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Thread: "Fertilizer gypsum" vs "brewers gypsum" and when to add?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Location
    Antigua, Guatemala
    Posts
    33

    "Fertilizer gypsum" vs "brewers gypsum" and when to add?

    We finally got our well on line and received the water analysis back from Ward Labs at the startup I'm working on in Guatemala. The water is very soft (not what we expected) and I'll be needing to add CaCl and CaSO4 back into the brewing water.


    Here's the numbers from Ward


    Ca 16
    Mg 17
    Na 24
    SO4 6
    Cl 7
    HCO3 170
    ph 7.3

    I'll be using acidulated malt for ph control in the mash. This is my first stab at real water treatment (besides throwing some gypsum in the kettle while home brewing) and I'm using Bru'n Water, Brewers Friend and Beersmith to kinda cross reference each other it figure the target profile and mineral additions for each style of beer I'm brewing.

    So here's my questions -

    1. If I'm hitting my mash ph with acidulated malt and most of my mineral additions are for "flavor enhancement" and post mash improvements i.e. cold break, yeast performance, clarity, etc., should I add the CaCl and gypsum to the kettle? Or is it better to dilute and mix in water and slowly add to mash and sparge? I'd rather not adjust the whole HLT but I can if that's best.

    2. The only gypsum we can find here in Guatemala is "fertilizer gypsum" with a chemical analysis of:
    CaSO4 74-78%
    with Ca 21-25% and S 18-20%
    Is this the same as brewers gypsum? I'm guessing not as BSG lists their gypsum as 90-98% CaSO4. Do I need to smuggle in the "good stuff"?!

    Really hoping to improve the taste of my hoppy beers, the small test batches I've done with the water here haven't had any "hop pop". I know my pale and IPA recipes are good and the lighter beers have turned out nice and the darker beers have promise (but not great).

    My brain hurts from all this water chemistry (haha) so any input and advice would be great!!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    Chesterfield, UK
    Posts
    1,787
    If it is not specified as food grade then don't use it. You don't know what else might be introduced. Just because it can go on the land, doesn't mean it can go directly down someone's throat. If that means you have to import it, so be it.
    dick

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Location
    Antigua, Guatemala
    Posts
    33

    Agreed!

    Just because it can go on the land, doesn't mean it can go directly down someone's throat[/QUOTE]

    Totally agree Dick, just making sure I have all the info before I tell the owners to cough up the money for importation fees! And trying to understand the difference between the 2 types. They sold it to us yesterday as "Of course we have CaSO4". But obviously something was lost in translation.

    As for kettle or HLT, what's your preference for treatment if I'm using acid malt for ph control?

    Thanks!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    Chesterfield, UK
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    1,787
    To some extent it depends on what you are brewing. I would aim for 100 ppm + calcium in the mash liquor to ensure good precipitation of phosphates and some proteins - which means you probably don't need to use acidulated malt. My understanding is that the original reason for acidulated malt was to overcome the Reinheitsgebot, which originally was considered (and still is by absolute purists) to disallow use of mineral salts. I have never had to use acidulated malt to get the right mash pH, but I expect others to tell me that acidulated malt has other desirable characteristics in their opinion - so don't let me stop you using it.

    Anything over 100 ppm in the mash can be added in the kettle if you wish. Have a look at the Murphy & Sons (Nottingham, UK) website and look under the various safety data sheets for mineral salts additions for simple ideas on salts additions rates, admittedly using the forms they supply.
    dick

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Posts
    23
    I use Beersmith for recipe development on our 3 bbl system. I use Bru'n Water for the water component. I have Sulfate, Chloride and Phosphoric Acid on hand for adjustments. Bru'n Water tells me what salts to add to the mash, 9 out of 10 times it is dead on, and we hit 5.2-5.4 depending on style. Bru'n water also tells me what to add to the kettle and again if the mash is dead on, the boil will be close as well. If i have to make an adjustment i use the phosphoric acid in either the mash or the kettle.

    I am for 100 ppm on the calcium and I have very little problem with beers clarifying and all that...

    let me know if you have questions

    Aaron

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2018
    Location
    Kalispell, MT USA
    Posts
    2

    Good news, bad news

    So just glancing at your numbers, it looks like your water is very close to ideal for some really nice pilsener or kolsch styles without making any real modifications to your water. The other part of that good news is that it looks like you can build your water to whatever you like from there.

    The bad news is that you'll have to do some math to figure out how to manipulate your water to make different styles. Very roughly, if you want to neutralize your residual alkalinity (different from but tied to pH) in order to make your hops pop, you'll need approximately 1L of 1 N (82mL 70% phosphoric acid to 918mL water) solution of food-grade phosphoric acid per 3.7bbl of HLT water. Again, you should be able to find the formulas to dial that in reasonably easy, or better yet find a calculator app that will do it for you.

    Beyond that, for hoppy beers try to maintain around 4:1 ratio SO4 to Cl2 by ppm. For malty beers increase the Cl2 to help improve the perception of malt character and don't neutralize all your RA to allow for the lower pH of darker kilned malts to take up the balance. As far as mineral additions, try a 50/50 split by ppm of each addition between your mash and kettle and play with it from there.

    For further headaches, arcane knowledge, and similar fun, you might look into the book Water by John Palmer and Colin Kaminski.

    Hope that helps a little, anyway

    Cheers
    Doug

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Location
    Antigua, Guatemala
    Posts
    33

    Kolsch water for sure!

    Quote Originally Posted by dsatt406 View Post
    So just glancing at your numbers, it looks like your water is very close to ideal for some really nice pilsener or kolsch styles without making any real modifications to your water. The other part of that good news is that it looks like you can build your water to whatever you like from there.
    Yep, the blonde ale I've been making on the pilot system has been coming out great. The hoppy beers have been the problem. I've been reading "Water" by Palmer over and over to really digest everything, really fun late night, half-drunk reading material! We got lucky that the water is so "neutral" and I can build up as needed per style considering it's a 400 ft deep well in Guatemala.

    I've grown accustomed to using acidulated malt so old habits are hard to break. Mash ph has never been a problem for me and it was easy enough to get the acid malt thrown into my first big malt order. I'll try a 50/50 split of mineral ppm in the mash/sparge and kettle after verifying mash ph.


    I used a combination of resources (Bru'n water, Beersmith, Brewer's Friend, books) to build water profiles for my 5 beers - blonde, red, stout, APA, IPA. Brewing the first batch on our brand-new 15bbl system on Friday! I'll learn from experience from then on!


    Thanks for the help.

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