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Old 02-02-2013, 04:17 PM   #1
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Default Water chemistry and hot break

I have a recipe I normally add raw sugar and Irish moss to at the 10 minute mark before I put my chiller into the brew pot. I just got a pH meter and started to take the water chemistry more seriously and it seems my water is a little calcium deficient. This is the second time I have done this recipe since getting my pH meter so I knew the pH would be about 5.4 without additions so I decided to add them to my brew kettle this time around. I added nothing to the previous brew.

I put some gypsum, calcium chloride and baking soda into the container with my raw sugar and Irish moss. When I added it to the kettle at the 50 minute mark I had a second 'hot break'. This never happened with the raw sugar and Irish moss addition before. I skim the hot break because I've tasted it and don't like the taste so I figure the sooner I take it out the better.

Completely subjective here but the yeast/trub cake seems to be less, probably just more compact. I can't see what I skimmed during the second break accounting for the difference in apparent volume.

It will be interesting to compare the two beers side by side when they are done. The first was done with calcium deficient water. Ca was about 30 ppm. They will be about 3 weeks apart in age and be bottle conditioned. It is a mild recipe so I'm thinking once the second one is in the bottle a couple months the age difference won't matter too much.

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Old 02-02-2013, 04:56 PM   #2
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Adequate calcium content is a critical component in break formation. Your observations are typical. In my opinion, the minimum Ca concentration for good break formation and oxalate precipitation is about 40 ppm.

I just brewed a Boh Pils with 40 ppm Ca and the break was just like egg-drop soup. I typically brew with Pale malt and 50+ ppm Ca. But this pils was about 95% pils malt and 40 ppm Ca and the break formation was much more pronounced from what I recalled from my previous 99 batches. I'm wondering if anyone else notices a stronger break formation with Pils malt compared to Pale malt?

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Old 02-02-2013, 07:44 PM   #3
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Thanks. Even though I was adding that stuff specifically for calcium I didn't want to assume it was a calcium based reaction. It does further confuse the issue of what is a good calcium level though. I've heard that 50 ppm is the minimum for healthy yeast but is that over and above what may be used up in the hot break? Is the hot break a moving number depending on ppm and SG?

Hmmm.. Doing some googlefoo trying to track some of this down before I hit 'submit'. Turns out Whirfloc has sodium bicarb in it. I wonder if AJ uses it since he says he is pretty sensitive to the taste. I can't find a source on how much is in each tablet. It is only there for 'dispersal' reasons anyhow it seems.

edit: didn't find it specifically but 'typical' is 50%.

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Old 02-02-2013, 09:59 PM   #4
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50 ppm is the typical value quoted and there are known reasons for that minimum. But I'm speaking of a lower minimum that does not provide all the benefits of the 50 ppm level, but provides at least oxalate precipitation for the wort. We know that beer can be brewed with far less than 50 ppm Ca. However there are advantages to using Ca. The thing that low Ca along with very low levels of other ions provide is a cleaner palate perception for the beer. In many beers, having an ultra clean perception is not important. But in beers like American light lagers and Boh Pils, that clean perception may be welcome. I am suggesting that the 40 ppm minimum is a compromise in cleaning the palate perception and improving some brewing factors.

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