Ion additions from Briess Pilsner DME

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Mar 13, 2010
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I have been trying to figure out the water profile in my beers. Seattle water is fairly close to distilled, and I wanted to up the sulfate in my beers a bit for more hop bite. I brew partial mash and at least 50% of the malt comes from extract. I couldn't find a good way to figure out the final mineral content of my beer, so I contacted Briess.

They sent me their municipal water quality report, and said they use a 3:1 grist to liquor ratio then dehydrate to 80% solids. She also said the final sodium per 100g of product was 83.1, but they don't have that info for any other ions.

With a little help from the internet and a little math, I think I have calculated the amount of ions in this stuff at a mixture of one pound of DME to 1 gallon of water (using 2 completely independent methods described below). Obviously the Sg goes up by 1.044 per their own literature.

The results are:
Method #1: scaling from sodium
Sodium 99.2 ppm
Magnesium 13.6 ppm
Chloride 18.0 ppm
Sulfate 40.9 ppm
alkalinity as CaCO3 229.4 ppm
Hardness 93 ppm
Calcium 14.9

Method #2: Scaling from SG
Sodium 78.0 ppm
Magnesium 10.7 ppm
Chloride 14.1 ppm
Sulfate 32.2 ppm
alkalinity as CaCO3 180.4 ppm
Hardness 73.1 ppm
Calcium 11.7

I reached these results in a few ways. Method 1 was to back calculate from their final sodium to the original sodium. 83.1 mg in 100g=377.3mg in 1 lb. Divide this by 3.78 liters per gallon to get the final concentration (99.8 mg/l). This makes a 62% dilution from the original water profile.

Method 2 uses theoretical maximum efficiency of 80% (that is 80% of total grain weight is converted to sugar, and would be the equivalent of 100% efficiency based on homebrew calculations). A brief search of the web shows that a maximum of approximately 80% of the grain is starch and theoretically convertible. At 3 lbs water (0.36 gallons) per 1 lb grain at 80% efficiency, this should give a specific gravity of 1.081 (per beersmith). Diluting this down to 1.044 (one pound of DME per gallon of water) gives a dilution factor of 54%. Multiplying this by the original concentration of the ions gives the method 2 numbers.

I don't honestly know which is more accurate. Some sodium may be taken up by the grain husks at high temp or something that could throw method 1 calculations off, and they may only get a 78% efficiency, or an 82% efficiency in their mash procedures, which would throw method 2 off. But I am happy to see that the two different methods are not too far off, and it is enough at least to get a ballpark figure of the ions in the water based on how much malt you put in per gallon.




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Nov 19, 2008
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Kansas City
The problem is that a lot of that alkalinity ends up on the bottom of the HLT, some of the calcium and magnesium react with phospates in the mash etc. There really is no way to work from the starting water to finished concentrations. If you really want to know, mix some with DI water and send it to Ward Labs.

In terms of adding sulfate. Approach it empirically. Add some, do you like that? If so add more next time. These sort of recipe decisions shouldn't be arrived at mathematically.

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