Vitamin C - The Game Changer?

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Miraculix

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Hi!

I am quite sensitive to hot side oxidation flavours, mainly this dreaded almond flavour which I sometimes encountered within my brews. Switching back to BIAB lowered the intensity significantly compared to my not so well designed mash ton, but it was still there. To be fair, it was aging out with time, but still a bit of a pain. Sometimes it was there, sometimes it was barely there... but it was a constant companion.

So I started adding vitamin C (ascorbic acid) pre mash to the water, together with my water treatment salts. First beer was a hoppy american brown ale, that one is amazing. The hop flavour is after almost two months still like day one and there is no hint of the almond flavour.

The second one is a Miraculix Best Kitchen sink edition, added even a bit more vitamin c, just to see what happens. Bottled it today, not even the slightest hint of almond.

This shows me, the ascorbic acid really does something against hot side oxidation as well as oxidation in the bottle. I do leave just a small headspace in the bottle, to further lower the oxidation potential in the bottle, I think this is nowadays common wisdom, if not, just do it.

There are still some unknowns regarding vitamin c, this is why I wanted to create this thread, first to share my results and second to ask for the wisdom of the swarm.

My last batch had 3.5g of vitamin c, the final volume in the fermenter was 20l. This results in 0,175g per litre in the fermenter, this worked for me, but I do not have huge boil of rates. I actually add some water to the fermenter to lower the og as my kettle is a bit small and I am boiling with a higher OG than anticipated in the fermenter. This results in more Vitamin C per litre in the kettel, as I am diluting it afterwards a bit, not by much though. Only about 15-20% additional water.

Resulting questions:

1. The dosage should be high enough that there is some vitamin c left after the boil, to do it`s thing in the bottle as well. How to determine the amount correctly? I went with anecdotal evidence, which seems to work. But is there a taste threshhold? Or can one overdo it?

2. There are rumors that vitamin c can become a super oxidiser on it's own. You can read this all over the internet but there is no proof, no idea how this should work, basically nothing specific. I talked to a professional food chemist who is working with vitamin c since the 70s and he said that he never encountered such a behaviour of virtamin c within his whole career. My personal guess is, somebody somehow got his batch oxidised, blamed the vitamin c and everybody else copied what he wrote. I do not know. For me it just worked.

3. How about oxigenation of the wort before pitching yeast? Is the Vitamin C going to be used up by this step? It would be unfortunate. I do not oxigenate my wort, so I have no idea. Maybe the temperature is low enough to slow down the oxidising of vitamin c so much that the yeast has enough time to take in all the oxygen available.

4. How about long term aging, thinking of big beers? What will be going on there?

5. Impact on mash ph? I basically ignored the vitamin c, added the usual amount of acidulated malt and went with it. Efficiency and attenuation were as expected.

For now, I think this stuff is gread. It protects my beer in the bottle, it protects the mash, it is cheap, harmless and easy to use. All good!

What do you guys think?
 

VikeMan

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2. There are rumors that vitamin c can become a super oxidiser on it's own. You can read this all over the internet but there is no proof, no idea how this should work, basically nothing specific.

I don't know about "super oxidizer" but Vitamin C can be a pro-oxidant in the presence of transition metals. Here's an interesting read:

 
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Miraculix

Miraculix

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I don't know about "super oxidizer" but Vitamin C can be a pro-oxidant in the presence of transition metals. Here's an interesting read:

Thank you. First time I see something more than "Duuuuuude, do not add vitamin c, it is a suuuuper oxidiser!!! You need to add sulfate as well because science!".

To me it looks like that this shouldn't really concern us as the iron and copper levels should be well below the threshhold necessary in normal brewing water. Do you agree?
 

CascadesBrewer

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Thank you. First time I see something more than "Duuuuuude, do not add vitamin c, it is a suuuuper oxidiser!!! You need to add sulfate as well because science!".

I am curious about many of your same questions. Like does adding Ascorbic Acid to the mash actually help prevent cold side oxidation, or is it just preventing hot side reactions that might lead oxidation issues on the cold side? It sure "feels" to me that it would be "used up" with all the oxygen that is typical mash water or with the oxygen added for fermentation.

I also wonder, since I use a Campden tablet to remove chloramine from my mash water, am I getting some of the same benefits already? Should I add a full tablet instead of half a tablet (for a 5-gallon batch) to give more protection?

In the video that Genus Brewing put out, they say that there is plenty of Sulphur in beer, and that some of the papers about using Ascorbic Acid in wine don't directly apply. I am not positive if the Sulphur is from the grains, produced during fermentation, or both?

 

VikeMan

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To me it looks like that this shouldn't really concern us as the iron and copper levels should be well below the threshhold necessary in normal brewing water. Do you agree?

Well, I think it might depend on how much metal is in the particular wort, how much vitamin C, and what the threshold levels actually are. From my reading, it seems like there is disagreement in the literature about the particulars. i.e. there's agreement on the phenomenon, but not on numbers.

I also wonder, since I use a Campden tablet to remove chloramine from my mash water, am I getting some of the same benefits already? Should I add a full tablet instead of half a tablet (for a 5-gallon batch) to give more protection?

Metabisulfites are anti-oxidants. Lots of LODO brewers use them in the mash and sparge.
 

MaxStout

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They discuss that on the Low Oxygen Brewhouse page, that ascorbic by itself is a "super oxidizer."

I use it in the "trifecta," with metabisulfite and Brewtan B.
 

DuncB

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I'm not saying it's witchcraft, seems to make sense to me. Cold side I'm not sure but the trifecta i'm interested in.
 

Beermeister32

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I use ascorbic acid in the keg. Seems like it helps keep beer, especially IPA’s fresher, longer. When I bottle, I bottle directly off a keg rather than a bottling bucket, so it finds its way into my bottles as well. Check out the color of this IPA, no oxidation despite being bottled off a keg which used ascorbic acid. Flavor remained fresh. I’m a believer.
 

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DuncB

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@Beermeister32

I bottle off my kegs counter pressure filled, do you starsan the bottles and dose them as well with ascorbic. Or do you sod met the bottles and just let the beer with the ascorbic acid in the keg come across? Or just starsan?

Firstly I suppose how much ascorbic acid per 19 litre keg?
 

Beermeister32

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Dissolve one teaspoon ascorbic acid in a cup of pre-boiled but cooled water and add it to the keg during filling from your fermenter or carboy.

I have both a counter pressure filler as well as a low pressure modified picnic tap with 8” racking cane extension filler for bottle conditioned beers. If I bottle an IPA, I usually use the picnic tap and put 1 psi on the keg to transfer the beer. I prefer them to be bottle conditioned to uptake O2 at the same time.

I still counter-pressure fill occasionally when I’m hating myself, but it has to be coordinated with a time my wife is GONE due to the huge mess. The problem is, she never LEAVES.

Bottles are soaked in Star San and allowed to drip on a rack prior to filling.
 
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Miraculix

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They discuss that on the Low Oxygen Brewhouse page, that ascorbic by itself is a "super oxidizer."

I use it in the "trifecta," with metabisulfite and Brewtan B.
The page is not available. Can you link to it again pls?

@Miraculix

Some info here and they might point you towards some science as well.



Thanks, will have a look.

I'm not saying it's witchcraft, seems to make sense to me. Cold side I'm not sure but the trifecta i'm interested in.

This thread is not supposed to drift into trifecta territory. With the current knowledge I got, it looks more like vitamin c on its own is already sufficient to provide a safety net before things oxidise.

I use ascorbic acid in the keg. Seems like it helps keep beer, especially IPA’s fresher, longer. When I bottle, I bottle directly off a keg rather than a bottling bucket, so it finds its way into my bottles as well. Check out the color of this IPA, no oxidation despite being bottled off a keg which used ascorbic acid. Flavor remained fresh. I’m a believer.

Maybe you can try adding some vitamin c next time pre mash to the water together with the other water treatment, based on the dosage I quoted in the initial post. It would be very interesting to see if you will experience the same positive outcome as with dosing it to the keg. Maybe your outcome will be even better because the mash might be protected as well.
 
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Miraculix

Miraculix

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Well, I think it might depend on how much metal is in the particular wort, how much vitamin C, and what the threshold levels actually are. From my reading, it seems like there is disagreement in the literature about the particulars. i.e. there's agreement on the phenomenon, but not on numbers.



Metabisulfites are anti-oxidants. Lots of LODO brewers use them in the mash and sparge.
Yes that is true. It looks to me that it is unlikely that the minimum numbers necessary are reached within wort, but I couldn't even say what the threshold actually is. I have found only one anecdotal mentioning of this oxidising wuality of vitamin c and that was in a German mead and fruit wine Forum, where one guy was deliberatly oxidising his wine to create a cherry-ish aroma. He was basically shaking a half empty container with loads of air, wine and a bit of vitamin c. Afterwards, everything oxidised, far beyond what would happen normally, without any oxidising agent. I found no anectdotal evidence of this behaviour under "normal" brewing circumstances, only people who were satisfied with the outcome.
 
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Miraculix

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VikeMan

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That is interesting, I did not know that it can be used for chlorine removal! Why is using campden tablets such a thing when a tiny amount of vitamin c does the same thing?

I don't think vitamin C removes chloramines. I think he was referring to the Bisulfate.
 

scrap iron

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That is interesting, I did not know that it can be used for chlorine removal! Why is using campden tablets such a thing when a tiny amount of vitamin c does the same thing?
Probably because SMB is cheap and available at LHBS and AA is a higher cost and not well known in that regard.
Link to LO brewing has some on this too.
the ***************.com
don't know why the previously link wasn't working , look up the above.
 
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Miraculix

Miraculix

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I don't think vitamin C removes chloramines. I think he was referring to the Bisulfate.
If you read the thread he was linking to, you see that the guy was using vitamin C for chlorine and chloramine removal.
 
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Miraculix

Miraculix

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@Miraculix , did you use Campden Tablets (Potassium version or Sodium version) in your mash/sparge water before you started trying this?
No, I try to stay away from any additions except water treatment salts. I'm a bit of a purist I'm afraid, I can barely tolerate the vitamin c :D
 

scrap iron

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@scrap iron , @MaxStout : I was anticipating links that went directly to specific articles.
Kat, the links are blocked, see my above post and search from your browser. The info is there and a list of articles are on the right side of page. There is also a method for deoxygenation using sugar and yeast in mash water if one is afraid of SMB.
 
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Miraculix

Miraculix

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May I kindly ask all of you to acknowledge that this thread is about the usage of vitamin C and no other anti oxidant or oxygen scavenging techniques?

This will quickly get a muddled information mess if we start to throw in SMB, brewtan b, trifecta etc.

Let's keep the information here concentrated on the very topic!
 
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MaxStout

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I'd be interested to know if a mash addition of AA would be depleted at the wort aeration stage when yeast is pitched. If there is none remaining in fermentation, then would a second dose prior to packaging help?

The food industry uses it a lot, for example in juice drinks. It's always listed on the label, but I don't know how much.

More questions than answers from me, but I'll be following this thread. I bottle, so I'll take any port in the storm.
 
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Miraculix

Miraculix

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I'd be interested to know if a mash addition of AA would be depleted at the wort aeration stage when yeast is pitched. If there is none remaining in fermentation, then would a second dose prior to packaging help?

The food industry uses it a lot, for example in juice drinks. It's always listed on the label, but I don't know how much.

More questions than answers from me, but I'll be following this thread. I bottle, so I'll take any port in the storm.
My guess is that it might be oxidised partially till the yeast got hold of the rest of the oxygen in solution. To be on the safe side, adding some before bottling might do the trick. But if the second addition is really necessary or not, no idea. I mean, we know that it works if we add some when packaging, as shown above with the kegging example.
 

micraftbeer

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May I kindly ask all of you to acknowledge that this thread is about the usage of vitamin C and no other anti oxidant or oxygen scavenging techniques?

So there have been some links shared here about the use of Vit C as chlorine/chloramine removal tool. A lot of people use Campden tablets for that purpose.

Within the chemical realm of creating oxide products in the mash and/or boil, is the same chemistry at work there with Campden vs. Vit C? Or does the Vit C have additional benefits over Campden for this anti-oxide aspect?
 
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Miraculix

Miraculix

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So there have been some links shared here about the use of Vit C as chlorine/chloramine removal tool. A lot of people use Campden tablets for that purpose.

Within the chemical realm of creating oxide products in the mash and/or boil, is the same chemistry at work there with Campden vs. Vit C? Or does the Vit C have additional benefits over Campden for this anti-oxide aspect?
I cannot really answer that question. I personally try to keep the number and amount of stuff I add to my beer, except the obvious ingredients, to the bare minimum and I highly prefer stuff that I know for being basically harmless. Ascorbic acid ticks these boxes for me, that's why I like to concentrate here on ascorbic acid alone, other ingredients deserve their own thread.

I never had the need to remove chloramine.... So I don't know that much about it but my guess would be that chemically, it should work the same way.
 

MaxStout

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Here's a piece that describes AA applied to, among other things, water treatment. The article claims AA (along with sodium ascorbate) is "just as effective and much safer than other methods of chemical dechlorination through the use of sulfur-based chemicals." (emphasis added)

Maybe they mean "safer" in terms of the treated water an an effluent, as they mentioned water released into streams. But it did say "just as effective as sulfur-based." I assume they are referring to metabisulfites? Not a lot of detail, but it piques my interest and I'd like to look further into the AA thing. If I could limit O2 effects with just one chemical, that would be nice.

Note that the article is posted by a chemical company (Megachem), and I didn't see any links to primary sources or footnotes. This needs a deeper dive.
 

Bassman2003

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I respect the fact that you want to keep the thread on topic about AA. I just wanted to mention the "LODO crowd" used to use AA along with sulfites but has largely stopped using the AA. Why? Quite frankly, nobody knows if it was helping or hurting and taking it away made no difference if one was already using suflites. So the end finding was sulfites get you there. Hope this helps!
 
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Miraculix

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I respect the fact that you want to keep the thread on topic about AA. I just wanted to mention the "LODO crowd" used to use AA along with sulfites but has largely stopped using the AA. Why? Quite frankly, nobody knows if it helping or hurting and taking it away made no difference if one was already using suflites. So the end finding was sulfites get you there. Hope this helps!
Cheers mate, that helps indeed.

I think you basically already say it in your own words, they don't need it when using another antioxidant as the other one already works. So why add the second?

Based on my current knowledge, either or should do the trick, meaning you don't need sulfite if you already have ascorbic acid and you don't need ascorbic acid when you have sulfite.

I prefer ascorbic acid as it is cheap and completely harmless, even in big doses. That's why I'm trying to figure out if there are shortcomings when adding it pre-mash, or not.

At the moment it looks like there are no shortcomings.
 

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A quick google search brought me to the following dissertation on brewing science, which discusses beer aging: Dissertation by Michael Wurzbacher at TU Munich (Weihenstephan). It contains multiple references to the pro-oxidative nature of ascorbic acid at realistic concentrations. The thesis is in German, which the OP is supposedly rather fluent in, but many others may not be. I could try and translate individual pieces, but the only thing worse than my knowledge of chemistry is my knowledge of English terms used in the realm of chemistry.

I'm sorry, I know referencing something that almost noone can actually read is sort of a dick move, but still it seems to be a legitimate reference demonstrating that it appears to be an acknowledged fact within the brewing community that ascorbic acid doesn't work in beer.
 
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That's why I'm trying to figure out if there are shortcomings when adding it pre-mash, or not.

The only way we are going to know is if you do an split batch with and without AA added pre-mash and report back. {; Just kidding, sort of. Reason I nominate you is you brought up the subject and you seem to have keen scientific interest, and if I recall, brew in relatively small batches, making you a ideal test pilot.

I've been reading this thread with interest. Got to say though, I put limited credence in linked & quoted source studies done by various actors, and some not even necessarily intended to pertain to what we are up to here; home beer brewing.
 

MaxStout

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Here's some more info put out by USDA on using vit C to neutralize chlorine in water systems. I believe it touches upon dissolved oxygen levels a little bit too.


From the article (with emphasis added):

VITAMIN C DECHLORINATION
Vitamin C is a newer chemical method for neutralizing chlorine. Two forms of vitamin C, ascorbic acid and sodium ascorbate, will neutralize chlorine. Neither is considered a hazardous chemical. First, vitamin C does not lower the dissolved oxygen as much as sulfur-based chemicals do. Second, vitamin C is not toxic to aquatic life at the levels used for dechlorinating water. Although ascorbic acid is mildly acidic and, in large doses, will lower the pH of the treated water, sodium ascorbate is neutral and will not affect the pH of the treated water or the receiving stream. Both forms of vitamin C are stable, with a shelf life of at least 1 year in a dry form if kept in a cool, dark place. Once it is placed in solution, however, vitamin C degrades in a day or two.

Based on the second noted passage, one could infer that the AA (or sodium ascorbate) would be long gone a few days into fermentation. However, the article doesn't state what causes it to degrade. Is it from light or heat, or does it degrade on its own in solution? If it degrades on its own, then I'd think that AA's antioxidant properties are short-lived, no matter what.
 
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