Author Topic: Chloride Sulfate Ratio  (Read 4767 times)

Offline mabrungard

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Chloride Sulfate Ratio
« on: November 03, 2010, 06:18:28 AM »
I am reading Charles Bamforth's (UC Davis Brewing professor) book "Beer: tap into the art and science of brewing, 2nd Ed".  On page 73, I noted a damning statement regarding the validity of the chloride to sulfate ratio.  His comment follows.

"The importance of this chloride to sulfate ratio is one example of the plethora of dogmatic beliefs held by many brewers.  In fact, there is little if any published scientific data to justify the conclusions made concerning this ratio - which is not to say that it is not important but rather that, if it were in the dock in a court of law, it wouldn't have much of a hard-and-fast defense."

There has been similar skepticism expressed by myself and AJ DeLange in the past regarding this ratio.  The contention that this ratio is applicable or appropriate for brewing without caveat is misguided in my opinion.  Any respected brewing text generally cautions against having the water's chloride concentration above 100 ppm when the sulfate also exceeds 100 ppm. A review of water profiles from the historic world brewing centers shows that all profiles (Burton, Dublin, Edinburgh, London, Munich, Vienna, Pilsen) have chloride concentrations under 100 ppm.  Burton and Edinburgh both have sulfate concentrations above 100 ppm. 

The only historic water profile that has elevated chloride (~130 ppm) in conjunction with elevated sulfate (~330 ppm) is the Dortmund profile.  Interestingly, this is a profile that is known for imparting a minerally character to beer.  Also notable is that the chloride concentration is not too far above 100 ppm, so that points to the suggestion that the 100 ppm limits mentioned above are somewhat soft and possibly imprecise. 

So, what I'm suggesting in this post is that the chloride to sulfate ratio may not be applicable under all conditions.  But it does appear that the ratio can be useful when the chloride concentration is less than about 100 ppm.  I've heard of software and other brewing water recommendations that utilize the chloride to sulfate ratio to characterize the beer flavor between bitter and malty.  While I agree with the general concept of the ratio, its apparent that the 100 ppm (or thereabouts) chloride caveat needs to be inserted into its use.
Martin B
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Offline denny

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Re: Chloride Sulfate Ratio
« Reply #1 on: November 03, 2010, 09:03:16 AM »
Thanks for the info, Martin.  I always look forward to hearing what you have to say about water.
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Offline tschmidlin

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Re: Chloride Sulfate Ratio
« Reply #2 on: November 03, 2010, 09:17:40 AM »
Yes, thanks Martin.  I would probably never approach 100 ppm Cl since I start with 3 ppm, but it's good to know in case I ever consider adding only CaCl to my mash.
Tom Schmidlin

Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: Chloride Sulfate Ratio
« Reply #3 on: November 03, 2010, 09:31:55 AM »
I haven't been too hung up on this.  If Charlie Bamforth, AJ, and Martin question it, I don't think I will change my viewpoint.

As you look around the brewing forums in the net, it has become a mantra on some of them.
Jeff Rankert
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Online tygo

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Re: Chloride Sulfate Ratio
« Reply #4 on: November 03, 2010, 10:07:21 AM »
I do try to keep the Cl:SO4 ratio in the ballpark of the flavor profile I'm trying to achieve but I've also read or heard (somewhere, can't remember exactly where now) about the 100ppm threshold for Cl and try to live by that as well.  Glad to see that's consistent with what Dr. Bamforth is recommending.
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Offline johnf

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Re: Chloride Sulfate Ratio
« Reply #5 on: November 03, 2010, 10:34:58 AM »
I do try to keep the Cl:SO4 ratio in the ballpark of the flavor profile I'm trying to achieve but I've also read or heard (somewhere, can't remember exactly where now) about the 100ppm threshold for Cl and try to live by that as well.  Glad to see that's consistent with what Dr. Bamforth is recommending.

I've never read or heard Bamforth proscribe a 100 ppm limit for chloride. The initial quote in the OP is from Bamforth, the rest is referring to different unnamed sources, I believe.

Online tygo

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Re: Chloride Sulfate Ratio
« Reply #6 on: November 03, 2010, 11:06:43 AM »
Yeah, now that I re-read it I see you're right.  Like I said though that isn't the first place I've read/heard that before.  Unfortunately I can't remember where so that's another unnamed source  :-\
Clint
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Offline denny

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Re: Chloride Sulfate Ratio
« Reply #7 on: November 03, 2010, 11:17:57 AM »
Martin himself is about as reliable a source as you can get when it comes to water.
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Offline bluesman

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Re: Chloride Sulfate Ratio
« Reply #8 on: November 03, 2010, 11:38:03 AM »
This is good info. to keep in mind while adjusting your water.  Thanks Martin!
Ron Price

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Re: Chloride Sulfate Ratio
« Reply #9 on: November 03, 2010, 12:27:45 PM »
I really never pondered the ratio. I always figured chloride for malty and sulfate for hoppy. Thanks for the insight Martin!

Offline gordonstrong

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Re: Chloride Sulfate Ratio
« Reply #10 on: November 03, 2010, 03:18:04 PM »
I think sulfate has a noticeable flavor (and dryness).  I tend to only use it when I want that flavor, otherwise I use CaCl2 for almost all my beers.

AJ has an interesting podcast on his website on water.  He did an English IPA with both traditional Burton salts as well as just some CaCl2.  It's funny to hear the tasters say they preferred the non-traditional one.

Again, I prefer to use my tongue rather than a spreadsheet to tell me when my beer tastes right.
Gordon Strong • Beavercreek, Ohio • AHA Member since 1997 • Twitter: GordonStrong

Offline Thirsty_Monk

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Re: Chloride Sulfate Ratio
« Reply #11 on: November 03, 2010, 05:41:50 PM »
AJ has an interesting podcast on his website on water. 
Do you have link to that podcast?
Na Zdravie

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Offline richardt

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Re: Chloride Sulfate Ratio
« Reply #12 on: November 03, 2010, 05:52:24 PM »
From what I've just read, it appears that I've erroneously chased the Cl:SO4 while adjusting my water profile to get the Ca levels higher.  Problem was that it made the Cl level around 124-140 ppm.  Resultant beers did have a "minerally" taste to them, not unlike a Dortmunder.

Thanks, Martin.  Looks like I'll be redoing my BeerSmith water profile calculations to adjust the Cl levels back under 100. 

Offline johnf

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Re: Chloride Sulfate Ratio
« Reply #13 on: November 03, 2010, 05:58:01 PM »
AJ has an interesting podcast on his website on water. 
Do you have link to that podcast?

http://ajdel.wetnewf.org:81/

audio and ppt are separate (adjacent) links.

Offline Thirsty_Monk

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Re: Chloride Sulfate Ratio
« Reply #14 on: November 03, 2010, 06:14:11 PM »
johnf
Thank you
Na Zdravie

On Tap At The TapRoom:
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Bohemian Dark Lager
Smoked Bock
MaiBock
American Brown Ale
Marzen
Root beer