Grains, post fermentation minerals and lab analysis

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beervoid

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Hey everyone,

I've been wrapping my head around water profiles and mineral additions.. The final frontier of brewing for me it seems.

We got great tools to calculate water profiles but since yeast, malts and other grains bring minerals to the table it seems kind of a black art to me to get a certain water profile if you know what you are aiming for in the end product.

I've been finding some posts from people analyzing finished beers and their water profile and few authors wrote some articles about how malts effect the minerals in your beer.
Ballast Point has done a presentation on research that shows for example that chloride can go up to as much as 300ppm and sulfate can go up as much as 200ppm post fermentation.

I've mailed the maltster of my grain to see if they could provide me with the information of how much minerals their malts give to my wort but they couldn't supply it me.

So what's left for me is making a simple single malt beer and sending it to a lab to get an idea of how much minerals I get from this particular malt.

Now before I start such endeavor I was wondering if any people here have any opinions on this quest and if it might not be worth the time, cost and effort as it will only tell me something for that particular beer at that time and I wouldn't be able to do anything with the information for brews there after.

Cheers!
 

Hermit

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Grain does not come from one place with one property. You are chasing a moving target. Use water chemistry primarily for pH control and add any thing you do for flavor after that, unless of course you can easily adjust your water chemistry to account for that. Otherwise, brewing is like cooking and once it reaches the brew kettle, everything is considered 'ingredients'.
 

sixhotdogneck

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Ash analysis is the term used to describe this. The malt is burned into ash and the ash is analyzed for various minerals, etc... Malts and Malting by Briggs, et. al. has data on the ash analysis of several malts.

Those minerals are part of the flavor of the malt and will vary with variety, terroir, malting process, etc...

Taste the malts you wish to use and adjust your water profile to enhance or subdue those flavors. Brew accordingly... it's what master brewers do.
 
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beervoid

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Grain does not come from one place with one property. You are chasing a moving target. Use water chemistry primarily for pH control and add any thing you do for flavor after that, unless of course you can easily adjust your water chemistry to account for that. Otherwise, brewing is like cooking and once it reaches the brew kettle, everything is considered 'ingredients'.
That's how I have been brewing so far and I agree with you that ultimately your taste is what decides if a beer is good or not.
It would be great to know though what kinds of minerals my malts are adding.
For example one could get a good average by doing a analysis of the main base malt which makes up most of the grist once a year to get an idea?

Ash analysis is the term used to describe this. The malt is burned into ash and the ash is analyzed for various minerals, etc... Malts and Malting by Briggs, et. al. has data on the ash analysis of several malts.

Those minerals are part of the flavor of the malt and will vary with variety, terroir, malting process, etc...

Taste the malts you wish to use and adjust your water profile to enhance or subdue those flavors. Brew accordingly... it's what master brewers do.
Thanks for the source, I will take a look into that.
Are you saying one could develop a taste for a malt to know if it's high in chloride or anything other?
 
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beervoid

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For reference, I just found this in the Malts and Malting book.

"The quantity and composition of the ash depends on the variety and the soil and climate. Erdman and Moul (1982) reported that the average ash analyses for seven barleys grown on one site were: total ash, 2.2%; K, 0.46%; P, 0.24%; S (total), 0.16%; Mg, 0.14%; Ca, 0.037%; B, 1.3 p.p.m., Ba, 3 p.p.m.; Cd, 0.1 p.p.m.; Cu, 4.4 p.p.m.; F, 1 p.p.m.; Mo, 0.38 p.p.m.; Na, 100 p.p.m.; Ni, 0.21 p.p.m.; Se, 0.1 p.p.m.; Si, 2300 p.p.m.; Sr, 1.4 p.p.m.; and Zn, 27 p.p.m."
 

sixhotdogneck

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Thanks for the source, I will take a look into that.Are you saying one could develop a taste for a malt to know if it's high in chloride or anything other?
You can develop a taste for malt and know how you want that taste to show through and be used in the final product.

Perhaps if you had a set of control malts you may develop a taste for higher mineral contents.
 
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beervoid

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You can develop a taste for malt and know how you want that taste to show through and be used in the final product.

Perhaps if you had a set of control malts you may develop a taste for higher mineral contents.
I'm actually chasing mouthfeel more then flavor at the moment.
 

kh54s10

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Unless you are going to analyze every malt that you use, you are chasing your tail. If a maltster gets more grain from one farm than another, the minerals will be different. The same malt year to year will most likely be different. Hops in the beer will change the mineral content. Changing the proportions of ingredients will change the mineral content in a finished beer.

Too many variables, unless you do an analysis of every ingredient just before brewing.
 
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beervoid

beervoid

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Unless you are going to analyze every malt that you use, you are chasing your tail. If a maltster gets more grain from one farm than another, the minerals will be different. The same malt year to year will most likely be different. Hops in the beer will change the mineral content. Changing the proportions of ingredients will change the mineral content in a finished beer.

Too many variables, unless you do an analysis of every ingredient just before brewing.
Surely there are averages which we can take as a starting point?

The hand book of brewing for example states
Na: 12 K: 355 Ca: 33 Mg: 65 Cl: 130 SO4: 15
For an average wort.
 

kh54s10

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Surely there are averages which we can take as a starting point?

The hand book of brewing for example states
Na: 12 K: 355 Ca: 33 Mg: 65 Cl: 130 SO4: 15
For an average wort.
It didn't seem from the original post, that averages is what you were looking for. And with constantly changing mineral contents an average might cover a pretty wide range.
 
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It didn't seem from the original post, that averages is what you were looking for. And with constantly changing mineral contents an average might cover a pretty wide range.
I would only expect exact nrs from my sample to a lab and would use the results as a guiding line to get an idea of what to expect.
 
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beervoid

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I would expect the "pro" breweries would do such analysis from time to time.
I'm surprised there is not much to find in the literature on this.

Michael Tonsmeire did an article in BYO on the topic..
 

Bottoms_Up

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Despite the difficulties involved, I really think there is something to this approach, @beervoid. I have been looking at water adjustment calculators in some detail, and have discovered that, although they calculate exactly what you input, most users are unfamiliar with the assumptions used in such programs, so may get results they didn't intend. The key concern is how a targeted water profile is defined.

For example, does the water profile represent the pre-mash (or pre-sparge) profile, or the pre-boil profile? It makes a significant difference, especially if, like many homebrewers do, they add the sparge salts to the kettle rather than the sparge water.

Why? Well if the water profile is intended to represent the pre-mash condition, then it already takes into consideration all the losses and change in ion concentration that would result if the salts were added to the sparge (i.e. the existing mash filters and changes the ion concentration). (it also takes into consideration the fact that during the boil, water evaporates and therefore concentrates the minerals). Thus, if one were to add the sparge salts into the kettle, the resulting beer would contain an over-abundance of the salts that would have been lost or changed during the sparge.

If, on the other hand, the water profile represents the pre-boil profile, then the loss/change of the mineral salts does not need to be considered.

Unfortunately, suggested water profiles are never qualified as to what they really represent. Is it the pre-mash profile or the pre-boil profile?

As you have sort of suggested, IMO a far better approach that would by-pass all these concerns, and reduce even more variables, would be to have a final beer profile of typical styles of beers, as well as tables that generally indicate what ions per pound of specific grain are created when mashing with distilled or RO water. I realize the variablility of grains, and that there may be some additional variables to consider, but this will always be a concern regardless of whether you use this approach or a water adjustment calculator. I think this would be a far better approach than using the existing water adjustment calculators.

This approach and the problem with existing water adjustment calculators is a little difficult to explain. I hope I have made it clear enough.
 

Vale71

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For example, does the water profile represent the pre-mash (or pre-sparge) profile, or the pre-boil profile? It makes a significant difference, especially if, like many homebrewers do, they add the sparge salts to the kettle rather than the sparge water.
Where did you get this info? I'm not aware of any homebrewers adding salts to wort rather than to water except in rare cases where through an extremely high percentage of roasted malts/barley and the use of RO water salt additions would cause mash PH to be way too low.

Unfortunately, suggested water profiles are never qualified as to what they really represent. Is it the pre-mash profile or the pre-boil profile?
Maybe that's because the expression "water profile" qualifies them clearly enough for 99% of users? But of course there are always some exceptions to the rule and occasionally a brewer might thing that it represents a wort profile despite the word "wort" not being used in the definition at all, as you yourself as shown us.

This approach and the problem with existing water adjustment calculators is a little difficult to explain.
That might be because there actually is no problem.
 

Bottoms_Up

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Where did you get this info? I'm not aware of any homebrewers adding salts to wort rather than to water except in rare cases where through an extremely high percentage of roasted malts/barley and the use of RO water salt additions would cause mash PH to be way too low.
Check the BeerAdvocate forum. You will see that many are now adding the salts that would have been added to the sparge water to the kettle in order to prevent their loss through the grain bed.

Maybe that's because the expression "water profile" qualifies them clearly enough for 99% of users? But of course there are always some exceptions to the rule and occasionally a brewer might thing that it represents a wort profile despite the word "wort" not being used in the definition at all, as you yourself as shown us.
As I said, it doesn't become qualified until one looks carefully at how the calculators work and how people are using them without consideration of what the water profile actually represents.

That might be because there actually is no problem.
That is why I made my post - to show that there actually might be a problem that has gone unnoticed until now.
 

Vale71

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Check the BeerAdvocate forum. You will see that many are now adding the salts that would have been added to the sparge water to the kettle in order to prevent their loss through the grain bed.
That's one of the dumbest reasons one could come up with for that. Any salts "lost" through the grain bed are the result of water absorption through the spent grains. Grains cannot "steal" salts from water, all they can do is retain water and only the salts contained therein. At the end the water profile will not change, except that now of course it's wort and not water and there is all the extract removed from the grains in addition to the water salts.


As I said, it doesn't become qualified until one looks carefully at how the calculators work and how people are using them without consideration of what the water profile actually represents.
The water profile represents the water profile and nothing else. That's the assumption all water calculators are based on, stop claiming there is an issue when there is none at all

That is why I made my post - to show that there actually might be a problem that has gone unnoticed until now.
It's gone unnoticed because it's simply not there.
 

Bottoms_Up

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That's one of the dumbest reasons one could come up with for that. Any salts "lost" through the grain bed are the result of water absorption through the spent grains. Grains cannot "steal" salts from water, all they can do is retain water and only the salts contained therein. At the end the water profile will not change, except that now of course it's wort and not water and there is all the extract removed from the grains in addition to the water salts.
Whether you think it's dumb or not (an opinion), it is a fact that many use that technique. As mentioned it is not just the retention of salts, but their reputed reaction with the grain that changes the overall composition.

The water profile represents the water profile and nothing else. That's the assumption all water calculators are based on, stop claiming there is an issue when there is none at all
Obviously, you didn't understand what I tried to explain. Let's try a different approach.

You have a water profile. You have a water adjustment calculator. You add the water profiles, salts, acids. The calculator comes up with a calculated suggestion for how many salts and acid proportions to add to the mash water and sparge water. So far, no apparent issue. But now you decide to add the sparge water salts to the kettle rather than the sparge water - not an uncommon practice. Oops. Now you have an issue. Why? Because it apparently makes a difference to the salts that make it to the wort. If you add them to the sparge, then some are absorbed or react with the grain bed to change the overall result. If you add them to the kettle, you have a different result. I haven't seen studies to prove this, but some experienced brewers say this.

t's gone unnoticed because it's simply not there.
That's an opinion, not a fact, so please express it that way. Why this strong animosity, expressed with strong reaction and opinion? Can't we approach this as experienced homebrewers trying to come to learn more about our craft? Do you have any facts to prove otherwise?
 
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