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Old 09-18-2014, 08:34 PM   #1
SilverZero
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Default Mash Salts vs. Kettle Salts

Up until now I've been adding my entire salt addition (calculated with the EZ Water spreadsheet - basically just gypsum, epsom, and CaCl2) to my kettle as I'm heating my strike water. I see a lot left in the bottom because they are not very soluble, but I have done a little swirl and scoop and gotten most of them in to the mash tun. But I haven't been happy with the beer, so I revisited my balances and I'm doing an overhaul on how I decide what levels of what to add, especially shooting for higher SO4 levels to get some bitterness elevation.

To avoid the solubility issue, I'm going to start adding my salts directly to the mash tun. But before I do, my question is: Does it benefit the mash to have those salts in there? I've been using them to get the pH down, but I COULD just use acid to get the pH where I want it in the mash, and then add all of my salts to the kettle. Do salts get left behind in the mash tun as they do in my HLT? I use one kettle to heat water, so I have to do everything in batches (strike and sparge water are adjusted separately).

So, should I add the salts to the mash tun (split proportionally between the mash and sparge) and let that double as my pH adjustment, or should I adjust the mash alone and add the salts to the kettle for the boil? And if so, where do I go to nail down the ppm's I want in the boil?

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Old 09-18-2014, 09:30 PM   #2
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Well, first off, do you actually have a base water profile of your source to work off of? Personally I prefer Bru'n Water for water modification and Martin is a forum member so both he and AJ are usually around to help out!

If you don't have an actual water report you are basically operating blind on your additions. If you post your report the water science guys will most certainly chime in and help you out. Bru'n water has a great primer with it and so does this site in the stickies under brewing science forum

Some grain bills will require both mash and sparge additions epending on profile and style and grist as well as actual water. I make additions to the strike water and the sparge water as necessary and really don't have problems with solubility.

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Old 09-18-2014, 09:37 PM   #3
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I add my salts to the strike water and sparge water. It does require a little bit of stirring but, especially when the water is hot, they dissolve without too much extra encouragement in my experience.

I use Bru'n'Water. It's a little intimidating but it does come with clear directions on one page of the worksheet. I highly recommend it.

Your question about whether the salts remain in the mash isn't irrelevant. You are only approximately re-creating a water profile to brew a particular style. If salts get left behind in the mash, then it will happen in your mash tun just as it did in the brewer's mash tun who pioneered the style a decade ago or 500 years ago.

Once you have the water profile you need, just brew and forget about it.

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Old 09-18-2014, 09:54 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by duboman View Post
Well, first off, do you actually have a base water profile of your source to work off of?
I've been operating on the info I found online about my local water, but I haven't obtained my own report so if it's changing I don't know about it. It's so soft that I haven't worried about it too much:

Ca 6
Mg 4
SO4 <1
Na 8
Cl 2
CaCO3 32
HCO3 51
Total Alkalinity CaCO3 42

Based on my last round of research, I'm aiming for an SO4 concentration of 300ppm or just below, and a Cl/SO4 ratio of .12-.13. This is for an IPA.

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Originally Posted by LovesIPA View Post
Your question about whether the salts remain in the mash isn't irrelevant. You are only approximately re-creating a water profile to brew a particular style. If salts get left behind in the mash, then it will happen in your mash tun just as it did in the brewer's mash tun who pioneered the style a decade ago or 500 years ago.
I'll assume you meant to say "isn't relevant." But that's where I'm curious about what people "mean" when they say that a certain concentration of [some brewing salt] will produce [some affect on flavor] - does this mean a concentration in the mash? In the boil? In the final product?

I understand that matching a water profile from historical data or geographic region comes down to matching the original water, but that's not what I'm asking. I don't care about the water in Dublin or Denver, I want to build water that will give me a good product for my system. Even saying my water is the same as all the great Bend breweries isn't really true, because they all build their own water in-house anyway.

But I mainly just want to know what the convention is so I know how to read it when somebody says "shoot for X ppm of sulfate" - in the mash, kettle, or what? I've heard of people adding salts to their strike water, then leaving some behind. I've heard of people adding them to the mash tun. I've heard of people adding salts directly to the kettle. All of these will result in something different, right? If I calculate 300ppm of SO4 in the kettle and it was meant to be in the strike water, I could be much higher than I want to be. I realize there's a lot of personal taste involved in this, but I like to get it right early on instead of going back to the drawing board too many times.

I have seen the Bru'n sheet but every time I look at it I just go back to the EZ sheet because it's . . . easier. I'll keep trying both of them to see which suits me best.

Thanks for the replies!
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Old 09-18-2014, 11:32 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SilverZero View Post
I'll assume you meant to say "isn't relevant."
Yes I meant isn't relevant.

Quote:
But I mainly just want to know what the convention is so I know how to read it when somebody says "shoot for X ppm of sulfate" - in the mash, kettle, or what? I've heard of people adding salts to their strike water, then leaving some behind. I've heard of people adding them to the mash tun. I've heard of people adding salts directly to the kettle. All of these will result in something different, right? If I calculate 300ppm of SO4 in the kettle and it was meant to be in the strike water, I could be much higher than I want to be. I realize there's a lot of personal taste involved in this, but I like to get it right early on instead of going back to the drawing board too many times.
You're overthinking it. It simply refers to the concentration in the water you use to brew. This is why I said to just add the minerals to the strike and sparge water and don't worry about the rest.

Don't worry about ion concentrations in the mash tun or the kettle. The malt adds a lot of its own minerals to the wort anyway. For example, zinc is a key element for yeast health - but you don't add any to the mash. It comes from the malt.
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Old 09-18-2014, 11:57 PM   #6
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I do tend to overthink sometimes. Thanks for the advice, I'll go with it and see how it comes out.

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