7 Key Benefits of Calcium Chloride for Brewers

May 23, 2024

What is the Role of Calcium Chloride in Brewing Liquor?

Brewers adjust brewing water profiles using calcium salts to mimic the water chemistry of specific brewing regions renowned for producing certain beer styles. For example, the Burton-on-Trent water profile is characterised by high calcium and sulphate levels. By adding calcium salts, brewers can emulate this water profile, enhancing hop bitterness and aroma while achieving a dry finish. 

Close-up Image: Crystal-clear Beer Enhanced with Calcium Chloride for Brewers

Calcium, in various forms, plays a significant role in modifying the brewing water profile, affecting mash pH, enzyme activity, yeast health, and ultimately, the flavour profile of the finished beer. The most important cation in brewing is calcium, which is essential for reducing the mash pH and keeps oxalate salts in solution thus preventing haze formation, and gushing, reducing the extraction of tannins, and assisting in protein coagulation in the hot and cold breaks. 

Brewing with Calcium Chloride:

  1. Reduces pH
  2. Precipitates Unwanted Proteins
  3. Improves Yeast
  4. Improves Extract Yield
  5. Reduces Risk of Infection
  6. Reduces Silicates, Tannins and Polyphenols
  7. Reduces Beer Stone
Expert brewer using Calcium Chloride in mash tun

Calcium ions play a pivotal role in adjusting mash pH, influencing enzymatic activity and ultimately, wort composition. :

Calcium ions react with phosphates in the malt to form insoluble calcium phosphate, thereby lowering the concentration of phosphate ions available to buffer pH, leading to a reduction in mash pH. This pH adjustment optimizes enzymatic activity, particularly that of α-amylase and β-amylase, facilitating efficient starch conversion into fermentable sugars. The composition of brewing water profoundly influences the brewing process and the final product’s characteristics. Calcium salts, such as calcium chloride (CaCl2) and calcium sulphate (CaSO4), are commonly used to modify water chemistry. 

Hands holding barley: Understanding Barley Phytin in Malting and Brewing

The enzymatic degradation of phytin in the malt forms phytic acid and calcium or magnesium phosphate is subsequently precipitated. Hydrogen ions are liberated in reactions of the type:

3Ca2+ + 2HPO42- = 2H+ + Ca3(PO4)2

Which tends to lower mash pH.

Phytic acid combines with free calcium ions to form additional calcium phosphate, releasing hydrogen ions in the process. Most reaction generally occurs during the acid rest and regulate the mash pH to 5.2 to 5.7 range. Some water supplies have too much alkalinity for this process to be effective, in which case the mash pH must be reduced to the proper level by adding lactic or phosphoric acid to the brewing liquor.

The presence of calcium ions is known to trigger flocculin formation so that the flocculent S. cerevisiae cells can bind. The pH of the medium will affect the electrostatic charges on the S. cerevisiae flocculent cells surface, which also affects cell-to-cell contact and cell viability.

The cell wall of S cerevisiae is composed of proteins that play an important role in the ability of adhesion, interaction, and cell infection. Cell topology plays an important role in the ability of cell flocculation, where the rougher the cell wall the higher the ability for flocculation. Flocculation occurs due to the interactions between flocculins, which are specific proteins that only exist in flocculent microbial cells with certain carbohydrates on adjacent microbial cell walls. Calcium acts as a cofactor in the process of flocculation.

3. Yeast Enhancement with Calcium Chloride

Block of Yeast Showing How Calcium Chloride Benefits Brewers by Influencing Yeast Health and Fermentation Kinetics

Influencing yeast Flocculation:

Calcium is required by yeast cells at a minimum concentration of 10 to 20 ppm (0.25 – 0.50mM) with inhibition of growth occurring with more than 1000 ppm (25 mM). It acts mainly extracellularly. Calcium is essential for alpha-amylase activity and phosphate precipitation, therefore playing a role in wort pH control. Its effects within the yeast are almost totally located at the plasma membrane and cell wall, playing a role in the protection of the membrane structure, and influencing yeast flocculation.

Enhancing Enzyme Efficiency:

Enzymes responsible for starch conversion in the mashing process are sensitive to pH variations. Optimal mash pH, typically in the range of 5.2 to 5.6, ensures maximum enzyme activity and thus efficient sugar extraction from malt. Calcium ions aid in achieving this optimal pH range, enhancing enzyme efficiency and promoting a complete and rapid conversion of starches into fermentable sugars.

Influences Yeast Health and Fermentation Kinetics:

In addition to its role in water modification, calcium supplementation directly influences yeast health and fermentation kinetics. Brewers may add calcium chloride to the brewing water to ensure adequate calcium levels for optimal yeast performance, particularly in yeast strains known to have high calcium requirements. This practice promotes consistent fermentation, reduces the risk of stuck fermentations, and enhances yeast flocculation, facilitating clearer beer.

4. Improves extract yield

A certain quantity of calcium is desirable in the mash to assist extraction of enzyme activity. It is thus important to adjust the calcium level for mashing.

As calcium is removed along with the spent grains, it may be necessary to supplement the initial concentration by adding calcium to the copper to control the reactions that take place during boiling, and to ensure a sufficient supply of calcium in the finished wort.

Mashing liquor from the mash tun should have 50 ppm of calcium. Slightly more than half the added calcium, either from the malt or the salt additions, is lost during mashing. It is advantageous to add a substantial portion of the calcium requirement directly to the copper. A calcium level of 40 to 70 ppm in the cooker in the main mash will aid in preserving enzymes and improving extract yield. A level of 80 to 100 ppm calcium in the wort will help to control pH, improve yeast growth, ease flocculation, oxalate removal, and reduce wort colour. The final calcium content of 60 to 80 ppm in beer is favourable.

5. Reduces The risk of infection

Calcium also plays a crucial role in yeast health and fermentation performance. Adequate calcium levels in brewing water are essential for yeast flocculation, cell wall stability, and overall yeast vitality. Calcium ions interact with negatively charged cell wall components, promoting flocculation and sedimentation of yeast cells post-fermentation, facilitating clearer beer and minimising yeast carryover. Furthermore, calcium ions are involved in the regulation of various yeast enzymes and transport systems, influencing fermentation kinetics and flavour compound production.

6. Reduces undesirable silicates, tannins and polyphenols

Calcium ions contribute to beer stability and mouthfeel, influencing protein coagulation and colloidal stability. By promoting the formation of calcium-protein complexes, calcium salts such as calcium chloride aid in beer clarification and haze reduction, enhancing visual appeal and stability during storage. Furthermore, calcium ions interact with beer proteins, modulating mouthfeel and contributing to a smooth, rounded texture.

7. Reduces beer stone

Calcium has a profound influence on the quality of water. It precipitates inorganic and organic phosphates and changes alkaline secondary phosphates into primary acid phosphate.

BUy calcium chloride

Biocel supplies powdered and liquid forms of calcium chloride in various pack sizes. We serve the brewing and distilling industry across Ireland, the UK, and Europe.

Calcium Chloride Application

The dosage rate of calcium salts in brewing typically ranges from 50 to 150 ppm (parts per million) of calcium ions in the brewing water. Brewers adjust the dosage based on the desired water and the composition of wort varies depending on the raw materials used and the conditions employed to produce the wort.


Biocel’s technical staff would be happy to discuss your calcium salt needs with you.

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