Brewing salts - to add or not to add ?

Physics, chemistry and biology of brewing. The causes and the effects.

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Brewing salts - to add or not to add ?

Postby kabbo » Thu Sep 20, 2007 9:42 pm

Hello,

I'm from Montreal, QC, Canada.

I have brewed around 15 all-grain batches so far, using local tap water and salts adjustments. I seem to have a haze problem, and I suspect my salt additions to be one of the cause of my problem.

Here's my local water profile :
Ca: 32
Mg: 8
Na: 12
CO3: 100
SO4: 25
Cl: 22

From what I read on water chemistry, this profile is OK for amber and reds (CO3 being too high for pales and too low for darks), and lacking some Ca to assure sufficient enzyme activity.

The need for Ca is especially greater when I brew pales, since I use 50% distilled water and 50% tap water, to get the CO3 around 50.

I added, to almost all of my batches, some gypsum, calcium chloride and epsom salts.

First of all :

how much addition is too much ?

1 gram total addition for 5 gals of water ?
2 ? 5 ? 10 ?

I also tweak the pH in the mash with some Phosphoric acid drops.

Secondly:

How do you get the gypsum in the water to dissolve ?

I always get cloudy water for the mash, resulting in hazy runoffs, and hazy final beer ...

I use BeerTools water chemistry calculator for my additions, but I doubt I add too much salts because of my soft tap water.

Could I brew all kinds of beers with my water without worrying about the Ca ?

Thank you so much you beerfreaks,

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Postby brewer13210 » Fri Sep 21, 2007 9:21 am

Kabbo,

First things first, relax, don't worry and have a homebrew.

Next, brew a batch of beer without adding any brewing salts. If you're still having haze problems, then the brewing salts are clearly not the cause.

That being said, I think your haze problem is VERY unlikely to be caused by added brewing salts, unless you're adding an awfully lot of gypsum, which as you asked about, is almost insoluble in water.

When I hear about people having hazy beers, especially when the runoff is hazy, my first thoughts are a grind that is too fine (generating too much flour), or a mash bed that isn't setting correctly, or a runoff that's too fast.

But like I said, first things first, try a batch w/o the salts and see what happens.

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haze

Postby slothrob » Fri Sep 21, 2007 10:36 am

There are different kinds of haze, so the approach is different depending on the cause.

Are you talking about chill haze, the kind that dissapears when the beer warms up?
If anything, this problem can be helped by increasing Ca to 150 ppm or so, as it improves protein precipitation.

Try adding the gypsum directly to the tun, the acidic pH MAY help it dissolve. This works for Calcium Carbonate. Or just add it to the boil, if it's not needed to set the residual alkalinity. Use the CaCl to adjust the residual alkalinity, then add the Gypsum to the boil only if you're making an IPA or Pale ale and want it for flavor. The exception is if you would need to add so much CaCl to adjust the RA that the Cl starts getting too high, then you need to add Gypsum to get the Ca to where you need it.

If you shoot for the ion concentrations described in Palmers "How to Brew" you shouldn't worry about adding too much.

You probably don't need the Epsom Salt. Your Mg is close to target, already. If anything, all you'd want is the smallest pinch.

If I remember correctly, Ca Mg and phosphate can combine to cause an insoluble precipitate, so I'd only add the phosphoric acid to the mash tun, if that's not what you're doing already.

Hazy runnoff shouldn't have much of anything to do with hazy beer, as any flour should drop out since it's only in suspension and is large compared to a protein.
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Postby kabbo » Mon Oct 01, 2007 11:41 am

Thank you guys,

Todd :

I brewed one without any salts, and it did end up with chill haze. Pretty clear at room temp, but once chilled, it gets permanent haze...

I had some carbonation problem with this one, so I thought the yeast didn't have enough nutrients. So I got back using salts in the next batch.

How much is
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Postby slothrob » Mon Oct 01, 2007 6:55 pm

CaCl can go into the mash water. CaCO3 often needs to go into the mash to dissolve. My mash conditions never need Gypsum, so I've never added it to the Mash nor the water that goes into the mash. When I add Gypsum for an IPA, It goes in the boil kettle, because It's for flavor, not mash conditions.

Adding sufficient Ca, controlling mash pH to minimize tannin extractions, using Whirlflock in the last 5 minutes of the boil, and getting a good chill are the best ways to reduce chill haze, I think. If you want, you can make a clear wheat beer.
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Postby kabbo » Mon Oct 01, 2007 7:22 pm

Thanks,

I'm using Irish Moss. Is WhirlFlock more efficient ?

I usually chill in 25 minutes to room temp.
I'll be doing 10 gal eventually but with 50ft copper coil instead of 25ft like my past batches, should I go with a plate chiller or something ?

Also, is there any filter or strainer I could use to transfer between the kettle and the fermenter ? I'll be using a converted 50l SS keg with a ball valve, and I'd prefer racking in a closed environment than using a standard racking cane from the top, since contamination is critical at this point.

Thank you,
Jonathan
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Postby slothrob » Mon Oct 01, 2007 7:34 pm

I've heard tell that whirlflock is more efficient, but I've never seen any hard evidence. With Irish Moss, it can help to rehydrate well ahead of time. Start the rehydration when you first set up for the day so it gets a few hours.
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Postby kabbo » Mon Oct 01, 2007 7:59 pm

Rehydrate ?

You mean the Irish Moss ?

I used to put 1 teaspoon in the brewpot 10 minutes before boilout...

Any idea for racking from the keg ?
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Postby slothrob » Tue Oct 02, 2007 9:42 am

Yes, rehydrate the Irish Moss.

Racking away from the cold break may improve clarity.
You can try adding a screen (SS toilet line or Bazooka screen) to the intake, putting a false bottom in your kettle, or whirlpool the chilling wort, allow it to settle, then use a inlet to your ball valve that sits close and parallel to the side of your kettle to selectively take up the clear wort.
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Postby kabbo » Tue Oct 02, 2007 10:40 am

Thank you,

which of these methods or combination would be the best ?

By the way, you mentionned SS toilet line. I don't know much about those lines but I thought they weren't screens but plain flexible hoses ?

I was thinking of using a bazooka screen and whirlpooling to get the hops and trub in the center, and thus using the hop bed as a natural filter to remove hot and cold break, once having recirculated the first few runoffs.

The other solution I'm considering is to install a rotating racking arm with a 90 elbow placed right on the keg wall (to get the cane parallel to the wall).
I would also install a SS screen at the tip of the cane.

Anyway, I still have time to setup my system, so I'm studying every little detail to setup the best thing I can.

Thanks again,
Jonathan

By the way, I tasted my 14 months aged Belgian golden strong ale (9%abv), and it told me I was on the right track ! Man, this thing could win medals ! Aging got everything in balance: fruity, malty, spicy, hoppy, alcoholy and sweet :)
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transfer

Postby slothrob » Tue Oct 02, 2007 2:27 pm

I think these are all good solutions, but you are on the right track. Some methods seem to work better for some people than others, so it may just depend on your syatem and the type of beers you brew.

The SS toilet line is a flexible hose with a stainless mesh covering for strength (make sure you get the SS and not the ones that are plastic reinforced). You can cut off the ends, remove the inner hose, and use the mesh as a cheap strainer. For transfer from the kettle, a lot of people seem to have trouble with them clogging, but it will depend on the hops you use and the effectiveness of the whirlpool. It's a very cheap experiment though, about $4 or less.

I plan on trying to build a simple hopback for this filtering process, but I'm still in the concept stage.
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