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Magnesium vs Calcium in brewing water question

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seanppp

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I read a great article by Martin Brungaard about calicum and magnesium in brewing, from a 2015 Zymurgy. The article says the following:

-You want a Mg:Ca ratio of 1.8. That is, almost twice the Mg as Ca.
-Keep Mg under 40ppm.
-The malt itself adds enough Ca and Mg for your minimum needs.

How do I treat my water with this information?! My questions are:

-If I want twice the Mg as Ca and I need to keep my Mg under 40ppm, doesn't that mean my Ca should never go above 22ppm?
-If my malt is adding these ions, how do I have any idea how much it is adding to know my finished beer ion profile?
-Why is there a minimum at all for Mg? If I have a 5-gal session beer batch with 5lbs of malt, won't that be adding half the Mg as a batch with 10lb, therefor changing how much Mg my strike water can have?
-I guess I'm confused about the difference between brewing water (ie. the strike and sparge water) and the wort itself. I've used the Bru'n Water program for a long time, which I love, but I'm wondering if it should take into account malt-provided ions? I may set my Mg to 30ppm in the program but once I dough in that just went to 100ppm, right?

I feel like the article was full of great information but I'm left with more questions than answers.

Thanks!
 

The_Bishop

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I haven't read that article, but you may be mis-interpreting it. Calcium is largely flavor neutral, where as magnesium is not.

I just quickly read through the article, and don't see that ratio mentioned anywhere?
 

mabrungard

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Limiting calcium content is most applicable to lager strains. They seem most sensitive to high calcium content in the brewing water. You can easily brew a lager with very little calcium in the water, but you would have difficulty in clearing an ale quickly if you had low calcium. As mentioned in the article, malt provides ALL the calcium (and magnesium) needed for a healthy fermentation. We add calcium to water to aid in oxalate removal and yeast flocculation.
 
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seanppp

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Martin, thanks for the reply. I understand all the points you mention, but I'm still confused as to the reason for a limit of strike/sparge water magnesium content if the mash/wort ion concentration is what is important. Why is there a Mg limit of 40ppm when a different wort strength will make the overall Mg content different? Also, does the 1.8 ratio apply to the strike/sparge water, or the post-dough in wort?

I guess to me it seems similar to strike water pH compared to the mash water pH. Waterphiles like yourself always (correctly) say that the water pH isn't what it's important, it's the pH of the mash after adding the malt. I'm wondering why it's not the same with Mg... or is it?
 
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seanppp

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Seems Martin threw in the towel. :) Anyone else have an idea?
 

JonM

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Too much magnesium tastes bad and is a diuretic.
 
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seanppp

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I'm still curious about:

-If the grain adds a lot of calcium magnesium, why are we concerned with the amount in the strike water?
-The Mg:Ca ratio of 1.8 (meaning almost double the magnesium as calcium) is for what? The strike water or the finished wort?

Thanks!
 

ajdelange

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-You want a Mg:Ca ratio of 1.8. That is, almost twice the Mg as Ca.
-Keep Mg under 40ppm.
-The malt itself adds enough Ca and Mg for your minimum needs.

How do I treat my water with this information?!
Ignore it. I haven't seen the article but I have read plenty of articles, textbooks etc and never seen anything about a Mg:Ca ratio and certainly nothing to suggest that Mg be in higher concentration than calcium. Perhaps you misinterpreted what the article said.

When statements like these are made in the literature they should be backed up with references. The system is hardly perfect as some faulty stuff gets passed on and on from one textbook quoting an article with an error which it took from another published source and so on. But check the references.


-My questions are:

If I want twice the Mg as Ca and I need to keep my Mg under 40ppm, doesn't that mean my Ca should never go above 22ppm?
Yes it does and, of course, that is nonsense so again I fear you have misinterpreted something. Most authors feel that calcium should be at at least 50 ppm (and cite a whole list of reasons why this is so such as protection of enzymes from temperature, bright runoff, oxalate sequestsration etc) but there certainly are exceptions notably the Bohemian lagers which attain part of their smooth character by being made with nearly mineral free water.


-If my malt is adding these ions, how do I have any idea how much it is adding to know my finished beer ion profile?
You don't. What you are working on is peoples (including, we hope, your own) experiences indicating that certain types of beer (e.g. Bohemian Pils) are best when made with very low mineral content water whereas others (e.g. Burton ales, Export) are best when made with high mineral content water.

Remember that when the mineral content of malt is measured it is subjected to digestion (blasted with hot peroxymonosulfuric acid - piranha solution) after which no organic material remains and (after neutralization of any residual acid) assay for metal ions can proceed as normally. All the metal ions are picked up, therefore, in the analysis. Conversely, in mash, some or many of the metal ions may be organically bound and not free to react as unbound ions are.


-Why is there a minimum at all for Mg? If I have a 5-gal session beer batch with 5lbs of malt, won't that be adding half the Mg as a batch with 10lb, therefor changing how much Mg my strike water can have?
There shouldn't be. Mg is an important co-factor for several enzymes involved in fermentation but given that malt is so rich in it, even though most of it may be bound, there is plenty free for cofactor duty.


-I guess I'm confused about the difference between brewing water (ie. the strike and sparge water) and the wort itself. I've used the Bru'n Water program for a long time, which I love, but I'm wondering if it should take into account malt-provided ions? I may set my Mg to 30ppm in the program but once I dough in that just went to 100ppm, right?
You can't really practically do that any more than you can have a piece of beef analyzed for its sodium and chloride content and make use of that info to decide how much to salt it.

I feel like the article was full of great information but I'm left with more questions than answers.
I always take Zymurgy articles with a grain of salt. They are not subject to the review that articles in professional journals receive (though even there, as noted, misinformation slips through).
 

The_Bishop

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I always take Zymurgy articles with a grain of salt. They are not subject to the review that articles in professional journals receive (though even there, as noted, misinformation slips through).

No pun intended? :)

I agree with AJ. Don't take anything you read on the internet, or (somewhat sadly) in zymurgy as gospel. Back it up with your own research.

Something stated without backup sources, research and/or proof is merely opinion.
 

PianoMan

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Seems Martin threw in the towel. :) Anyone else have an idea?
-------------------------------------------------------------------------
From Yooper about water profiles:
I use brun' water- but I don't typically do "profiles" as I find that they are wildly inaccurate. I will look at Mosher's pale ale profile and that one is good- except I don't like 300 ppm of sulfate in most of my IPAs or APAs. That's too much for me.

You only need as much alkalinity (generally in the form of bicarbonate in the spreadsheets) to hit your mash pH, so that doesn't have a target or recommended amount.*

for calcium, yeast flocculates better with 50 ppm or more, so 50 ppm+ is a reasonable target. (But not too much, under 100 ppm is desireable).

The "flavor" ions are like spices in cooking- for flavor and really a matter of taste. A little is fine, and usually below the flavor threshold, but too much can be disasterous. Malt has plenty of magnesium, so you never need to add it unless you want the flavor it brings. It has a "sour"ish flavor, and in larger amounts it can be displeasing. (Stay under 25 ppm in all cases). In even larger amounts, it is a laxative (remember "Milk of Magnesia"?- that's magnesium).*

Chloride brings a fullness to the beer, so it's often supplemented in malty beers when using RO water. Sulfate enhances dryness, so is often used in bitter beers for that dry finish. Too much of either (or in the case above, both) can create a "mineral" taste to the beer.*

"Less is more" is a good rule of thumb, until you know what you love. I don't love a high sulfate level, even in my IPAs except for one recipe I do, but others enjoy it at as much as 300 ppm. I go with about half of that most of the time in my hoppy beers.

It's like seasoning- I like more salt in my chicken soup than some do, but not as much as others.
 

mongoose33

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No pun intended? :)

I agree with AJ. Don't take anything you read on the internet, or (somewhat sadly) in zymurgy as gospel. Back it up with your own research.

Something stated without backup sources, research and/or proof is merely opinion.
Absolutely.

Any time I read a statement or claim that may impact what I do, I look for confirmation elsewhere, either through analysis (what was claimed makes sense) or through others confirming what was said.

The internet is not peer-reviewed so unless the source is peer reviewed, anybody can say anything. That's both the beauty and the curse of the internet.

There's another test the OP might do, one that actually can be far superior to all this testing stuff: How does the beer taste? If it's excellent, I wouldn't worry much about the water.
 

mabrungard

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Ignore it. I haven't seen the article but I have read plenty of articles, textbooks etc and never seen anything about a Mg:Ca ratio and certainly nothing to suggest that Mg be in higher concentration than calcium. Perhaps you misinterpreted what the article said.
AJ, you might want to walk back your statement since you and Chris White (White Labs) were technical reviewers for that article prior to its publication. You are well aware of what it contains.

As you mentioned, I don't believe there is a requirement for a Mg/Ca ratio in the article. However, the data used in developing the article came from published, peer-reviewed journal papers that were cited in my article to point out potential problems when the amount of calcium in the wort rises too high and preferentially strips magnesium from sites on the yeast walls.

I believe that those who reread the article will find that the main point is that elevating the calcium content of your water can actually be detrimental to yeast performance. This phenomena appears to be most prevalent in lager strains, but I point out in the article that it may be a result of their typical environmental conditions and you might be able to condition a lager yeast to accept high calcium conditions.

The popular mantra for brewers to have at least 50 ppm calcium in their brewing water was fully debunked in the article and a litany of support from those cited references should give the reader confidence that they can abandon that outdated mantra. While Zymurgy is not a peer-reviewed journal, I'm hoping that you readers will recognize that my article is about as close as you will get to meeting that standard.

As mentioned above, don't add magnesium unless you want its flavor impacts. But the most important thing I want you brewers to recognize is to NOT add calcium excessively to your water unless you want the flavor of its associated anions in your beer. I always target at least 40 ppm Ca in my mashes to precipitate oxalate from the wort. In lagers, I achieve that by adding all my calcium salts calculated for the entire batch to the mash and the mineral-free sparging water then dilutes the overall concentrations in the kettle. Ale brewers will want to have at least 50 ppm Ca in the kettle to help the beer clear reasonably well following fermentation.
 

ajdelange

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AJ, you might want to walk back your statement since you and Chris White (White Labs) were technical reviewers for that article prior to its publication.
I was?

You are well aware of what it contains.
Afraid not. Don't even remember reviewing it.


As you mentioned, I don't believe there is a requirement for a Mg/Ca ratio in the article.
Glad to hear that. If the article had said there was and I didn't yell about it I wouldn't have been a very good reviewer.

However, the data used in developing the article came from published, peer-reviewed journal papers that were cited in my article to point out potential problems when the amount of calcium in the wort rises too high and preferentially strips magnesium from sites on the yeast walls.
As I said in my post the guy should check the references.

I believe that those who reread the article will find that the main point is that elevating the calcium content of your water can actually be detrimental to yeast performance. This phenomena appears to be most prevalent in lager strains, but I point out in the article that it may be a result of their typical environmental conditions and you might be able to condition a lager yeast to accept high calcium conditions.
I kind of on the fence there but suppose that a strain adapted to a low calcium environment might be uncomfortable if plunged into a high calcium environment. But I am certain that you can make fine beer with very low calcium.


While Zymurgy is not a peer-reviewed journal, I'm hoping that you readers will recognize that my article is about as close as you will get to meeting that standard.
Well Chris White certainly should know yeast.
 
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seanppp

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Martin,

There is indeed a recommendation for a Mg:Ca ratio of 1.8 in the article: "At a Mg to Ca ratio between 0.35 to 0.5, lag time was extended. At a Mg to Ca ratio of greater than 1.8 (typical of malt wort), yeast growth was rapid. Maintaining the ratio of magnesium to calcium concentrations can improve the availability and conversion of those sugars into ethanol and other fermentation byproducts."

I am still curious about the following:
-Why is there a maximum Mg ppm suggestion for brewing water when the malt itself adds a lot of it and therefore the finished beer Mg level will be different depending on the amount of malt in the recipe?
-If the grain also adds calcium, why do you worry about keeping a minimum amount in your mash water?

I'm concerned with these questions because a very good professional lager brewer told me that the Mg:Ca concentration in wort is crucial, but I don't know how to calculate the concentrations of those ions since I don't know how much the malt adds.
 

mabrungard

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Martin,

There is indeed a recommendation for a Mg:Ca ratio of 1.8 in the article: "At a Mg to Ca ratio between 0.35 to 0.5, lag time was extended. At a Mg to Ca ratio of greater than 1.8 (typical of malt wort), yeast growth was rapid. Maintaining the ratio of magnesium to calcium concentrations can improve the availability and conversion of those sugars into ethanol and other fermentation byproducts."

I am still curious about the following:
-Why is there a maximum Mg ppm suggestion for brewing water when the malt itself adds a lot of it and therefore the finished beer Mg level will be different depending on the amount of malt in the recipe?
-If the grain also adds calcium, why do you worry about keeping a minimum amount in your mash water?

I'm concerned with these questions because a very good professional lager brewer told me that the Mg:Ca concentration in wort is crucial, but I don't know how to calculate the concentrations of those ions since I don't know how much the malt adds.
I wouldn't term that a recommendation, its an observation of that data's findings. I don't have the article in front of me, but I believe I included a summary of the typical ionic content of malt and it probably was somewhere around that 1.8 Mg to Ca ratio. I'm assuming that brewing yeasts have grown accustomed to that ratio since that is the substrate they typically consume.

Yes, malt infuses a significant amount of Mg and Ca into wort. So it would seem that we don't really need to worry about what the water adds to the wort. However, we know that the Mg and Ca added to the wort does have a differing effect than that of the malt's contribution. I believe that it is because the Ca and Mg in the water are generally unbound ions while the Ca and Mg supplied by the wort are bound in molecules. We do know that Mg does have an undesirable flavor effect in beer when its concentration goes above about 40 ppm.
 

PianoMan

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I wouldn't term that a recommendation, its an observation of that data's findings. I don't have the article in front of me, but I believe I included a summary of the typical ionic content of malt and it probably was somewhere around that 1.8 Mg to Ca ratio. I'm assuming that brewing yeasts have grown accustomed to that ratio since that is the substrate they typically consume.

Yes, malt infuses a significant amount of Mg and Ca into wort. So it would seem that we don't really need to worry about what the water adds to the wort.
How can we possibly know the ratios if we don't know how much mg:ca the malts are adding? Much less coming up with suggestions?
 
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seanppp

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How can we possibly know the ratios if we don't know how much mg:ca the malts are adding? Much less coming up with suggestions?
This is exactly what I'm asking!
 

ajdelange

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How can we possibly know the ratios if we don't know how much mg:ca the malts are adding? Much less coming up with suggestions?
You have missed the essential points. Even though one does not know exactly what minerals will be released to the wort by the grist experience has shown that beers are improved if their liquors have certain mineral content. Apparently Martin found some papers that suggested a particular calcium to magnesium ratio in the liquor improved some type(s) of beer under some criterion of optimality.

I used earlier the example that I might recommend a tsp of salt in a stew recipe as it gives a more pleasing dish than 1/2 tsp or 1 -1/2 tsp without any knowledge of the sodium or chloride content of the stew meat.
 

PianoMan

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You have missed the essential points. Even though one does not know exactly what minerals will be released to the wort by the grist experience has shown that beers are improved if their liquors have certain mineral content. Apparently Martin found some papers that suggested a particular calcium to magnesium ratio in the liquor improved some type(s) of beer under some criterion of optimality.

I used earlier the example that I might recommend a tsp of salt in a stew recipe as it gives a more pleasing dish than 1/2 tsp or 1 -1/2 tsp without any knowledge of the sodium or chloride content of the stew meat.
Okey dockey. I'll stick with the none-magnesium additions. No complaints for now..
 

chrisgg

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I read a great article by Martin Brungaard about calicum and magnesium in brewing, from a 2015 Zymurgy. The article says the following:

-You want a Mg:Ca ratio of 1.8. That is, almost twice the Mg as Ca.
-Keep Mg under 40ppm.
-The malt itself adds enough Ca and Mg for your minimum needs.

How do I treat my water with this information?! My questions are:

-If I want twice the Mg as Ca and I need to keep my Mg under 40ppm, doesn't that mean my Ca should never go above 22ppm?
-If my malt is adding these ions, how do I have any idea how much it is adding to know my finished beer ion profile?
-Why is there a minimum at all for Mg? If I have a 5-gal session beer batch with 5lbs of malt, won't that be adding half the Mg as a batch with 10lb, therefor changing how much Mg my strike water can have?
-I guess I'm confused about the difference between brewing water (ie. the strike and sparge water) and the wort itself. I've used the Bru'n Water program for a long time, which I love, but I'm wondering if it should take into account malt-provided ions? I may set my Mg to 30ppm in the program but once I dough in that just went to 100ppm, right?

I feel like the article was full of great information but I'm left with more questions than answers.

Thanks!
We deperately need someone to measure the concentrations of mineral in a malted barley mash, when mashed in distilled water. That would tell us how much of the Ca, Mg and other elements are provided by the barley, as opposed to the added water. An article I saw found that malted barley contained around 4.5g/kg of Ca and 2.4g/kg of Mg. So it doesn't contain more magnesium than calcium. The ratio from that study would suggest Martin got it the wrong way round and that Ca : Mg = about 1.8. How much is actually available is the important thing.

Why on earth hasn't somebody measured this before? We have megatons of literature and discussion about the mineral content of the added brewing water. Malted barley contains loads of Ca, Mg and other minerals yet nobody seems to know how much of it gets into the mash water or wort. More astonishingly, nobody seems to have bothered to find out!

 
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Silver_Is_Money

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Ignore the massive amounts of bound minerals extant within barley malts. They have been measured and well known for many decades to perhaps more than a century now. Added magnesium should be kept at about 8 to 12 mg/L (ppm). The prevailing modern opinion seems to be that adding additional magnesium is totally unnecessary, but I've read several peer reviewed brewing documents from yore which mention benefit seen for targeting an addition of 10 mg/L (ppm). As to calcium, the prevailing modern opinion calls for 40-50 mg/L to be added, but targeting 100-120 mg/L was more common in the same aging journals. At one time sodium was routinely targeted at about 40 mg/L for lighter beers and 80 mg/L for darker beers, and flavor benefits were touted for its addition, but current thought is that sodium is highly unnecessary. I'm trending back to older times with my mineralizations.

Many refuse to add sodium because they are afraid of negative health consequences, but sodium is a requirement for life itself, and even a sodium restricted diet generally calls for the intake of 2,500 mg per day. If you are adding 40 mg/L, then since 2,500/40 = 62.5 Liters of beer, you are not likely to have much concern here if you think rationally about it.
 
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chrisgg

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Ignore the massive amounts of bound minerals extant within barley malts. They have been measured and well known for many decades to perhaps more than a century now. Added magnesium should be kept at about 8 to 12 mg/L (ppm). The prevailing modern opinion seems to be that adding additional magnesium is totally unnecessary, but I've read several peer reviewed brewing documents from yore which mention benefit seen for targeting an addition of 10 mg/L (ppm). As to calcium, the prevailing modern opinion calls for 40-50 mg/L to be added, but targeting 100-120 mg/L was more common in the same aging journals. At one time sodium was routinely targeted at about 40 mg/L for lighter beers and 80 mg/L for darker beers, and flavor benefits were touted for its addition, but current thought is that sodium is highly unnecessary. I'm trending back to older times with my mineralizations.

Many refuse to add sodium because they are afraid of negative health consequences, but sodium is a requirement for life itself, and even a sodium restricted diet generally calls for the intake of 2,500 mg per day. If you are adding 40 mg/L, then since 2,500/40 = 62.5 Liters of beer, you are not likely to have much concern here if you think rationally about it.
Thanks for the reply Larry. I'm not so sure we can ignore the massive amounts of minerals in barley malts. They are bound up in phytates but phytates can be broken down by enzymes in the mash. That's why an acid rest is sometimes carried out in beer brewing at a lower temperature than the amylase enzyme needs; I think around 130°F. This acid rest helps break down the phytates to release phosphoric acids, which lower the pH of the mash. I assume breaking down the phytates should also release bound up minerals. From a nutritional point of view, some people recommend soaking grains or muesli overnight in hot water to break down phytates and release the minerals. The hot water activates the enzymes which break down the phytates. We've known grains contain lots of minerals for centuries but has anyone checked to see how much of the minerals from barley malt ends up in the wort? The malting process particularly is good at breaking down phytates so malted barley should release even more of its minerals in the hot mash,. See this reference that malted oats has much more available minerals than ordinary oats in porridge:

 
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Silver_Is_Money

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We've known grains contain lots of minerals for centuries but has anyone checked to see how much of the minerals from barley malt ends up in the wort?
At the amateur level there have been a few people on this forum who have posted Ward Labs analyses for finished beers, and from there (rather vainly in my opinion) attempted to back calculate a water profile. The mineralization numbers are shockingly high.

Beer can be successfully brewed in distilled water, but the consensus is that it lacks character. Counter to this, I believe that Brulosophy did a side by side test wherein the participants could not statistically distinguish a water mineralized beer from one made with distilled water.

What knowledge would you hope to glean from finished beer mineral analysis?
 
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chrisgg

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At the amateur level there have been a few people on this forum who have posted Ward Labs analyses for finished beers, and from there (rather vainly in my opinion) attempted to back calculate a water profile. The mineralization numbers are shockingly high.

Beer can be successfully brewed in distilled water, but the consensus is that it lacks character. Counter to this, I believe that Brulosophy did a side by side test wherein the participants could not statistically distinguish a water mineralized beer from one made with distilled water.

What knowledge would you hope to glean from finished beer mineral analysis?
Thanks for the reply Larry. Really, I'd like to know whether it is worth fiddling around using mains water analysis and calculators to determine exact mineral amounts in the brewing water, without knowing how much is contributed by the grain, not only in the finished beer but released into the mash to affect pH and enzyme activity. We only seem to know a small part of the equation. For example, I've been adding 10g of gypsum (= about 2.3g Ca) to my mash to compensate for a high bicarbonate buffering affect of my water (305 ppm HCO3). That was calculated from a John Palmer nomograph. I use arounf 3kg of pale malt/crystal malt per brew. The malt may contain around 13.5g of Ca from my earlier reference. Even if only 20% were released into the mash from the grain, that would be more than I'm adding from gypsum.
 

Silver_Is_Money

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Thanks for the reply Larry. Really, I'd like to know whether it is worth fiddling around using mains water analysis and calculators to determine exact mineral amounts in the brewing water, without knowing how much is contributed by the grain, not only in the finished beer but released into the mash to affect pH and enzyme activity. We only seem to know a small part of the equation. For example, I've been adding 10g of gypsum (= about 2.3g Ca) to my mash to compensate for a high bicarbonate buffering affect of my water (305 ppm HCO3). That was calculated from a John Palmer nomograph. I use arounf 3kg of pale malt/crystal malt per brew. The malt may contain around 13.5g of Ca from my earlier reference. Even if only 20% were released into the mash from the grain, that would be more than I'm adding from gypsum.
A few monkey wrenches:

1) Some modern research (Roger Barth and Rameez Zaman, "Influence of Strike Water Alkalinity and Hardness on Mash pH") has shown that the degree of pH reduction induced within the mash due to calcium added to the mash water is far less than had been presumed based upon work done decades ago by Kolbach. It turns out that Kolbach was measuring final pH at knock-out (post boil) and not at all during the mash. There is a lot of pH drop that can occur across the boil, and for decades the incorrect presumption has been that Kolbach measured this drop during the mash. The difference Barth and Zaman measured in drop across the mash is on the order of 1/2 to 1/3 of what had previously been presumed for added calcium based upon a misunderstanding of Kolbach.

2) The nomograph method has been highly abandoned at this juncture as having been highly flawed. And what isn't flawed was most likely based upon Kolbach, so is thereby also flawed.

3) If you do a no-sparge mash and I both mash with and sparge with 50% of my water, but we have both added calcium to hit a certain presumptively ideal mg/L (ppm) of calcium in our water, then your malt/grist has been exposed to twice as much calcium with which to chemically react within the mash as has mine.
 
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mabrungard

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We deperately need someone to measure the concentrations of mineral in a malted barley mash, when mashed in distilled water. That would tell us how much of the Ca, Mg and other elements are provided by the barley, as opposed to the added water. An article I saw found that malted barley contained around 4.5g/kg of Ca and 2.4g/kg of Mg. So it doesn't contain more magnesium than calcium. The ratio from that study would suggest Martin got it the wrong way round and that Ca : Mg = about 1.8. How much is actually available is the important thing.
Sorry, NO. You don't seem to grasp the difference between freely-available ionic content in the water and bound elemental content in molecules. Modern laboratory testing methods literally tear molecules apart to release and report that content. There is nothing in the mash that does that. Enzymes cleave starch molecules into sugars. That's a far cry from the disintegration needed to release elemental content as ions.

Yeast adsorb ionic content to their cell walls and it is an important component for yeast function. Only freely-available ions are capable of executing the ion substitution that affect cell walls and subsequent yeast function.
 

Vale71

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That's why an acid rest is sometimes carried out in beer brewing at a lower temperature than the amylase enzyme needs; I think around 130°F. This acid rest helps break down the phytates to release phosphoric acids, which lower the pH of the mash. I assume breaking down the phytates should also release bound up minerals.
That statement was probably true about 50 years ago. With modern, well-modified malts mash-in is now invariably performed at or slightly below saccharification temperature.
 

Vale71

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This is in German, but it can probably be sufficiently translated by a good browser. Scroll down to Section 2.2.


Also, note the references.
The article cites the book "Water" by Palmer and Kaminski which in turn cites this study by Bamforth (not available for free):

 

chrisgg

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Sorry, NO. You don't seem to grasp the difference between freely-available ionic content in the water and bound elemental content in molecules. Modern laboratory testing methods literally tear molecules apart to release and report that content. There is nothing in the mash that does that. Enzymes cleave starch molecules into sugars. That's a far cry from the disintegration needed to release elemental content as ions.

Yeast adsorb ionic content to their cell walls and it is an important component for yeast function. Only freely-available ions are capable of executing the ion substitution that affect cell walls and subsequent yeast function.
Thanks for your reply Martin. I think I do grasp the difference between bound and free minerals in the mash. I'm asking if the amount of minerals released from phytate into the mash could be measured. A way to do so might be to measure the minerals in the wort collected immediately after sparge, after mashing with only pure water added to the grain.
 
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chrisgg

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The article cites the book "Water" by Palmer and Kaminski which in turn cites this study by Bamforth (not available for free):
This is in German, but it can probably be sufficiently translated by a good browser. Scroll down to Section 2.2.


Thanks, a great article Ebbelwoi. I read German and also use Google Translate for extra help. Very helpful.
 

Silver_Is_Money

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I'm asking if the amount of minerals released from phytate into the mash could be measured. A way to do so might be to measure the minerals in the wort collected immediately after sparge, after mashing with only pure water added to the grain.
Ward Labs
 

chrisgg

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A few monkey wrenches:

1) Some modern research (Roger Barth and Rameez Zaman, "Influence of Strike Water Alkalinity and Hardness on Mash pH") has shown that the degree of pH reduction induced within the mash due to calcium added to the mash water is far less than had been presumed based upon work done decades ago by Kolbach. It turns out that Kolbach was measuring final pH at knock-out (post boil) and not at all during the mash. There is a lot of pH drop that can occur across the boil, and for decades the incorrect presumption has been that Kolbach measured this drop during the mash. The difference Barth and Zaman measured in drop across the mash is on the order of 1/2 to 1/3 of what had previously been presumed for added calcium based upon a misunderstanding of Kolbach.

2) The nomograph method has been highly abandoned at this juncture as having been highly flawed. And what isn't flawed was most likely based upon Kolbach, so is thereby also flawed.

3) If you do a no-sparge mash and I both mash with and sparge with 50% of my water, but we have both added calcium to hit a certain presumptively ideal mg/L (ppm) of calcium in our water, then your malt/grist has been exposed to twice as much calcium with which to chemically react within the mash as has mine.
Thanks for that information Larry.
 

chrisgg

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This is in German, but it can probably be sufficiently translated by a good browser. Scroll down to Section 2.2.


Also, note the references.
That's brilliant! I see in the German Wasseranalyse-zum-Brauwasser you posted that it does give the makeup of minerals in the wort (before boiling) from an all-grain brew mashed in just distilled pure water, with no added minerals. It is given as mg/L/10°Plato for a lighter malt style of beer. 10°Plato is about 1.040 Original Gravity for making a beer around 4-4.5% as follows:

Na 10mg/L
Ca 35mg/L
Mg 70mg/L
Chloride 125mg/L
Sulphate 5mg/L

So plenty of magnesium, quite a lot of calcium and a lot of chloride makes its way into the wort, but very little sulfate and sodium. Sulfate and sodium are in low concentration in malt anyway.
 

Silver_Is_Money

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Thanks for that information Larry.
I've mentioned this multiple times already of late, but if our interpretation of Kolbach as to the influence of calcium and magnesium has been grossly incorrect and overstated then our interpretation of RA (Residual Alkalinity) is also grossly incorrect. And if (as per Barth and Zaman) calcium's impact upon downward pH shift within the mash is vastly different for each malt within a grist, then RA becomes essentially a contrived figment of our imagination.

Kolbach stated this:
mEq/L RA = mEq/L Alkalinity - [(mEq/L Ca)/3.5 + (mEq/L Mg)/7]

Barth and Zaman only looked at calcium, but they looked at its impact during the mash as opposed to knockout, and whereas for the case of knockout Kolbach established '3.5' as the divisor for calcium (meaning that for every 3.5 mEq's of calcium 1 mEq of Alkalinity is consumed) Barth and Zaman found that for their specific lots of the three malts they tested the divisor was as follows within the mash:

Pilsner malt divisor = 14.8 (vs. 3.5)
Pale Ale malt divisor = 7.2 (vs. 3.5)
Munich malt divisor = 12.2 (vs. 3.5)

Where I find potential flaw in Barth and Zaman is that they measured only 5 minutes into the mash whereby to establish these divisors. I think they should have tested at 30, 45, and 60 minutes into the mash. And I suspect the divisors would have diminished measurably thereby, albeit not all the way to 3.5. I suspect that they did not allow for sufficient time for the added calcium ions within the mash water to permeate into the confines of the crushed malts whereby to release H+ ions.
 
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BrewnWKopperKat

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Beer can be successfully brewed in distilled water, but the consensus is that it lacks character. Counter to this, I believe that Brulosophy did a side by side test wherein the participants could not statistically distinguish a water mineralized beer from one made with distilled water.
As an aside, for those working with distilled / RO water, it doesn't take much effort to setup a good mash environment. See Water Chemistry – How to Build Your Water – Bertus Brewery, A Brewing Water Chemistry Primer, the book Brewing Better Beer, various Zymurgy magazine articles.
 
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