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Old 03-29-2011, 05:44 PM   #1
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Default Chloride to Sulfate Ratio in Malty Beers

I have just started to adjust my water. And I have read about brewing city water profiles and also what water additives favor certain styles.

Here is where I was confused.
Having a CL:SO4 ratio greater than 1 should lead to a Maltier or Sweeter tasting beer. (http://books.google.com/books?id=TIY...20beer&f=false)

I just brewed a couple Scottish beers (60 Schilling and Wee Heavy). Knowing the flavor profiles I would want a water profile that is soft but has a high CL:SO4 Ratio. Well, the city profile does not show that.

City Ca Mg Bicarbonate SO4-2 Na+1 Cl-1 Beer Style
Edinburgh 100 18 160 105 20 45 Scottish Ale
http://howtobrew.com/section3/chapter15-2.html

I know that I should not try to replicate an exact city profile, but it is strange to me that none of the city profiles on Palmer's web page show a higher CL:SO4 ratio than 1.

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Old 03-29-2011, 06:52 PM   #2
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The reason people say not to try to replicate a water profile is that you don't have any information on what the brewery does with the water after it comes out of the tap. Scottish brewers could well be adding chloride salts.

At any rate, my advice would be to forget the ratio entirely. For a malty beer, you want high chloride and low sulfate, but I don't believe the ratio between them matters. 100 ppm Cl and 33 ppm SO4 (ratio 3.0) is going to taste the same as 100 and 17 ppm (ratio 6.0).

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Old 03-29-2011, 07:02 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Almighty View Post
Having a CL:SO4 ratio greater than 1 should lead to a Maltier or Sweeter tasting beer.
I didn't see that in the quote. I saw that sulfate and chloride are somewhat antagonistic and that in some taste panel tests in the UK beers with higher chloride were preferred. In Germany the belief seems to be that a good chloride/sufate ratio is no sulfate.

This is one of what they used to call "mommilies" on HBD (I never did figure out why) i.e. one of those things that everyone seems to believe but that isn't necessarily so. A good sulfate level is one that gives you a beer you like. A good chloride level is one that gives you a beer you like.
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Old 03-31-2011, 12:56 PM   #4
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My experience and opinion is also that for a malty beer keep sulfates very low but have a good level of chloride and maybe some sodium.

For me the opposite is true for hoppy beers -- I like high sulfates but also a good level of chloride (but no sodium) to balance.

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Old 03-31-2011, 01:01 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by ajdelange View Post
I didn't see that in the quote. I saw that sulfate and chloride are somewhat antagonistic and that in some taste panel tests in the UK beers with higher chloride were preferred. In Germany the belief seems to be that a good chloride/sufate ratio is no sulfate.

This is one of what they used to call "mommilies" on HBD (I never did figure out why) i.e. one of those things that everyone seems to believe but that isn't necessarily so. A good sulfate level is one that gives you a beer you like. A good chloride level is one that gives you a beer you like.
Well sure... it's been said plenty on here that the less chloride and sulfate the better. But having a higher Cl:SO4, when the levels are reasonable, should result in a more pronounced malty profile.
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Old 03-31-2011, 01:08 PM   #6
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That's true of course and says that 1:1 Cl/SO4 ratio at 1 mg/L each produces a beer that is quite different from one that has 200 mg/L of each and that's my point. It isn't the ratio. It's the amounts of the ions present. Brewers should learn what sulfate and chloride do separately. Even in the Brewer's Handbook quote it says "somewhat" antagonistic.

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Old 03-31-2011, 01:14 PM   #7
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My experience and opinion is also that for a malty beer keep sulfates very low but have a good level of chloride and maybe some sodium.

For me the opposite is true for hoppy beers -- I like high sulfates but also a good level of chloride (but no sodium) to balance.
Exactly! The ratio is nice, but it is relative. The whole thing falls apart if the concentrations of sulfate or chloride get too high. There are too many brewing water calculators that fail to caution against adding too much of either ion when pursuing a desired sulfate/chloride ratio. Trying to achieve a certain ratio without keeping an eye on the total levels for chloride and sulfate can produce very undesirable taste consequences.

My recommendation is that chloride should almost always be kept below 100 ppm. I don't know where some sources came up with a limit of 250 ppm for chloride, but that is far too high and WILL produce poor flavor.

By the way, I prefer quoting the ratio as sulfate/chloride instead of the other way since it produces a number that is more likely to be non-fractional. Colin Kaminsky pointed this out a few months ago.
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Old 03-31-2011, 03:52 PM   #8
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I appreciate the response.
So from the people that chimed in. For a Scottish 60/- and a Wee Heavy what would be your ideal chloride and sulfate concentrations? Or full water profiles for that matter?

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Old 03-31-2011, 05:20 PM   #9
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'Ideal' is a broad term when working with ion concentrations. 'Decent or Acceptable' might be more appropriate terms.

I'd say something like 40 ppm Cl and 30 ppm SO4 would be fine, but you could easily find that 80 ppm Cl and 60 ppm SO4 could still work well if your starting water was high in either ion. I would avoid going higher and that might require dilution if your ions are already high.

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Old 03-31-2011, 10:00 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Almighty View Post
I appreciate the response.
So from the people that chimed in. For a Scottish 60/- and a Wee Heavy what would be your ideal chloride and sulfate concentrations? Or full water profiles for that matter?
The best chloride and sulfate concentrations are those that give the beer which best meets your requirements. This may sound like a smartass answer but it isn't really. The Primer is intended to get you a good 60/ and/or Wee Heavy out of the box but in encourages you to brew the beers repeatedly varying the sulfate (and, by implication the chloride as well - but one at a time please) to find the levels that give you the best result. You can be guided in this to some extent by finding out what goes on at breweries that brew these beers.
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