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Old 04-30-2010, 04:36 PM   #1
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Default Gypsum

I guess this would be a technical thread, but I have a question about it. My latest recipe for a Palilalia IPA called for 2 tsp of gypsum, which I bought and used and the brew turned out great
So now I'm wondering, what is gypsum exactly used for? I guess it has something to do with 'hardening' the water, by adding some certain minerals to it, and making it apparently a little more sticky and thick. What is the actual benefit of this? Would I really be able to tell the difference if I hadn't used it? And when would gypsum be good to use for a brew?

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Old 04-30-2010, 05:32 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by bosox View Post
I guess this would be a technical thread, but I have a question about it. My latest recipe for a Palilalia IPA called for 2 tsp of gypsum, which I bought and used and the brew turned out great
So now I'm wondering, what is gypsum exactly used for? I guess it has something to do with 'hardening' the water, by adding some certain minerals to it, and making it apparently a little more sticky and thick. What is the actual benefit of this? Would I really be able to tell the difference if I hadn't used it? And when would gypsum be good to use for a brew?
The brew science forum has a ton of info on water chemistry, Gypsum raises the hardness and lowers the pH (raises acidity) of the water.

It gets fairly technical, so that is the short simple answer. Check the brew science threads, you'll find everything you want to know about water chemistry for brewing there.

There are also some great podcasts on the Brewing Network and Basic Brewing Radio.

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Old 04-30-2010, 05:33 PM   #3
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There are several uses for gypsum (calcium sulfate) in brewing. It is used in calcium-deficient mashes to increase calcium content, which is crucial for proper enzymatic conversion. This also decreases residual alkalinity of the water somewhat.

It is used in the boil for taste perception. It does not thicken the water. Higher sulfate ion concentrations make the hop bitterness "pop," taste more crisp, especially when paired with lower chloride ion concentrations. I've never seen a scientific study on it, but it is well known that breweries use this technique, and I think many members here would vouch for it as well.

Proper calcium levels are also crucial to yeast metabolism.

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Old 04-30-2010, 05:43 PM   #4
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Would I really be able to tell the difference if I hadn't used it? And when would gypsum be good to use for a brew?
Good or bad, you would certainly notice a difference. Gypsum, though, is just one small aspect of a larger topic (Water conditioning) There are two ways to go. Experiment solely with gypsum and your own water (Could well work out fine) or get into the whole business of water reports, proper treatment per style etc. Either way, gypsum is one small aspect of a larger scheme.

Do what works for you now, and plan for greater things ahead.
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Old 04-30-2010, 05:51 PM   #5
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I don't think I'm prepared to understand all the technicality of the issue haha, I spose then I should only add gypsum when it tells me to, and don't do anything on my own then, as I'm an English major and avoid science/math like the plague!

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Old 04-30-2010, 06:11 PM   #6
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I don't think I'm prepared to understand all the technicality of the issue haha, I spose then I should only add gypsum when it tells me to, and don't do anything on my own then, as I'm an English major and avoid science/math like the plague!
Student eh? Go and study, we'll suck you back into the obsession properly after you have your degree (Insert maniacal laugh .wav here)
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Old 05-01-2010, 03:08 AM   #7
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I like greenbirds reply.
I also wouldn't trust a recipe that says to add 2 tsp gypsum without any knowledge of your water profile.

-a.

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Old 01-15-2013, 02:19 AM   #8
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This is an old thread, but I wanted to try gypsum so I mixed a small amount in a half gallon of water. Did a taste test next to the same, untreated, water. Definitely made a difference, so I used it on my Sierra Nevada pale ale. Just kegged it but post mash taste tests show promise!

Gypsum is supposed to soften the water, but in my test the gypsum water tastes more mineral-y, which I think of as hard water. Meh.

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Old 01-15-2013, 03:03 AM   #9
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This is an old thread, but I wanted to try gypsum so I mixed a small amount in a half gallon of water. Did a taste test next to the same, untreated, water. Definitely made a difference, so I used it on my Sierra Nevada pale ale. Just kegged it but post mash taste tests show promise!

Gypsum is supposed to soften the water, but in my test the gypsum water tastes more mineral-y, which I think of as hard water. Meh.
Well, you're adding hardness/minerals, so it makes sense that it'd taste more minerally.
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Old 01-15-2013, 12:36 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kevreh View Post
This is an old thread, but I wanted to try gypsum so I mixed a small amount in a half gallon of water. Did a taste test next to the same, untreated, water. Definitely made a difference, so I used it on my Sierra Nevada pale ale. Just kegged it but post mash taste tests show promise!

Gypsum is supposed to soften the water, but in my test the gypsum water tastes more mineral-y, which I think of as hard water. Meh.
Do you have any idea what concentration of calcium and sulfate you are adding to that water? All things in moderation...if you added a significant concentration of those ions to the water then a minerally taste is probable. As pointed out above, gypsum hardens water. What resource told you it softened water?
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