Do you guys pay attention to Na in your water?

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kenlenard

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Kids: I have been playing with water, mostly diluting with distilled to get my bicarb down and then adjusting chloride and sulfate with CaCl and gypsum based on style. One area I have neglected was Na. I only have about 13ppm of Na in my water and by the time I dilute (anywhere from 25% to over 75%), my number is down around 4-6ppm. As a result, I think I'm getting some "bland" beers that could use some POP and I'm thinking that some kosher salt (or other source of NaCl) is what I'm missing. I see that some of the styles in the Bru'N'Water profiles so desired Na levels of anywhere from 15ppm to about 25ppm. Anyone pay specific attention to this? Cheers Beerheads.
 

ArcaneXor

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I never add any form of Na. I wouldn't be opposed to it for some obscure beer styles like Gose, where high Na is part of the flavor profile.

I never liked the results of adding 5.2 stabilizer to my mashes, which, if I remember correctly, adds a healthy dose of sodium to the beer.
 
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kenlenard

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I never add any form of Na. I wouldn't be opposed to it for some obscure beer styles like Gose, where high Na is part of the flavor profile.

I never liked the results of adding 5.2 stabilizer to my mashes, which, if I remember correctly, adds a healthy dose of sodium to the beer.
But do you stay away from adding Na because you already have a higher level of Na in your source water? Maybe I should be asking if having an Na level of 4ppm can result in a "bland", somewhat flavorless beer. I agree with you that 5.2 is a gimmick. I did not taste it but my wife told me that the beers I used to make (years ago) with 5.2 stabilizer had a "soapy" flavor.
 
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kenlenard

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Simply salt your finished product and see if that improves it. If so, you have your answer.
I do plan to try that later today. I heard that the salt would need to be dissolved first otherwise the beer will foam up. I will try a pinch of kosher salt in a glass of beer to see how it changes the profile. Cheers & thanks.
 

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I do plan to try that later today. I heard that the salt would need to be dissolved first otherwise the beer will foam up. I will try a pinch of kosher salt in a glass of beer to see how it changes the profile. Cheers & thanks.
Don't worry about foaming. People have been using a salt shaker in their beer for years. It just makes a few bubbles, not foaming.

One question is if it is the sodium or the chloride counteracting the bitterness of the hops though.
 

JDGator

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i have added salt to beer on tap for years. Beers in Canada like Molson and Labatt's are very boring and lack flavor. salt seemed to make thing pop a bit more and would brighten the flavors up. too much would cause a ton of foam.
 

Wynne-R

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Good choice on the Kosher salt. It will dissolve very quickly and it’s not iodized. Add it to the glass after the pour.

I have about 15ppm sodium in my tapwater, and sometimes I add a gram or less, bringing it up to about 28 ppm in 17L (4 ½ gal).

That’s about 20 mg or 20 crystals of coarse kosher salt in a 355mL (12 fl oz) glass. It’s easy to get too much. Add it a little at a time until you can just taste it and see if you like it. You will need to gently stir it into solution.
 
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kenlenard

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Good choice on the Kosher salt. It will dissolve very quickly and it’s not iodized. Add it to the glass after the pour.

I have about 15ppm sodium in my tapwater, and sometimes I add a gram or less, bringing it up to about 28 ppm in 17L (4 ½ gal).

That’s about 20 mg or 20 crystals of coarse kosher salt in a 355mL (12 fl oz) glass. It’s easy to get too much. Add it a little at a time until you can just taste it and see if you like it. You will need to gently stir it into solution.
So you like the flavor if you're in the 20-28ppm range? I was curious about how much to add and I suppose I *COULD* count out 20 crystals of kosher salt for one glass but I wouldn't want to count crystals to affect a whole keg. I see that if I added 1g of kosher salt to the kettle (and i had diluted my source water with 50% distilled), I would raise my Na number to 20ppm overall. So maybe try to get somewhere in that 20-30ppm zip code? Also... you guys are adding this to the kettle right? Or are you adding the kosher salt to the mash? Cheers and thanks for the help... much appreciated.
 

Wynne-R

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Depends on the beer, of course. Where I think it helps is in pales that use a lot of Marris Otter. It rounds out the malt sweetness. I wouldn’t use it for anything very light or very dry. In darker roastier malts you probably wouldn’t notice it until you had too much.

I mentioned the 20 crystals to explain that 20mg is a tiny pinch. I hope you’re kidding about counting out a thousand of them.

Yes I add it to the kettle with any other salts. In general you don’t want salty beer, but sometimes a very small amount can help.
 
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kenlenard

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Well, I make a lot of beers where hops don't take center stage. I do make the occasional pale ale, ESB, red ale, etc. but my beers don't go over 40 IBUs in general and the vast majority of them are in the 25-30 range. I just went downstairs and tapped a glass of beer (my MLPA... a malty pale ale with Mt. Hood hops only bittered to about 25 IBU) and took a sip. Then I took a pinch of kosher salt (mine seems to be very fine) and stirred it into the beer. I can't say I noticed much difference to be honest. So I added a little more. If there is a difference, I can't say that I'm noticing it. I did not get to the point where the salt was noticeable in the overall flavor of the beer. As I mentioned, I am diluting and then paying attention to my chloride and sulfate levels based on style. Maybe I'm just not getting my CL, SO4 or Na numbers up enough after I dilute and I'm left with water that has ions that are too low. I just went on a brewing rampage (6 beers in primary at the moment) and I'm going to base my decision on what to do after tasting some of these. It may just be a matter of slightly boosting all three of those numbers by some small percentage. Thanks for the help everybody.
 

Yooper

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Actually, if you get a better flavor from the salt, it's not the Na that is doing it- it's the chloride.

I use calcium chloride in the mash. I keep the sodium low for all of my beers, just because I don't need it since I need to add calcium anyway. I use the calcium chloride in RO water to bring up both the chloride and the calcium- two birds so to speak.
 

Wynne-R

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Three birds - sodium calcium and chloride. They all have different flavors.

Sorry Yooper, I disagree with you this time. I have a recipe that uses 2g calcium chloride and 1g sodium chloride. I want to stress this is a tiny amount. 1g salt is ~1/5 tsp
 

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Three birds - sodium calcium and chloride. They all have different flavors.

Sorry Yooper, I disagree with you this time. I have a recipe that uses 2g calcium chloride and 1g sodium chloride. I want to stress this is a tiny amount. 1g salt is ~1/5 tsp
I don't think we really disagree. I'd say that the difference between 9, 15, or 20 ppm of sodium is not a factor, though.
 
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