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Sodium-to-Sulfate Parameters

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Bier_Minion

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Does anyone know what parameters should be used when comparing sodium levels with sulfate levels?

The sources I have read say to keep sodium as low as possible when high levels of sulfates are used, and vice-versa. One, unreferenced source said to keep sodium <100 ppm when high levels of sulfates are used.

I'm trying to somewhat match a water profile for Bamberg, Germany for a rauchbier recipe.

Target Water (Bamberg, Ger):
Calcium (ppm) 106
Magnesium (ppm) 50
Bicarbonate (ppm) 281
Sodium (ppm) 28
Chloride (ppm) 40
Sulfate (ppm) 241

Source Water (College Station, TX):
Calcium (ppm) 3
Magnesium (ppm) 1
Bicarbonate (ppm) 432
Sodium (ppm) 200
Chloride (ppm) 51
Sulfate (ppm) 12
Water pH 8.3

60% RO Mix:
Calcium (ppm) 1
Magnesium (ppm) 0
Bicarbonate (ppm) 191
Sodium (ppm) 90
Chloride (ppm) 23
Sulfate (ppm) 5

From the RO mix I plan to add 4 grams of Gypsum to the mash bring up the Calcium to the minimum threshold of 50 ppm and set the Residual Alkalinity for the mash.

Mash Salt Addition:
Calcium (ppm) 50
Magnesium (ppm) 0
Bicarbonate (ppm) 157
Sodium (ppm) 90
Chloride (ppm) 23
Sulfate (ppm) 123

I then plan to add 3 grams of Epsom salt to the boil to bring up the Magnesium and Sulfates to desired levels.

Boil Salt Addition:
Calcium (ppm) 50
Magnesium (ppm) 16
Bicarbonate (ppm) 157
Sodium (ppm) 90
Chloride (ppm) 23
Sulfate (ppm) 185

My concern is that the sodium level is still to high for the sulfates used and will cause a harsh bitterness in the rauchbier. Any thoughts?
 

mabrungard

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Matching water profiles is hairy business. I have not seen a profile from Bamberg before, but I have doubts that the indicated profile would produce a decent tasting beer. The Mg is far too high and the sulfate and bicarbonate are going to make the flavors even more harsh. That is not the way to produce the malty, yet phenolic character of a Rauchbier.

The proposed water adjustments are treading on more problems. Yes, the sodium would probably be a problem for taste when the sulfate is getting up there. I have not seen any reference to a ratio limit between those ions. But the thing I want to convey is that much lower ionic content will make a more palatable beer. Add only the ions necessary to add the flavor effects wanted.

I also caution against the proposed bicarbonate level. A Rauchbier grist is not likely to be that acidic and I don't know that the mash would fall into the desired range with that much alkalinity.

I also suggest that Mg is not necessary in this flavor profile. I wouldn't add it for that beer.
 
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Bier_Minion

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Thanks for your response. I'm new to this aspect of brewing and have been reading up, but still need to digest all the info.

What ionic profile would you recommend?

Palmer recommend 10-30 ppm for Mg. You disagree?

In regards to the bicarbonate levels, I verified the RA value for my grain with Palmer's spreadsheet and EZ Water Calculator and they both calculated a mash PH of around 5.5. You think there is a miscalculation?

I agree that the sulphate to chloride ratio is too high. I'm thinking it should be around 2.5:1. You agree?

BTW, I miscalculated my boil profile. I will be sparging with 100% RO which about halves most of the ions except sulfate.
 
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