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Old 03-10-2012, 09:13 PM   #1
DaleHair
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Default Calcium vs OG

Should the calcium ppm be related to the amount of malt used? Should a barleywine need more than a pilsner?

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Old 03-10-2012, 09:56 PM   #2
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No, it should be related to the style of the beer and the needs of the yeast etc. Most people feel that mash water should contain at least 50 ppm calcium based on its beneficial effects such as enzyme stabilization, assistance in production of bright wort, scavenger for oxalate etc. But some styles, notably delicate lagers, want a very soft water and are brewed with 1/2 - 1/4 that 'minimum' level.

In other beers, such as barleywine, high calcium is present but here because it is part of calcium sulfate and high sulfate is wanted i.e. it is along for the ride. But it does have the beneficial effect of reducing mash pH by reacting with malt phosphates. Because of this beers brewed with gypseous water do not require dark malts to establish reasonable mash pH. Hence pale ales.

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Old 03-11-2012, 12:56 AM   #3
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Right, once the brewing water hits the 50 ppm level, it isn't necessary to add any more calcium. The only reason to exceed that value is because you're adding sulfate or chloride with the calcium.

There is precedent in using less calcium in brewing water. Many of the mega brewers use far less than 50 ppm. I think it helps improve the 'transparency' of those light lagers they produce. I like to recommend that a good minimum calcium content is more on the line of 40 ppm just to control beerstone potential. But if you're willing to work around the other faults of brewing with low Ca, then you can still brew good beer.

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Old 03-11-2012, 04:37 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mabrungard View Post
... just to control beerstone potential.
I do like from time to time to point out that calcium oxalate precipitated into the yeast cake in your fermentor is a non problem. Calcium oxalate precipitated onto your equipment (beerstone) is a PITA. Calcium oxalate precipitated inside your kidney (kidney stone) is a big pain - literally - and an argument for a higher calcium level in the brew.
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Old 03-11-2012, 03:23 PM   #5
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Calcium oxalate precipitated inside your kidney (kidney stone) is a big pain - literally - and an argument for a higher calcium level in the brew.
That is a great point. Even though beer is reputed to be good for reducing the occurance of kidney stone, I wonder about the effect of calcium content in the brewing water. The definitive study of beer and kidney stone didn't discuss that aspect, but it mentions ales. So the potential is that the beers associated with that study had adequate calcium level. That might contrast with the low calcium level popular in mega lagers.

If you have kidney stones, I suppose it would be a good idea to precipitate some of the oxalate in the beer production instead of your body.
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Old 03-11-2012, 04:05 PM   #6
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Malt contains calcium as well. I've seen figures quoting 30ppm Ca contributed by the malt, but where I read that didn't give info about how much Ca is contributed per pound to a know volume of water. I'm sure it varies by growing region, barley type, etc, and also varies year to year. But malt does have "some" amount.

Briggs et al says you shouldn't exceed 150ppm Ca, but doesn't say why. I've seen that quoted elsewhere too, but I don't know if they're just repeating what they wrote.

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