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Importance of Calcium

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menschmaschine

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Calcium is one of the most important minerals in brewing. Referenced below are reasons why. Anything I missed? Any disagreements or other points of view?

Mash:
-React with malt phosphates to decrease pH. This reaction extends into the boil kettle. (Fix & Briggs)
-Afford thermal protection of mash enzymes. (Fix)
-Increases mash acidity (Noonan)
-Stimulates enzyme activity (Noonan)
-Improves protein digestion (Noonan)
-Stabilizes alpha-amylase (Noonan & Briggs)
-Helps gelatinize starch (Noonan)
-Improves lauter run-off (Noonan)
-With associated decrease in pH, increases FAN and therefore faster saccharification (Briggs)

Boil:
-Inhibit color formation (Fix)
-Facilitate protein coagulation (Fix)
-Along with potassium phosphate, improves hot-break flocculation (Noonan & Briggs)

Fermentation:
-Favorably affect yeast flocculation (Fix & Briggs)
-Aid beer clarification during maturation (Fix)
-Small amounts neutralize substances toxic to yeast, e.g., peptone and lecithin (Noonan)
-Improves stability of finished beer (Noonan)

In excess:
-Inhibit yeast growth (Fix)
-If precipitated with organic phosphates, interferes with runoff filtering and robs the wort of phosphate, a necessary yeast nutrient (Noonan)
-Excess of 100 mg/L in the mash risk reducing phosphate from the wort to be inadequate for yeast (Briggs)

Acceptable levels:
50 mg/L, 100-150 mg/L are common (Fix)
20-150 mg/L depending on beer style (Briggs)

References:
Fix = Principles of Brewing Science 2nd Ed.
Noonan = New Brewing Lager Beer
Briggs = Brewing Science and Practice
 

SpanishCastleAle

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This deserves a bump...so I'll ask a question or two.:)

Mash:
-React with malt phosphates to decrease pH. This reaction extends into the boil kettle. (Fix & Briggs)
-Afford thermal protection of mash enzymes. (Fix)
-Increases mash acidity (Noonan)
-Stimulates enzyme activity (Noonan)
-Improves protein digestion (Noonan)
-Stabilizes alpha-amylase (Noonan & Briggs)
-Helps gelatinize starch (Noonan)
-Improves lauter run-off (Noonan)
-With associated decrease in pH, increases FAN and therefore faster saccharification (Briggs)
Are these the same thing or two different reactions?

From what I can tell the following have to do with Calcium and proteins:
Mash -Improves protein digestion (Noonan)
Boil - Facilitate protein coagulation (Fix)
Boil - Along with potassium phosphate, improves hot-break flocculation (Noonan & Briggs)...same as above?
Fermentation - Aid beer clarification during maturation (Fix)

Protein digestion...by what?
How do the Ca and protein react to aid coagulation/clarification?
 

TurboBrew

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Definitly a cool thread. Is there a titration I can perform to determine the concentration of calcium in my water? What is the optimal concentration?<--- edit:sorry didn't read the bottom part

Also, is there a resource with a chart showing the desired levels of calcium for certain styles?
 

lamarguy

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Definitly a cool thread. Is there a titration I can perform to determine the concentration of calcium in my water? What is the optimal concentration?
Sure, you can send your water off for a custom report. Or, you can ask your local water municipality for their public water report.

And keep in mind that the concentration of Ca in the mash will always be higher than the concentration of Ca in the boil and fermenter. This is because the grain adsorbs a percentage (~20%) of the dissolved minerals in the water. Fortunately, the grain adds other essential minerals to the water that are needed for healthy yeast activity.

So, starting with 100mg/L of Ca in the mash you'll end up with ~80mg/L Ca in the boil after the grain is separated from the wort.
 
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menschmaschine

menschmaschine

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This deserves a bump...so I'll ask a question or two.:)


Are these the same thing or two different reactions?
Nothing gets by SCA!:mug: There are a couple of repeats in there. They were worded slightly differently in each text and I didn't take enough time to weed them out.

Protein digestion...by what?
That's a good question. Noonan doesn't explain, he just states it. I imagine it means that it helps facilitate enzymatic break-down of proteins.

How do the Ca and protein react to aid coagulation/clarification?
Without having the texts in front of me, I would guess it has to do with calcium binding to proteins and precipitating out.
 
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menschmaschine

menschmaschine

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Also, is there a resource with a chart showing the desired levels of calcium for certain styles?
I don't know of one, but the general acceptance is that lighter beers (e.g., pilsner) get lower Ca and darker beers get higher.
 

TurboBrew

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Well, it seems that my average ppm is 38 here in arlington. What do I use to increase the calcium concentration?
 

KingBrianI

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Well, it seems that my average ppm is 38 here in arlington. What do I use to increase the calcium concentration?
gypsum, calcium chloride and calcium carbonate can all be used to increase the ca+ ions in water. gypsum adds SO4 as well, calcium chloride adds chloride of course, and calcium carbonate also adds carbonates.
 

lamarguy

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gypsum, calcium chloride and calcium carbonate can all be used to increase the ca+ ions in water. gypsum adds SO4 as well, calcium chloride adds chloride of course, and calcium carbonate also adds carbonates.
Just wanted to add - use gypsum for bitter beers (SO4 contribution) and calcium chloride (chloride contribution) for malty/sweet beers.
 

hammacks

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I don't know of one, but the general acceptance is that lighter beers (e.g., pilsner) get lower Ca and darker beers get higher.
Careful using this as a rule. A dark beer with hard water and little alkalinity may end up too acidic due to lots of calcium and roasted grains.
 

TurboBrew

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Wow, I just opened a can of worms didn't I? Where should I go to learn more about treating water for optimal brewing results?
 

Piotr

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\
-Favorably affect yeast flocculation (Fix & Briggs)
-Aid beer clarification during maturation (Fix)
True. I used a very soft botteled water for my pilsener, and it just didn't want to get clear, even after 5 week of lagering.
 
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