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Author Topic: Do You Specifically Attempt to Control Sulfate to Chloride Ratio?  (Read 1287 times)

Offline CounterPressure

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Re: Do You Specifically Attempt to Control Sulfate to Chloride Ratio?
« Reply #15 on: June 19, 2024, 12:03:38 pm »
As Martin has pointed out, you actually need very little Ca. 25-50 ppm is plenty. It's mainly for yeast flocculation
I hadn't caught that.
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. 
I do sparge.  Typically I use  6-7 gal strike water, and 7-8 gal sparge water.

So you're saying:
Maintain the ~40ppm Ca in the mash, regardless of top/bottom fermentation
Aim for very low finished water Ca in bottom fermenting beers
Aim for 50ish ppm Ca in finished water for top fermenting beers to aid clearing / avoid beerstone

And from other discussions, I should use higher Ca in highly hopped beers. To what degree seems left to the reader's discretion. But the BW Pale Ale profile appears to suggest ~300ppm going into the kettle.  I assume using the higher amount expecting the boil and hop concentration will remove a considerable amount of that.

Are those conclusions valid?

Offline denny

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Re: Do You Specifically Attempt to Control Sulfate to Chloride Ratio?
« Reply #16 on: June 19, 2024, 12:11:50 pm »
As Martin has pointed out, you actually need very little Ca. 25-50 ppm is plenty. It's mainly for yeast flocculation
I hadn't caught that.
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. 
I do sparge.  Typically I use  6-7 gal strike water, and 7-8 gal sparge water.

So you're saying:
Maintain the ~40ppm Ca in the mash, regardless of top/bottom fermentation
Aim for very low finished water Ca in bottom fermenting beers
Aim for 50ish ppm Ca in finished water for top fermenting beers to aid clearing / avoid beerstone

And from other discussions, I should use higher Ca in highly hopped beers. To what degree seems left to the reader's discretion. But the BW Pale Ale profile appears to suggest ~300ppm going into the kettle.  I assume using the higher amount expecting the boil and hop concentration will remove a considerable amount of that.

Are those conclusions valid?

You should use higher sulfate in hoppy beers, not necessarily more Ca.  I often use MgSO4 to get the sulfate without the Ca.
Life begins at 60.....1.060, that is!

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Offline CounterPressure

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Re: Do You Specifically Attempt to Control Sulfate to Chloride Ratio?
« Reply #17 on: June 19, 2024, 12:44:13 pm »
You should use higher sulfate in hoppy beers, not necessarily more Ca.  I often use MgSO4 to get the sulfate without the Ca.
Ok, good point. Still, his PA profile has copious amounts of Ca.
I have always avoided using magnesium because I have never gotten it to dissolve. I figured it was largely a waste. Perhaps if I preboiled a little water (few cups) with the Mg in there that might help, but I've never tried. 

(Edit to add) I seem to recall seeing somewhere, to not overdo MgCl2....
Ignore that. You said MgSO4... I don't even have that.

(Edit again)Epsom salt, yes I have that...Never added it in any large amount.
« Last Edit: June 19, 2024, 12:50:19 pm by CounterPressure »

Offline denny

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Re: Do You Specifically Attempt to Control Sulfate to Chloride Ratio?
« Reply #18 on: June 19, 2024, 01:01:11 pm »
You should use higher sulfate in hoppy beers, not necessarily more Ca.  I often use MgSO4 to get the sulfate without the Ca.
Ok, good point. Still, his PA profile has copious amounts of Ca.
I have always avoided using magnesium because I have never gotten it to dissolve. I figured it was largely a waste. Perhaps if I preboiled a little water (few cups) with the Mg in there that might help, but I've never tried. 

(Edit to add) I seem to recall seeing somewhere, to not overdo MgCl2....
Ignore that. You said MgSO4... I don't even have that.

(Edit again)Epsom salt, yes I have that...Never added it in any large amount.

When I use it, it's a small amount to supplement CaSO4
Life begins at 60.....1.060, that is!

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Offline ynotbrusum

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Re: Do You Specifically Attempt to Control Sulfate to Chloride Ratio?
« Reply #19 on: June 19, 2024, 02:43:36 pm »
Thank you, Martin, for your concise explanation including numbers on the PPM and what and why they are significant.  Starting from RO water, I rarely add salts to get up to more than 50 ppm of Ca.  My lagers drop clear in two weeks, finishing fermentation in about 5-7 days.  Cheers.
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Offline CounterPressure

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Re: Do You Specifically Attempt to Control Sulfate to Chloride Ratio?
« Reply #20 on: June 20, 2024, 09:24:58 am »
Yes, Thanks Martin for the info.  And to everyone else who offered help here.

I spent a couple hours last night attempting to correlate what I had done with early batches using the very early free version (I saw it said v1.4 in the spreadsheet I opened last night).  I attempted to transfer info from those early batches, 1 5gal and 1 10gal, into the subscriber version I have used ever since.  It wasn't seamless, there were a few things that calculated slightly different. But it was pretty close. 

I also saw variations in the free version water inputs vs the subscriber version inputs, indicating to me maybe I paid for 2 water reports back to back within the month where I tried the free version till I paid. But my saved emails do not indicate that. They were all-but-identical, but I don't understand why they were not completely. For instance, 7.3 vs 7.0, 9 vs 10, ???  I did not take note of how many beers I had when I typed that stuff.  Maybe that's part of it.

Doing a quick search on my work PC today, I find that Martin sent me a new copy of Bru'nWater in 2018 which I've never used...  So I looked at the email archive and yep, 10/7/18, there it is... Well, I wasn't brewing then. I only brewed once in 2018 due to my work schedule 7daw, so that obviously got saved and tossed in my brewing files, email archive, and promptly forgotten.  Not the end of the world, my earlier copy worked fine too.   

So, I'm trying to go through old batch notes, brew day procedures and water adjustments, to better understand the cause and effect of some of these changes I've made.  I can already see some correlations of taste notes and pH targets, and now starting to understand how some of my misconceptions affected the outcomes (good and bad). So things will definitely be different going forward. For better or worse. lol. 

Offline mabrungard

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Re: Do You Specifically Attempt to Control Sulfate to Chloride Ratio?
« Reply #21 on: June 20, 2024, 01:14:57 pm »
So you're saying:
Maintain the ~40ppm Ca in the mash, regardless of top/bottom fermentation
Aim for very low finished water Ca in bottom fermenting beers
Aim for 50ish ppm Ca in finished water for top fermenting beers to aid clearing / avoid beerstone

And from other discussions, I should use higher Ca in highly hopped beers. To what degree seems left to the reader's discretion. But the BW Pale Ale profile appears to suggest ~300ppm going into the kettle.  I assume using the higher amount expecting the boil and hop concentration will remove a considerable amount of that.

Are those conclusions valid?

That's a reasonable restatement. To bring sulfate levels up for hoppy beers, there's only so much you can supply with Epsom Salt, so the rest does end up being via Gypsum. The Ca content is going to be high because of it. That's not a detriment in those beer styles.

We can't really control what precipitation reactions occur in the mash, kettle, and ferment, so I don't worry what the endpoint is. I just concern myself with the starting concentrations that I do control.
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Offline CounterPressure

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Re: Do You Specifically Attempt to Control Sulfate to Chloride Ratio?
« Reply #22 on: June 20, 2024, 01:28:40 pm »
So you're saying:
Maintain the ~40ppm Ca in the mash, regardless of top/bottom fermentation
Aim for very low finished water Ca in bottom fermenting beers
Aim for 50ish ppm Ca in finished water for top fermenting beers to aid clearing / avoid beerstone

And from other discussions, I should use higher Ca in highly hopped beers. To what degree seems left to the reader's discretion. But the BW Pale Ale profile appears to suggest ~300ppm going into the kettle.  I assume using the higher amount expecting the boil and hop concentration will remove a considerable amount of that.

Are those conclusions valid?

That's a reasonable restatement. To bring sulfate levels up for hoppy beers, there's only so much you can supply with Epsom Salt, so the rest does end up being via Gypsum. The Ca content is going to be high because of it. That's not a detriment in those beer styles.

We can't really control what precipitation reactions occur in the mash, kettle, and ferment, so I don't worry what the endpoint is. I just concern myself with the starting concentrations that I do control.
Cool! Thanks for the reinforcement.

I need to spend some time to (re-)familiarize myself with this new version of BrunWater. There's a fairly steep learning curve when you have no background in chemistry and made several incorrect assumptions right from the start. Not to say it still hasn't been a revelation, but I certainly haven't gotten as much out of it as I could have if I had put in a little bit more time and effort.

Just today at work I read your article on Vienna lager and I wish I had read that before I just brewed one last sunday. LOL. I have no doubt the beer is going to be wonderful, but it definitely could have been better if I had known then, even the little bit I know now, about sulfate and chloride.

The lager I'm drinking this minute cleared beautifully and has about every characteristic I could ask for. Excepting I kind of wish it was a touch drier. But all in all, I'm pretty happy I'm down to splitting hairs on some of these beers. Cheers!

Offline chumley

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Re: Do You Specifically Attempt to Control Sulfate to Chloride Ratio?
« Reply #23 on: June 20, 2024, 02:18:16 pm »
My findings, might be controversial, is:

My IPAs are a lot better when I use leaf hops instead of pellet hops. Never can get great hop flavor when I use pellets - I thinks its my system, I have to use paint strainer bags to keep the pellets from clogging my screen. In the old days I used to just lift and pour the chilled wort into a fermenter through a colander, and got better hoppiness from pellets.

Offline CounterPressure

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Re: Do You Specifically Attempt to Control Sulfate to Chloride Ratio?
« Reply #24 on: June 20, 2024, 02:24:09 pm »
My findings, might be controversial, is:

My IPAs are a lot better when I use leaf hops instead of pellet hops.
Sierra Nevada and their customers tend to agree.

Offline denny

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Re: Do You Specifically Attempt to Control Sulfate to Chloride Ratio?
« Reply #25 on: June 20, 2024, 02:38:52 pm »
My findings, might be controversial, is:

My IPAs are a lot better when I use leaf hops instead of pellet hops.
Sierra Nevada and their customers tend to agree.

Not so much any more.
Life begins at 60.....1.060, that is!

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Offline denny

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Re: Do You Specifically Attempt to Control Sulfate to Chloride Ratio?
« Reply #26 on: June 20, 2024, 02:41:19 pm »
My findings, might be controversial, is:

My IPAs are a lot better when I use leaf hops instead of pellet hops. Never can get great hop flavor when I use pellets - I thinks its my system, I have to use paint strainer bags to keep the pellets from clogging my screen. In the old days I used to just lift and pour the chilled wort into a fermenter through a colander, and got better hoppiness from pellets.

Yeah, I would have to say it's the issue with your system. As you well know, I make a lot of IPA. If pellets weren't giving me the results I wanted, I'd switch back. But that hasn't happened. As a guess, I'd say 90% of commercial beer is brewed with pellets.
Life begins at 60.....1.060, that is!

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The best, sharpest, funniest, weirdest and most knowledgable minds in home brewing contribute on the AHA forum. - Alewyfe

"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts." - Bertrand Russell

Offline chumley

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Re: Do You Specifically Attempt to Control Sulfate to Chloride Ratio?
« Reply #27 on: June 20, 2024, 04:26:44 pm »
I'm not surprised that 90% of commercial breweries use pellets for brewing. Their many attributes (smallness of storage size, longevity, etc.) are undisputed.

Given all that, there has been has been a real decrease in the availability of leaf hops in the last 10 years. I used to be able to buy pounds of noble European leaf hops. Those days are gone forever.

To me, its akin to that I used to be able to enjoy the fat sounds of vinyl over tinny digital music. Or could have a really good phone conversation on a telephone instead of a smart phone or MS Teams. But I digress.

Offline fredthecat

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Re: Do You Specifically Attempt to Control Sulfate to Chloride Ratio?
« Reply #28 on: June 20, 2024, 05:11:30 pm »

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.

yes, that's what im hoping for/working on and i am just trying to make 2, maybe 3 usable profiles i can know work:
-pale bitter
-pale or amber balanced
-dark and roasty

i want to use pale or amber balanced on any darkish beer even as long as roasted malts arent the centrepiece

it definitely comes down to personal taste in the end, and i aim to just get systems that work and are practical rather than 100% ideal


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.

LOL, thats amazing.







Offline Cliffs

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Re: Do You Specifically Attempt to Control Sulfate to Chloride Ratio?
« Reply #29 on: June 20, 2024, 05:40:11 pm »
My findings, might be controversial, is:

My IPAs are a lot better when I use leaf hops instead of pellet hops.
Sierra Nevada and their customers tend to agree.

Not so much any more.

I was recently at their Chico taproom and they are doing alot of IPA's with concentrated hop products