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Using gypsum in recipes?

I have some recipes from the Charles Papazian home brewing book and the 2 recipes I’ve started with both call for gypsum. I’ve only been brewing for about a year but I haven’t seen or used gypsum yet in any recipes. One of the recipes says its optional but the other one, a stout, asks for quite a bit. im wondering if it is necessary and what the gypsum actually does? it sounds like most people use it to help their tap water. I buy spring water from the store so I didnt think i would use the gypsum…

For darker beers, the gypsum helps get the dryness right. It also helps with the pH in darker beers, I believe

You can live without it, but as you progress, you will want more control over the outcome - eventually additives to water make a big difference. For example with malt forward beers I use calcium chloride additions to the strike water. Give it a try, you might like it!

:cheers:

Gypsum modifies your water chemistry. When you are ready to mess with water:
Look up Ward Labs online and send them a sample of your tap water. Don’t use spring water, those bottling sources always change so your chemistry will differ bottle to bottle.
Download the Bru’n Water spreadsheet and carefully read through it instead of getting overwhelmed at all the science. It is a great tool that will assist you with water additions based on your water profile and what you are brewing.

A recipe that says to include water additives doesn’t make a lot of sense to me cause it assumes you have the same water profile as the person creating the recipe. Unless the recipe suggest you use distilled water, I wouldn’t add it. It’s possible the spring water you are using already has a large amount of sulfate and you could be overdoing it by adding gypsum.

Gypsum (calcium sulfate dihydrate) brings out the bitterness in a hoppy beer. I hadn’t heard it helps a dark beer, interesting. If using spring water, I’d add it. Some tap water (for example Mine) has enough sulfate in it already.

Dark grains reduce pH. Gypsum also reduces pH so it doesn’t help. In general, I don’t care for gypsum in dark beers. HOWEVER…the recipe the OP was talking about is likely Papazian’s Toad Spit stout, which uses a metric butttload of gypsum. It’s completely contrary to good brewing chemistry but it’s a great beer. I once asked Charlie about it and he said if he was writing the recipe today he likely wouldn’t include it. But since so many people have brewed and loved the recipe, he wasn’t gonna change it.

It was for the toad spit! the other one is the elbon nerkte english brown ale. i wont be using it in either, i dont think… I am sure it will still taste awesome!

And thanks for the information about the gypsum, fellas. i’ll be looking into my tap water. I have not even started with all grain beers yet so that will all come in time!

If you’re brewing with extract, I would go completely the opposite and use 100% distilled water with no added salts. Papazian’s book is old and has quite a bit of bad outdated information in it, and this is one example.

Elbro Nerkte Brown Ale was actually the first beer I ever brewed, and it was darn good! Came out really smooth - that was the standard comment on the beer. “This is smooth.” Looking back at my notes, I did add 4 tsp gypsum to the cold water in the kettle. Extract batch, of course. Good memories of proudly sharing those first beers with my dad!

Elbro Nerkte Brown Ale was actually the first beer I ever brewed, and it was darn good! Came out really smooth - that was the standard comment on the beer. “This is smooth.” Looking back at my notes, I did add 4 tsp gypsum to the cold water in the kettle. Extract batch, of course. Good memories of proudly sharing those first beers with my dad![/quote]

Yep, I made that and the Toad Spit exactly as written, including the insane amounts of gypsum. Both were great. Sometimes perfection defies logic.

If you’re going to use water from the store, be aware that there is a difference between the stuff labeled as “spring water” and “distilled water”. Bottled spring water is actually known for having some amount of calcium carbonate, while distilled water, being pretty much the same thing as RO purified water, has no mineral content whatsoever. I personally avoid the “spring water”, as I have no idea what the mineral profile is, and no way of finding out. Distilled water is great if you want to have an “empty canvas” onto which you can graft whatever kind of mineral profile you want when you feel the need to emulate the character of the water of a specific area and brew a beer to go with it, like if you want to emulate Dublin’s water and brew a dry stout. In any case, be aware that whatever kind of water you use, whether you’re doing extract or all-grain brewing, yeast needs some kind of mineral content to really have a good chance at doing it’s job. Mineral-free water, by definition, does not supply yeast with any kind of nutrient whatsoever, so if you’re already going to the trouble of brewing with water you buy from the store, and you’re at the point of considering mineral additions to your brewing water, you might as well go with what the recipe suggests and see what happens. I guarantee that it won’t hurt anything, as long as the recipe is coming from a reputable source. I know that brew water chemistry is a pretty daunting subject, but if you’re using someone else’s recipe and you don’t want to (or you don’t feel ready to) formulate your own recipes yet, trust the person who formulated whatever recipe you’re using and go all the way with everything they suggest. If you don’t, you’ll never know if you really got everything out of it that you could have. That’s my advice.

[quote=“Denny”]
Yep, I made that and the Toad Spit exactly as written, including the insane amounts of gypsum. Both were great. Sometimes perfection defies logic.[/quote]

I wonder if the water reached the saturation point for gypsum, meaning the rest of the “metric buttload” precipitated out and was left behind in either kettle or fermenter, never making it into the final product. That would make sense.

Also, I prefer imperial units, to metric.

[quote=“Silentknyght”][quote=“Denny”]
Yep, I made that and the Toad Spit exactly as written, including the insane amounts of gypsum. Both were great. Sometimes perfection defies logic.[/quote]

I wonder if the water reached the saturation point for gypsum, meaning the rest of the “metric buttload” precipitated out and was left behind in either kettle or fermenter, never making it into the final product. That would make sense.

Also, I prefer imperial units, to metric.[/quote]
Imperial Buttloads? :lol:

Elbro Nerkte Brown Ale was actually the first beer I ever brewed, and it was darn good! Came out really smooth - that was the standard comment on the beer. “This is smooth.” Looking back at my notes, I did add 4 tsp gypsum to the cold water in the kettle. Extract batch, of course. Good memories of proudly sharing those first beers with my dad![/quote]

Awesome, man. im looking forward to it! i have 6 buckets full of beer right now but im bottling tonight and i’ll get started on that one in a couple days! did you drink after the 14 days? or did you let it sit awhile longer?

The reason i use water from the store is because the first version of beer i ever made was influenced by Alton Brown on the food network. He used spring water from the store and that’s what started me using spring water. I know for sure that my tap water has all kinds of stuff in it; it doesnt taste good and the ice cubes it makes are pretty white with whatever it is in it but im planning on making plenty of beer in the future so i’ll be using this information you guys are giving me. i havnt made duplicates of many kits other than a couple so it’ll take time but i’ll start to notice the difference with good water im sure. thanks! :cheers:

Elbro Nerkte Brown Ale was actually the first beer I ever brewed, and it was darn good! Came out really smooth - that was the standard comment on the beer. “This is smooth.” Looking back at my notes, I did add 4 tsp gypsum to the cold water in the kettle. Extract batch, of course. Good memories of proudly sharing those first beers with my dad![/quote]

Yep, I made that and the Toad Spit exactly as written, including the insane amounts of gypsum. Both were great. Sometimes perfection defies logic.[/quote]

I think the reason why this recipe works might be because- whether Papazian realized it or not when he formulated it- the drop in pH caused by the roasted malt and the gypsum content was exactly right to get the hops “in the zone”, thus delivering the bittering power needed to harmonize with the bitterness from the roasted malt and restore the proper balance of the wort.
I used gypsum in a stout recipe of my own formulation once, years ago, and it turned out quite well, too. I think the key to the process is to get the pH level just right, so that the balance between the hops and the roasted grains is perfect. They both contribute bitterness to the final product, but if the pH drops too low, neither of those ingredients will have a chance to contribute their desired characteristics. It’s a tricky process. I don’t know if I would mess around with gypsum in a stout again. I think the fact that I got it right that time was more or less a product of blind luck on my part.

Here are my complete tasting notes from that first batch. :slight_smile:

• Bottle-conditioned approximately one week, tasted pretty damn good.
• After 3 weeks in the bottle, a cool (not cold) brew was excellent with good hop flavor
• With time, the beer only got better. It had a good body and was very smooth. The best beer out of the whole batch was enjoyed on a 95 degree day in Harrison, MT, shared with my dad.

I’ve been wanting to brew that recipe again, just for nostalgia. Let me know how yours comes out for you. :cheers:

Hey, i’ll let you know how it turns out! thanks for the beer nostalgia guys. pretty awesome you all remember the first time having that one. i just got done brewing an oatmeal stout like 10 minutes ago and i hoping it will be good enough to remember… or however that works with beer. good enough to forget all else

I’m one that believes in patience. In the beginning I would drink stuff too soon only to discover it tasted best weeks later. The only beers I drink early are my wheat beers which is 4 wks after bottle.
Everything else is 6-8wks or longer. This just works for me, and others may be different, but that’s brewing and everyone likes their own thing, their way. Cheers!

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