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Old 09-27-2012, 08:50 PM   #1
drewskies_brewskies
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Default First Time Experimenting with Salts

Hey everyone. I was wondering if I could get some feed back on my proposed salt additions for this weekend's brew. I have really good water and have brewed about 15 AG batches and they've all turned out great. Now I feel comfortable starting to mess with my water chemistry.

Here's my water report:

Sodium, Na 8
Potassium, K < 1
Calcium, Ca 6
Magnesium, Mg 1
Total Hardness, CaCO3 19
Nitrate, NO3-N 0.1 (SAFE)
Sulfate, SO4-S 2
Chloride, Cl 10
Carbonate, CO3 < 1
Bicarbonate, HCO3 22
Total Alkalinity, CaCO3 18
Ph - 7.2

And my proposed additions:
2.7g chalk
1g baking soda
1g gypsum
1.7g calcium chloride
1g epsom salt

I'm brewing an American Brown Ale:

8 lbs Pale Malt, Maris Otter
1 lbs Caramel/Crystal Malt - 40L
1 lbs Rye Malt
8.0 oz Chocolate Malt
4.0 oz Aromatic Malt
4.0 oz Carafa III

Cheers!

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Old 09-27-2012, 11:00 PM   #2
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I don't think you're going to get much a response on this. No one is really going to be able to tell you exactly what's going to happen based on the mineral additions. It's not that simple. Although, I would question why, if you've made 15 successful batches, you want to start messing around with your water. If you just want to experiment as a learning experience, that's fine, but you might want to start by adding one mineral at a time and gauging the impact. Personally, given that you have relatively soft water to start with and the fact that you are making a brown ale, I would start by adding a tsp (4g +/-) of CaCl and see what happens. Just my thoughts.

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Old 09-28-2012, 12:18 AM   #3
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Yeah I would recommend a little bit at a time.The calcium carbonate won’t do much of anything. Most people don’t like the taste of Epsom salts or baking soda.

Try tiny amounts of calcium chloride and calcium sulfate to see how it works in the beer you already like. Both are highly soluble and can easily be added in the glass. I use the end of an old pH test strip as a scoop to get a speck about 1/8" across.

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Old 09-28-2012, 12:27 AM   #4
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Hi

First: get EZ Water Calculator Spreadsheet and follow the videos to learn how to use it;

Second: you need to know how much water you are using. I'm making calculations with my usual 25,5liters batch (40 liters of mash plus sparge). In my calculations with the EZ Water Calculator Spreadsheet (I use v2.0), your additions are quite small and quite balanced so If your batches came out good, I wonder if you are making water additions:
- to drive pH;
- to drive Chloride to Sulphate ratio;
- to help yeast;
- or just to enjoy doing it.
So:
- if you are just enjoying, the little additions are fine; although I would test the additions to a recipe I already know well with only one addition (like JJL is saying) to see how it chances;
- if you are trying to drive pH, your additions are low and you need to adjust them with bigger additions and/or with specific acids and test with a pHmeter or litmus paper;
- if you are trying to drive Chloride to Sulphate ratio, you are in the balanced range so you have to push up one of them (according to style);
- if you want to help yeast, Mg and Ca are low, you have to push them up.

Anyway, I want to put your attention that you are probably NOT using pure compounds. For example: MgSO4 (epsom) is very hydroscopic and to keep it stable is sold in the eptahydrated version (it is added with water so it's more stable and doesn't change weigth during time). So what you are adding is roughly half water and half MgSO4. Same for CaCl where the ratio is not 2 but I won't tell you so you'll have some homework to do

I repeat, I made my assumptions based on the calculations over 40 liters of water.

Hope it helps, let me know
Cheers from Italy!
Piteko

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Old 09-28-2012, 12:31 AM   #5
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Definitely ditch the chalk, baking soda and epsom salts.

I doubt you need gypsum for the recipe, but some calcium chloride can't hurt.

There are a couple of easy to use and good spreadsheets on predicting mash pH, and those would be a good place to start. I like Brunwater, but it can be a bit difficult to use until you have a good grip on water chemistry.

Maybe start with "EZ water" spreadsheet, and punch in your values to see the probable pH.

Chalk is a weird thing- it doesn't dissolve so it just shouldn't be used. If you need to raise the pH, there are other things like lime or baking soda that can be used. But anything you add will have a flavor impact, so really when it comes to water additions, "less is more" works well. I use the absolute minimum amount of salts in my brewing.

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Old 09-28-2012, 12:54 AM   #6
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Ah, Catskills water. Pure as the driven snow...almost. Yeah, its good stuff.

To brew a brown or darker beer with that low alkalinity water, it is likely that a little more alkalinity will be required to avoid having an overly acid beer. Forget about using chalk, it does not work at all. Using baking soda is OK, but the amount you can add is quite limited. Learning to use pickling lime will be an important component of learning to brew darker beers with that low alkalinity water source. There are a couple of techniques that can help reduce the need for alkalinity in the mash. Since that water has little calcium and more calcium is helpful in brewing, avoid adding calcium directly to the mash and add that calcium addition to the kettle instead. This helps avoid driving the residual alkalinity down in the mashing water. Another technique is to reserve the darker grains and crystal malts from the main mash. They can either be added into the mash at the end of the mash or steeped separately to extract their contributions.

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Old 09-28-2012, 01:20 PM   #7
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I would first begin using either EZ Water or Bru'N water spreadsheets. A google search will point you to them.

As Yooper recommended, I would not use the Baking Soda or Chalk. When added to your recipe and water profile in EZ Water v3 (I estimated 1.25 qt/lb for your mash), this seems to unnecessarily raise your pH.

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Old 09-28-2012, 04:04 PM   #8
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Thanks for all of your responses! It's all super helpful! I should also add, although most probably inferred, I'm making a 5 gallon batch. I usually mash with a 1.5qt/lb ratio as I've had better experience doing it that way. Anyway, I used the EZ spreadsheet as well as the Brewersfriend calculator to get my numbers. The main reasons why I want to start experimenting with salts are to give a little boost to my calcium and sulfate levels, to start having control over that ratio, and to learn more about water chemistry. As this is my first time, my main fear was adding too much, so thanks for the guidance there. That being said, I went back and took out the chalk, baking soda and epsom salts, and now according to the EZ spreadsheet: a 2g gypsum and 4g CaCl gets me pretty close I think. Est. ph: 5.54 and a chloride/sulfate ratio of 1.72. If this is all correct, should I try to drive the pH down even more?

Cheers!

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Old 09-28-2012, 04:21 PM   #9
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You took out all the alkalinity contributing minerals and the mash pH is only 5.5? I would expect it to be a little lower, but I don't know what calcium concentration was used. I typically aim for about 5.4 in my brewing practice and do suggest that depressing the pH a little more may be appropriate. Since I use a different tool, I can't comment on the accuracy of the pH prediction mentioned above.

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Old 09-28-2012, 04:33 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drewskies_brewskies View Post
Est. ph: 5.54 and a chloride/sulfate ratio of 1.72. If this is all correct, should I try to drive the pH down even more?
I never get the pH that the calculator is indicating, I'm always higher, probably because my water is very hard but I can't say how much (water reports are a bit messy here). Anyway, since your others batch were good, I wouldn't by now. Make some tests, take some readings with the pHmeter or the litmus paper and write everything down. When you are confortable with that, I suggest you start adding acids. I personally use HCl or HSO4 so I can still use them to drive Cl/SO4 ratio but that's another topic.

I wouldn't use salts to drive pH, they can do that but the risk is to add too much only to drive pH (I don't think is your case since you have a soft water, but I say it, just in case ).

Cheers from Italy!
Piteko
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