Magnesium importance in water

Discussion in 'General Brewing Discussions' started by Bubbles, May 27, 2021.

  1. Bubbles

    Bubbles Member

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    I agree about the rather dramatic action to drop something like SO4/Cl ratio from our vocabulary. If there is evidence that we should, I'd really like to hear from the advocates of such action the basis for that. So far, I haven't heard anything substantive. However, I do agree that focusing on the ratio at the expense of PPM is not what I've read anywhere in the realm of those who should know. I just know that when I started to use it, I got some pretty convincing results.
     
  2. Silver_Is_Money

    Silver_Is_Money Active Member

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    #42 Silver_Is_Money, Jun 2, 2021
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2021
    Yeast do not 'initially' require the presence of the ionic form of magnesium by which to thrive. Yeast liberate usable (to their metabolism) magnesium through the interaction of oligoamines, which they emit into the Wort in greater or lesser amounts as required to accomplish this task. The less extant initial magnesium, the more oligoamines that are analytically measured within the yeast infused Wort. This study (Wiley Online Library link provided below) further indicates that the abundant magnesium present within Wort is actually not initially available to the yeast, and that only after the interaction of oligoamines upon the magnesium does it become available and beneficial. Calcium is actually an antagonist in this process. Therefore it may be that some brewer added magnesium is beneficial in not forcing (stressing?) the yeast to fabricate and emit oligoamines by which to liberate necessary magnesium.

    https://www.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1002/j.2050-0416.1983.tb04198.x
     
  3. HighVoltageMan!

    HighVoltageMan! Well-Known Member

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    ....and now we enter the proverbial rabbit hole.
     
  4. Craigerrr

    Craigerrr Well-Known Member

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    I listened to that podcast, found it interesting and informative.

    Bottom line for me with magnesium is... I use RO water, and build water profile from there. I do add epsom to bring the magnesium up to 5-10ppm.

    Would my beer be fine without it?
    Probably.

    Will I continue to add it?
    Definitely

    Interesting debate on the subject though.

    Regarding the references to Chloride to Sulfate ratios, I do build profiles to suit either malty, or hoppy beers. I balance the two for the ESB that I make, and used a super soft water profile for the Shady Bohemiam.
     
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  5. BarbarianBrewer

    BarbarianBrewer Well-Known Member

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    Rather than stop referencing the sulfate:chloride ratio I think it would be better to add to it. Something like "Adjust either sulfate or chloride to reach target ratio of x:y". That way the rule advises against adding a large amount of both. Or never specify the ratio without tacking on a warning about 300:100 is not the same as 60:20.

    I think the salt & pepper cooking analogy is good but, I see it as: If you are cooking a spicy dish use more pepper than salt because adding a bunch of salt will overpower the pepper. And a lot of pepper will overpower the saltiness of a dish meant to taste a little salty.
     
  6. Yooper

    Yooper Administrator
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    1. Maybe. Here's the thing. I've noticed that using sulfate in Czech pilsners and some Belgians have a harshness- and then I read somewhere years ago that noble hops and high sulfate don't mix. That must be why my results were less than satisfactory. I would keep sulfate under 30-50 ppm in German lagers, or Czech pilsners, but go ahead and use up to 300 ppm in American IPAs. But yes, you have low mineralization there and a good base for all beers.

    2. That's something that I have NO idea about. I know that if both chloride and sulfate are over 100 ppm (and usually that high due to a high calcium ppm as well), it can taste quite minerally to me.

    3. Yep. Just as the old guy at the bar put table salt in his beer (just a pinch), you can do that with gypsum, calcium chloride and of course table salt.

    Keep in mind what sulfate and chloride actually provide to the beer. Chloride gives a "fuller' or more "rounded" flavor, so it's said to enhance maltiness. Sulfate enhances dryness in the beer, particularly in beers like an IPA where you want a brisk clean finish. That is said to enhance bitterness. So look for those things when you experiment.
     
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  7. Silver_Is_Money

    Silver_Is_Money Active Member

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    Yes, but at 10 or less ppm no one is likely going to taste it within a hopped beer anyway. I generally shoot for ~4-8 ppm magnesium, even for Pilsners. If it isn't added, the yeast will inevitably have to work somewhat harder whereby to add it anyway. They are bound and determined to suitably adjust their environment. If you are in a panic over SO4 ions, try MgCl2.
     
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  8. Yooper

    Yooper Administrator
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    I don't like the "ratio" part of that. That's what I"m saying- I don't cook with a ratio of salt vs pepper either and I don't add gypsum or calcium chloride based on adding twice of much of one vs the other. I keep the calcium under 100 ppm, and then add sulfate or epsom salt to get the sulfate where I want it (almost never epsom salt, as the calcium usually doesn't get too high even with adding 10 grams of gypsum to a 5 gallon batch), and the chloride where I want it. I use very little sulfate, if any, in beers like kolsch but lots of it in west coast IPAs.
     
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  9. HighVoltageMan!

    HighVoltageMan! Well-Known Member

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    I think too much of this is over complicated and often over emphasized. You fret over it and worry if you don't get it just right. your beer will bomb, but that's not true. I understand the idea that certain beers need different minerals and salts, but it's not something that needs to be very precise. Water chemistry for beer is like hand grenades, you don't have to be dead on target, just close enough.

    I know Yooper and others say that sulfates are needed for IPA's and PA's, especially west coast. But I win competitions over and over with a simple water modification. 5-7 gallon beer, made with all RO water, 3-4 grams of calcium chloride and 3-4 grams of calcium sulfate. Adjust pH with phosphoric acid. Done. If I were to add only calcium sulfate to the beer as a water salt, I doubt the average person would pick up on it. Maybe a well seasoned judge would pick up something, but it will probably leave them guessing.

    It reminds me of an old Amoco commercial with Aretha Franklin:



    "What's the Queen of Soul know about water chemistry?
    "Nothing, honey! My beer knows!
     
  10. Donoroto

    Donoroto Well-Known Member

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    Seasoned, no doubt, with a Calcium salt ...
     

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