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General Category => Ingredients => Topic started by: mmitchem on May 23, 2012, 02:45:16 PM

Title: Water Has My Head Spinning...
Post by: mmitchem on May 23, 2012, 02:45:16 PM
I have been paying particular attention to my water lately as it seems to be the next big step in my quest for the best beer I can brew. There seem to be conflicting views on water...from what I can tell, and that may be way off ;)
I have been primarily comparing Bru'n Water and John Palmers RA spreadsheet to compare results of mineral additions. But here is where my confusion comes in. I heard John Palmer say on a Brewstrong podcast that if you get your RA in the ballpark of where you want it, then your mash pH should take care of itself in getting in good brewing range (5.2 to 5.5). This really doesnt take into play your grainbill or anything like that. However when I look at my water profile and mash acidification on Bru'n Water, the pH is pretty high (6.1). I also remember John saying that if you get your RA right, and your sulfate to chloride ratio where it needs to be, you are 99% of the way there. Seems simple balancing only these 3 things...
For dark beers, John calls for a relatively high RA (like 250), while Bru'n Water has a relatively low number for black beers. The higher the RA, the less acidification takes place...my head hurts...
All of this has my head spinning and I feel like either one is better than the other or I am missing a vital piece of the puzzle. Anyone want to weigh in on this? Thanks in advance!
Title: Re: Water Has My Head Spinning...
Post by: jmcamerlengo on May 23, 2012, 03:06:55 PM
I can tell you what I've found in my experience. I don't necessarily agree with a lot of what Palmer says. Well...let me re-state that, what he says may hold true, but it may not be the ideal situation or produce the best beer.

In my experience, simpler is better. I tend to keep my water profiles as simple as possible. I always start with distilled water and build from the ground up.  The most important thing is the ph and the only real way to tell is to get a ph meter and take readings and get some experience with what works and what doesn't.  I have done Imperial Stouts at 80 SRM and not needed more than 180 ppm of bicarbonate to get the ph where I wanted it.

I generally first think about what style of beer I am making. Should it be bitter? malty? tart? sweet? After I have determined what I want out of the beer I start determining what I need in order of importance.

1.) pH. 5.2-5.5 is ideal. 5.2 will generally provide a bit more tart beer. I shoot for this in wit's hefeweizens etc. If I want malty, like in dark beers, I get closer to 5.5. If I want balanced, like for most styles, I try to be around 5.3-5.4. Do I need to add acid to get it lower? If so my experience at this point tells me what I need. When I started I would add small amounts of acid at a time to get where I wanted. Martin and Kai's calculators are great for this. Do I have alot of crystal malts and dark malts? Do all of those malts need to be mashed? Do I need chalk? If so in my experience I have found anything more than 180 ppm of carbonate is not needed.

2.) Calcium is needed for yeast health and clarity and all that stuff. 40-50 ppm is the minimum recommended. Make sure you have enough calcium, whether it come in the form of chalk, calcium chloride or gypsum. Anything above 100 ppm is excessive. So get yourself in the 40-100 ppm range using the appropriate salts to get there, taking your pH into consideration first(chalk), then finally your sulfate to chloride ratio(gypsum or calcium chloride)

3.) Sulfate to chloride ratio. Again do I want malty? Bitter? I try to get the ratio where I want it but at the same time keep the mineral additions minimal to get there using Bru'n water's guidelines to get there. Bitter IPA? Ok great...I want a 5:1 sulfate to chloride ratio so I add gypsum and chloride to get there keeping my calcium level below 100 ppm so neither of the mineral additions are too high to make it minerally.


Hope this helps. If itll help, post a recipe you want to brew and myself, and others who are much more knowledgeable than myself on here will be happy to lend advice on a specific beer profile.

Title: Re: Water Has My Head Spinning...
Post by: mmitchem on May 23, 2012, 03:22:24 PM
Let's take a simple Dry Stout:

7lb Maris Otter (4 SRM)
2lb Flaked Barley
1lb Roasted Barley (500 SRM?)

Starting with distilled water. Show me the way :)
Title: Re: Water Has My Head Spinning...
Post by: ccfoo242 on May 23, 2012, 03:33:17 PM
I'm curious too.  I end up with elaborate additions that I forget to add until it's too late!  :o

-Sent from the future.
Title: Re: Water Has My Head Spinning...
Post by: jmcamerlengo on May 23, 2012, 04:00:30 PM
Let's take a simple Dry Stout:

7lb Maris Otter (4 SRM)
2lb Flaked Barley
1lb Roasted Barley (500 SRM?)

Starting with distilled water. Show me the way :)

Sure thing.

Assuming 4 gallons of mash water: Heres what I did.

First what do I want? I think a Dry Stout should be balanced in terms of profile so I went with the Black balanced profile in Bru'n Water. I entered the grist and mash water in the mash acidification screen with no adjustments at all to the water.

Sulfate to Chloride ratio: I want it balanced so 1:1 is good here.  According to the black balanced profile: 30 ppm for each is a good level. I add equal amounts  of gypsum and calcium chloride. In this case its .2grams/gallon and that gets me close to 30 ppm for each.

Now for the pH. At this point I am currently predicted at 5.2. I add Chalk on the water adjustment to get me to a pH of 5.4 on the mash acidification screen. Which in this case was .45 grams/gallon. Giving me 145 ppm biCarbonate, even though Bru'n Water for the profile says 225 is needed. That would be too much in this case. Only add what chalk is needed.

Now my calcium level, with all the additions is 74.2 ppm. Bru'n water says 65 ppm is ideal but 74.2 is close enough, and between our desired range of 40-100ppm. So thats good enough.

Final Checklist:
Our pH is predicted at a level reasonable for what we want out of the beer.
Our calcium level is within desired range.
Our sulfate to chloride ratio and amounts are appropriate for the style.
Title: Re: Water Has My Head Spinning...
Post by: mmitchem on May 23, 2012, 04:08:06 PM
Okay, I am going to go try it and see what I come up with...thanks a bunch!
Title: Re: Water Has My Head Spinning...
Post by: mmitchem on May 23, 2012, 04:45:50 PM
I did all that and came up with very similar numbers. Now here is I get tripped up. If I bump up my Chalk to get the appropriate RA (which is appropriate for color, from what I understand), then the alkalinity is too high, shooting the pH up to around 5.8.
Does RA really play a pivotal role in the whole thing? Even with distilled i cannot reach a suitable mash pH along with a suitable RA with the numbers suggested. The dilemma :)
Title: Re: Water Has My Head Spinning...
Post by: jmcamerlengo on May 23, 2012, 05:18:20 PM
I did all that and came up with very similar numbers. Now here is I get tripped up. If I bump up my Chalk to get the appropriate RA (which is appropriate for color, from what I understand), then the alkalinity is too high, shooting the pH up to around 5.8.
Does RA really play a pivotal role in the whole thing? Even with distilled i cannot reach a suitable mash pH along with a suitable RA with the numbers suggested. The dilemma :)

I dont know if can answer this properly. Martin may be better suited. In my experience the answer is no. pH is the driving factor, I never worry about what my RA should be. RA is a combination of a lot of factors and if you're starting with distilled water that changes things significantly.  If I were making the beer I would use the method I described above and be willing to bet that it would produce a darn good beer and not worry about RA. perhaps Martin can chime in and give an explanation of RA a bit better than I.
Title: Re: Water Has My Head Spinning...
Post by: mmitchem on May 23, 2012, 05:23:47 PM
If I were making the beer I would use the method I described above and be willing to bet that it would produce a darn good beer and not worry about RA.

I heard that my friend! I bet it would too. I must admit I have only recently become more interested in water, though i have made a few beers that have scored in the 40's without making any adjustments to water or worried about RA or ratios...
Let's see what Martin says about that as well. You have been a tremendous help in wrapping my head around this. Maybe Martin will get us the rest of the way (without a doubt, he is the man that can do it). Thanks so much!
Title: Re: Water Has My Head Spinning...
Post by: jmcamerlengo on May 23, 2012, 05:40:02 PM
anytime glad I can help
Title: Re: Water Has My Head Spinning...
Post by: beersk on May 23, 2012, 06:36:05 PM
Let's take a simple Dry Stout:

7lb Maris Otter (4 SRM)
2lb Flaked Barley
1lb Roasted Barley (500 SRM?)

Starting with distilled water. Show me the way :)

Sure thing.

Assuming 4 gallons of mash water: Heres what I did.

First what do I want? I think a Dry Stout should be balanced in terms of profile so I went with the Black balanced profile in Bru'n Water. I entered the grist and mash water in the mash acidification screen with no adjustments at all to the water.

Sulfate to Chloride ratio: I want it balanced so 1:1 is good here.  According to the black balanced profile: 30 ppm for each is a good level. I add equal amounts  of gypsum and calcium chloride. In this case its .2grams/gallon and that gets me close to 30 ppm for each.

Now for the pH. At this point I am currently predicted at 5.2. I add Chalk on the water adjustment to get me to a pH of 5.4 on the mash acidification screen. Which in this case was .45 grams/gallon. Giving me 145 ppm biCarbonate, even though Bru'n Water for the profile says 225 is needed. That would be too much in this case. Only add what chalk is needed.

Now my calcium level, with all the additions is 74.2 ppm. Bru'n water says 65 ppm is ideal but 74.2 is close enough, and between our desired range of 40-100ppm. So thats good enough.

Final Checklist:
Our pH is predicted at a level reasonable for what we want out of the beer.
Our calcium level is within desired range.
Our sulfate to chloride ratio and amounts are appropriate for the style.
OR, you can do this same thing, but reserve some or most of the roasted barley for after the mash, so you can get your pH in the proper range in the mash.  This way, you won't have to mess with chalk and worry about it dissolving in the mash or not.  At least that's what I'd do.
Title: Re: Water Has My Head Spinning...
Post by: jmcamerlengo on May 23, 2012, 06:46:03 PM
Let's take a simple Dry Stout:

7lb Maris Otter (4 SRM)
2lb Flaked Barley
1lb Roasted Barley (500 SRM?)

Starting with distilled water. Show me the way :)

Sure thing.

Assuming 4 gallons of mash water: Heres what I did.

First what do I want? I think a Dry Stout should be balanced in terms of profile so I went with the Black balanced profile in Bru'n Water. I entered the grist and mash water in the mash acidification screen with no adjustments at all to the water.

Sulfate to Chloride ratio: I want it balanced so 1:1 is good here.  According to the black balanced profile: 30 ppm for each is a good level. I add equal amounts  of gypsum and calcium chloride. In this case its .2grams/gallon and that gets me close to 30 ppm for each.

Now for the pH. At this point I am currently predicted at 5.2. I add Chalk on the water adjustment to get me to a pH of 5.4 on the mash acidification screen. Which in this case was .45 grams/gallon. Giving me 145 ppm biCarbonate, even though Bru'n Water for the profile says 225 is needed. That would be too much in this case. Only add what chalk is needed.

Now my calcium level, with all the additions is 74.2 ppm. Bru'n water says 65 ppm is ideal but 74.2 is close enough, and between our desired range of 40-100ppm. So thats good enough.

Final Checklist:
Our pH is predicted at a level reasonable for what we want out of the beer.
Our calcium level is within desired range.
Our sulfate to chloride ratio and amounts are appropriate for the style.
OR, you can do this same thing, but reserve some or most of the roasted barley for after the mash, so you can get your pH in the proper range in the mash.  This way, you won't have to mess with chalk and worry about it dissolving in the mash or not.  At least that's what I'd do.

I don't think that'd work in this case. If you did that you would have nothing in their to acidify things, and probably end up with a pH of 5.7 or so, which is a bit high. That would also leave your calcium level deficient, and I don't think adding more gypsum and caCl2 to compensate would be ideal for this style.
Title: Re: Water Has My Head Spinning...
Post by: mmitchem on May 23, 2012, 06:49:46 PM
I don't think that'd work in this case. If you did that you would have nothing in their to acidify things, and probably end up with a pH of 5.7 or so, which is a bit high. That would also leave your calcium level deficient, and I don't think adding more gypsum and caCl2 to compensate would be ideal for this style.

+1...I always understood the roasted grains had a higher acidity, helping acidify the mash.
Title: Re: Water Has My Head Spinning...
Post by: jmcamerlengo on May 23, 2012, 07:10:07 PM
You would be correct.

There are cases where I add grains @ vorlauf.

For example when I did the Imperial Stout I mentioned earlier. I ended up with about 180 ppm of bicarbonate. The recipe for an 11 gallon batch had like 2 lbs of Crystal 80, 3 lbs roast barley, 2 lbs chocolate, 2 lbs black malt IIRC. I ended up adding the crystal malts @ vorlauf in that case and mashing the dark grains to get the acidity I needed.
Title: Re: Water Has My Head Spinning...
Post by: beersk on May 23, 2012, 08:48:31 PM
But to make sure the pH doesn't drop too low, is what I'm saying.  You could add half the roasted grains to the mash, then the other half at vorlauf.  But it's your brew, I'm just giving my opinion.
Title: Re: Water Has My Head Spinning...
Post by: mmitchem on May 24, 2012, 02:04:53 AM
I hear ya there, that is a good tip for keeping the pH from dropping too low. The problem with this is that the pH remains too high when the additions are made to balance out the additions. Yeah, I am thinking Martin might need to weigh in on this one. We say you Mr. Brungard?
Title: Re: Water Has My Head Spinning...
Post by: mmitchem on May 24, 2012, 04:34:30 AM
Wait wait wait, I think I have stared at this thing enough to see the light...
In a mash, roasted malt doesnt contribute to the acidity nearly as much as when you have crystal malt thrown into the recipe. The mash doesnt get too low when you use them, so you don't have to load your water down with chalk to get the bicarbonate. And in turn RA that you would need to help buffer that big pH drop is not needed.
The bottom line is that you add bicarbonate to raise your RA in order to counteract the big pH drop that crystal malts will have on your mash. It is not about color, it is about the grist you use to and balancing the pH to keep it in the 5.2-5.5 optimal range.
Of course, this is independent of your sulfate to chloride ratio which drives the flavor of your beer (hoppy vs malty), I think I have a firm grip on that.

...Is this the key that I have been missing???? :)
Title: Re: Water Has My Head Spinning...
Post by: hopfenundmalz on May 24, 2012, 12:22:32 PM
Wait wait wait, I think I have stared at this thing enough to see the light...
In a mash, roasted malt doesnt contribute to the acidity nearly as much as when you have crystal malt thrown into the recipe. The mash doesnt get too low when you use them, so you don't have to load your water down with chalk to get the bicarbonate. And in turn RA that you would need to help buffer that big pH drop is not needed.
The bottom line is that you add bicarbonate to raise your RA in order to counteract the big pH drop that crystal malts will have on your mash. It is not about color, it is about the grist you use to and balancing the pH to keep it in the 5.2-5.5 optimal range.
Of course, this is independent of your sulfate to chloride ratio which drives the flavor of your beer (hoppy vs malty), I think I have a firm grip on that.

...Is this the key that I have been missing???? :)

That is why the programs that use the grist in the recipe get you close to the target pH. I think you have it. Brunwater has been getting me within 0.1 pH

With your water, you should not have to add alkalinity.

One other thing, chalk doesn't dissolve very fast as the reaction is slow. I have stopped using chalk, and use pickling lime to raise pH.

Title: Re: Water Has My Head Spinning...
Post by: mabrungard on May 24, 2012, 12:44:22 PM
Beer color is a poor indicator of what mashing water RA should be.  Palmer's RA vs SRM nomograph is a little too aggressive in its recommendation for alkalinity.  MMitchem mentioned that the nomograph could have a brewer aiming for a RA of upwards of 250 ppm.  Compare that with some of the most alkaline brewing waters from Dublin and Munich which have RA values in the 170 to 180 ppm range.  Palmer was too extreme in his initial estimate on this subject. 

Several years ago when working with Gordon Strong on water information for the BJCP program, I was stunned to hear Gordon poo-poo the whole aspect of RA vs SRM.  I was firmly entrenched in the Palmer camp and assumed that there was a correlation.  I had not looked at the correlation closely at that time.  Gordon claimed that he had tasted hundreds of 'alka seltzer' beers that were made in accordance with Palmer's nomograph.  I figured I needed to take a closer look.

It was Kai Troester's work on grain acidity that finally turned on the light as to why color is not a good correlation to RA needs.  As pointed out above, roasted grains have fairly significant acidity, but crystal malts can produce acidity at much higher rates with respect to their color. 

When I started looking at the water profiles from around the world's historic brewing centers, it became apparent that alkalinity levels were much more modest than what Palmer's nomograph predicted.  As pointed out above, those historic brewing centers produced great black beers with RA in the 170 ppm range.  That alone pointed to a problem with the nomograph.  Then I started looking at trying to apply science to the problem using Kai's acidity information.  That's when it became apparent that you could calculate the mash's acidity and compare that with the mashing water's RA and arrive at a good correlation with a mash pH. 

The bottom line is that Palmer's nomograph was an early attempt at helping brewer's adjust their mashing water alkalinity.  It was just a bit off.  Since it hasn't been updated in quite a while, I suggest that a program like Bru'n Water is going to provide you a better guide to your mashing water alkalinity needs. 
Title: Re: Water Has My Head Spinning...
Post by: mmitchem on May 24, 2012, 04:39:08 PM
Yes indeed. That is the good word right there. Now I think of the acidifation that my grist will have on the water rather than the SRM of the beer I am brewing. And.....my head sins no more :)
I think Bru'n Water will be used in the future to help get my water where it needs to be. Thank you all for helping make sense of this apsect of brewing. I was in my LHBS yesterday picking up some gypsum and CaCl2 and one of my friends asked me, "Why are you adding all that stuff to your beer man?" I think I can answer him correctly now and maybe shine a little light on brewing water for him.
Cheers!
Title: Re: Water Has My Head Spinning...
Post by: jmcamerlengo on May 29, 2012, 07:17:51 PM
Glad to help! Thanks as always Martin for chiming in.

mmitchem, i think you are indeed starting to wrap your head around it.

If you want, feel free to personal message me the water profile's your creating as a sanity check... not saying I know everything but with Martin's help Ive been turning out good beers of all different styles and think I have a decent grasp on things.
Title: Re: Water Has My Head Spinning...
Post by: jeffy on May 29, 2012, 07:30:36 PM
Here's something I should know, but for some reason I find it confusing:
If I take a sample of my mash and cool it down to 60 or 70 F and then take a pH reading which shows 5.4, is that the number I am generally looking for or do I need to correct it for the mash temperature?  If so, what is the correction factor? 
I understand that the same mash will read completely different pH figures depending on the temperature, but I wonder if mash pH number needs to be corrected to the 148 to 156 range.  Or maybe the pH is exactly the same and I need a meter that corrects automatically.
Title: Re: Water Has My Head Spinning...
Post by: denny on May 29, 2012, 07:41:56 PM
When I asked pretty much the same thing, the answer is that pH is read at room temp.  So, 5.4 at room temp is what you're looking for.  Unless of course I totally misunderstood....
Title: Re: Water Has My Head Spinning...
Post by: ccfoo242 on May 29, 2012, 08:04:16 PM
To make matters worse Gordon Strong says to measure it at mash temperature in Brewing Better Beer. :-\  But I am a convert in the Water Church of Martin so I use room temperature... :P

[Edit]
It seems there's conflicting info in his book. Page 34 states:
Quote
The mash pH should be in the 5.2 to 5.5 range with a target of about 5.3. Note that the mash pH is measured at mash temperatures, not cooled.

But on page 140 he states:
Quote
...adapt a common system, typically measuring at warm room temperature (25C, 77F), using a pH meter with ATC, or by keeping a temperature compensation table handy.
Title: Re: Water Has My Head Spinning...
Post by: jmcamerlengo on May 29, 2012, 08:31:19 PM
Thats a confusing one to me as well...Ive always measured at room temp and corrected .2 ish lower to get my mash temp since that makes sense to me...if the pH is working at a certain temp then thats whats actually going on in there.

So if I read 5.6 on my pH meter, then Im assuming my pH at sach temps is about 5.4.
Title: Re: Water Has My Head Spinning...
Post by: hopfenundmalz on May 29, 2012, 08:45:39 PM
Thats a confusing one to me as well...Ive always measured at room temp and corrected .2 ish lower to get my mash temp since that makes sense to me...if the pH is working at a certain temp then thats whats actually going on in there.

So if I read 5.6 on my pH meter, then Im assuming my pH at sach temps is about 5.4.
This is what I do, and I remember the correction to be 2.5 to 3 ish.
Title: Re: Water Has My Head Spinning...
Post by: mmitchem on May 29, 2012, 08:55:49 PM
In my case I think that I would be better off using Distilled Water...even with alot of crystal malts, the pH gets pretty high with the RA in my water (303ppm)...
For instance I am brewing a Doppelbock this weekend doing a big triple decoction. Here is my recipe I have come up with after reading the Classic Styles Series for a 6 gallon batch...

OG 1.078
IBU 25ish
SRM 24ish

14lbs Munich I (7SRM)
2lbs Bohemian Pilsner (1.7SRM)
8oz Caramunich I (39SRM)
8oz Caramunich II (57SRM)
2.25 Mittelfruh @ 60mins (4.1%AA)
.35oz Mittelfruh @ 30mins (4.1%AA)

120 Boil

-----------------------

Using distilled water for a 6.15 gallon mash (1.4 quarts/lb)

I am making the following mash additions:

2.5g Gypsum
2.5g Calcium Chloride
1.8g Chalk

That gives me 85ppm Calcium, 59ppm Sulfate, 51ppm Chloride, 106 Bicarbonate, RA of 27 annnnnnnd a mash pH of 5.4. That puts me in the ballpark because I am not using heaps of crystal malt that lower the pH of the mash.

Sound about right?????
Title: Re: Water Has My Head Spinning...
Post by: hopfenundmalz on May 29, 2012, 09:02:26 PM
In my case I think that I would be better off using Distilled Water...even with alot of crystal malts, the pH gets pretty high with the RA in my water (303ppm)...
For instance I am brewing a Doppelbock this weekend doing a big triple decoction. Here is my recipe I have come up with after reading the Classic Styles Series for a 6 gallon batch...

OG 1.078
IBU 25ish
SRM 24ish

14lbs Munich I (7SRM)
2lbs Bohemian Pilsner (1.7SRM)
8oz Caramunich I (39SRM)
8oz Caramunich II (57SRM)
2.25 Mittelfruh @ 60mins (4.1%AA)
.35oz Mittelfruh @ 30mins (4.1%AA)

120 Boil

-----------------------

Using distilled water for a 6.15 gallon mash (1.4 quarts/lb)

I am making the following mash additions:

2.5g Gypsum
2.5g Calcium Chloride
1.8g Chalk

That gives me 85ppm Calcium, 59ppm Sulfate, 51ppm Chloride, 106 Bicarbonate, RA of 27 annnnnnnd a mash pH of 5.4. That puts me in the ballpark because I am not using heaps of crystal malt that lower the pH of the mash.

Sound about right?????
Not heaps in your recipe, but CaraMunich is a crystal malt, make sure you take that into account.
Title: Re: Water Has My Head Spinning...
Post by: mmitchem on May 29, 2012, 09:02:36 PM
I could even use something like 1.2g of gypsum, 1.2g CaCl2 and 2.5g Chalk to get a little more towards that room temp pH of 5.6, or mash pH of 5.3-5.4

Y'all know what I mean
Title: Re: Water Has My Head Spinning...
Post by: mmitchem on May 29, 2012, 09:05:12 PM
Not heaps in your recipe, but CaraMunich is a crystal malt, make sure you take that into account.

Yeah man, all was accounted for when I calculated the Mash Acidification. You are right, only a pound of crystal and like 16lbs of base malt...Doesnt acidify the mash a whole lot...
Title: Re: Water Has My Head Spinning...
Post by: hopfenundmalz on May 29, 2012, 09:12:10 PM
Not heaps in your recipe, but CaraMunich is a crystal malt, make sure you take that into account.

Yeah man, all was accounted for when I calculated the Mash Acidification. You are right, only a pound of crystal and like 16lbs of base malt...Doesnt acidify the mash a whole lot...
Sounds like you are getting a handle on it.

For a beer like this having a mash pH around 5.5 would not be a bad thing.
Title: Re: Water Has My Head Spinning...
Post by: mmitchem on May 29, 2012, 09:17:59 PM
If I am getting it - it is only because awesome folks like yourself have taken the time to line me out, and it is greatly appreciated :)

With that being said - if I were going to aim for a pH of 5.5 at mash temp, it would be safe to go for around 5.7 at room temp?
Title: Re: Water Has My Head Spinning...
Post by: mabrungard on May 29, 2012, 09:18:44 PM
Thats a confusing one to me as well...Ive always measured at room temp and corrected .2 ish lower to get my mash temp since that makes sense to me...if the pH is working at a certain temp then thats whats actually going on in there.

So if I read 5.6 on my pH meter, then Im assuming my pH at sach temps is about 5.4.

That's about right.  5.4 at room temperature is somewhere around 5.2 at mash temperature.  Since that offset is relatively consistent, it makes little sense to damage your pH probe by dunking it in hot wort.  In fact the convention of citing mash pH at room temperature is specifically called out in DeClerck's, A Textbook of Brewing.  I'll have to disagree with Gordon on this issue.  This is the reason that Bru'n Water mentions 'room-temperature measurement' when ever mash pH is discussed or presented.

Using a shot glass that I've pre-chilled, it only takes about a tablespoon of wort to fill the glass sufficiently to submerge a normal pH probe.  That small amount of wort cools down in a minute in that glass.  I suppose you would have to use a larger glass if you have one of those meters with the larger probe end.   
Title: Re: Water Has My Head Spinning...
Post by: mabrungard on May 29, 2012, 09:27:01 PM

With that being said - if I were going to aim for a pH of 5.5 at mash temp, it would be safe to go for around 5.7 at room temp?

No!  The safe range of room-temperature mash pH is about 5.3 to 5.5.  That indicates that the pH in the mash is 0.2 to 0.3 units lower, but that doesn't really matter.  The only thing we need to focus on is the 'room-temperature measurements'. 

A 5.4 room-temperature pH is a good all-around target.  If you want your beer a little sharper or tarter, aim a little lower (5.2 to 5.3).  If you want your dark beers to be a little softer, aim for 5.5.  But don't get carried away with a high pH target.  All kinds of things go wrong when you exceed about 5.7 to 5.8.  You can be a little low with pH and the beer should taste OK.  But it won't be so good if its a little high.
Title: Re: Water Has My Head Spinning...
Post by: jeffy on May 29, 2012, 09:30:04 PM

With that being said - if I were going to aim for a pH of 5.5 at mash temp, it would be safe to go for around 5.7 at room temp?

No!  The safe range of room-temperature mash pH is about 5.3 to 5.5.  That indicates that the pH in the mash is 0.2 to 0.3 units lower, but that doesn't really matter.  The only thing we need to focus on is the 'room-temperature measurements'. 

A 5.4 room-temperature pH is a good all-around target.  If you want your beer a little sharper or tarter, aim a little lower (5.2 to 5.3).  If you want your dark beers to be a little softer, aim for 5.5.  But don't get carried away with a high pH target.  All kinds of things go wrong when you exceed about 5.7 to 5.8.  You can be a little low with pH and the beer should taste OK.  But it won't be so good if its a little high.

That's concise.  I was starting to get even more confused for a second there.  I may have to print this and put it in my brewers log.
Title: Re: Water Has My Head Spinning...
Post by: mmitchem on May 29, 2012, 09:31:59 PM
No!  The safe range of room-temperature mash pH is about 5.3 to 5.5.  That indicates that the pH in the mash is 0.2 to 0.3 units lower, but that doesn't really matter.  The only thing we need to focus on is the 'room-temperature measurements'. 

A 5.4 room-temperature pH is a good all-around target.  If you want your beer a little sharper or tarter, aim a little lower (5.2 to 5.3).  If you want your dark beers to be a little softer, aim for 5.5.  But don't get carried away with a high pH target.  All kinds of things go wrong when you exceed about 5.7 to 5.8.  You can be a little low with pH and the beer should taste OK.  But it won't be so good if its a little high.

That's right - NO with exclamation lol.
Roger that - go for the room pH.
Title: Re: Water Has My Head Spinning...
Post by: mmitchem on May 29, 2012, 09:50:04 PM
Times like these I am thankful that folks like Martin have made such great and useful software available to us. If you find it to be useful, I think donations are the right way to tell him you want more of the same. Thank you all for helping me get some really good prnciples down for building up good brewing water profiles. But more than that - helping me understand what I am looking for in water to make it appropriate for what I am brewing. That sort of knowledge is priceless.

Now I hope I whip up on all of you next NHC haha ;)
Title: Re: Water Has My Head Spinning...
Post by: jimrod on May 30, 2012, 07:17:37 AM
Wow.. reading this thread all the way through and understanding what Martin explained reminded me of a commercial where Charlie Daniels hands a ripped up violin back to the waiter saying " and that's how it's done son ".
Title: Re: Water Has My Head Spinning...
Post by: mmitchem on May 30, 2012, 10:21:08 AM
Haha, I remember that commercial, think it was Geico or something. Either way, these guys have laid it out for the world, and probably not for the first time either :)
Just solid information that has definitely helped me get a grip on the importance of brewing water, especially pH...
Title: Re: Water Has My Head Spinning...
Post by: hopfenundmalz on May 30, 2012, 11:32:31 AM

With that being said - if I were going to aim for a pH of 5.5 at mash temp, it would be safe to go for around 5.7 at room temp?

No!  The safe range of room-temperature mash pH is about 5.3 to 5.5.  That indicates that the pH in the mash is 0.2 to 0.3 units lower, but that doesn't really matter.  The only thing we need to focus on is the 'room-temperature measurements'. 

A 5.4 room-temperature pH is a good all-around target.  If you want your beer a little sharper or tarter, aim a little lower (5.2 to 5.3).  If you want your dark beers to be a little softer, aim for 5.5.  But don't get carried away with a high pH target.  All kinds of things go wrong when you exceed about 5.7 to 5.8.  You can be a little low with pH and the beer should taste OK.  But it won't be so good if its a little high.
That is good to know. Thanks for the clear explaination.
Title: Re: Water Has My Head Spinning...
Post by: jmcamerlengo on May 30, 2012, 01:17:23 PM
Thats a great explanation Martin. Thanks!

MMitchem, in regards to your dopplebock, Ive found that 1 lb of crystal malt is generally the perfect amount to get your pH right with distilled water. I would not add any chalk whatsoever with 1 lb of crystal. Up the clacium chloride and gypsum to get your calcium back up to offset the chalk and get rid of that in your recipe. I bet your pH will fall right into place!
Title: Re: Water Has My Head Spinning...
Post by: mmitchem on May 30, 2012, 01:32:36 PM
MMitchem, in regards to your dopplebock, Ive found that 1 lb of crystal malt is generally the perfect amount to get your pH right with distilled water. I would not add any chalk whatsoever with 1 lb of crystal. Up the clacium chloride and gypsum to get your calcium back up to offset the chalk and get rid of that in your recipe. I bet your pH will fall right into place!
Using no chalk in the recipe makes the mash pH too low...and it only gets more acidic with the Calcium that is added by Gypsum and CaCl2. The Bicarbonate helps me get around 5.4-5.5 and allows me to have sufficient Ca as well as a solid Sulfate to Chloride ratio...
Title: Re: Water Has My Head Spinning...
Post by: narcout on May 31, 2012, 02:36:55 AM
No!  The safe range of room-temperature mash pH is about 5.3 to 5.5.

It may not be best practice, but I've brewed beers that had a mash pH of 5.6 to 5.7 that turned out great (some of which have won ribbons).
Title: Re: Water Has My Head Spinning...
Post by: mmitchem on May 31, 2012, 02:46:13 AM
I have too. I am willing to bet higher pH than that! LOL, pretty high scoring too...I guess it just makes me wonder if it would have been that much better, if it could have been the difference between 2nd and 1st place like JP says. Who knows???
I do know that Martin, JP, Gordon Strong, the late Greg Noonan and countless other all believed in water adjustment such as pH and sulfate to chloride ratio. They are far better brewers than me with a ton more experience - so my money is with the adjustments!
Title: Re: Water Has My Head Spinning...
Post by: denny on May 31, 2012, 03:25:03 PM
Does anyone know of a temp/pH correction chart?  For instance, if the pH is supposed to be a certain number at 70F, I want to find out what it is at 60F.
Title: Re: Water Has My Head Spinning...
Post by: narcout on May 31, 2012, 04:00:23 PM
I do know that Martin, JP, Gordon Strong, the late Greg Noonan and countless other all believed in water adjustment such as pH and sulfate to chloride ratio. They are far better brewers than me with a ton more experience - so my money is with the adjustments!

Yeah, I definitely make adjustments.  Lately I've been playing around with the method Gordon Strong outlines in Brewing Better Beer - basically brewing with all RO water, adding small quantities of gypsum and/or calcium chloride to the mash, and adjusting the sparge water with phosphoric acid.
Title: Re: Water Has My Head Spinning...
Post by: Alewyfe on May 31, 2012, 04:36:32 PM
Look what I found....

http://www.hamzasreef.com/Contents/Calculators/PhTempCorrection.php
Title: Re: Water Has My Head Spinning...
Post by: denny on May 31, 2012, 04:53:53 PM
Thanks, Diane!
Title: Re: Water Has My Head Spinning...
Post by: mmitchem on June 12, 2012, 03:32:13 AM
So I made a dry stout with 100% distilled water. I adjusted my water to give me a mash pH of 5.4 and made a little gypsum and calcium chloride addition with the assistance of Bru'n Water. This is BY FAR the tastiest stout that I have ever made. Thanks for helping my wrap my head around water. It was a struggle for a while, but now I think I have it and know how to deal with water the right ways. Muchos Gracias friends!
Title: Re: Water Has My Head Spinning...
Post by: gordonstrong on July 08, 2012, 10:17:52 PM
Sorry to post to an older thread, but I wanted to comment on something I read here.

I think there is some confusion about how I was expressing pH values in my book.  It definitely looks like some people are misinterpreting or at least misapplying what I thought I said.

I meant to say that I was expressing pH values at the temperature where they were active.

This was interpreted to mean that I was saying you should take pH readings of your mash at mash temperature.

You should only take pH readings at temperatures supported by your pH meter.  Read the instructions that come with it.  Many pH meters are designed to only operate on room temperature samples; using them at higher temperatures can damage the probes or shorten their useful lifespan.

What I wanted to say was that there is a relationship between temperature and pH, and that you had to account for the temperature.  Some meters do this automatically, others don't.

I guess this came out of a conversation I had at Sierra Nevada (Jeff Rankert was there, maybe he remembers it).  I was asking them about how they adjusted their brewing liquor and they said it was adjusted to pH 5.5.  I asked if the quoted value of 5.5 was at room temperature or at mash temperature (where it would be used) since there would be a difference.  They said it was at mash temperature.  I think I followed-up because we were also looking at a pH meter that was measuring their mash pH; they said the same thing.

So that's what I meant, and where I got the information.  I know pH is often expressed at room temperature (there's probably an ASBC standard for this that explains the details); I was trying to understand if the values were corrected for temperature or not.

The bottom line is that if I said the pH was a certain value at mash temperature, I was only saying to be sure it was a temperature-corrected value.  Measure it at whatever temperature your meter supports, then adjust it if necessary. 

I regret confusing an area that I was attempting to simplify.
Title: Re: Water Has My Head Spinning...
Post by: hopfenundmalz on July 09, 2012, 01:00:25 AM
Gordon, I remember the 5.5 pH adjustment to the water. I do not remember the temp discussion. It was like drinking from a fire hose for 2 days, if you all can understand what I mean.

Glad to see you back on the AHA forum Gordon.

Title: Re: Water Has My Head Spinning...
Post by: nateo on July 09, 2012, 01:05:48 AM
Gordon, I remember the 5.5 pH adjustment to the water. I do not remember the temp discussion. It was like drinking from a fire hose for 2 days, if you all can understand what I mean.

Glad to see you back on the AHA forum Gordon.

Isn't pH lower at mash temp vs room temp? 5.5 at mash temp seems high, but maybe I have that backwards.
Title: Re: Water Has My Head Spinning...
Post by: hopfenundmalz on July 09, 2012, 01:48:02 AM
Gordon, I remember the 5.5 pH adjustment to the water. I do not remember the temp discussion. It was like drinking from a fire hose for 2 days, if you all can understand what I mean.

Glad to see you back on the AHA forum Gordon.

Isn't pH lower at mash temp vs room temp? 5.5 at mash temp seems high, but maybe I have that backwards.
That is right, it is .25 to .3 lower at mash temp. They were adjusting the water pH, not mash pH.
Title: Re: Water Has My Head Spinning...
Post by: mabrungard on July 09, 2012, 02:27:18 PM
Adjusting brewing water to a pre-use pH of 5.5 means that SN is knocking out a lot of the tap water's alkalinity.  The amount of reduction is dependent upon the water's starting alkalinity, but its likely that most alkalinity (HCO3 content) has been neutralized.   This should be great for many of their pale beers.   

Thanks to Gordon for re-emphasizing the preference in measuring mash pH on a room-temperature sample.  Its much kinder to the pH probe and still provides a repeatable corollary to the pH at mash temperature.  In general, the room-temperature mash pH should fall in the range of 5.3 to 5.5 for best results.  But, the best pH for a particular brew will fall to the brewer's preferences in beer taste and texture.  You can read more about how mash and kettle pH affect beer taste and texture on Bru'n Water's Water Knowledge page.
Title: Re: Water Has My Head Spinning...
Post by: mmitchem on July 12, 2012, 04:23:31 PM
I must say that I am a big fan of adjusting the water pH ahead of time and then only mashing your base malts. It is alot easier for me to hit my target mash pH when I don't have to worry about the acidity crystal and roasted grains contribute. I like using Bru N Water as a sanity check. I still input my base malts and water additions (phosphoric acid and CaCl2 usually). The beer tastes good, well better lol, and that is the main goal!

There are so many different ways to approach this particular issue but I think that the big thing to stress is to get your mash pH in the 5.2-5.5 range. Room temp of course :) Get 50-100ppm of calcium in there and adjust the sulfate to chloride ratio to bring out the malty or hoppy character in the beer...

That sound about right?
Title: Re: Water Has My Head Spinning...
Post by: jmcamerlengo on July 12, 2012, 04:30:06 PM
I must say that I am a big fan of adjusting the water pH ahead of time and then only mashing your base malts. It is alot easier for me to hit my target mash pH when I don't have to worry about the acidity crystal and roasted grains contribute. I like using Bru N Water as a sanity check. I still input my base malts and water additions (phosphoric acid and CaCl2 usually). The beer tastes good, well better lol, and that is the main goal!

There are so many different ways to approach this particular issue but I think that the big thing to stress is to get your mash pH in the 5.2-5.5 range. Room temp of course :) Get 50-100ppm of calcium in there and adjust the sulfate to chloride ratio to bring out the malty or hoppy character in the beer...

That sound about right?

Now you're getting it!
Title: Re: Water Has My Head Spinning...
Post by: hopfenundmalz on July 12, 2012, 04:31:46 PM
I must say that I am a big fan of adjusting the water pH ahead of time and then only mashing your base malts. It is alot easier for me to hit my target mash pH when I don't have to worry about the acidity crystal and roasted grains contribute. I like using Bru N Water as a sanity check. I still input my base malts and water additions (phosphoric acid and CaCl2 usually). The beer tastes good, well better lol, and that is the main goal!

There are so many different ways to approach this particular issue but I think that the big thing to stress is to get your mash pH in the 5.2-5.5 range. Room temp of course :) Get 50-100ppm of calcium in there and adjust the sulfate to chloride ratio to bring out the malty or hoppy character in the beer...

That sound about right?

Now you're getting it!

Yes he is! The head is no longer spinning, I would say.
Title: Re: Water Has My Head Spinning...
Post by: mmitchem on July 12, 2012, 04:46:41 PM
Haha! No it definitely isn't. I think it is a really cool thing when you can admit to being ignorant about something, get some good advice that not only points you in the right direction, but also helps you know why you are pointed in that direction in the first place.

Gordon, Martin, Jeff & Jason - Thanks so much for putting good info out there and breaking it down in such a way that is understandable. Hope to see you all in Philly this year, as this will be my first conference! Woo! Be gentle...hahaha!
Title: Re: Water Has My Head Spinning...
Post by: narvin on July 12, 2012, 06:35:09 PM
Look what I found....

http://www.hamzasreef.com/Contents/Calculators/PhTempCorrection.php

I don't think this is what you want.  There are two things that happen when you use a pH meter at a temperature other than your reference temperature:

1) The probe responds differently.
2) The pH of the sample actually changes due to changes in dissociation of H and OH ions.

An ATC meter corrects for #1.  Non-ATC meters need a manual error correction applied, which seems to be what this chart is for.  Interestingly enough, the pH shift seems to be in the opposite direction caused by #2 in wort.
Title: Re: Water Has My Head Spinning...
Post by: denny on July 12, 2012, 07:02:48 PM
What I was getting at in the question Diane answered is this....I cool the sample to room temp and then measure the pH.  So, what is the pH in the mashtun at a higher temp?  And is the pH I'm concerned about the one in the mashtun or the one I measure at room temp?
Title: Re: Water Has My Head Spinning...
Post by: mabrungard on July 12, 2012, 07:35:10 PM
So, what is the pH in the mashtun at a higher temp?  And is the pH I'm concerned about the one in the mashtun or the one I measure at room temp?

The mash pH at mash temp is relatively consistent at about 0.3 units lower due to the increased disassociation activity due to the increased heat content of the hotter wort.  Since that is a relatively constant pH offset, we can ignore the pH value at mash temperature and do all of our correlations with wort and beer flavor and texture based on room-temperature pH readings. 

Many of us know that 5.2 is a magic number in mashing.  That pH value would be appropriate if measured in mash temperature wort, but too low if it was measured in room-temperature wort.  You should note that now you may see ideal mash pH quoted as being 5.3 to 5.5 at room-temperature.  This is similar to the 5.2 mash-temperature pH that has long been targeted, when you figure in that pH offset. 

Don't worry about what the mash-temperature pH is.  Just understand that if you measure pH at room-temperature, pH will actually will be lower in the mash and you don't care what that pH is since you have a safe room-temperature pH allegory to guide you.