Dissolving gypsum.

While Beer is 90-97% water, it is a very tricky subject.

Re: Dissolving gypsum.

Postby Aleman » Mon Jan 30, 2017 11:58

HTH1975 wrote:
PeeBee wrote:
Eric wrote:... Have I missed a water analysis? Can anyone advise the mineral content of this water?

You want the water analysis? It's not going to say much ('cos there ain't much to say):
http://www.dwrcymru.com/pdf-data/WaterQuality_2014%20%20%20%20%20%20B06_20131231.pdf
I'm not about to chuck any "AMS" in it. But I do use phosphoric acid when I'm feeling like unnecessarily faffing about (0.41mL was the calculated amount that went into 60L for sparging my last brew). If anyone needs to know how to measure out quantities like that ...

Nice water for making lager.

No it's flaming not! Try making a Dortmunder, Helles, Bock, Dunkel or a schwarzbier, all 'lagers' but not made with water with nothing in it!!

I've said it before, and I'll say it again even the Czch pilsner brewers do not use their water 'as is', even back in the late 80's they were adding calcium chloride and gypsum. Not to extreme levels granted, but often quite a bit higher than you might expect.

The quality of my Bohemian pilsners certainly improved when I stopped using low mineral content liquor and actually started adding 60-70mg/l of calcium to the liquor.

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Re: Dissolving gypsum.

Postby HTH1975 » Mon Jan 30, 2017 13:29

Aleman wrote:
HTH1975 wrote:
PeeBee wrote:
Eric wrote:... Have I missed a water analysis? Can anyone advise the mineral content of this water?

You want the water analysis? It's not going to say much ('cos there ain't much to say):
http://www.dwrcymru.com/pdf-data/WaterQuality_2014%20%20%20%20%20%20B06_20131231.pdf
I'm not about to chuck any "AMS" in it. But I do use phosphoric acid when I'm feeling like unnecessarily faffing about (0.41mL was the calculated amount that went into 60L for sparging my last brew). If anyone needs to know how to measure out quantities like that ...

Nice water for making lager.

No it's flaming not! Try making a Dortmunder, Helles, Bock, Dunkel or a schwarzbier, all 'lagers' but not made with water with nothing in it!!

I've said it before, and I'll say it again even the Czch pilsner brewers do not use their water 'as is', even back in the late 80's they were adding calcium chloride and gypsum. Not to extreme levels granted, but often quite a bit higher than you might expect.

The quality of my Bohemian pilsners certainly improved when I stopped using low mineral content liquor and actually started adding 60-70mg/l of calcium to the liquor.


I just meant that it's soft water with a low mineral profile, so it gives a good platform to make a lager. Didn't say anything about not adding any other salts.

2016: 330L brewed (72 gallons, over 8 firkins)
2017: 105L brewed (need to update this figure)
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Conditioning: ciders from 2016, hedgerow barrolo, 1914 Courage RIS (10%).
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Re: Dissolving gypsum.

Postby PeeBee » Tue Jan 31, 2017 13:35

PeeBee wrote:... I do use phosphoric acid when I'm feeling like unnecessarily faffing about (0.41mL was the calculated amount that went into 60L for sparging my last brew). If anyone needs to know how to measure out quantities like that ...

No-one wanted to know? Well understandable really, wanting to know how to measure out 1/100,000th of a litre is plainly daft. But in the context of the many statements of "there's nowt in it" (minerals in my water that is) I'll answer it anyway ....

1. Purchase a Salifert alkalinity test kit.
2. Throw kit in bin once it has confirmed it simply hasn't the accuracy to determine the miniscule amount of alkalinity in the water. But not before...
3. Remove the 1ml syringe from the kit.
4. The syringe has 1/100,000th of a litre increments. Use this to measure out ridiculously small quantities (of phosphoric acid, etc.).

This doesn't help me to reliably dissolve large quantities of gypsum though ...
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Re: Dissolving gypsum.

Postby Eric » Tue Jan 31, 2017 20:40

You might try the method advised by Murphy's in the link I gave earlier. Some waters dissolve gypsum more easily than others but many people experience the same as you. Years ago some major brewers transported water from Burton to their breweries.

Gypsum doesn't dissolve very well in my water either. That comes mostly with 135mg/l sulphate from gypsum deposits within the dolomite from where it is extracted, but when it rains it is quickly diluted. It's possible it took 25 years seeping through those rocks to reach that sulphate level from gypsum.

My water also has 255mg/l of alkalinity as CaCO3 which when treated with sulphuric acid adds another 225mg/l sulphate with absolutely no fear of any deposit of this sulphate salt, yet I would struggle to get any gypsum to go into solution. Gypsum additions are then made to the mash, sparge and boil to achieve sulphate levels of 400mg/l and above.

This doesn't help you with your problem and I think you will, just as I did, have to find your own way with your own water or take a trip to Burton. There are many, perhaps even a majority presently in this American dominated beer world who would think your water is better for making beer than mine, but both can be made to work with effort.
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Re: Dissolving gypsum.

Postby PeeBee » Fri Feb 24, 2017 17:56

Update and what I've learnt from this thread...

My most recent attempt and getting this gypsum lark right (Marsden's Pedigree clone) lost the desired flavour profile after 3 weeks as previously reported. It then became the usual mundane beer. But this batch has been kept longer than usual for one reason and another and has now developed a more full on (as documented) Burton flavour profile. From which I can conclude (maybe?):

  • "Burton snatch" is a bit of a red herring. It really is an "aroma" not a flavour and few believe they can detect it in current commercial examples. So it can be disregarded.
  • My desired flavour profile really is transitory. The effect of preparing the water with even half the salts found in Burton water (gypsum, but also plenty of chlorides and bicarbonate) does have an immediate noticeable effect on malt flavour in the finished beer ("rounding"?). This "transitory" profile is instantly recognisable in current commercial examples (draught hand-pumped "Pedigree" and perhaps draught "Bass" as I remember it - when it was brewed in Burton, and maybe now too a it is now being brewed by Marsden).
  • After the desired "transitory" period the beer continues to mature; the beer becomes more "mundane").
  • Another 3 weeks and the beer begins to develop the documented flavours due to gypsum and the like, i.e. becomes "dry" (like sticking your tongue on a well used blackboard), salty and mineral-y. The beer is possibly inline with the experiences of others who bottle or mature their "Burton" examples.).

These examples add to the critical comment that bottle Pedigree if naff compared to draught.

So I shall conclude: I can only emulate "Burton" draught beer if able to brew and drink it within 6 weeks. As this is unlikely (my minimum brew length is 45L) I should shift to brewing historic Burton styles that are stronger, malty, hoppy, and well matured. I do not want to dissolve more gypsum as the end result (aged) will be extreme.
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