too.  Or at least they say it does.  And this goes for some pretty big names in the commercial brewing world, so I don't just dismiss that.

I do not have issues with pH control and consistency.  I can hit those numbers with astonishing accuracy.  What I don't know is if the numbers I'm shooting for are ideal. 

To give a humorous example of what I perceive, let's say we take 8 oz of magnum and throw it in a boil for 15 minutes.  Pull those hops and throw that wort away and stick the hops in a new kettle and boil 90 minutes more. Now be sure all that stuff goes in the fermenter too. Make sure to get all the undesirable characteristics in the wort with none of the desirable.  It's more or less how I feel about it. Maybe I should be intentionally shooting for an even lower pH, IDK.  I didn't have a meter for quite a while when I first used BW, so I can't say what those pH numbers were then.  They were probably super close to the estimated 5.2-5.45 (various brews I'd change up). They're consistent enough today that I rarely check any more.  I've wasted enough buffer solution, distilled water and time double checking, only to find out it's right on and I wasted my time. 

Last question here is, my BW has 2 water profile check areas. One is mash water profile and the other is finished water profile.  I have always concentrated on the finished water profile to make sure it was within tolerance, allowing the mash water profile to be the one with yellow cells if there wasn't a way to balance those.  Is that a fundamental mistake for an IPA?

Offline dmtaylor

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Re: Do You Specifically Attempt to Control Sulfate to Chloride Ratio?
« Reply #1 on: June 17, 2024, 10:00:24 am »
It sounds to me like you are on the right path, where you've learned that pH isn't so hard to hit to the point of not needing to check too much anymore, and will next consider focusing on salt ratios and/or amounts for a while until such time that you might learn later that it might not matter as much as you originally thought, etc.

Here's a summation of my current thoughts (right wrong or indifferent) on these topics:

pH doesn't matter... until it does.  But usually it doesn't.  Malt plus water (from any source) wants to be in the right pH range naturally.  We could be complete bozos and still make decent beer most of the time.  Aim for a Goldilocks mash pH value of around 5-4 to 5.5-ish and you aren't going to have problems.  Deviate slightly, you'll be fine.  Deviate hugely... then you might want to acidify or add baking soda or pickling lime, depending on whether pH is too high or too low, respectively.  But go easy on it, a little goes a long way...

Measure if you want... but you don't need to.  Any salt or acid additions can be done qualitatively, like a seasoning, like you are a chef.  Every measurement doesn't need to be so damn accurate... unless you NEED repeatability for a recipe that you are going to brew over and over.  Otherwise don't sweat it too much.

The ratio doesn't friggin matter.  The total amounts added matter more than the ratio does.  Malt contains a good bit of chloride and sulfate on its own already, and nobody knows exactly how much of each for a given malt.  So you're starting from unknown and then going to shave hairs with salt additions?!

Sulfate accentuates bitterness, and chloride accentuates malt flavor.  If you want to accentuate one or the other, then use more of one or the other, or maybe none of one or the other.  If you want to accentuate both, use both.  If you want an easier drinking beer bordering on being somewhat boring or watery, then it's OK to use plain RO or distilled water without any salts.  The Czechs do this regularly but even their beers are anything but boring.  Do your hoppy beers NEED sulfate?  Frick NO, they do NOT.  Ditto for chloride in malty beers.

It's going to be OK.  Do whatever the heck you want, you're just making beer, and it's going to be good beer, as long as you put some thought into the recipe and love and care into brewing it, it's going to be decent beer.

People can pick this stuff apart, and that's fine, and I'm not always consistent with my thoughts on these topics anyways... sometimes I overthink things, sometimes underthink, but overall, I think the gist of what I'm saying is true, that we're pretty much all making pretty good beer, regardless of overthought or not on the makeup of the friggin water we use.  All in all, I strongly believe that water is about the least important ingredient... as long as it's not crappy water with a lot of chlorine, metal, sulfur, or literally crap, in it, it's going to be fine.

Cheers and have fun on your learning adventures.
Dave

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Offline joelv

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Re: Do You Specifically Attempt to Control Sulfate to Chloride Ratio?
« Reply #2 on: June 17, 2024, 10:08:34 am »
As I've mentioned in other threads I've wanted for a long time to understand why my IPAs are substandard (according to me).  After Denny shot holes in my lower boil idea, I continued reading, listening to podcasts and searching for answers.  I don't think I have just one problem, I suspect there's several.  While searching last week I found a folder on an old computer that had my very first Bru'nWater spreadsheets I used on a couple batches before I got the paid version.  It so happens they were IPAs (and good ones).  My lack of "knowledge" evidently was a good thing. :D  Once I got the new paid version, I parked the free version files in a separate folder and decided to ignore them.  Till now. 

Listening to a BeerSmith podcast yesterday I heard a mention of sulfate to chloride ratio potentially being a concern when doing highly hopped beers.  This is something I never considered before, and wondered how common it is for folks to chase that.  I am considering trying another batch with a lower pH and more gypsum than calcium chloride. My method in the past has just been to massage the numbers till the adjustment cells are generally green, with perhaps a few yellow ones in there, but the final water profile all green. 

My version of Bru'nWater is quite old (V3.0 is says on the reports, but I noticed it says 3.4 on at least one of the spreadsheet tabs). Regardless, I am obviously not going to post up copies of my paid BW.  I'm not sure I could if I wanted to.  Images I post won't show here due to me not paying for a security certificate, so screenshots are not much use.  I did PM Martin last week to ask this but he may not monitor PMs and might also not respond to same for obvious time reasons.  I said in the pm I understand such a stance so that's no big deal. 

It goes without saying, if I listen to enough interviews or read enough web pages, opinions differ on proper ion concentrations for differing styles.  It seems like many folks simply jack up the calcium one way or another without regard to balancing ions and that seems to work too.  Or at least they say it does.  And this goes for some pretty big names in the commercial brewing world, so I don't just dismiss that.

I do not have issues with pH control and consistency.  I can hit those numbers with astonishing accuracy.  What I don't know is if the numbers I'm shooting for are ideal. 

To give a humorous example of what I perceive, let's say we take 8 oz of magnum and throw it in a boil for 15 minutes.  Pull those hops and throw that wort away and stick the hops in a new kettle and boil 90 minutes more. Now be sure all that stuff goes in the fermenter too. Make sure to get all the undesirable characteristics in the wort with none of the desirable.  It's more or less how I feel about it. Maybe I should be intentionally shooting for an even lower pH, IDK.  I didn't have a meter for quite a while when I first used BW, so I can't say what those pH numbers were then.  They were probably super close to the estimated 5.2-5.45 (various brews I'd change up). They're consistent enough today that I rarely check any more.  I've wasted enough buffer solution, distilled water and time double checking, only to find out it's right on and I wasted my time. 

Last question here is, my BW has 2 water profile check areas. One is mash water profile and the other is finished water profile.  I have always concentrated on the finished water profile to make sure it was within tolerance, allowing the mash water profile to be the one with yellow cells if there wasn't a way to balance those.  Is that a fundamental mistake for an IPA?
I generally design my water profile with a couple of generalities in mind. I go higher in sulfate than chloride when trying to have an IPA with moderate bitterness and an overall “sharpness” to the hop flavor. My West Coast IPAs have 200+ ppm sulfate and <100 chloride. When brewing NEIPA, I usually use a 2:1 ratio of chloride:sulfate with 200:100 being one I’ve used most and liked. I’ve used others with the same ratio, but doubt I could tell the difference of a 200:100 vs 150:75. I just keep the 200:100 as I enjoy the results.

I too use bru n water (thank you for your work Martin). I do keep my mash pH in the low end of the software’s range. I only use the water profiles as a guide though. I don’t try to land those specific numbers.

One task that I found really interesting is to dose an existing beer with additional measured amounts of calcium chloride or gypsum to see if it has an impact on the flavor of a finished beer. To my taste it appears to.


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Offline CounterPressure

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Re: Do You Specifically Attempt to Control Sulfate to Chloride Ratio?
« Reply #3 on: June 17, 2024, 10:39:54 am »
pH doesn't matter... until it does.  But usually it doesn't.
I think this is what I've run into on my IPA.  Ironically, my pale ale is great (according to me), but the higher gravity IPA is bordering on undrinkable.  The last batch I did drink one keg of it, very slowly, and one keg remains sitting.  Even when I ran out of beer last week I wasn't interested in carrying it to the kegerator, when my choice was that beer or no beer...  So, that should give you some idea how well I think it turned out.

Most of my beer turns out pretty good.  At least by my standards.  In almost every case I'd far rather drink mine than drink commercially made beer.  But that doesn't mean it can't get better, and I am not oblivious to the flaws I have in my beer.  Some I simply accept as part of my process. But even then I would like to make improvements to help those things if I can. For that I have to understand what I'm doing wrong to make the flaw.  Often it is haste, and that's a tough one to overcome when time for brewing comes in spurts. 

John Palmer was the one who mentioned the ratio and he didn't dwell on the topic very long.  It was just one of those "eureka" moments when I heard this, having never come across it before. Not worded specifically and quantified anyway. 

I generally design my water profile with a couple of generalities in mind. I go higher in sulfate than chloride when trying to have an IPA with moderate bitterness and an overall “sharpness” to the hop flavor. My West Coast IPAs have 200+ ppm sulfate and <100 chloride. When brewing NEIPA, I usually use a 2:1 ratio of chloride:sulfate with 200:100 being one I’ve used most and liked. I’ve used others with the same ratio, but doubt I could tell the difference of a 200:100 vs 150:75. I just keep the 200:100 as I enjoy the results.

I too use bru n water (thank you for your work Martin). I do keep my mash pH in the low end of the software’s range. I only use the water profiles as a guide though. I don’t try to land those specific numbers.

One task that I found really interesting is to dose an existing beer with additional measured amounts of calcium chloride or gypsum to see if it has an impact on the flavor of a finished beer. To my taste it appears to.
That's another one I've never heard of is dosing finished beer with minerals.  Hmmm, do you mean just in a glass?  That sounds pretty interesting actually, and I do have a .001g scale.  I could probably stick it in the bottom of the glass and pour on top of it.  Another Hmmm...

I don't attempt to hit the profiles dead on, but I have always made the finished water profile within the recommended range on every ion.  Mash profiles rarely if ever were 100% approved levels, but obviously pretty close. I will admit I've had acid and alkaline additions in the same water profiles before, but honestly my taste notes are better on those brews than the ones where I "do it right".  Again, I don't understand enough to know why, but I bet the reason is in the spreadsheet somewhere.

FYI, John Palmer did mention the exact levels not being as important as the ratio, so that mirrors your empirical evidence. So good job picking that out.

Thanks for the replies. 

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Re: Do You Specifically Attempt to Control Sulfate to Chloride Ratio?
« Reply #4 on: June 17, 2024, 10:45:02 am »
That last line makes me think that either he was wrong, or you misunderstood him. 2:1 and 200:100 are the same ratio, but give very different results.
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Offline erockrph

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Re: Do You Specifically Attempt to Control Sulfate to Chloride Ratio?
« Reply #5 on: June 17, 2024, 11:09:09 am »
That last line makes me think that either he was wrong, or you misunderstood him. 2:1 and 200:100 are the same ratio, but give very different results.
I absolutely agree with that. I think the idea of the ratio may be ok as a ballpark when your ions are between say 50 and 200 PPM or so, but much higher or lower and it isn't really giving you the best estimate of how things are going to work out.

I spent years playing with water, and I settled on two salt "profiles" I use in my beer. For hoppy beers where I want a bit more sulfate I use 4g of Gypsum and 1.5g of Kosher Salt added to my relatively soft well water (3 gallon batch, about 4.2 gallons mash water). Otherwise, I use 2g of Gypsum and 1.5g of NaCl. With my water this is a ballpark of 50ppm Sodium, 70ish ppm Chloride, and either 70 or 150 ppm of Sulfate. These work for me and my palate. I've done enough tinkering over the years to know that I prefer my brewing water on the softish side, and I don't really enjoy beer with sulfate over 150-200ppm.
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Offline CounterPressure

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Re: Do You Specifically Attempt to Control Sulfate to Chloride Ratio?
« Reply #6 on: June 17, 2024, 11:46:39 am »
That last line makes me think that either he was wrong, or you misunderstood him. 2:1 and 200:100 are the same ratio, but give very different results.
He was referring to normal levels of course.  I say "it doesn't matter" generically,  (as he did) but staying within typical ranges.  I don't recall the exact wording, but he referred to 150ppm vs 200ppm, not so much the amount, but the ratio being geared towards sulfates as much as 4:1 is what to aim for in a highly hopped beer.  And as usual, with wiggle room for your own taste.
That last line makes me think that either he was wrong, or you misunderstood him. 2:1 and 200:100 are the same ratio, but give very different results.
I absolutely agree with that. I think the idea of the ratio may be ok as a ballpark when your ions are between say 50 and 200 PPM or so, but much higher or lower and it isn't really giving you the best estimate of how things are going to work out.

I spent years playing with water, and I settled on two salt "profiles" I use in my beer. For hoppy beers where I want a bit more sulfate I use 4g of Gypsum and 1.5g of Kosher Salt added to my relatively soft well water (3 gallon batch, about 4.2 gallons mash water). Otherwise, I use 2g of Gypsum and 1.5g of NaCl. With my water this is a ballpark of 50ppm Sodium, 70ish ppm Chloride, and either 70 or 150 ppm of Sulfate. These work for me and my palate. I've done enough tinkering over the years to know that I prefer my brewing water on the softish side, and I don't really enjoy beer with sulfate over 150-200ppm.
I didn't get enough time to go look at all my old numbers, but I know the amount of gypsum was WAY higher than I currently use in almost anything I brew, except... my pale ale...  There's definitely more to it than that, but this gave me something to look into, which is cheaper than making beer in trial-and-error testing. I just stopped making IPAs lately, at least till I had some confidence I could make a change and expect improvement.

Offline chinaski

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Re: Do You Specifically Attempt to Control Sulfate to Chloride Ratio?
« Reply #7 on: June 18, 2024, 02:56:54 pm »
My recommendation would be to return to Bru'n water and use Martin's yellow bitter profile and brew a recipe for IPA that you've done and remember what you perceived as its faults.  Use the water that you know the profile of as a base and build the water recipe from that in case changes to your water might have been happening in the past.  Make the batch and see what you get.  Don't get caught up in the myriad of water profiles and chloride and sulfate ratios that have become en vogue with hazy IPA (Tree House brewing has a video out with what I consider crazy high concentrations of those minerals in their "how to brew an ipa") at this point.  From that baseline you could then brew the recipe again with tweaks to the water recipe if that's your interest; reduce sulfate and leave chloride alone and see if that gives you a "softer" beer.

Online Richard

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Re: Do You Specifically Attempt to Control Sulfate to Chloride Ratio?
« Reply #8 on: June 18, 2024, 03:55:48 pm »
That last line makes me think that either he was wrong, or you misunderstood him. 2:1 and 200:100 are the same ratio, but give very different results.
I absolutely agree with that. I think the idea of the ratio may be ok as a ballpark when your ions are between say 50 and 200 PPM or so, but much higher or lower and it isn't really giving you the best estimate of how things are going to work out.

I spent years playing with water, and I settled on two salt "profiles" I use in my beer. For hoppy beers where I want a bit more sulfate I use 4g of Gypsum and 1.5g of Kosher Salt added to my relatively soft well water (3 gallon batch, about 4.2 gallons mash water). Otherwise, I use 2g of Gypsum and 1.5g of NaCl. With my water this is a ballpark of 50ppm Sodium, 70ish ppm Chloride, and either 70 or 150 ppm of Sulfate. These work for me and my palate. I've done enough tinkering over the years to know that I prefer my brewing water on the softish side, and I don't really enjoy beer with sulfate over 150-200ppm.
I am the same way. I pay attention to the absolute numbers AND the ratio. For IPAs I make sure that my sulfate is high but lower than 150-200 ppm, then adjusting the chloride to give me a sulfate:chloride ratio of about 2.
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Offline CounterPressure

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Re: Do You Specifically Attempt to Control Sulfate to Chloride Ratio?
« Reply #9 on: June 18, 2024, 06:18:12 pm »
That last line makes me think that either he was wrong, or you misunderstood him. 2:1 and 200:100 are the same ratio, but give very different results.
I absolutely agree with that. I think the idea of the ratio may be ok as a ballpark when your ions are between say 50 and 200 PPM or so, but much higher or lower and it isn't really giving you the best estimate of how things are going to work out.

I spent years playing with water, and I settled on two salt "profiles" I use in my beer. For hoppy beers where I want a bit more sulfate I use 4g of Gypsum and 1.5g of Kosher Salt added to my relatively soft well water (3 gallon batch, about 4.2 gallons mash water). Otherwise, I use 2g of Gypsum and 1.5g of NaCl. With my water this is a ballpark of 50ppm Sodium, 70ish ppm Chloride, and either 70 or 150 ppm of Sulfate. These work for me and my palate. I've done enough tinkering over the years to know that I prefer my brewing water on the softish side, and I don't really enjoy beer with sulfate over 150-200ppm.
The last time I had Ward Labs test my city water they came up with:
Calcium 8 (all values ppm)
Magnesium 2
Sodium 0
Sulfate 9
Chloride 7
Bicarbonate 8
So it's just about RO water coming right out of the faucet. If I don't build it up, there's no brewing with it.
My recommendation would be to return to Bru'n water and use Martin's yellow bitter profile and brew a recipe for IPA that you've done and remember what you perceived as its faults.  Use the water that you know the profile of as a base and build the water recipe from that in case changes to your water might have been happening in the past.  Make the batch and see what you get.  Don't get caught up in the myriad of water profiles and chloride and sulfate ratios that have become en vogue with hazy IPA (Tree House brewing has a video out with what I consider crazy high concentrations of those minerals in their "how to brew an ipa") at this point.  From that baseline you could then brew the recipe again with tweaks to the water recipe if that's your interest; reduce sulfate and leave chloride alone and see if that gives you a "softer" beer.
I'm not sure my version even has a yellow bitter profile. Today at work I did download a new free copy just to see if it would work on my system, I got some errors opening it but nothing catastrophic. It does appear there's a a few more water profiles but I didn't have a copy of my old version to compare. Obviously I can take the values from the new sheet and put it in the old one if it comes to that. What I used as a baseline was the pale ale profile.

My water's been really consistent over the years. So I don't think that's a problem. What I will probably end up doing is just using the numbers from my very first spreadsheet, and unfortunately I will have to guess about the process because I don't have a ton of process notes. That spreadsheet also did not estimate Mash pH so I might have to move all the numbers into the paid version and see what it estimated I was getting. The recipe also has a mash addition of hops which doesn't go into brunwater, but according to what I have heard, it may adjust the pH Down. When I tried to do the recipe a la carte instead of buying the kit, I couldn't get the Hops for the mash so I just ignored it. The last time I got the kits, I completely forgot about putting them in, so once again there's a wrench in the works. So while I'm not completely sure yet, I think all these equipment changes and mistakes and new versions of the spreadsheet have added up to about a 0.3 increase in Mash pH and a considerable reduction in sulfate.

Now that I've actively tried to figure out why my results have changed, I have so many other ingredients that I purchased to make other beers that it's going to be a long time before I can test all this stuff that I think I'm learning.

Offline BrewBama

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Do You Specifically Attempt to Control Sulfate to Chloride Ratio?
« Reply #10 on: June 19, 2024, 07:22:22 am »
I start with RO water, withhold malts that screw with mash pH until vorlauf, and add at least 50 ppm calcium (either CaCl or gypsum) to the mash for pH adjustment.  I’ve read ~40% of that calcium will make it to the kettle.

At that starting point in the mash, for hoppy beers I lean towards sulfate somewhere around 2:1. For malty beers I lean towards chloride somewhere around 1:2.  A lot of my beers are balanced near 1:1. I use the BeerSmith water tab to determine ppm and the balance ratio.

I rarely add magnesium or sodium but could if I wanted to increase sulfate or chloride without additional calcium.  I haven’t added bicarbonate for years.

Some say to increase sulfate in ‘minerally’ beers such as Burton-ized English styles or Dortmunder to 3:1 but I’ve yet to do that.


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« Last Edit: June 19, 2024, 07:27:31 am by BrewBama »

Offline CounterPressure

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Re: Do You Specifically Attempt to Control Sulfate to Chloride Ratio?
« Reply #11 on: June 19, 2024, 08:39:48 am »
The majority of my beers are more balanced also, but pale ales for sure favor sulfate. 

You make an interesting point which got me to thinking, I may have to listen to that interview again to see precisely when he's recommending the 2:1/4:1 ratios on the sulfate.  Just going from memory of the PA profiles I looked at yesterday, I had well more than 50% of the calcium being added in the sparge.  Back for those first batches I did add to the sparge water, vs the kettle as is recommended in the footnotes.  I'm sure plenty made it in to the kettle anyhow but adding certain salts to the sparge water is advised against. And I have never separated what I'm adding, it all goes in one container and then gets tossed in when called for.

I believe on the BW water knowledge page it's mentioned about the mash calcium attaching to the grains and mostly not making it to the kettle. Hence later additions of more to the sparge/kettle.  Since the vast majority of my other beers have turned out fine, trying to understand this level of water chemistry to fix a beer never seemed logical.  The particular kit I'm referring to uses 13oz of hops in a 5 gal kit.  So, I think it's sorta the canary in the coal mine as IPA water chemistry goes.   

Offline jjflash

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Re: Do You Specifically Attempt to Control Sulfate to Chloride Ratio?
« Reply #12 on: June 19, 2024, 08:55:55 am »
Salts in the mash water.
Salts in the mash water, plus salts in the sparge water
Salts in the mash water, plus salts in the sparge water, plus salts in the kettle.
Three variations of the same theme.
Since only about 40% of mash salts make it into the kettle, do you add extra mash salts, or do you use kettle salts?
I think we overdose with Wyeast nutrient in the kettle, so much is trub bound little makes it into the fermentor.
At the end what makes it into the fermentor is the final goal.



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Offline denny

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Re: Do You Specifically Attempt to Control Sulfate to Chloride Ratio?
« Reply #13 on: June 19, 2024, 09:20:23 am »
The majority of my beers are more balanced also, but pale ales for sure favor sulfate. 

You make an interesting point which got me to thinking, I may have to listen to that interview again to see precisely when he's recommending the 2:1/4:1 ratios on the sulfate.  Just going from memory of the PA profiles I looked at yesterday, I had well more than 50% of the calcium being added in the sparge.  Back for those first batches I did add to the sparge water, vs the kettle as is recommended in the footnotes.  I'm sure plenty made it in to the kettle anyhow but adding certain salts to the sparge water is advised against. And I have never separated what I'm adding, it all goes in one container and then gets tossed in when called for.

I believe on the BW water knowledge page it's mentioned about the mash calcium attaching to the grains and mostly not making it to the kettle. Hence later additions of more to the sparge/kettle.  Since the vast majority of my other beers have turned out fine, trying to understand this level of water chemistry to fix a beer never seemed logical.  The particular kit I'm referring to uses 13oz of hops in a 5 gal kit.  So, I think it's sorta the canary in the coal mine as IPA water chemistry goes.   

As Martin has pointed out, you actually need very little Ca. 25-50 ppm is plenty. It's mainly for yeast flocculation
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Offline mabrungard

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Re: Do You Specifically Attempt to Control Sulfate to Chloride Ratio?
« Reply #14 on: June 19, 2024, 11:02:21 am »

As Martin has pointed out, you actually need very little Ca. 25-50 ppm is plenty. It's mainly for yeast flocculation

That's a little too brief, Denny.  Yes, yeast flocculation is affected and having enough calcium in a naturally settled ale will result in a more rapid clarification of that ale. 50-plus ppm is helpful in an ale.

In lagers, zero calcium is allowable since yeast flocculation can be accommodated in the lagering period. Keeping the calcium well below 50 ppm helps to keep the ferment from ending prematurely. If your lagers won't attenuate to the degree that the yeast report says it should, its probably because your water has too much calcium in it.

There are a couple of other reasons that you'd want enough calcium in the mashing water. The first is to achieve the precipitation of oxalate from the wort during the mash. That's to avoid beerstone and kidney stones. The second reason is to enhance enzyme activity. For each case, it appears that having at least 40 ppm calcium in the mashing water is desirable.

In the case of lager brewing, it is desirable and possible to reduce the overall calcium content of your brewing water from that 40ppm minimum that I mentioned above. If you're a brewer that sparges, just use low or no calcium sparging water to dilute the overall Ca concentration. If you're a no-sparge or BIAB brewer, plan on holding back a portion of your brewing water and only treat the mashing water to 40+ ppm Ca.  Then add the low or no calcium, hold-back water to the wort at the end of the mash or in the kettle.

Oh, and for God's sake, forget about the sulfate/chloride ratio. Pay attention to the actual concentrations of each and NOT their ratio. 
Martin B
Carmel, IN

BJCP National
Foam Blowers of Indiana (FBI)

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