I'm using gypsum for the first time in an IPA I will be brewing in a few days. Today I was making the starter and thought:

Since it's a hopped starter, why not add a pinch of gypsum?

In the end I used PDME and yeast nutrient along with 2g Columbus hops and a tiny pinch of gypsum.

As I usually do with anything I brew, I drew a very small sample to smell and taste it. When I tried I was blown away by the salty taste. Does this come from the yeast nutrient? Or from the gypsum?

I've done some calculations for the total ppm of Calcium and sulfate that I am after, but if only a pinch of gypsum already made my 2L starter that salty, maybe I need to re-think.

Should gypsum additions be calculated using final water volumes (batch size) or total water volumes? I was going to use 33g of gypsum to obtain 191 mg/L Calcium and 460 mg/L sulfate in 43.4L (total brewing volume). Those figures include additions from the city water supply.

  • 1
    That seems like an extremely high Ca and SO4 content. How did you arrive at those figures?
    – Denny Conn
    Commented Apr 5, 2012 at 3:06
  • 1
    What's the deal with doing a hopped starter? Never heard of that being a thing to do Commented Apr 5, 2012 at 16:10
  • 2
    Starter=water+DME+yeast Don't ever complicate it.
    – brewchez
    Commented Apr 7, 2012 at 0:16

1 Answer 1


Your brew will definite taste salty with that quantity of minerals added. I would use a third of that amount. 150ppm calcium and 250ppm sulphates is really the upper limit of what you can comfortably use in the beer, and you will still taste a little salt up front, but often it goes with the style.

Here are some guidelines from the HBT wiki,

  • Calcium: 50 - 150 ppm
  • Magnesium: 10 - 30 ppm (high levels taste sour/bitter)
  • Sulfate: 50 - 150 ppm (accentuates hop bitterness, but high concentrations (>400) it is harsh and unpleasant)
  • Chloride: 0 - 250 ppm (concentrations should generally be limited to less than 100 ppm)

While there are water sources with higher quantities of these ions used to produce good beer, the brewer will tailor the recipe and use techniques to accommodate the water profile, such as causing some of the solids to precipitate out of solution.

In a homebrew setting, it's best to stick to the guidelines unless you know specifically from experience that adding more ions will improve the recipe. It's best to start gradually - much better to have brew where you think you could have used more minerals, rather than less. Adding too many minerals can result in an undrinkable beer, while adding too little will never ruin a beer, just take it a little off target.

If you don't already have one, a jewelers 0-100g scale, 0.01g precision makes it possible to easily weigh out small quantities of brewing salts. They're only a few dollars on ebay.

  • OK thanks for the advice guys. Denny, I'm not exactly sure where I got those numbers from. I had done so many metric conversions that I must have made a mistake somewhere. I also had troubles finding what would be considered maximum amounts. I've adjusted my calculations and figured 0.263g/L will give me 62 mg/L calcium and 147 mg/L Sulfate. Added to my city water that should give me 83 mg/L calcium and 192 mg/L sulfate in 43.4L. For a 65 IBU beer (1:1 GU:BU) I figure it's a good start. I'll add more or less next time!
    – David PGB
    Commented Apr 6, 2012 at 14:52
  • anytime. those new figures sound much more in the right area - I typically use around 10g gypsum for 42 or so liters for IPAs and hoppy beers.
    – mdma
    Commented Apr 6, 2012 at 16:44
  • PS: If your diluting your wort (ie: a starter), and your trying to hold as true as possible to your IBU calculations, and you'll have 2g of left over bittering hops in the bag, why not hop the starter at the same rate as the batch!!!
    – David PGB
    Commented Apr 9, 2012 at 23:46

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