Author Topic: Do wort pH swings affect final beer?  (Read 443 times)

Offline BrodyR

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Do wort pH swings affect final beer?
« on: October 07, 2015, 04:38:40 PM »
This is sort of a piggy-back question to my early post about the effect of goosing the mash -

So let's say you mash in, wait 10m, take a reading, and make a few adjustments. Then you take another reading and adjust again. During the mash itself theres a decent swing in pH from adding minerals, starting out too high, adding lactic acid (and in today's case a late addition of roasted barley). At the end of the mash you're ok with your efficiency and have the pH where you want it going into the kettle.

Will the flavor of the beer be impacted by the fluctuating/high pH in the mash? Or does the fact that it's just right going into the kettle nullify the effects of the mash swings?

I guess my thought process is during, say, fermentation if you pitch at a crazy temp and eventually get it down to where you want it it's going to hurt the beer. Is mash pH like that or is all that matters (besides efficiency) having it dialed in before the wort goes into the kettle so the final beer pH is where you want it?
« Last Edit: October 07, 2015, 04:47:43 PM by BrodyR »

Offline Village Taphouse

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Re: Do wort pH swings affect final beer?
« Reply #1 on: October 07, 2015, 05:00:54 PM »
My approach on the mash pH is to get it into the 5.2 to 5.4 range because [supposedly] this is the optimal range for mash activity (enzymatic, conversion, whatever).  I think that the efficiency or effectiveness of your mash could suffer if the pH was too high or low but I don't know if that issue or the issue of fluctuation would impact beer flavor.  The addition of sparge water that is too high in pH or the boiling of the wort when the wort pH is approaching 6.0 would have a much bigger impact on color, clarity and flavor of the finished beer than a slightly off mash pH or fluctuating mash pH.  All that said, my strategy is to add CaCl or CaSO4 and lactic acid to my mash water as it's heating.  What is added and how much depends on style, Bru'N'Water, the SRM of the beer and personal experience.  This way, when everything in the mash is mixed together, adjustments are either small or not necessary at all.  I also spike my sparge water (which starts around 7.5 pH) with 1.5 to 2ml of lactic acid as it's heating so I can bring it down to around 5.5 pH when it's added to the MT.

Offline dilluh98

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Re: Do wort pH swings affect final beer?
« Reply #2 on: October 07, 2015, 05:03:36 PM »
According to Martin's Bru'n Water program, optimal mash pH is between 5.3 and 5.5. I think if you are going for a certain taste profile based on the acidity (or lack thereof) of your wort then yes it probably matters to be hitting that number going into the kettle. But as far as I understand, the mash is going to proceed just fine in any range of pH from 5.2 to 5.8. Outside of that range and I've noticed slight hits to my mash efficiency numbers but the wort still turned into pretty good beer.

Short answer: depends what you're after.  :)

Offline BrodyR

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Re: Do wort pH swings affect final beer?
« Reply #3 on: October 07, 2015, 05:04:35 PM »
I either batch sparge or BIAB (which I did today) so thankfully high sparge pH isn't an issue for me.

Efficiency wasn't great, even for BIAB, at 60% but the wort's pH ended up at 5.2 once all was said and done. At one point it was as high as 6 though which was scary. A bit of lactic acid then the addition of the Roasted Barley at the end got it back on point.

rabeb25

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Re: Do wort pH swings affect final beer?
« Reply #4 on: October 07, 2015, 05:10:42 PM »
PH going into the kettle is one small part of the overall beer pH equation. However if you are asking if a flub up and fix, would yield a different result than a good un-modified pH.. you would have to test that for yourself.

I would more so ask yourself why you got the swings and fix that first ;)

Offline BrodyR

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Re: Do wort pH swings affect final beer?
« Reply #5 on: October 07, 2015, 05:28:42 PM »
Yea, I dunno if it's my water report, the RO water I buy, my brun water inputs, or maybe even my meter but I've been a bit off my targets the last couple brews.  And after switching from acid malt to lactic acid I dropped the pH too low a few times. As a result I now wait until my first reading to decide how much to add - this means the pH is probably sitting high for the first 10-15 minutes but seemed like a better option than having to goose it back up.

Generally takes me brewing similar batches the same way a couple of times to dial it in.

rabeb25

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Re: Do wort pH swings affect final beer?
« Reply #6 on: October 07, 2015, 05:31:12 PM »
Right, like I said, fix that first.

Offline Village Taphouse

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Re: Do wort pH swings affect final beer?
« Reply #7 on: October 07, 2015, 06:45:03 PM »
As an aside, I like my pH measurements to be correct all along the way but what I am noticing is a very pleasing "acid snap" if I get my pH down into a certain range.  Some people have described beers with a higher-finishing pH as "flabby".  That description tells me that a beer like that is boring, tasteless and generally lacking in character.  But I notice that beers that come in lower in overall pH are tastier and more "beery".  Yes, I said BEERY.  :D  :P

Offline BrodyR

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Re: Do wort pH swings affect final beer?
« Reply #8 on: October 07, 2015, 07:35:14 PM »
As an aside, I like my pH measurements to be correct all along the way but what I am noticing is a very pleasing "acid snap" if I get my pH down into a certain range.  Some people have described beers with a higher-finishing pH as "flabby".  That description tells me that a beer like that is boring, tasteless and generally lacking in character.  But I notice that beers that come in lower in overall pH are tastier and more "beery".  Yes, I said BEERY.  :D  :P

Agreed, getting my pH down to 5-5.2 in the fermentor seems to have resulted in better beer. By the way, I took that inspiration of your Tuesday brew day to get in a Wednesday brew day (although I've been working simultaneously)... the glory of being able to work from home!

Offline Village Taphouse

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Re: Do wort pH swings affect final beer?
« Reply #9 on: October 07, 2015, 08:03:11 PM »
As an aside, I like my pH measurements to be correct all along the way but what I am noticing is a very pleasing "acid snap" if I get my pH down into a certain range.  Some people have described beers with a higher-finishing pH as "flabby".  That description tells me that a beer like that is boring, tasteless and generally lacking in character.  But I notice that beers that come in lower in overall pH are tastier and more "beery".  Yes, I said BEERY.  :D  :P

Agreed, getting my pH down to 5-5.2 in the fermentor seems to have resulted in better beer. By the way, I took that inspiration of your Tuesday brew day to get in a Wednesday brew day (although I've been working simultaneously)... the glory of being able to work from home!
That's the way to do it.  It's very possible to get things started brewing-wise and still answer the phone, attend to work things, etc. and juggle all of it.  Eventually I started brewing more on the weekends but I kind of take over the kitchen (which peeves everyone else in the house) plus people bristle at the smell so I very often brew early on weekday mornings and then I bother no one.  The one drawback is that I'm usually drinking coffee instead of beer when I'm brewing.  :D  Cheers!