Recommended calcium levels

Discussion in 'General Brewing Discussions' started by Queerhawk, Mar 19, 2019.

  1. Conchobar

    Conchobar New Member

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    I've been successfully brewing IPAs, stouts and pale ales for around three years now and much of the credit must go to taking advice on this forum. Recently I've also had some good results with hybrids such as Kolsch, but at the weekend I decided to brew my first lager. I based it on an Oktoberfest recipe which I got from John J Palmer's book. The water profile was more suited to my own water profile than say Pilsen. As I was building the recipe I became confused over the required calcium level for light beers and lagers. I'm not sure if I'm picking this up wrong but there seems to be a theory that a 50ppm should be the minimum for all beers to enhance the removal of oxalate in the mash and promote flocculation during fermentation, but there are others suggesting mimicking location profiles where, in areas with very soft water like Pilsen, there are very low calcium levels. Could anyone shed any light on this for me to what calcium levels should be used for lagers?
     
  2. Yooper

    Yooper Administrator
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    I generally use 40 ppm or less for my light lagers- and while a higher calcium level does indeed help prevent beerstone in the kettle, I haven't had issues with that in my kettle.

    The lengthy lagering seems to really help with clarity (so yeast flocculation isn't an issue) as well as dropping excess hop polyphenols for the crisp mouthfeel that lagers are known for.
     
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  3. Mark Farrall

    Mark Farrall Well-Known Member

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    The problem with mimicking the water profiles of a town is there's not a lot of records on what the breweries in the town did with that water. Some didn't even use the water, but had their own wells. And others treated it as part of their process, like breweries that would pre-boil the water.
     
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  4. Conchobar

    Conchobar New Member

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    My Kolsch came out crystal clear after 4 weeks of lagering so that length of time would have helped with the clarity, although I did use gelatin after cold crashing. I've tended to steer away from mimicking water profiles for all beers I brew, as Mark said, the breweries may have their own wells or treated the water with brewing salts or pre-boil.
     
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  5. Trialben

    Trialben Well-Known Member

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    Yep it's be nice is Pilsner Urkel would disclose the actual adjusted water profile:).
    There is not one brew I do where I don't add nothing to my water I'm guessing big time brewerys are the same they adjust their water to suit the beer style their brewing. Or then again maybe I'm just nieve.
     
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  6. HighVoltageMan!

    HighVoltageMan! Well-Known Member

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    Typically lighter beer should be brewed with very soft water, even pilsners. I have gotten to the point of this using all RO water, adding enough calcium sulfate and calcium chloride to get to 60-70ppm of calcium. The soft water helps to make lighter lagers and kolsch’s smooth, makes the bitterness more rounded rather than sharp. Most light beers I brew are balanced between sulfates and chlorides.
     
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  7. thehaze

    thehaze Active Member

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    You can go as low as you like with Ca in the mash. I would however still shoot for at least 25-30 ppm Ca and equivalent amounts of Cl and SO4. For a softer mouthfeel, drop the S04, bump Na to a 30 ppm and keep Cl low, not more than 50-70 ppm.
     
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  8. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    I'd add to that (^^^^), you can go as low with Ca++ as you'd like, even zero ppm, but there's a trade-off. Calcium helps clear your beer and is necessary for yeast. Everything in brewing is a trade off, changing one thing changes several others. Recommended level of Ca++ is 50 ppm minimum. I know there are places that at least start below that but remember, you have no idea where they're getting their water or how they are treating it. Hence the caution against trying to replicate water from a city's water report. Our tap water here has 30-35 ppm Ca++ and I won't go lower than that.
     
  9. CraigM

    CraigM New Member

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    I must admit I have a 'golden rule' that I use for brewing say a lager v IPA but one must remember that mimicking a profile exactly is not completely realistic. Our towns water changes fairly substantially at different times of the year. Even the pH changes.
    Over the years I keep a record of analysis and have come up with an average that is the basis for my 'golden rule'. pH is the only thing I measure specifically per brew. I am convinced that if you took samples from Pilsen at different times of the year you would also get varying levels of mineral but the average would still be different to that of say London, as an example.
     
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  10. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    ^^^ and the people said, amen.
     

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