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I'm going to attempt an partial mash ESB. I will use distilled water and add burton salts. I know I need to add the salts to my mash water, but I've read if you are doing extract you just add it to the boil.

For a partial mash, should I divide up the additions to mash water and boil? FYI, I have about 10 lbs of grains and 5 lbs of extract.

Thanks!

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Do you have the composition of the Burton water salts? In particular do they contain carbonates or bicarbonates? –  mdma Oct 4 '13 at 21:56
    
Actually, I don't know the composition. I picked them up at the LHBS and it's just labelled burton salts. Sounds Iike I will add them to both mash and boil. –  user2101 Oct 5 '13 at 0:57
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2 Answers 2

I've probably bought that same pack, and the fact they don't list the ingredients in proportion is annoying. I guess they figure its "trade secrets" or whatever.

Making the assumption that this isn't your first partial mash beer, I would suggest that you partial-mash normally, using the same water and minerals (if any) that you KNOW make good beer. The Burton Salts are sort of ambiguous, and could negatively impact your pH, but its dependent on your source water as well. So therefor, if you aren't sure what's in the salts exactly, and if you aren't sure how your water will react with them in the mash, then it makes the most sense to leave them out of the mash entirely.

Just add the salts to the boil for flavor. Of course, the amount to add might be questionable too. I'd suggest contacting the manufacturer and asking what amount they recommend adding for extract-only beers, and then just throw that into the boil.

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The main reason to add the burton salts to the mash would be to adjust the pH, and secondly to impart a more assertive hop bitterness. Generally the salts will lower the pH if it's just comprised of Gypsum, but it really depends upon the composition.

After adding the malts, test the mash with a pH meter - if it's well over 5.2pH, then add increments of 5g of the burton salts until the pH is around 5.1-5.3pH. If it's well under, then add baking soda until the pH is in the right level. (You can also try chalk, but it's almost insoluble so quite difficult to use.)

If you don't have a pH meter, then I would still add the salts, plus some baking soda if you have dark malts, which provides buffering capacity in the water against any dark malts in the grist.

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Will Burton salts increase pH? I thought they were mainly CaSO4, which would decrease it. But "Burton salts" is a kind of ambiguous term. –  Denny Conn Oct 4 '13 at 21:11
    
You're absolutely right Denny. For some reason I had also carbonates in the back of my mind. Burton water salts is often mostly gypsum, but Burton water itself has a high amount of carbonates which tend to increase the pH on balance. So it the resulting pH with distilled water could be either up or down, depending upon exactly what's in those Burton Salts. –  mdma Oct 4 '13 at 21:50
    
Wouldn't using the correct water for style also be important for the mash? All the instructions I have read indicate to use it in the mash for all grain or partial mash. –  Wyrmwood Oct 15 '13 at 21:12
    
Yes, it's important, but not essential. The main point of using a regional water style is to give the right mash pH for the grist of typical beers in that region, sufficient calcium (>50ppm), plus the Chloride and Sulphate flavor ions to influence malt vs hop presense. –  mdma Nov 4 '13 at 13:18
    
Never base your water adjustments on regional water. For one ting, you have no idea if the water is still the same as it was when the readings you are looking at were take. For another, the brewery might very well filter than adjust the water. Base adjustments on beer color and flavor, not where the brewery is located. –  Denny Conn Dec 5 '13 at 17:27
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