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-   -   Suphate + Noble Hops = Harsh Bitterness (http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f128/suphate-noble-hops-harsh-bitterness-192804/)

Douglefish 08-26-2010 03:15 PM

Suphate + Noble Hops = Harsh Bitterness
 
So I've been reading that Noble Hops + Sulphate = Harsh Bitterness. Does anyone have an idea as to how much Suplhate starts to cause this issue?

ajdelange 08-26-2010 06:07 PM

I think that will depend on your palate and the style of beer being brewed in particular the hops cultivar. Personally, I found that my lagers (noble hops varieties) were too harsh at 30 mg/L. Ales were, I thought, OK though I admit I don't really like them that much and generally only keep one on for guests. Perhaps the hops harshness was one of the reasons I don't like them that much. Now obviously some ales are brewed with 10 times that much sulphate and people seem to like those.

So I advocate brewing the beer first with no sulfate (using RO water and calcium chloride) and then incrementing the sulfate in subsequent brews to see whether you like it better with or without.

Douglefish 08-26-2010 06:18 PM

AJ,
I appreciate the response. I've actually been reading a lot of your posts on a couple of forums about this. All my research is regarding a Saison and a Dubbel that seem a little harsh to me. I'm pretty sure that you have responded to my thread on that. I'm still just trying to understand what is causing it.

The dubbel had a sulphate count of about 80 ppm, 80 ppm chloride, 119 Na and pretty alkaline water. At this point I'm pretty sure that it's harsh hop bitterness that I'm tasting and that it's accentuated by high sulphate and very little residual sweetness to balance it.

Again, just trying to understand. I am definitely going to start brewing with very soft water for my light beers and Belgians and then adjust the pH when need be like you suggest. I'm just hoping that the harsh hop bitterness fades over time so I'm going to just set those kegs in the basement for a few months and try them again later.

Thanks

ajdelange 08-26-2010 06:32 PM

I started to notice a couple of years ago that the softer the water I brewed with the better the beer almost irrespective of style as long as I set pH with acid (British beers) or sauermalz (German). I don't think I'm ready to start advising people to do that because there is the personal preference aspect to it but it's pretty hard to argue against starting with a "blank sheet of paper" and adding things to see there effects.

Hops bitterness does fade with time but it's a slow process.

Cheers.

2funkids 08-27-2010 12:58 AM

Aj,
I once read that Ca helps keeping the mash from getting sticky. Do you have any experience with this? I have also been reading your posts and I currently build water from RO. Lately I have been thinking of going with your approach to see how it works for me. Currently I don't have a PH meter and I have been using the standard approach of predicting PH. Do you recommend that I use a different PH control method and does it require a PH meter? I already use RO so I guess I am starting in the right place in your opinion. What method of controlling PH should I use? What Hach model do you recommend? Thanks AJ

2funkids 08-27-2010 01:02 AM

I also have a question regarding PH in the mash. If I use Acid to control it how much time do I actually have to fiddle with it before it's too late? What method do you all use other than prediction and salt adjustment to control PH and at what point do you do it? Do you add water at lower temp, make adjustments then ramp it up to the conversion temps?

BigEd 08-27-2010 01:54 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by aarondrich (Post 2239608)
So I've been reading that Noble Hops + Sulphate = Harsh Bitterness.

That's a vast oversimplification. Please elaborate. Too much sulphate can make any hop bitterness harsh but, for example, a historical British IPA with high IBUs, noble hops and high sulphate water does not have a harsh bitterness. The high sulphates of UK pale ale water are balanced by other ions preventing the sulphate effect from being overpowering. On the other hand I'm sure if you made a Czech pilsner with highly sulphate water the resulting beer would be far less palatable than the classic style of the brew. :mug:

ajdelange 08-27-2010 02:23 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by 2funkids (Post 2241012)
Aj,
I once read that Ca helps keeping the mash from getting sticky. Do you have any experience with this?

No - not that I can think of. One always sees that calcium "improves runoff" which I guess could be interpreted in terms of reducing viscosity which I suppose you could relate to stickiness but I brew with low calcium water and, while plagued with stuck mashes (because of the depth of my lauter tun, never thought of increasing calcium as a way of improving that. Maybe they are related. I just add lots of rice hulls.

Quote:

Originally Posted by 2funkids (Post 2241012)
I have also been reading your posts and I currently build water from RO. Lately I have been thinking of going with your approach to see how it works for me. Currently I don't have a PH meter and I have been using the standard approach of predicting PH. Do you recommend that I use a different PH control method and does it require a PH meter?

The method I recommend is get the RA down to under 50, if your water isn't already there, by decarbonating or dilution and then add 2-3% sauermalz. For beers that use roast malts (stouts) you can skip the sauermalz. While this method doesn't absolutely require a pH meter it is a great help in letting you see if you are hitting mash pH. This allows you to use more or less sauermalz as required to balance flavor and pH requirements, etc. In the rare case where your pH is too low it lets you see when you have added enough chalk to correct the situation.

Quote:

Originally Posted by 2funkids (Post 2241012)
I already use RO so I guess I am starting in the right place in your opinion. What method of controlling PH should I use?

There are lots of ways to do this. The most straightforward is to simply add enough calcium chloride to RO water to get the calcium up to about 50 mg/L and use the sauermalz to set mash pH. Then adjust the mineral addition to optimize the quality of the beer. I personally feel that a pH meter will help you to do this but I know brewers, including professional ones, that haven't touched a pH meter in years. I think you definitely can do without measurement by trial and error but it takes a much more skilled brewer (with that skill acquired by brewing every day) than most of us as homebrewers have.

Quote:

Originally Posted by 2funkids (Post 2241012)
What Hach model do you recommend?

I don't necessarily recommend the Hach meters over some of the other brands. Hach is in the business of supplying labs that do water analysis and so their meters are generally designed to fit that market but, of course, they can be adapted for other industries as well. The model I am using at the moment is a multifunction design for the field (as opposed to a benchtop unit) that does pH, DO and conductivity and has all sorts of bells and whistles such as the ability to write the details of every measurment into a thumb drive for transfer to an excel spreadsheet. Obviously the average homebrewer does not need to spend that kind of money just to see what his mash pH is at dough in. I find the pocket Hanna meters quite adequate for that at a fraction of the price. That said I must say that the pH electrode that came with this meter is the most incredible thing I've ever seen. It has held it's calibration since June!

Quote:

Originally Posted by 2funkids (Post 2241012)
I also have a question regarding PH in the mash. If I use Acid to control it how much time do I actually have to fiddle with it before it's too late?

I think you have quite a bit of time. I suppose if you really overshot with acid and got an extremely low pH you might denature the enzymes in the same way the acid "cooks" the fish in ceviche but I think you would be safe in resting at a high pH for as long as it takes to get it down to where it ought to be.

Quote:

Originally Posted by 2funkids (Post 2241012)
What method do you all use other than prediction and salt adjustment to control PH and at what point do you do it?

As noted above I just get the RA of the water under 50 and then add acid, in the form of sauermalz, to the grist. I always check pH. After doing this for a while the pH check is no more than that, i.e. a check, because I know what to expect for a given beer.

Quote:

Originally Posted by 2funkids (Post 2241012)
Do you add water at lower temp, make adjustments then ramp it up to the conversion temps?

I treat the water in the HLT with calcium chloride to the extent it is required to get the calcium to whatever level I deem suitable for the style (10 - 15 mg/L for Pils, a little higher for other styles) then dough in at whatever temperature is appropriate for the style (room temperature for lagers). I check pH at dough in and then again at various points throughout the brew. A proper sequence of pH readings (dough in, end of each step or at the return of each decoction, kettle in, kettle out and 12 hours after pitching) tells me that the beer will be good. Note that I don't have to take all these measurements as I know how to brew these beers by now. But they are somewhat reassuring and I'm always looking for data.


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