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Old 12-21-2010, 04:12 PM   #1
Tall_Yotie
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Default Adding salt to boil for flavor enhancement

Howdy all!

I was always told that salt + yeast = bad, or at least for beer. However, after contacting a local brewery about their chili chocolate stout, they told the proportions of their chili and chocolate additions, and then stated that they added sea salt at the beginning of the boil to up the flavors.

So, how much salt is too much salt? I am trying to figure out what amount to use, may end up contacting the brewery again about that, though do not want to overreach the help already given. Perhaps the amount of salt used for a good pot of soup scaled to 5gallons, then cut back just a bit?

I figure this will be something of experimentation, but wanted to first check to see if anyone had experience or good thoughts on this.

Thanks all!

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Old 12-21-2010, 05:20 PM   #2
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I've made the mistake of adding way too much salt to adjust mash water. Terrible. I use it to boil hot dogs. It's pretty good for that. I forget how much I added but it was somewhere in the neighborhood of 2-4 ounces in a 5 gallon batch. (I was supposed to add grams but forgot to change the setting on my scale from ounces to grams.) It did ferment, so yeast will work in a fairly salty environment.

I wouldn't add much, if any. The problem is that there is no way to undo the salt. You can't really cover the flavor and it will never settle out or fade out. Salt is water soluble. It will be there to stay.

I would think maybe start with 0.5-1 gram and taste at the end of the boil and see how you like it. Add a little more, stir and give it another taste.

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Old 12-21-2010, 07:16 PM   #3
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Basically, you don't want to exceed about 100ppm of Sodium. So you're gonna have to learn about water chemistry to do this. I add salt via baking soda to most of my beers because:

1) I have very low alkalinity
2) I agree that sodium makes a beer taste fuller

I never exceed 100ppm sodium and that's on SUPER malty beers. For average beers I aim for around 50ppm. This usually means I'm adding from 3-7 grams of baking soda, but this is dependent on so many other things.

I'll say this: water that's used to make beer that has a proper level of sodium will not be anywhere close to the same saltiness as a pot of soup.

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Old 12-21-2010, 07:24 PM   #4
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Since I use reverse osmosis water for my batches, I always add an array of water salts to my mash water. Non-iodized table salt is typically included in the mix but I always use it on the order of 1-2 grams. I don't add so much that a salty flavor is detectable, and I doubt your local brewery does either.

In the Brew Science section, there is a ton of good information about water chemistry. Here's a quote from the "Brewing Water Chemistry Primer:"
Additional chloride will round, smooth and sweeten the beer.

This would be good for a chocolate stout. Since sea salt is sodium chloride, you would be increasing the chloride in your beer. As ReverseApacheMaster mentions, you can't undo the salt addition, so start sparingly, if at all. I would start with 1 gram. Note that your water may already have enough chloride so you may not need to add any extra salt.

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Old 12-21-2010, 08:07 PM   #5
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That all sounds good and makes sense. When I do this I will just go initially with a gram and adjust from there. Will taste near the end of the boil once all the flavoring additions have been made. If this works out I will post up a report or recipe. Thanks all for the info!

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