Author Topic: "Brewing Better Beer" - calcium chloride, calcium sulphate  (Read 5751 times)

Offline jared long

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"Brewing Better Beer" - calcium chloride, calcium sulphate
« on: April 26, 2011, 11:11:07 AM »
greetings!

i'm really enjoying the "brewing better beer" book -- one of those reads that compels you to reassess your entire process!

one question, among several, that the book has raised for me:

gordon suggests treating his brew water with calcium chloride and calcium sulphate.  i've been using mash 5.2 in my tun to achieve my target pH.  does this negate the use for calcium chloride and calcium sulphate, or would using these still be beneficial?

what are the pros/cons of using mash 5.2?

many thanks,
jared long

Offline gordonstrong

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Re: "Brewing Better Beer" - calcium chloride, calcium sulphate
« Reply #1 on: April 26, 2011, 11:26:02 AM »
Thanks.  Glad you're enjoying it.

Note that my brew water is RO water.  I also use phosphoric acid for more direct pH control.

I've never used mash 5.2.  I add calcium chloride and calcium sulfate to get the flavor profile I want.  I don't know what mash 5.2 tastes like, so I'm reluctant to talk about what it does.  Getting your mash pH to the right zone is important but so is getting your desired flavor profile.  You have to consider those both when fiddling with your water.

When I use salts, each ion is chosen for a particular reason.  Calcium helps the mash enzymes and has many other positive effects, in the proper concentration. Chloride provides a rounder mouthfeel.  Sulfate can accentuate hop bitterness and give a dry impression.

Other opinions exist, particularly when you are starting with something other than RO water.

My advice is to know why you are adding each salt and what each does.  Then you will likely be able to answer your own question for your own brewing circumstance.
Gordon Strong • Beavercreek, Ohio • AHA Member since 1997 • Twitter: GordonStrong

Offline SpanishCastleAle

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Re: "Brewing Better Beer" - calcium chloride, calcium sulphate
« Reply #2 on: April 26, 2011, 11:32:30 AM »
AJ DeLange (a brewing water 'expert' if you're not familiar...look at all the DeLange references in Kaiser's pH articles) says 5.2 doesn't do what it claims.  He likes to say that 5.2 works for those that don't have pH meters and doesn't work for those that do. ;)

5-Star has some really great products imo.  I use PBW and Starsan and think they work great.  Apparently 5.2 is the black sheep of their family of products.

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Re: "Brewing Better Beer" - calcium chloride, calcium sulphate
« Reply #3 on: April 26, 2011, 11:36:00 AM »
My advice is to know why you are adding each salt and what each does.  Then you will likely be able to answer your own question for your own brewing circumstance.

I know there are other resources out there, but I believe Colin Kaminski is working on a book for the AHA called, you guessed it, "Water".

Maybe by the time I'm done deciphering Gordon's book, I'll be ready for this next step.
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Offline johnf

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Re: "Brewing Better Beer" - calcium chloride, calcium sulphate
« Reply #4 on: April 26, 2011, 11:40:41 AM »
AJ DeLange (a brewing water 'expert' if you're not familiar...look at all the DeLange references in Kaiser's pH articles) says 5.2 doesn't do what it claims.  He likes to say that 5.2 works for those that don't have pH meters and doesn't work for those that do. ;)

5-Star has some really great products imo.  I use PBW and Starsan and think they work great.  Apparently 5.2 is the black sheep of their family of products.

I think AJ stole that from me, lol. But, yeah, it does not work. It is sodium and phosphate. The latter is flavor neutral. The former may be flavor positive in modest amounts but is cheaper as kosher salt.

Offline gordonstrong

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Re: "Brewing Better Beer" - calcium chloride, calcium sulphate
« Reply #5 on: April 26, 2011, 11:41:13 AM »
AJ DeLange (a brewing water 'expert' if you're not familiar...

No need to put expert in quotes.  He is an expert, and one of my primary sources (along with Martin).
Gordon Strong • Beavercreek, Ohio • AHA Member since 1997 • Twitter: GordonStrong

Offline denny

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Re: "Brewing Better Beer" - calcium chloride, calcium sulphate
« Reply #6 on: April 26, 2011, 11:44:04 AM »
I think AJ stole that from me, lol. But, yeah, it does not work. It is sodium and phosphate. The latter is flavor neutral. The former may be flavor positive in modest amounts but is cheaper as kosher salt.

I have also found 5.2 to have no positive effects on my water chemistry.  Since I started using Martin's spreadsheet, my beers have improved in flavor and my efficiency has increased a bit.
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Offline SpanishCastleAle

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Re: "Brewing Better Beer" - calcium chloride, calcium sulphate
« Reply #7 on: April 26, 2011, 12:30:11 PM »
Yeah Gordon, don't know why I put that in quotes.  He's a bonafide expert.

johnf,
I may have that mistaken, you may have originally said it.  I just like that quote.  In the future I'll just say; "A very smart man once said..."

Offline jared long

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Re: "Brewing Better Beer" - calcium chloride, calcium sulphate
« Reply #8 on: April 26, 2011, 12:32:01 PM »
where can i find "martin's spreadsheet"?

i'll be the first to admit that i don't have a sophisticated understanding of water chemistry, but i'm trying to ameliorate this glaring deficiency.  from what i've been told, our water source where i brew is characterized by temporary hardness.  my typical regimen is to run my brew water through a charcoal chlorine filter, pre-boil (to drive off bicarbonates), then brew with it.  it's hard to say what my mash pH would come out as, since i always use mash 5.2 in the tun (and consistently get a pH reading of 5.2 in my mash).  

does my regimen seem reasonable?  

anybody out there with a similar water profile that would suggest otherwise?

much appreciated,
jared

Offline gordonstrong

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Re: "Brewing Better Beer" - calcium chloride, calcium sulphate
« Reply #9 on: April 26, 2011, 12:37:31 PM »
Charcoal: good.
Boiling: OK, but the bicarbonates aren't driven off. They precipitate, so you have to let them fall out then rack off.  It's all that white flaky stuff that you want to leave behind.

What you're left with depends on what else was there when you started.  Get a water analysis and find out.  Then you can figure out what you need to do with it (if anything).

I start with RO water to always have a known good starting point, and to avoid that whole preboiling thing, which was a PITA and didn't really do a great job of it.
Gordon Strong • Beavercreek, Ohio • AHA Member since 1997 • Twitter: GordonStrong

Offline jared long

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Re: "Brewing Better Beer" - calcium chloride, calcium sulphate
« Reply #10 on: April 26, 2011, 12:41:08 PM »
interesting.  so, if i'm not racking my brewing liquor after pre-boiling it, i'm not accomplishing much, am i?

i think it's about time i get a water analysis....

thanks much,
jared


Offline gordonstrong

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Re: "Brewing Better Beer" - calcium chloride, calcium sulphate
« Reply #11 on: April 26, 2011, 12:48:26 PM »
Right.  It's about the same as if you took RO water and then added chalk.  They may not be mixed together in solution but if you use the whole thing, then you get the whole effect during the mash.

Look up Ward Labs.  There's a reference in the book for what you need.

The reference for Martin's spreadsheet is here: http://www.homebrewersassociation.org/forum/index.php?topic=6016.0
« Last Edit: April 26, 2011, 12:51:30 PM by gordonstrong »
Gordon Strong • Beavercreek, Ohio • AHA Member since 1997 • Twitter: GordonStrong

Offline jeffy

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Re: "Brewing Better Beer" - calcium chloride, calcium sulphate
« Reply #12 on: April 26, 2011, 12:53:23 PM »
where can i find "martin's spreadsheet"?

Look for any post here by Martin Brumgard and there's a link to it in his sig line.
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Offline mabrungard

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Re: "Brewing Better Beer" - calcium chloride, calcium sulphate
« Reply #13 on: April 26, 2011, 01:00:59 PM »
I love most 5 Star products, but this one is an utter failure.  AJ has termed it useful as a garden fertilizer, but indicates that it does not do what it is supposed to do.  

It is a buffer composed of sodium and phosphate compounds, but it buffers to a pH of about 5.8 in distilled water.  So it is useful if you were brewing a beer with high amounts of roast or crystal malt using a DI or RO water.  It will keep the mash pH from dropping too low.  But for all other cases, it does little.  It does not promote a more ideal mash pH in the 5.4 to 5.2 range as the name implies.  It does add a lot of sodium to the wort, so there is a strong negative effect on flavor there.  

My strong recommendation is that NO brewers should be using this product.  The evidence across the homebrewing community is that it does not work and it can have a negative flavor impact.  This is the poster child for why learning about brewing chemistry is important to brewing good beer.  

For most brewers dealing with alkaline water, acid is an easy thing to add if you know how to do it.  A pH meter is a nice tool. But if you have alkalinity information for your water, Bru'n Water has a very accurate acid calculator that was taken from AJ Delange's work and it is proven.  

For brewers brewing with RO or DI water, you may not need acid too often.  But you will need alkalinity producers like lime or baking soda (chalk doesn't work well).  Again, Bru'n Water has the tools to get you right in the ball park with your adjustments.  

I enjoyed Gordon's commment in the book where he says, 'don't mess with the water too much'.  Since creating RO or DI water is 'messing with' water to the extreme, I'd say that what Gordon needs to revise that statement to is: 'don't add too many salts to water'.  In my discussions with Gordon, that is what he really cautions against since he and I have tasted too many beers at competition that have a minerally soda water flavor that doesn't go away.  

There are too many water calculators in the brewing world that don't really provide good guidance for mineral and acid additions.  Even Palmer's sheet has some outrageous upper limits for some ions that end up letting the brewer 'hang themselves' with too much mineral content in the water.  I've tried to make it apparent to brewers using Bru'n Water where the limits are and why they shouldn't go there.  

Don't use 5.2 Stabilizer.
« Last Edit: April 26, 2011, 01:08:53 PM by mabrungard »
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Offline bluesman

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Re: "Brewing Better Beer" - calcium chloride, calcium sulphate
« Reply #14 on: April 26, 2011, 01:04:50 PM »
I look at 5.2 like "pixie dust" and find that it really depends on your water chemistry as to the final outcome. It may or may not adjust your water to the desired level.

The first and most important step is to know what your water source contains unless you're using RO or distilled water, which in that case the water is for all intensive purposes pure H2O. However, if using filtered tap water, bottled water or any other source, a water report should be obtained in order to know your starting point. Ward Labs can provide a useful report.
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