Discussion in 'Homebrewing' started by Cabbage_pants1, Feb 11, 2013.

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  1. Cabbage_pants1

    Cabbage_pants1 Initiate (0) Apr 16, 2012 Indiana

    I've been reading a bit about the addition of gypsum into a brew and its effect on bitterness... Anyone out there using, and if so I'd like to hear some feedback on it...
  2. yinzer

    yinzer Initiate (0) Nov 24, 2006 Pennsylvania

    There are two routes that can work. One would be to do it right, either get a water report and make adjustments or build from RO/Distilled. The second would be to understand what gypsum or any other additions do, make a best guess adjustment and trust your senses. As strange as the last suggestion sounds, I know a brewer who brews like that. He makes one of the best IPA's that I've ever had. He just simply adds in "some Gypsum".

    I've taken the first path. It's not that hard, but not that easy - at least for me. I don't have any horror stories, but I'm not 100% sure that I'm making the correct calls. For most water sources you don't need to make adjustments. But I'm trying to make the best beer possible. I'm pretty sure that I had to up my Ca, but anyone change can effect other things. So I might be taking one step forward and two steps back and I think that he has some recommendations if you want to try the just go for it approach.

    Two good sources. First are the podcasts on The Brewing Network, the waterganza with Palmer. Palmer does make it a bit too scientific in some areas and seems to leave out some of the big picture. Or maybe JZ just distracts him. The second good is Gorden Strong's book - Brewing Better Beer. I like his approach.

    Oh, and then there is
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  3. pweis909

    pweis909 Poo-Bah (1,586) Aug 13, 2005 Wisconsin
    Supporter Subscriber

    And sometime in 2013, there will be a Water book by Palmer and Colin Kaminski.
    Cabbage_pants1 and hopfenunmaltz like this.
  4. VikeMan

    VikeMan Meyvn (1,390) Jul 12, 2009 Pennsylvania
    Beer Trader

    Gypsum adds hardness (calcium), accentuates hop bittering 'crispness' (by contributing sulfates), and lowers mash pH (due to a reaction between calcium and phosphates from the malt). I would not add gypsum or anything unless you know what your goal is and what your unmodified water profile is.

    For the best primer, I recommend reading these pages...
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  5. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (2,933) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    A lot of good information already provided.

    I have seen recipes for English Pale Ales (from the Burton on Trent region) where they suggest you add some gypsum to make the water similar to the waters of the river Trent.

    You can read more here:

    The notion is to add 1 tablespoon of gypsum for a 5 gallon batch in order to Burtonize your water.

    robhbest and Cabbage_pants1 like this.
  6. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Meyvn (1,263) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

    Jack, the breweries had their own wells bored down into the sand/gravel/marl aquifer. Samples analyzed around the area gave levels from 200 to 800+ ppm.

    For some beers I go as high as 350 ppm SO4. The guy in the link says to match it exactly, but there is no one value to match exactly.
  7. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Meyvn (1,263) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

    Know the starting point (your water analysis) the destination (what the beer style requires), and use on the of the programs to calculate for the batch size you are brewing. You need to get food grade gypsum, not drywall from China, and have a scale that can measure at least to the 0.1 gram.

    This will give a lingering dry bitter finish. The best way to taste it is to drink a Pilsner Urquell (low SO4 levels) and a Jever side be side. Similar IBU and ABV, but a big difference in the bitter sensations.
  8. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (2,933) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    FWIW, I though the below was ‘reasonable’ advice from that link:

    “The easiest (and cheapest) way to get the bittering benefit of Burtonized water is to add a tablespoon of food-grade gypsum (calcium sulfate) to your water for a five gallon batch. One tablespoon will increase the sulfate level by 354ppm. It will also increase the calcium level by 148ppm and lower the pH level a bit. If your water is reasonably soft or if you started with deionized water you'll be in the ideal sulfate range between 300ppm and 500ppm; your IPA will be Burtonized enough to accentuate the bitterness and not in any danger of being overloaded with sulfate. You're all set.”

    That is why I stated in my prior post: “The notion is to add 1 tablespoon of gypsum for a 5 gallon batch in order to Burtonize your water.”

  9. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Meyvn (1,263) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

    That is good advice. He started with one of the levels for Sulfate that you see on the web. The Coors brewery in Burton has about 200, Allsopp was in the 400 range, and there were some in the 600 to 800 range depending on where they were in the water strata.

    The Ray Daniels pale ale profile looks a lot what this guy has. To lazy to look that up and compare.
  10. sergeantstogie

    sergeantstogie Aspirant (202) Nov 16, 2010 Washington

    Seriously, what is the holdup on this book? It's been in my amazon cart forever.
  11. Treb0R

    Treb0R Aspirant (232) Dec 12, 2012 Oregon

    I think it's more acceptable (for hoppy American IPAs) to "add 1 tbsp. gypsum per 5 gallon batch". But not so much other styles.

    Your starting water profile will most likely contain low to moderate levels of calcium and sulfate. Gypsum adds calcium, sulfate, and hardness... so if anything, it will do more good than harm for this style (which ranges on recommending anywhere from 60-150 ppm Calcium and 125-350 ppm Sulfate). Gypsum only very minimally decreases pH, so that is not something that is really a cause for concern in a pale, hoppy IPA.
  12. marquis

    marquis Crusader (717) Nov 20, 2005 United Kingdom (England)

    Please guys! I live next to the River Trent and believe me you wouldn't want to use the water for brewing!
    The Trent Valley is rich in gypsum (there are veins of the stuff clearly visible) and water which trickles down to the aquifers dissolves quite a lot on the way. Burton always used such water from deep wells, not the river :slight_smile:
    One point; it's only moderately soluble in water so adding a lot would simply mean it ends up at the bottom.
  13. ricchezza

    ricchezza Aspirant (249) Nov 2, 2005 Massachusetts

    I agree with yinzer about having a water report or building up from reverse osmosis water. Brewers Friends has a handy free online calculator to dial in more than just gypsum to steer you towards where you want you beer to be.
  14. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Meyvn (1,263) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

    At a competition John said that they want it to be THE reference about water and brewing, for both the Pros and Homebrewers. Many of the references out there are incomplete, think about all of the books that have 3 pages on water for brewing. Don't think it would be an easy book to write.

    He had also been doing some travel to breweries to interview and tour water treatment at places like SN, NB, Stone etc.

    Wonder if there will be anything on after treatment?
  15. pweis909

    pweis909 Poo-Bah (1,586) Aug 13, 2005 Wisconsin
    Supporter Subscriber

    It's solubulity in hot mash and lautered wort that matters. pH and other ions in solution will affect solubility via common ion effects, ionic strength effects, and complexation effects. You can see from these tables (3.6 and 3.7) that the solubility of gypsum changes considerably with some of these variables. and gypsum solubility&f=false
  16. Cabbage_pants1

    Cabbage_pants1 Initiate (0) Apr 16, 2012 Indiana

    Hey thank you all so much you all rock good recommendations ill experiment around a bit and let everyone know!! Cheers!!!
  17. patto1ro

    patto1ro Defender (617) Apr 26, 2004 Netherlands

    There was a big difference between the water used by Bass and the water used by Allsopp, the two biggest Burton brewers. I've published analyses of both on my blog.
  18. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Meyvn (1,263) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

    I saw that some time back. The numbers I was quoting were from a water analysis program for homebrewers.

    Question for you Ron, do you know if the Burton brewers (Coors, Marston, Burton Bridge, IIRC) treat the water today, or do they use it as is?
  19. patto1ro

    patto1ro Defender (617) Apr 26, 2004 Netherlands

    No idea. As they don't brew much in the way of Pale Ale nowadays, my guess would be that they take most of the minerals out.
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