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Old 12-24-2012, 03:53 AM   #1
Hopper5000
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Default Bru n water mineraly taste?

So I started using brew n water and salt additions to alter my brews and try to accentuate different aspects. I have found that it worked well in some but created some mineraly flavors in my pale ales. Does anyone know what that mineraly taste comes from? Is it the gypsum or just the combination of everything. I have fairly soft water so it's a good base to start from.

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Old 12-24-2012, 04:07 AM   #2
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Minerally taste comes from minerals. Sometimes this is appropriate (Export) and sometimes it isn't (Helles, Bohemian Pils). In general people seem to prefer beers made with low mineral content water. I always feel a bit awkward writing that because in general people seem to prefer white bread but it seems to be the case with beer. Thus my advocacy of RO (or otherwise low mineral content) water as a starting point. You can always add minerals as you go to taste if you like that quality.

I think a lot of people don't fully appreciate that 'removing' alkalinity with acid is actually replacing bicarbonate with the anion of whatever acid you used to 'remove' the alkalinity. In the US we tend not to use sulfuric and/or hydrochloric acids for that purpose preferring the 'neutral' flavored phosphoric but that has to contribute something to flavor when the levels get high.

If you follow a 'profile' you are really following someone else's idea of what the water for the particular beer should be like. I advocate starting with low ion water, adjusting pH with lactic or sauermalz or phosphoric (with low ion water it won't take much) and incrementing other salts to taste over subsequent brews. Of course you should take into consideration what the profiles have to say. Your personal optimum may wind up close to what a recommended profile suggests. Or it may not.

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Old 12-24-2012, 01:18 PM   #3
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You don't mention what profile you used when you created that minerally taste. But, the combination of ions in the water are the cause and there are apparently a few that you object to in beer flavor.

I also recommend that low ion concentrations are best for most beers. The color-based water profiles included in Bru'n Water have very modest ionic concentrations and they have worked quite well for many brewers. The problem I typically hear of, is the case where a brewer uses one of those historic brewing city profiles. Many of those are highly mineralized and may not produce the effect the brewer really wants. Another case is that you may not prefer much sulfate in your brewing water. Then the Pale Ale profile with its 300 ppm sulfate may not be to your liking. Dialing that level lower may ultimately help you find your preference.

Enjoy!

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Old 12-24-2012, 03:13 PM   #4
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You could throw gypsum into a finished beer and see if that is the taste.

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Old 12-25-2012, 02:20 AM   #5
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I threw this up on another forum and someone responded that it could be the epsom salts. I have quite a low magnesium amount (1ppm) and S04 (6ppm) and have been using those to kick that up. Does this makes sense?

I usually use the yellow or amber profiles. I stay away from the regional ones because I heard they can be too extreme/

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Old 12-25-2012, 02:49 AM   #6
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Magnesium is not really needed in the water since the malt supplies an ample amount. You could leave that out with little consequence. However, the amount of Mg in those color-based profiles is very small. I'm surprised that they would contribute a minerally taste. Even the sulfate contribution from the epsom addition would be small.

If those ion levels are not to your liking, feel free to adjust them lower to suit your tastes. I agree that the epsom reduction would be a logical first step. You can adjust any of the water profiles in Bru'n Water in the table that is located down the Water Adjustment sheet. There is an ion balance calculation for every water profile so you can see when you've created a revised profile that is actually achievable. In general, when you reduce the concentration of cations (Ca, Mg, Na) you will have to also reduce the concentration of anions (HCO3, SO4, Cl) so that the ions balance.

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Old 12-25-2012, 05:32 AM   #7
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Martin (et al),

Thanks for your response and for making brunwater! I am curious why the cations and the anions should balance as I don't really have a good understanding of these things?

In the brews I was making where I added epsom salt I was putting in somewhere between 5 to 8 grams per 5 gal. Does this seem like a lot? This last one I cut it down to only a couple grams.

I just left the S04 at about half the recommended level in the amber bitter profile but the anion cation balance was still in the green.

I was thinking of maybe adding more gypsum to get the S04 levels up higher as I like to accentuate the hops. Is there a detriment to adding too much calcium and at what point does it negatively impact?

So the malt will contribute enough magnesium? That's good to know. I am assuming by malt you mean both extract and all grain. I myself do all grain.

I also use wyeast yeast nutrient on the recommended levels.

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Old 12-25-2012, 05:53 AM   #8
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I also use some calcium chloride. Would this potentially add that minerally taste? I guess it's probably hard to know.

In looking at my past brews where I used brunwater (only been doing so for a few months), the first one had the most minerally taste. It had about 7 grams of gypsum, 5 grams of epsom salt, and 3.5 grams of CaCl. This was the amber bitter profile. Ion concentration 5.8 and 5.7.

I made a belgian Tripel which used the yellow balanced and I can't detect any of the mineral flavors. The ion balance was 3.7 and 3.3. I had about 4 grams of gypsum, 3 grams of epsom salt, and 3 grams of Cacl.

I made another pale ale using the amber botter profile where I could still detect some mineral taste but it was much less. I used about the same epsom salt concentration but cut down the gypsum to about 3 grams and the CaCl stayed about the same. Ion concentrations 4.6.

The recent one that I just put in the fermenter I used the amber bitter profile again but used about 2.5 grams of gypsum, 2 grams of epsom salt, and 2 grams of CaCl. Ion concentrations at 3 and 3.1.

I guess is seems like the lower concentrations may be more beneficial for me? Do you see any patterns here?

Thanks immensely for your help.

BTW, my profile is below:

Calcium (Ca) 5.0 15.0 Bicarbonate (HCO3)
Magnesium (Mg) 1.0 6.0 Carbonate (CO3)
Sodium (Na) 6.0 3.0 Sulfate (SO4)
Potassium (K) 1.0 5.0 Chloride (Cl)
Iron (Fe) 0.0 0.3 Nitrate (NO3)
0.0 Nitrite (NO2)
0.0 Fluoride (F)

Reported Total Alkalinity (as CaCO3) (mg/L or ppm) 22
Reported or Measured Water pH 9
Estimated Bicarbonate Concentration (ppm) 24.5
Estimated Carbonate Concentration (ppm) 1.1


Ion Balance Results
Total Cations (meq/L) 0.62 0.94 Cation/Anion Ratio
Total Anions (meq/L) 0.65

Hardness and Alkalinity Results
Total Hardness, as CaCO3, (ppm) 17 21 Alkalinity (ppm as CaCO3)
Permanent Hardness, as CaCO3, (ppm) 0 15 RA Effective Hardness, (ppm as CaCO3)
Temporary Hardness, as CaCO3, (ppm) 17 16 Residual Alkalinity (RA), (ppm as CaCO3)

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Old 12-25-2012, 02:09 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hopper5000 View Post
I am curious why the cations and the anions should balance as I don't really have a good understanding of these things?
Law of physics. Water's net electrical charge is 0. You are not trying to balance your water. You just check your water analysis to see if its net charge, as calculated from the reported values is 0 as we know it must be. If the analyst correctly measured the amount of each charged ion and did that for all charged species then the net charge would be 0. Calculating the net charge is thus a quality control check on your water report. Home brewers used to blithely follow water profiles from various sources without ever doing these checks. We finally got them to start thinking about this and now most of the spreadsheets will include a charge check.

Another side of this is that when doing synthesis you must start with balaced water. Anything you add is automatically balanced but you cannot create a synthesized profile from an unballanced source so if you have a source report that does not balance you must force it to balance before doing synthesis. If not, your synthesis can not exist any more than the unbalanced source can exist. If imbalance is small then you can ignore this recognizing that you will not get exactly what you hoped for. As people move away from the 'follow a profile' method this becomes less of an issue.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hopper5000 View Post
In the brews I was making where I added epsom salt I was putting in somewhere between 5 to 8 grams per 5 gal. Does this seem like a lot?
Yes it does. The larger amount would add almost 29 mg/L magnesium and 167 mg/L sulfate. Depending on what is already in your water the magnesium probably would not be much of a problem but the extra sulfate might be. Malt itself contains plenty of magnesium (15 mg/kg or so) fo co-factor duty and thus unless you want the particular sour/bitter quality of magnesium ion you should not add epsom salts to brewing water.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Hopper5000 View Post
I was thinking of maybe adding more gypsum to get the S04 levels up higher as I like to accentuate the hops. Is there a detriment to adding too much calcium and at what point does it negatively impact?
I think you can probably tolerate quite a bit of calcium as its salts are not very soluble and it would tend to precipitate out (even with things like proteins) if you added too much. Calcium sulfate is not that soluble but calcium chloride is so you would probably reach undesirable levels of chloride and/or sulfate before you got to 'too much' calcium. Calcium does lend a mineral taste however and you could hit too much calcium on that basis at a few tens of mg/L.
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Old 12-25-2012, 02:42 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hopper5000 View Post
I also use some calcium chloride. Would this potentially add that minerally taste? I guess it's probably hard to know.
Yes it could but it's not that hard to know. I always recommend brewing a beer for the first time with low mineral water and then adding some of the proposed salts to the beer in the glass. This will give a rough indication of what a beer brewed with more of that particular salt will taste like. Metal ions give a hard taste whereas choride gives a soft taste so calcium chloride may be a bit of an exception here. I guessing that as you add successively more and more calcium chloride you will find that the beer tastes softer, smoother and rounder in the region of concentration where chloride effect dominates but will, at higher levels, start to taste salty and minerally.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hopper5000 View Post
In looking at my past brews where I used brunwater (only been doing so for a few months), the first one had the most minerally taste. It had about 7 grams of gypsum, 5 grams of epsom salt, and 3.5 grams of CaCl. This was the amber bitter profile. Ion concentration 5.8 and 5.7.
That's really hard water (total hardness 482 ppm as CaCO3), high mineral content (625 mg/L TDS) and ionic strength 18 mmol/L so I'm not surprised it tastes kind of 'crunchy'. (I don't know what 'ion concentration' is but assume it is supposed to be the same sort of thing as ionic strength and I don't know why you would care about that unless trying to compute activity coefficients in which case you need ionic strength).


Quote:
Originally Posted by Hopper5000 View Post
I made a belgian Tripel which used the yellow balanced and I can't detect any of the mineral flavors. The ion balance was 3.7 and 3.3.
Ah. Are these numbers what you are calling 'ion concentration'?

WRT the flavor perception: it is possible that in a strongly flavored beer like a tripel the mineral qualities are masked by phenols, maillard products, sugars, brett flavors etc.


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Originally Posted by Hopper5000 View Post
BTW, my profile is below:
....
Not that it matters much because the levels are so low but some of these numbers are a bit inconsistent. For example you state alkalinity is 21 in one place and 22 in another. Based on

Calcium (Ca) 5.0
Magnesium (Mg) 1.0
Sodium (Na) 6.0 3.0 Sulfate (SO4)
Potassium (K) 1.0 5.0 Chloride (Cl)
Iron (Fe) 0.0 0.3 Nitrate (NO3)
0.0 Nitrite (NO2)
0.0 Fluoride (F)

Reported Total Alkalinity (as CaCO3) (mg/L or ppm) 22
Reported or Measured Water pH 9

your cation/anion balance would be, based on the assumption that alkalinity was measured to pH 4.5 at 20 °C, 0.618/0.616 (!!!), your bicarbonate 22.9 mg/L (as opposed to 15.0) and carbonate 1 mg/L (as opposed to 6.0) for total hardness of 16.6 (all temporary) and an RA of 17.8.
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