Author Topic: Adding mineral salts for both flavor and pH adjustment purposes  (Read 3918 times)

Offline Pawtucket Patriot

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Adding mineral salts for both flavor and pH adjustment purposes
« on: January 20, 2011, 02:07:39 PM »
For the past several years, my SOP re: mineral salt additions has been to use CaCO3 and/or gypsum to raise pH (I use lactic acid to lower pH, when necessary). Recently, I brewed an APA with what I figured would have a nice malty backbone to compliment the hops. I didn't add any mineral salts to the mash because it wasn't necessary to hit a pH of 5.2-5.3 (measured with ColorpHast strips). I determine whether mineral salt additions are necessary based on the estimated SRM of the beer, which works very well for pH purposes.  However, my water is quite soft and without any mineral salt additions, the APA tastes a bit thin -- not with respect to mouthfeel, but with regard to malt flavor. I am wondering how to marry the concepts of adding mineral salts for flavor and adding them to adjust pH. For example, I think my APA would have benefitted from a CaCO3 and gypsum addition for flavor purposes. But based on the projected SRM of the beer, I'm concerned that doing so would result in my mash pH being too high. Is it ok to add salts that increase pH while also adding something like lactic acid to keep the pH in check?

Incidentally, my water report is the first one listed in my post here: http://www.homebrewersassociation.org/forum/index.php?topic=1887.msg26087#msg26087

And my grain bill for my APA (5 gals) was:

7.5 # 2-row
1 # light Munich
.50 # caramel 20L
.50 # victory
.25# carapils
« Last Edit: January 20, 2011, 02:22:57 PM by Pawtucket Patriot »
Matt Schwandt | Minneapolis, MN
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Offline tomsawyer

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Re: Adding mineral salts for both flavor and pH adjustment purposes
« Reply #1 on: January 20, 2011, 02:51:58 PM »
Gypsum lowers pH right?

I try and use my pH adjustment additions to get me close to a good flavor profile.  Really when you think about it your first runnings aren't too far from the final boil volume, so you're going to be pretty close.

When I have enough SO4 and Cl and at the right ratio, if I need more pH lowering I resort to lactic acid.
Lennie
Hannibal, MO

Offline Pawtucket Patriot

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Re: Adding mineral salts for both flavor and pH adjustment purposes
« Reply #2 on: January 20, 2011, 03:17:53 PM »
I think gypsum raises pH.
Matt Schwandt | Minneapolis, MN
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Offline denny

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Re: Adding mineral salts for both flavor and pH adjustment purposes
« Reply #3 on: January 20, 2011, 03:39:48 PM »
Nope, gypsum lowers pH.  You can add stuff like gypsum and CaCl2 to the kettle for flavor if you don't want to affect your mash pH.
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Offline jlap

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Re: Adding mineral salts for both flavor and pH adjustment purposes
« Reply #4 on: January 20, 2011, 03:40:48 PM »
+ 1 for gypsum lowering mash pH.  I think you should check your sources again...

If you are lacking malt character in your APA I doubt it has to do with a Ca++ or SO4-- shortage.  If anything, chloride or sodium would help with that.  I suspect the problem is elsewhere.  

One way of dealing with taste vs. mineral additions is to add salts to the kettle instead of the mash if they aren't necessary for pH adjustment.  Getting the right pH is the most critical thing though I also try to get 50ppm Ca++.

Offline Pawtucket Patriot

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Re: Adding mineral salts for both flavor and pH adjustment purposes
« Reply #5 on: January 20, 2011, 03:53:17 PM »
Good info. Thanks!  Time to rethink how I use mineral salts.
Matt Schwandt | Minneapolis, MN
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Offline Pawtucket Patriot

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Re: Adding mineral salts for both flavor and pH adjustment purposes
« Reply #6 on: January 21, 2011, 06:37:56 AM »
So how does this sound for a game plan going forward?

1) Continue adjusting my mash pH as I have been doing (with CaCO3 to raise, lactic acid to lower).  This has worked well for me; I haven't had pH issues with this method.

2) Depending on the style I'm brewing and the flavor profile I'm going for, add any additional mineral salts to the boil kettle at the beginning of the boil.  For example, for German Pilsner, I only need to add lactic acid to my mash to lower the pH slightly.  But I want to add some calcium and a very slight amount of gypsum to get the water profile closer to that of Munich water.  So, I would add the mineral salts to the kettle at the very beginning of the boil.

I will be using the EZ Water Calculator online to evaluate whether I need to add mineral salts and how much I should add.
« Last Edit: January 21, 2011, 08:18:31 AM by Pawtucket Patriot »
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Offline Kaiser

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Re: Adding mineral salts for both flavor and pH adjustment purposes
« Reply #7 on: January 21, 2011, 07:40:24 AM »
you can always add gypsum/calcium chloride in balance with chalk. I.e. you want to add them such that the residual alkalinity of the water remains the same. If you do this the pH lowering ability of the calcium is offset by the pH raising ability of the chalk.

Kai

Offline tomsawyer

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Re: Adding mineral salts for both flavor and pH adjustment purposes
« Reply #8 on: January 21, 2011, 08:26:28 AM »
Sounds like a plan Paw, as long as you have adequate calcium in your mash and you don't need to add too much lactic acid to get the pH right.  I've been told not to exceed 5ml per batch lest it might start to show up in the flavor as tartness.  Or maybe it was 5ml/gallon.
Lennie
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Offline jeffy

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Re: Adding mineral salts for both flavor and pH adjustment purposes
« Reply #9 on: January 21, 2011, 08:44:23 AM »
So how does this sound for a game plan going forward?

1) Continue adjusting my mash pH as I have been doing (with CaCO3 to raise, lactic acid to lower).  This has worked well for me; I haven't had pH issues with this method.

2) Depending on the style I'm brewing and the flavor profile I'm going for, add any additional mineral salts to the boil kettle at the beginning of the boil.  For example, for German Pilsner, I only need to add lactic acid to my mash to lower the pH slightly.  But I want to add some calcium and a very slight amount of gypsum to get the water profile closer to that of Munich water.  So, I would add the mineral salts to the kettle at the very beginning of the boil.

I will be using the EZ Water Calculator online to evaluate whether I need to add mineral salts and how much I should add.

That's almost exactly what I did with my last batch of Dort Export.  Lactic acid for mash pH and then salts in the boil for "flavor".  It worked out pretty well with good mash efficiency and beer reminiscent of the classic style.
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Offline Pawtucket Patriot

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Re: Adding mineral salts for both flavor and pH adjustment purposes
« Reply #10 on: January 21, 2011, 08:47:44 AM »
Follow up question: at what point in my brew day process is the Cl:SO4 ratio most important?  During the mash?  Or is it more a mineral balance that affects the yeast (where the post-boil mineral composition is most important)?

tomsawyer, when I use lactic acid, I only add 2.5 mL to my mash, which usually involves an infusion volume of somewhere in the neighborhood of 10-14 qts (2.5-3.5 gals).

Also, when you say "adequate calcium in your mash," can you explain why?  I thought it was most important to have adequate calcium for the yeast (which would be more dependent on calcium levels in the post-boil volume).  I guess what I'm asking is when mash pH is correct, how important is the mineral composition during that phase of the brewing process?
« Last Edit: January 21, 2011, 09:00:47 AM by Pawtucket Patriot »
Matt Schwandt | Minneapolis, MN
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Offline Kaiser

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Re: Adding mineral salts for both flavor and pH adjustment purposes
« Reply #11 on: January 21, 2011, 08:56:28 AM »
I've been told not to exceed 5ml per batch lest it might start to show up in the flavor as tartness.

5 ml per 5 gal batch sounds about right. It's about 4.5 % acid malt for a 4 kg (~9 lb) grist.

Kai

Offline tomsawyer

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Re: Adding mineral salts for both flavor and pH adjustment purposes
« Reply #12 on: January 21, 2011, 09:00:50 AM »
Thanks Kai I was having trouble remembering that rule of thumb.

Paw the time to worry about the ratio is when you drink the beer, its a flavor issue.  Sulfate enhances bitterness, chloride enhances malt flavors.  Beers with a balance can benefit for a balanced ratio, although I think you should consider what the threshold and upper levels are when formulating.

You can do all your flavor additions to the kettle, it just seems parsimonious to me to use the acidifying salts to bring me close on my mash'es pH and calcium needs, and get the flavor profile close at the same time.  But the stuff isn't expensive so either way is fine.
Lennie
Hannibal, MO

Offline narcout

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Re: Adding mineral salts for both flavor and pH adjustment purposes
« Reply #13 on: January 21, 2011, 01:03:22 PM »
Also, when you say "adequate calcium in your mash," can you explain why?

Calcium can assist with enzyme activity in the mash.

Although, I've mashed with very low calcium levels and not had any issues with conversion.

Offline tomsawyer

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Re: Adding mineral salts for both flavor and pH adjustment purposes
« Reply #14 on: January 21, 2011, 01:10:07 PM »
I believe alpha-amylase needs calcium as a cofactor.  Typically you want 50ppm Ca in your mash.
Lennie
Hannibal, MO