Will adding Gypsum improve the Hop character in my beers?

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nreed

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Hi all.

I'm just started drinking my 4th brew which was a SMaSH with Maris Otter and Mosaic. I'm really happy with the results after having to toss my 3rd batch for some really off-medinal flavours. A mix of building a fermentation chamber to keep my temps level and using camden tablets seems to have done a good job and the end result has been good.

Whilst this is by far my best brew yet and is super drinkable, I was expecting a little more of the Mosaic hop flavour to come through. I can get the nice flavour but its very subtle - wife loves it and tells me I'm over thinking it. I used c5-6g of Hops per litre with 50% of these in a 76C hop stand if this helps.

When doing a bit of reading, and checking my water report, I notice that my water is low on the sulphates at c45mg/l with BeerSmith recommending 150-300 for a hoppy ale. Could this be why I'm not getting the full punchy flavours coming through in the final beer? For reference my water is:

Ca 60
Mg 12
Na 29
SO4 45
Cl 55
HCO3 148

Thanks in advance!
 

Miraculix

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Don't sweat the water chemistry stuff too much. It's like the icing on the cake, it can enhance the beer a bit, but without the base it won't do any good.

In your case, I would say, next time, try to dry hop instead of the late additions. This usually brings better flavour and aroma.

Also avoiding as much oxygen ingress as possible is crucial for hop aroma, it gets oxidised really fast.

No splashing during bottling, using a bottling stick, almost filling the bottle to the rim (leave 3-4mm for the liquid to expand). This all will help you at the end to maintain the hop aroma.

And if this works, you might want to add a bit of sulfate, bit you certainly don't have to.
 
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brewdude88

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If you're looking for real punch in the face hops, doing a long hop stand (30 minutes is what I use) and dry hopping should get you there.

On a side note, what yeast did you use? Some strains will accentuate malt while covering up hops.
 

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Your HCO3 level is high- did you add any acid malt or acid to the mash to lower the mash pH? I have noticed that a lower mash pH (5.3 ish) does seem to “brighten” the hops flavor. Adding sulfate enhances the perception of dryness, so while it’s often used in hoppy beers to help with a nice dry finish, it won’t increase the hops flavor.
 
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nreed

nreed

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In your case, I would say, next time, try to dry hop instead of the late additions. This usually brings better flavour and aroma.

Also avoiding as much oxygen ingress as possible is crucial for hop aroma, it gets oxidised really fast.

No splashing during bottling, using a bottling stick, almost filling the bottle to the rim (leave 3-4mm for the liquid to expand). This all will help you at the end to maintain the hop aroma.

And if this works, you might want to add a bit of sulfate, bit you certainly don't have to.
I have moved away from dry hopping and going for bigger hop stands to avoid having to open the fementer during fermentation. I then do a very careful transfer into bottling bucket with priming sugar solution and bottle with a wand, capping after every one.

If you're looking for real punch in the face hops, doing a long hop stand (30 minutes is what I use) and dry hopping should get you there.

On a side note, what yeast did you use? Some strains will accentuate malt while covering up hops.
As above, I've moved to bigger hop stands at 76c and hold for 20-30 mins. I've currently got a Amarillo/Chinook Pale Ale in ther fermenter where I did a flame out stand at 90c and then another hop stand at 66c. Yeast wise, I've only used US-05 so far. I make small 7.5litre batches so a pack can be split between batches quite nicely. I'm planning on trying S-04 next now I can control temps better.

Your HCO3 level is high- did you add any acid malt or acid to the mash to lower the mash pH?
Yeah I did see that this is high, I was thinking of getting some lactic acid or similar to add to the water but I tried to use the Bru N Water spreadsheet to see how much I needed and it went way over my head! Is there an easy way to work out how much to use?
 

Miraculix

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I have moved away from dry hopping and going for bigger hop stands to avoid having to open the fementer during fermentation. I then do a very careful transfer into bottling bucket with priming sugar solution and bottle with a wand, capping after every one.



As above, I've moved to bigger hop stands at 76c and hold for 20-30 mins. I've currently got a Amarillo/Chinook Pale Ale in ther fermenter where I did a flame out stand at 90c and then another hop stand at 66c. Yeast wise, I've only used US-05 so far. I make small 7.5litre batches so a pack can be split between batches quite nicely. I'm planning on trying S-04 next now I can control temps better.



Yeah I did see that this is high, I was thinking of getting some lactic acid or similar to add to the water but I tried to use the Bru N Water spreadsheet to see how much I needed and it went way over my head! Is there an easy way to work out how much to use?
I did the same, moved to hop stands, didn't do me any good. The result is just mediocre at best, compared to dry hopping. If you are trying to limit oxygen, just add some sugar solution when throwing in the hops. This will kickstart the fermentation again for a few hours which will push out oxygen from the headspace and use up the oxygen which might be in solution.
 
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McKnuckle

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@Miraculix, as someone who sometimes posts about English styles, I wonder if you have thoughts about traditional UK breweries' use of a hopback during run-off (basically a hopstand).

I have a similar experience as you with regard to the apparent ineffectiveness of hopstands in terms of imparting flavor and aroma. This is especially true with delicate English hops in my bitters. I wonder what the pros are doing that we are not?
 

Miraculix

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@Miraculix, as someone who sometimes posts about English styles, I wonder if you have thoughts about traditional UK breweries' use of a hopback during run-off (basically a hopstand).

I have a similar experience as you with regard to the apparent ineffectiveness of hopstands in terms of imparting flavor and aroma. This is especially true with delicate English hops in my bitters. I wonder what the pros are doing that we are not?
I actually never heard of a hopback. Funnily enough, I got plenty of good flavour and aroma from Golding's when boiling it for about 15 minutes. I think I never dry hopped it. But to be fair, the traditional British styles are not that much hop forward. Some might be bitter, like these old school Manchester ales, but I think the big hop thing is actually an American invention and in the past years it came from the USA to the UK.

You can read about it on the Barclay Perkins blog, big dry hop additions or even big late additions and almost bin existent in the recipes I've read there.

But I'm sure that @Northern_Brewer knows more about this topic than me.
 

McKnuckle

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Correct, they are not hop forward like American ales where hops are hyped in the flavor (everything American is more, more, more...), but you can legitimately taste the hops. The average bitter grain bill is very simple. So hops are a major component of what distinguishes each product's flavor from others, IMHO, even while they are incorporated in a smooth and elegant way.

It's elusive.

 

mabrungard

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You can assess the effect of increases sulfate by adding a thin pinch of gypsum powder to a pint of the beer. That amount adds about 100 ppm sulfate and that should be notable to most tasters.

Sulfate works by helping your palate to dry out more quickly after taking a drink of beer. That dryness enables your palate to perceive hop flavor and bitterness easier.

As pointed out above, taking measures to neutralize the excess alkalinity in your brewing water is important for creating great beers. You can ignore brewing chemistry, but it can make it impossible to get your beers to “great”.
 

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Yeah I did see that this is high, I was thinking of getting some lactic acid or similar to add to the water but I tried to use the Bru N Water spreadsheet to see how much I needed and it went way over my head! Is there an easy way to work out how much to use?
There is a slight learning curve with water calcs, like Bru’nwater or with Brewer’s Friend. However, if I can do it, anybody can! You input those things you listed, add the recipe, and see the results in mash pH. The calcs even have a spot where you put in the mash pH you want, in this case 5.3, and it’ll tell you how much acid to add. You don’t have to do much more than that, as your water is pretty decent but you can tweak it by adding some calcium chloride for malt-forward beers, and/or some gypsum for hop-forward beers.
 
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There is a slight learning curve with water calcs, like Bru’nwater or with Brewer’s Friend. However, if I can do it, anybody can! You input those things you listed, add the recipe, and see the results in mash pH. The calcs even have a spot where you put in the mash pH you want, in this case 5.3, and it’ll tell you how much acid to add. You don’t have to do much more than that, as your water is pretty decent but you can tweak it by adding some calcium chloride for malt-forward beers, and/or some gypsum for hop-forward beers.
Thanks. I just tried the Brewer's Friend and calcuator and this felt a little easier to handle than the Bru'nwater one. I'll go with the gypsum for this next batch and then add the pH adjustment step on the next one, this way I should be able to have a better idea of the difference they make to my beer.

Do I just add the gypsum to my total water at the beginning of the process? I usually draw all my mash and sparge water into a bucket so I can add my campden. I then put half in the mash pot and sparge with the rest.
 

Beermeister32

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It usually does, but you have to factor in your starting water. I use the water calculator on Brewers Friend, very straightforward and easy. I pre-mix the required additions and usually build up the water profile needed in advance, usually from distilled or distilled plus bottled spring water I have the water profile on. So, the 1-gallon jug has all additions needed for a typical 7 gallon pre-boil volume. It becomes one more of your brewing ingredients and can be done in advance of brew day.
IMG_2043.JPG
 

Yooper

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Thanks. I just tried the Brewer's Friend and calcuator and this felt a little easier to handle than the Bru'nwater one. I'll go with the gypsum for this next batch and then add the pH adjustment step on the next one, this way I should be able to have a better idea of the difference they make to my beer.

Do I just add the gypsum to my total water at the beginning of the process? I usually draw all my mash and sparge water into a bucket so I can add my campden. I then put half in the mash pot and sparge with the rest.
Yes, you can put all of your additions in the water beforehand, except in the rare case where you add alkalinity the the water (usually in the form of baking soda). You don’t want to have alkaline sparge water so you’ll add it to the mash. There is a button to click for “mash only” additions, but you won’t need to use it except for those rare cases.

If I can make a suggestion, I’d suggest going with the correct mash pH first before doing additions and then adjusting the mash pH. Sometimes gypsum will help drop the mash pH enough, but not usually with a higher HCO3 level like yours.

Think of acid additions as part of the base beer, and then salts like gypsum and calcium chloride as seasonings. Just like with other seasonings, say salt and pepper, you won’t make a poor dish taste great just by adding salt and pepper. But if you have a good dish, salt and pepper can make it even better. That’s how it is with brewing salts as well. It won’t make a bad beer good, but it will make a good beer even better.
 

undergroundbrewer

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Think of acid additions as part of the base beer, and then salts like gypsum and calcium chloride as seasonings. Just like with other seasonings, say salt and pepper, you won’t make a poor dish taste great just by adding salt and pepper. But if you have a good dish, salt and pepper can make it even better. That’s how it is with brewing salts as well. It won’t make a bad beer good, but it will make a good beer even better.
Conversely, too much gypsum (or any additive, for that matter) can certainly have a negative impact on your beer. Start small and work up to a point where you're happy with the progress. Most importantly.... RDWHAHB!
 

cmac62

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My understanding is you can add the salts at anytime in the process. So you could add a little gypsum to your current beer is the glass and see if it makes a significant difference. If this is not correct someone please speak up. :mug:
 

McKnuckle

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That is correct from a flavor perspective, at least for gypsum and calcium chloride. Salts are conveniently added to the mash, though, in large part due to their usually positive effect on achieving a suitable mash pH in most water/grain scenarios. Also it is much easier to measure the additions when they are being made to the entire water volume, vs. the relatively tiny beer volume in a glass.
 

undergroundbrewer

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To McKnuckle's point, sometimes a batch may only get 2-3 grams of gypsum or calcium chloride, depending on the brew / current water profile. Translated to the individual serving level... you're getting really tight on how much to add. I can't speak to the effectiveness of adding direct to a glass, but adding at the end may not have the same impact on the beer as it would compared to adding at mash. I'm no expert here, but surely others can weigh in with their knowledge :)
 

cmac62

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I think as a test to see if it improves the hop character he would be able to do a side by side which could be helpful. Just add a tiny amount to a 8-12 oz glass to see if he notices a difference.
 
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My understanding is you can add the salts at anytime in the process. So you could add a little gypsum to your current beer is the glass and see if it makes a significant difference. If this is not correct someone please speak up
I've done that (CaS04 and/or CaCl in the glass) with some of my "hop sampler" recipes.

I think as a test to see if it improves the hop character he would be able to do a side by side which could be helpful. Just add a tiny amount to a 8-12 oz glass to see if he notices a difference.
I've done that recently as well. Three "hop sampler" batches with different kettle / flavoring additions: none, with CaCl, with CaS04. I then tried adding salts, in the glass, to get the "no salts" glass to match one of the other glasses. The results were promising - but more "research" is needed.

Given the following approach to "water chemistry" ...

Think of acid additions as part of the base beer, and then salts like gypsum and calcium chloride as seasonings.
... it would seem that one could add additional salts in the glass in a measurable way so that the recipe could be adjusted for the next batch.
 
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Hey @Yooper. I had to make an emergency trip to the LHBS ready for my brew day so decided to pick up some lactic acid for the PH adjustment. I was expecting a solution but I got lactic acid powder.. not really sure what to do with it in power form - any of ideas?..
 

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The internet is a bit bereft of useful info on how to use lactic acid powder in brewing. It appears to be a UK-only product. But even then, there are no decent instructions for how to measure it. I found one manufacturer site that says "add 1/4 teaspoon to the standard mash to lower pH by 0.1." Ludicrous - there is no such thing as a "standard mash."

Also, it seems to be 60% vs. the typical 88% of liquid lactic acid. But how you'd incorporate that into a mash of a given volume, I have no clue.
 
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The internet is a bit bereft of useful info on how to use lactic acid powder in brewing. It appears to be a UK-only product. But even then, there are no decent instructions for how to measure it. I found one manufacturer site that says "add 1/4 teaspoon to the standard mash to lower pH by 0.1." Ludicrous - there is no such thing as a "standard mash."

Also, it seems to be 60% vs. the typical 88% of liquid lactic acid. But how you'd incorporate that into a mash of a given volume, I have no clue.
Yeah the guy in the shop was a little clueless to be honest so I thought we’ll it’s only £2 and I’m sure the internet will know!.. Oh well Gypsum experiment first and I’ll order some solution for next time.
 

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Yeah the guy in the shop was a little clueless to be honest so I thought we’ll it’s only £2 and I’m sure the internet will know!.. Oh well Gypsum experiment first and I’ll order some solution for next time.
I found the rule of thumb to add 2% of the total grain bill as acid malt sufficient in regards of treating the mash. If I brew a dark beer I just skip the acid malt, otherwise 2% does the trick for me.
 

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20+ years of brewing, I’ve been fortunate and never had to mess with water chemistry or acidulated malt - until now.

I moved last year and I’ve found my pale ales made in the new place lacking. At first I thought it was my hops, like I got some old hops or something. But now I think it’s the water here. I had Ward test it:

Ca: 24.3
K: 4
Mg: 12
Na: 57
SO4-S: 5
Cl: 81
HCO3: 95
CaCO3: 110

What I’ve been reading lately says to pay attention to the ratio between Cl and SO4. Higher Cl is supposed to “enhance” maltiness, where higher SO4 is supposed to “enhance” bitterness. If they are roughly the same they call that “balanced”.

Unless the test is screwed up, I have virtually no sulfates, and my Cl is 16 times my SO4. This makes sense according to the beers I’ve brewed here, as the maltier beers I’ve made seem ok but anything hoppy I try to brew doesn’t taste right. Repeat recipes I’ve brewed before and had success with at the other place.

I brew 3 gallon batches and the calculators are telling me to add about 2 oz of acidulated malt (grain bill would be in the neighborhood of 7 lbs - 7.5 lbs total) along with about 2.5 - 3 grams of Gypsum and 1 gram of Epsom salts. I am going to try this on my next APA. Adjusted numbers get my SO4 to about 150-160 and Ca up to at least 50. Ca is supposed to be important too.
 
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McKnuckle

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It's really not the ratio that matters, but the absolute concentrations. For example, you could have a 10:1 ratio where one of the ions is at 1 ppm and the other at 10 ppm, so neither have any effect. Or 1:1 where both are at 200 ppm. Both will have a significant effect at those concentrations. It's the concentrations that matter.

Chloride is not so much malty as it is full. And sulfate is not bitter, but rather dry. Try to keep those descriptors in mind, as they are more accurate.

Your water likely has enough residual alkalinity, judging by the bicarbonate and sodium, to produce a sub-optimallly too high mash pH. That can cause pale beers to have some issues.

Here's my backseat driver's K.I.S.S. advice: You have plenty of chloride, so add gypsum until Ca is at 50 ppm or above. Do not add Epsom salts. See where the mash pH prediction falls after the gypsum is in the mix. Then add acid malt until it's at 5.4.
 

bwible

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It's really not the ratio that matters, but the absolute concentrations. For example, you could have a 10:1 ratio where one of the ions is at 1 ppm and the other at 10 ppm, so neither have any effect. Or 1:1 where both are at 200 ppm. Both will have a significant effect at those concentrations. It's the concentrations that matter.

Chloride is not so much malty as it is full. And sulfate is not bitter, but rather dry. Try to keep those descriptors in mind, as they are more accurate.

Your water likely has enough residual alkalinity, judging by the bicarbonate and sodium, to produce a sub-optimallly too high mash pH. That can cause pale beers to have some issues.

Here's my backseat driver's K.I.S.S. advice: You have plenty of chloride, so add gypsum until Ca is at 50 ppm or above. Do not add Epsom salts. See where the mash pH prediction falls after the gypsum is in the mix. Then add acid malt until it's at 5.4.
Thank you, I will give that a shot
 

bwible

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I posted my water numbers earlier in this thread.

So today I brewed a chocolate stout for my wife who gave me cocoa nibs as part of my christmas gift (hint, hint). I ran the recipe through the water calculator and didn’t need acidulated malt due to the dark grains but I added 3g Gypsum to the mash water to make the ph adjustment. This was a 3 gallon recipe.

I calculate all my 3 gallon recipes through my software as 4 gallons, boil down to 3.5 so that I actually get 3 gallons in the fermenter after losses. I have been using 70% for efficiency and almost every recipe I’ve done this way has been about spot on.

So this was using 6.8 total pounds of grain. Expected result was 3.5 gallons at 1.046. To my surprise, I way overshot gravity and wound up with 3.5 gallons at 1.060. The only difference from anything I have ever done in the past is that 3g of gypsum added to the mash water. I’m reading how mash ph affects efficiency. So hopefully, this is a good indication I got this right.

This bothers me, though, because when I go back to my software and adjust efficiency to reach 1.060, I have to change it to 90%. Is 90% efficiency even possible?

5 lbs Breiss 2-row
.75 lb chocolate malt
6 oz crystal 40L
3 oz crystal 60L
3 oz crystal 120L
3 oz British Black Patent
2 oz Roasted Barley

.5 oz First Gold 9.2% 60 min
.5 oz Fuggle 4.7% 25 min

Wyeast 1028 London Ale

I added some cocoa powder at the end of the boil. I plan to use cocoa nibs soaked in rum along with some chocolate liquer after fermenation and then chocolate syrup and chocolate flavoring at bottling. Chocolate in every step of the process.
 
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bwible

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My understanding is you can add the salts at anytime in the process. So you could add a little gypsum to your current beer is the glass and see if it makes a significant difference. If this is not correct someone please speak up. :mug:
I also tried this today with 2 of my beers and found yes, it makes a big difference. You figure I’m using 3g for 3 gallons and there are about 10 bottles in a gallon so it’s a tenth of a gram per bottle. Hard to measure exactly. But I found a small pinch changes the beer significantly.
 

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I found that water was the final piece of the puzzle to take my beers from being good to great. Water and the make up of it makes a greater impact on the final product. Consider sulfates and chlorides the salt and pepper of the brewing world. Too much of either isn't a great thing however using the right amount, on certain things really ups the satisfaction.
 
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