pH levels in your Mash?

Methods, ingredients, advice and equipment specific to all-grain (mash), partial mash (mini mash) and "brew in a bag" (BIAB) brewing.

pH levels in your Mash?

Postby Flux » Saturday May 05, 2012 1:14 pm

Hi couldn't find a thread on this topic anywhere, so not sure if there is one but just had a couple of questions to run by those with the knowledge.
Just quickly my pH count is always a little high when collecting my wort. My starting water is around 7.0 filtered so I add my salt additions to bring it into scope re Palmers ppm recommendations and put my figures into this spreadsheet http://www.ezwatercalculator.com/. So with my additions my final pH is usually off so I have decided to start using some acidulated malt and or Lactic acid 88% with my mash as an addition to bring it down to the required range.
So anyways my questions are.
1. Is one better than the other to use?, as acidulated malt is just sprayed with lactic acid anyway does one prove better to use in the mash than the other on experience?
2. Is there any yield from acidulated malts?
3.I know this is somewhat a vague question and not a cut a dry answer, but in experience with a 23L batch would 2ml's of lactic acid have any adverse affect on bitterness?
4.On use of either acid addition can I incorporate a 5.2 pH stabiliser addition to my mash to help hold the pH on target?( My understanding is the 5.2 stabiliser is only a buffer and will not lower the pH by itself but rather hold it from shifting, is this correct?)

Thanks in advance :wink:
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Re: pH levels in your Mash?

Postby Bum » Saturday May 05, 2012 3:36 pm

Flux wrote:( My understanding is the 5.2 stabiliser is only a buffer and will not lower the pH by itself but rather hold it from shifting, is this correct?)

I'm not a hugely scientifical brewer but as I understand it the above is incorrect - or at least Fivestar make claims that it "locks in" your mash pH at 5.2 regardless of starting pH of your water.

Furthermore, as I understand it, focussing on water pH is less important than mash pH so focus more on your pH measurements of your mash rather than your water supply to get a more accurate picture of what is happening in your beer. Water with a pH of 7.0 might be entirely suitable if your actual mash pH is where you want it to be.
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Re: pH levels in your Mash?

Postby warra48 » Sunday May 06, 2012 11:34 am

I've never measured the pH of my mash, and don't have the resources to do so. I also don't intend to start, I'll just not worry about it, except for noting what BeerSmith gives me.

I use rainwater for my mash, and add brewing salts etc to try and get somewhere close to water suitable for the style I'm brewing. BeerSmith calculates the pH for me, and it's near enough.
I think we tend to overthink issues sometimes as homebrewers. Unless you are experiencing problems with your brews, I wouldn't be concerned about it.
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Re: pH levels in your Mash?

Postby Bum » Sunday May 06, 2012 1:32 pm

warra48 wrote:Unless you are experiencing problems with your brews, I wouldn't be concerned about it.

Definitely.

However, I guess I can see the appeal in chasing a particular profile even though I don't feel motivated to bother myself. I do use 5.2 but can't say I've noticed an improvement in my beers (but I have seen a real improvement in efficiency for beers with a starting gravity below 1050).
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Re: pH levels in your Mash?

Postby drsmurto » Sunday May 06, 2012 9:23 pm

As the resident chemist I feel obliged to comment.

What are you measuring your mash pH with and are you adjusting it for temperature?

I measure pH every now and then, it's almost always in the desired range. Straight rainwater with pils malt is the exception and it was only 0.2 high.

I always adjust my brewing water with salts, not for a pH reason but instead flavour impact as well as enzyme and yeast health. I only use CaSO4, CaCl2 and CaCO3 in varying ratios.

The mash itself is a powerful buffer so adding the 5.2 gear is only going to be useful if your water is very high or very low pH. If that is the case you are better if getting a good source of water otherwise you are fixing a broken bone with a bandaid.

A few of the locals and I made beer from beer. That is, we used beer (pH 4) instead of water for mash and sparge water. Mash pH was perfect. Surprised me as I had turned up with a bag of CaCo3 thinking it would be too low.

Finally, water chemistry is very complex. When you add malt to to water the complexity goes up by several orders of magnitude.

Cheers
DrSmurto

P.s the first person to comment on using volume measurements (tsp, tbsp) for brewing salts etc gets my award for arse-hat of the week.
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Re: pH levels in your Mash?

Postby Bum » Sunday May 06, 2012 11:43 pm

drsmurto wrote:The mash itself is a powerful buffer so adding the 5.2 gear is only going to be useful if your water is very high or very low pH. If that is the case you are better if getting a good source of water otherwise you are fixing a broken bone with a bandaid.

I understand my water (Melbourne mains) is supposed to be pretty reasonable for brewing. I was detecting a little something way in the back of two batches that I suspected may have been a touch of tannin flavour and it was suggested that 5.2 may sort it out. I haven't tasted it since but neither have I brewed those same recipes so who knows. As I say, I haven't noticed any improvement aside from efficiency gains in my lower OG batches (and this could easily be more about my shabby practices than about how good the product is). I continue to use it because I already have it and I don't see how it can hurt.
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Re: pH levels in your Mash?

Postby emnpaul » Thursday May 10, 2012 7:46 pm

drsmurto wrote:
P.s the first person to comment on using volume measurements (tsp, tbsp) for brewing salts etc gets my award for arse-hat of the week.


I once "Burtonized'" an English ale with a few Mylanta tablets as I read on the side of the pack they contained Calcium Carbonate and Magnesium Sulfate. Does that get an award? :lol:
2000 light beers from home.
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Re: pH levels in your Mash?

Postby Bum » Thursday May 10, 2012 8:32 pm

There's an article at AHB in that story, emnpaul.
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Re: pH levels in your Mash?

Postby drsmurto » Friday May 11, 2012 11:47 am

emnpaul wrote:
drsmurto wrote:
P.s the first person to comment on using volume measurements (tsp, tbsp) for brewing salts etc gets my award for arse-hat of the week.


I once "Burtonized'" an English ale with a few Mylanta tablets as I read on the side of the pack they contained Calcium Carbonate and Magnesium Sulfate. Does that get an award? :lol:


Yes. Send me a PM with your arse size and address and I'll get the hat out to you. :lol:

Extra points awarded for the american spelling of a british word.
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Re: pH levels in your Mash?

Postby emnpaul » Friday May 11, 2012 5:43 pm

drsmurto wrote:
emnpaul wrote:
"Burtonized'"


Extra points awarded for the american spelling of a british word.


Thanks. I wasn't sure if you'd notice. :wink:

bum wrote: There's an article at AHB in that story, emnpaul.


Challenge accepted.
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Re: pH levels in your Mash?

Postby Flux » Tuesday May 15, 2012 4:35 pm

drsmurto wrote:As the resident chemist I feel obliged to comment.

What are you measuring your mash pH with and are you adjusting it for temperature?


This
Image
& yes I am adjusting for temp.

So Spanned my ph meter, then added my salts as normal following the ezwatercalc and used some acidulated malt,( for the first time ever) then checked my mash ph 15 mins into the mash and it was high at 5.9 @ 40C so I thought stuff it and put in some 5.2 in, (1st time using this as well), and stirred in as much as I could then waited and checked it prior a decoction step, and it was 5.3, wow! so that is for me the first time I have ever hit target pH in my mash tun.
I sometimes wonder if my pH meter is faulty? I wish I had a second to check it against. I do notice it takes a few minutes for the meter to stabilise when taking a reading though, not sure if thats normal but it's what happens on my meter anyways?
btw My pH is 7.8 @ 20C straight from the tap, I am interested in what you guys strike water pH is at and if you use council water or whatnot?
I would think that the guys using filtered rain water would be good as gold as it's on the acidic side anyways at around 5.0 normally so you would never need worry about lowering anyways.
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Re: pH levels in your Mash?

Postby warra48 » Tuesday May 15, 2012 5:58 pm

As I said earlier, I use rainwater, and adjust it to the style I am brewing.
BeerSmith gives a pH calculation, but I have no idea how accurate it is.
It generally gives me a pH value around 5.2 to 5.4 so, for me, that's close enough.
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Re: pH levels in your Mash?

Postby Flux » Tuesday May 15, 2012 8:43 pm

warra48 wrote:BeerSmith gives a pH calculation, but I have no idea how accurate it is.
It generally gives me a pH value around 5.2 to 5.4 so, for me, that's close enough.


Hi Warra, where on Beersmith do you get a pH profile from?, as if you do not know your original water profile's pH to start with then Beersmith can't give you a pH calculation anyways. It is only giving you Mash pH and runnings readings isn't it, which always read the same 5.2 it's not a calculated figure here is it?
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Re: pH levels in your Mash?

Postby warra48 » Wednesday May 16, 2012 5:21 am

Flux wrote:
warra48 wrote:BeerSmith gives a pH calculation, but I have no idea how accurate it is.
It generally gives me a pH value around 5.2 to 5.4 so, for me, that's close enough.


Hi Warra, where on Beersmith do you get a pH profile from?, as if you do not know your original water profile's pH to start with then Beersmith can't give you a pH calculation anyways. It is only giving you Mash pH and runnings readings isn't it, which always read the same 5.2 it's not a calculated figure here is it?


Sorry, BS2 gives me its calculation of my mash pH, not my water as such. Remember, I use rainwater, and detail my salt additions in my recipes.
When you are in Recipe, open up the Mash tab, and it shows it under "Mash pH and Runnings".
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Re: pH levels in your Mash?

Postby Flux » Wednesday May 16, 2012 3:55 pm

Yeah I know the value area you mean but if you notice, it's a fixed reading it is not calculated with the grain bill, as it never changes, well unless you enter in a different "recorded" value.
I've checked it across many different sample brews and it never changes from 5.2 and 6.0 pH mate.Thats why I use this to work it out http://www.ezwatercalculator.com/ Am I missing something here?
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Re: pH levels in your Mash?

Postby warra48 » Thursday May 17, 2012 6:36 am

Flux wrote:Yeah I know the value area you mean but if you notice, it's a fixed reading it is not calculated with the grain bill, as it never changes, well unless you enter in a different "recorded" value.
I've checked it across many different sample brews and it never changes from 5.2 and 6.0 pH mate.Thats why I use this to work it out http://www.ezwatercalculator.com/ Am I missing something here?


You may well be right, I've not checked it.

I don't think I'll concern myself with it any further, I don't have a perceived problem with my brews which I can put down to mash pH.
My mash efficiency is always over 90%, and I don't notice tannins in my beers.

Any problems with my brews are due to other brewer errors, such as doing a dry hop with Magnum (don't do this at home, kids, it doesn't work out well!)
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Re: pH levels in your Mash?

Postby Flux » Thursday May 17, 2012 12:21 pm

warra48 wrote:Any problems with my brews are due to other brewer errors, such as doing a dry hop with Magnum (don't do this at home, kids, it doesn't work out well!)

I know it's off topic a little but since you brought it up, I just this minute have added a dry hop addition of Simcoe to my fermenter for a batch of SNPA I am doing, which also has Magnum in it.What happened with yours? as I am now curious to know, if you don't mind sharing the issue you had with the Magnum.
Anyways about that Beersmith thing just pointing out what I noticed regarding that value, do you see now they have added a new mash/additions timer to the program now as well, which is pretty handy.Such a great program. :D
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Re: pH levels in your Mash?

Postby warra48 » Thursday May 17, 2012 12:50 pm

Dry hopping with Magnum failed to give me the ususal aromatics I get from dry hopping with Cascade, Chinook, or Columbus. Instead I've got a not that nice green grassy character. Magnum is a great bittering hop, and I'll stick with that in future.

My latest batch, an AIPA, was dry hopped with Columbus yesterday.
Don't know about Simcoe, never used it, so won't comment.
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Re: pH levels in your Mash?

Postby Bum » Saturday May 19, 2012 11:46 pm

Simcoe is the duck's. Columbus is pretty nice late but I prefer it early/mid boil. Magnum is great early for huge bitterness but I've never been too tempted to go late with it. Although I do like a little grassiness in my US styles so I may try a small amount next time I have some.

[EDIT - drunk typing]
Last edited by Bum on Sunday May 20, 2012 11:26 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: pH levels in your Mash?

Postby drsmurto » Sunday May 20, 2012 11:19 am

Magnum is a beautiful bittering hop.

Columbus (aka Tomahawk) is a great flavour and aroma hop. I dry hopped an amber/brown ale with it recently and it's gorgeous. Not grassy at all.

I like grass under my feet or in the mower catcher, not in beer, hence my comments elsewhere on S&W.
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