Author Topic: Am i thinking right, mash PH?  (Read 1415 times)

Offline quattlebaum

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Am i thinking right, mash PH?
« on: April 27, 2014, 12:09:20 PM »
I have been measuring my mash, post boil and finished beer PH for over a year now. I use a calibrated Milwaukee 101 at room temp of 77 F. I also calibrate it with a 2 point solution 7.01 and 4.01 prior to every batch. I use Brunwater to help with my calculations of both PH and ions ( Thank you martin).  So ? is am i making my PH to low? From what i understand the mash PH should be between 5.2 and 5.5 for "optimal" conversion and to be able to have control of my finial beer PH. I know there is a PH difference related to temp with about a .3 reading higher at cooled temps than mash temps. So if i measure my cooled mash temp and it reads 5.3 is it really 5.0? Furthermore if i measure my post boil PH at room temp and it is 5.2 is it really 4.9? 

I am wondering if i should shoot for a mash PH measurement of 5.6 at room temp so that my PH at mash temp is 5.3. I feel like i am spitting hairs but just wondering if my PH is to low. my finial beer PH are mostly in the 4.2 sometimes they are low like 4 at room temp. I do notice or assume that most homebrew examples i taste seem to be harsh on the bitterness where as mine are "dull"? or smooth. I tend to prefer the smoothness but others might say it's not hoppy enough.

Offline Jimmy K

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Re: Am i thinking right, mash PH?
« Reply #1 on: April 27, 2014, 01:07:52 PM »
You are correct that the actual pH changes with temp, but do not worry. The pH targets quoted are for cooled samples.

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Offline majorvices

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Re: Am i thinking right, mash PH?
« Reply #2 on: April 28, 2014, 06:14:17 AM »
I've neem finding I prefer most of my beer with a lower mash pH, so I target 5.4 usually. I've read of going lower for some German style lagers.
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Offline Jimmy K

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Re: Am i thinking right, mash PH?
« Reply #3 on: April 28, 2014, 06:18:53 AM »
I've neem finding I prefer most of my beer with a lower mash pH, so I target 5.4 usually. I've read of going lower for some German style lagers.
I've been wondering about that because I've thought I noticed a slight bit of acidity in German lagers that works with the bitterness to balance malt in a pleasant, easy to drink way. Not enough to be considered sour at all, but just enough.
 
Also, not quite enough to be sure I wasn't imagining it.
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Re: Am i thinking right, mash PH?
« Reply #4 on: April 28, 2014, 06:29:25 AM »
I mashed my recent BoPils targeting a 5.3 pH - I read several references to European pale lagers that get their 'crispness' from doing that, including Kai's site IIRC. It's lagering now but the samples I've had do seem to have a nice crisp character. I look forward to the end result so I can assess further.
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Offline narvin

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Re: Am i thinking right, mash PH?
« Reply #5 on: April 28, 2014, 03:42:48 PM »
There's a lot of info about pH out there,including too many ranges referenced at different temps to the point that it can be confusing.  You'll get good conversion in the mash anywhere from 5.2 to 5.7 at a room temperature reading. 

After reading the advice of water guys like Kai, I usually target 5.3 - 5.5 at room temperature, with the lower end being better for lagers since it results in a more subtle, smoother bitterness.  It's also common practice to adjust the kettle pH lower with acid, so you can mash at 5.5 (which is supposedly optimal) and also get the flavor benefits of a low boil pH for a lager.  So I'll aim for 5.5 for an ale, with just enough acid in the sparge water to eliminate alkalinity.  With lagers I am for 5.4 or so and may add extra acid in the kettle to keep boil pH in the 5.3-5.4 range.
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Offline redzim

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Re: Am i thinking right, mash PH?
« Reply #6 on: May 12, 2014, 06:08:39 AM »
There's a lot of info about pH out there,including too many ranges referenced at different temps to the point that it can be confusing.  You'll get good conversion in the mash anywhere from 5.2 to 5.7 at a room temperature reading. 

After reading the advice of water guys like Kai, I usually target 5.3 - 5.5 at room temperature, with the lower end being better for lagers since it results in a more subtle, smoother bitterness.  It's also common practice to adjust the kettle pH lower with acid, so you can mash at 5.5 (which is supposedly optimal) and also get the flavor benefits of a low boil pH for a lager.  So I'll aim for 5.5 for an ale, with just enough acid in the sparge water to eliminate alkalinity.  With lagers I am for 5.4 or so and may add extra acid in the kettle to keep boil pH in the 5.3-5.4 range.

So what's your SOP on this? Just test your wort pH pre-boil, and if it's too high your add a little lactic acid right into the kettle?

Offline erockrph

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Re: Am i thinking right, mash PH?
« Reply #7 on: May 12, 2014, 07:25:27 PM »
In the end, what is going to affect flavor is the pH of the finished beer, not the mash pH or boil pH. There are several factors that affect what happens between the time you measure your pH in the mash and the time you drink the finished beer. Concentration in the boil, yeast activity and carbonation are all major players.

Having said that, I generally try to target a mash pH and let it ride from there. That is mainly for simplicity's sake - I like to make all my adjustments in my strike water so I don't have to worry about making (or forgetting) adjustments later on down the line. If I feel like I need to make a pH adjustment after tasting a recipe, I will change my water treatment the next time I brew the beer.

Here's what I generally shoot for with mash pH (@room temp):
5.2 - Saison & sours
5.3 - Lagers
5.4 - Hoppy ales, and most malty ones (going to try my Brown Ale at 5.3 next time around as a test)
5.6 - Stouts & porters (I don't currently brew a dry stout, but that would be an exception)

I feel that these are good starting points to get me in the ballpark of what I'm looking for. Like everything, I think the best approach when fine-tuning your brewing is to have a consistent procedure, then tweak one thing at a time until you hit your target. pH is another tool in the toolbox, but I think of it as a specialty tool that I only reach for in specific circumstances.
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Re: Am i thinking right, mash PH?
« Reply #8 on: May 13, 2014, 04:54:53 AM »


 I generally try to target a mash pH and let it ride from there.


Here's what I generally shoot for with mash pH (@room temp):
5.2 - Saison & sours
5.3 - Lagers
5.4 - Hoppy ales, and most malty ones (going to try my Brown Ale at 5.3 next time around as a test)
5.6 - Stouts & porters (I don't currently brew a dry stout, but that would be an exception)


+1.  That's pretty much exactly what I do, except I'm more like 5.5 for stout and porter.  I weigh salts and acid accurately and Bru'nWater gets me there.
Jon H.