A question about Calcium

(That's water to the rest of us!) Beer is about 95% water, so if you want to discuss water treatment, filtering etc this is the place to do it!
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guypettigrew
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A question about Calcium

Post by guypettigrew » Tue Mar 24, 2020 4:37 pm

My tap water has 100ppm Calcium. Analysis by Wallybrew. Enough to control the mash pH and allow the enzymes to do their stuff.

This means I don't add any salts to the HLT or the grain. The salts I add all go onto the grain, in two lots, at the end of the mash and are washed through by the sparge.

Salt additions are calculated from Wallybrew's analysis and Graham Wheeler's water treatment calculator on here. Graham's calculator gives different amounts of Calcium for different beer styles. 50ppm for lager and 190ppm for a dry pale ale, as examples.

Are these the values there should be in the finished beer, or in the mash? I'll never get 50ppm in the mash, so presumably I couldn't make a lager?

And if these values are for the finished beer, could all the salt additions go into the boiler?

Thanks.

Guy

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Re: A question about Calcium

Post by AFewTooMany » Tue Mar 24, 2020 6:05 pm

Wouldn't get too concerned with calcium being bang on. If it's around 100ppm it'll allow for a healthy ferment. You will be grand to make any type of lager at that.

All salts should be added to brewing water, they are to alter the water profile. By adding it to the water it will allow it to dissolve as well. I know many people dump it ontop of the grist before mash in without any detrimental effect but I'm used to brewing to reinheitsgebot in work.


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Re: A question about Calcium

Post by Silver_Is_Money » Wed Mar 25, 2020 12:22 am

Alkalinity should be a concern as big as, or even larger than, the concern for the calcium level.

guypettigrew
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Re: A question about Calcium

Post by guypettigrew » Wed Mar 25, 2020 8:47 am

Alkalinity sorted. I use a Salifert test kit to check it and AMS/CRS to reduce it. My tap water is quite hard at 203 ppm CaCO3. For today's brew I've reduced it to just below 20 ppm.

My query here relates to the rest of the water treatment process, as in my original post.

Guy

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Re: A question about Calcium

Post by Jocky » Wed Mar 25, 2020 5:44 pm

You’ve got enough calcium for the mash and have adjusted alkalinity.

The only other bit you want to adjust would be sulphate and chloride (optionally magnesium and sodium too, but less important), and personally I put those straight in the boiler.
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Eric
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Re: A question about Calcium

Post by Eric » Wed Mar 25, 2020 9:24 pm

guypettigrew wrote:
Tue Mar 24, 2020 4:37 pm
My tap water has 100ppm Calcium. Analysis by Wallybrew. Enough to control the mash pH and allow the enzymes to do their stuff.

This means I don't add any salts to the HLT or the grain. The salts I add all go onto the grain, in two lots, at the end of the mash and are washed through by the sparge.
Much of the calcium in the mash will be deposited there with phosphate, oxalates and several other items that are best excluded from beer. Calcium also reduces pH and adding it during the sparge can stop pH rising excessively. To keep pH of running within limits without extra salts to the sparge liquor it would be advisable to reduce the alkalinity further.
guypettigrew wrote:
Tue Mar 24, 2020 4:37 pm
Salt additions are calculated from Wallybrew's analysis and Graham Wheeler's water treatment calculator on here. Graham's calculator gives different amounts of Calcium for different beer styles. 50ppm for lager and 190ppm for a dry pale ale, as examples.

Are these the values there should be in the finished beer, or in the mash? I'll never get 50ppm in the mash, so presumably I couldn't make a lager?
No! Finished beers have less calcium than the liquor they are made from, potentially half or less. Calcium is lost to both the mash and forms break in the boiler. Beer has much more magnesium than in the liquor. Little, if any, is deposited in the mash, being more soluble than calcium, but it does deposit with break after boiing. Sodium content will be largely that provided by the liquor, while both sulphate and chloride are increased from malt. Alkalinity should be close to zero after the boil.
guypettigrew wrote:
Tue Mar 24, 2020 4:37 pm
And if these values are for the finished beer, could all the salt additions go into the boiler?

Thanks.

Guy
Salts added to the boil will influence flavour perception of the finished beer, but of course won't influence the beer in the same way they would were they to be in contact with grains in the mash.
AFewTooMany wrote:
Tue Mar 24, 2020 6:05 pm
Wouldn't get too concerned with calcium being bang on. If it's around 100ppm it'll allow for a healthy ferment. You will be grand to make any type of lager at that.
Calcium has little influence on fermentation. Magnesium, zinc and nutrients are essentials for healthy fermentation. Calcium aids yeast to flocculate, although there are yeasts that are poor flocculators whatever is done.
AFewTooMany wrote:
Tue Mar 24, 2020 6:05 pm
All salts should be added to brewing water, they are to alter the water profile. By adding it to the water it will allow it to dissolve as well. I know many people dump it ontop of the grist before mash in without any detrimental effect but I'm used to brewing to reinheitsgebot in work.
Yes, Reinheitsgebot does allow the addition of mineral salts to water to reproduce waters that might occur naturally, but doesn't allow acid additions, which Guy needs to use his water. I don't think Reinheitsgebot allows removing minerals from water by RO, but I bet most lagers start from that and do wonder how much beer is produce exactly to Reinheitsgebot.

Guy, suggest you mash as you do with lower alkalinity to account for lesser kilned malts. Then reduce alkalinity close to zero for your sparge. With less calcium and potentially more nitrogen, the finished beer will need to be cold lagered to clear as opposed to being on tap within a day or two as for your ales. You might consider using hydrochloric acid in place of CRS, although with the current crisis, APC Pure are struggling with deliveries.
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guypettigrew
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Re: A question about Calcium

Post by guypettigrew » Thu Mar 26, 2020 8:01 pm

Thanks Eric

Extremely helpful and well informed reply, as always.

So, lots of unwanted stuff is deposited in the mash. That's good to know. Presumably this assumes the mash conditions are ideal.

By reducing the alkalinity of my mash liquor to anything between about 15 and 50, depending on the malts I'm using, the mash pH is now always 5.2 to 5.4. Usually towards the lower end. Previously it had been much higher. I always drop the sparge liquor alkalinity another 10ppm at least.

The wort after the boil should have close to zero alkalinity? Interesting. Next time I brew a really light coloured beer I'll try using the Salifert kit and see what it shows.

Seems like I need to carry on as I am. Adding the salts to the grain in the mash tun during the sparge is easy enough and, if keeping the salts in contact with the grain is a good thing, I'll keep on doing it!

Guy

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Eric
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Re: A question about Calcium

Post by Eric » Thu Mar 26, 2020 8:46 pm

guypettigrew wrote:
Thu Mar 26, 2020 8:01 pm
Thanks Eric

Extremely helpful and well informed reply, as always.

So, lots of unwanted stuff is deposited in the mash. That's good to know. Presumably this assumes the mash conditions are ideal.

By reducing the alkalinity of my mash liquor to anything between about 15 and 50, depending on the malts I'm using, the mash pH is now always 5.2 to 5.4. Usually towards the lower end. Previously it had been much higher. I always drop the sparge liquor alkalinity another 10ppm at least.

The wort after the boil should have close to zero alkalinity? Interesting. Next time I brew a really light coloured beer I'll try using the Salifert kit and see what it shows.

Seems like I need to carry on as I am. Adding the salts to the grain in the mash tun during the sparge is easy enough and, if keeping the salts in contact with the grain is a good thing, I'll keep on doing it!

Guy
The Salifert kit will not measure alkalinity in wort, just water. It works with an indicator that changes colour at pH 4.4, while boiled wort will be about pH 5.0. The accepted end point of alkalinity in water by titration is around pH 4.4.

Just to clarify this, the process of boiling wort for 90 minutes should ensure that any alkalinity formed with calcium and magnesium will be deposited as a carbonate with break material, aided by copper finings. As ever, there is an exception, for sodium based alkalinity will remain soluble after boiling, so will not deposit. In such cases it may be necessary to acidify the wort before and/or after boiling to achieve the desired pH. Those of us with alkaline waters who mash with some alkalinity present and at an acceptable pH won't have this necessity and are assured of the pH to drop during the boil to that which affords best performance of copper finings.

Yes Guy, adding extra salts to the mash is the way to do it when your water has a decent level of minerals. It's not quite the same when the water has little of no mineral content, but that's another subject.
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guypettigrew
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Re: A question about Calcium

Post by guypettigrew » Thu Mar 26, 2020 10:32 pm

Thanks again Eric. Clearly my Salifert test kit would have completely confused me if I'd tried using it on wort!

Just shows how little I know. And how helpful this forum is.

Guy

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