Author Topic: pH of German Pils  (Read 1218 times)

Offline BrodyR

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pH of German Pils
« on: November 10, 2015, 01:42:55 AM »
I apologize for another pH rant haha... but out of curiosity, anyone ever take readings of the pH of German Pils?

That previous thread about tweaking final pH and the Weyerman pH in the Brewery slides have had me thinking more about this. Afterwards I did a couple of fun experiments where I hit a buddies pale ale (high final pH of around 4.8) with lactic acid and it improved considerably and experimented with baking soda in my acidic irish dry stout which also made pretty notable change. .

Anyway, in the Weyerman slide it states Czech Pils and bocks should actually finish high at 4.5-4.8... wondering if German Pils is different. I found this odd since I've heard before you want to be below 4.4 in general.

The pils I currently have gell'ing at the moment finished at 4.2 (5.2 into the fermentor). I'll probably pick some up German examples to compare but unfortunately the only "pilsners I have at floating around the house are Miller Lite and Pittsburgh's American Light.

Offline klickitat jim

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Re: pH of German Pils
« Reply #1 on: November 10, 2015, 02:00:13 AM »
I dont know. Curious though.

Just make sure to get your commercial readings in the same state you test your homebrew. I like to pour a sample of the commercial into a 20ml sample cup with lid (I get them at Cash n Carry which is kind of a restaurant supply) then I let it sit till room temp and flat. I test and adjust my homebrew flat.
« Last Edit: November 10, 2015, 02:14:01 AM by klickitat jim »

Offline BrodyR

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Re: pH of German Pils
« Reply #2 on: November 10, 2015, 02:07:55 AM »
Hmm, I meant to type a pH of 4.8 referencing that pale ale... no idea where the sunglass smily face came from, kind of funny tho.

Offline klickitat jim

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Re: pH of German Pils
« Reply #3 on: November 10, 2015, 02:17:16 AM »
Ill bet it changed it a lot. My APA has been finishing 4.5-4.4 and its best at 4.3. Even that little change makes quite a difference to me.

Offline BrodyR

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Re: pH of German Pils
« Reply #4 on: November 10, 2015, 02:25:44 AM »
It was huge! The brewer felt something was just off about it and passed some bottles off to me. It's funny, you always hear people on both sides debating about whether you should even bother with water at all - in our case Philly tap water produces terrible pale beers if you don't acidify and/or dilute.

Offline BrodyR

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Re: pH of German Pils
« Reply #5 on: November 10, 2015, 03:28:31 AM »
Miller Lite came in at 4.2

Offline beersk

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Re: pH of German Pils
« Reply #6 on: November 10, 2015, 02:07:21 PM »
It surprises me that a .1 pH difference is noticeable. I still refuse to get a pH meter, but reading you guys adjusting your beers down or up by .1 pH or so and it making a difference is making me consider it...
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Offline AmandaK

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Re: pH of German Pils
« Reply #7 on: November 10, 2015, 06:11:08 PM »
It surprises me that a .1 pH difference is noticeable. I still refuse to get a pH meter, but reading you guys adjusting your beers down or up by .1 pH or so and it making a difference is making me consider it...

The Thermowerks pH meter is like $70...  ;) Love that thing.
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Offline Village Taphouse

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Re: pH of German Pils
« Reply #8 on: November 10, 2015, 11:26:21 PM »
I did this one Saturday afternoon when I was thinking about finished pH.  I had one of my gold lagers on tap and then I looked in the fridge for more examples whatever they might be... Coors Light left here after a party, some Stiegl Goldbrau I bought, Pacifico from Mexico, etc.  Mine was 4.4, Coors Light was 4.2, Stiegl was 4.1 and Pacifico was 4.0.  The problem is that I took the measurements when the samples were carbed and cold and I also used my old Milwaukee meter which was only partially reliable.  The results may have actually been a couple of ticks higher than my readings (carbonic acid... I don't know) but I did learn something:  pH matters and I find that a lower finished beer pH makes a snappier and more refreshing beer, IMO.  I had heard descriptions of "flabby" beers (where the final pH is high and makes the beer drab and uninteresting) and vowed at that point to make sure that I pay attention to "kettle pH".  But I have also heard people say that the yeast (and fermentation in general) is partially responsible for the final pH of the beer and that the brewer shouldn't really attempt to impact things.  I figure that if my mash pH and the pH of my sparge & grains (batch sparge) is in the low-to-mid 5s, I really don't have to worry about more than that.  I also fear that I may push it lower than it should go and I don't know what the result would be... overly acidic beer?   

Offline BrodyR

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Re: pH of German Pils
« Reply #9 on: November 11, 2015, 03:28:54 AM »
I did this one Saturday afternoon when I was thinking about finished pH.  I had one of my gold lagers on tap and then I looked in the fridge for more examples whatever they might be... Coors Light left here after a party, some Stiegl Goldbrau I bought, Pacifico from Mexico, etc.  Mine was 4.4, Coors Light was 4.2, Stiegl was 4.1 and Pacifico was 4.0.  The problem is that I took the measurements when the samples were carbed and cold and I also used my old Milwaukee meter which was only partially reliable.  The results may have actually been a couple of ticks higher than my readings (carbonic acid... I don't know) but I did learn something:  pH matters and I find that a lower finished beer pH makes a snappier and more refreshing beer, IMO.  I had heard descriptions of "flabby" beers (where the final pH is high and makes the beer drab and uninteresting) and vowed at that point to make sure that I pay attention to "kettle pH".  But I have also heard people say that the yeast (and fermentation in general) is partially responsible for the final pH of the beer and that the brewer shouldn't really attempt to impact things.  I figure that if my mash pH and the pH of my sparge & grains (batch sparge) is in the low-to-mid 5s, I really don't have to worry about more than that.  I also fear that I may push it lower than it should go and I don't know what the result would be... overly acidic beer?

You could always hit a pint of your gold lager with a tiny bit of lactic acid and taste it. If you prefer it try hitting the keg with a bit.

The whole pH through the whole process has been on my mind lately. It seems theres some benefits to a higher mash pH of around 5.5, acidifying slightly post mash to ensure the boil is 5.2 or so, then adjusting the final product slightly if need be. Wether that's worth the trouble vs just adjusting the mash I don't know. The two final beer test adjustments I did were fairly dramatic (the way too high pale ale + an acidic irish stout) but Jim's minor adjustment making a big impact doesn't surprise me.

I'm curious if production breweries screw around with this much - I would imagine the light lager breweries dial it in since their consistency is key.

Offline Village Taphouse

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Re: pH of German Pils
« Reply #10 on: November 11, 2015, 04:12:42 AM »
I did this one Saturday afternoon when I was thinking about finished pH.  I had one of my gold lagers on tap and then I looked in the fridge for more examples whatever they might be... Coors Light left here after a party, some Stiegl Goldbrau I bought, Pacifico from Mexico, etc.  Mine was 4.4, Coors Light was 4.2, Stiegl was 4.1 and Pacifico was 4.0.  The problem is that I took the measurements when the samples were carbed and cold and I also used my old Milwaukee meter which was only partially reliable.  The results may have actually been a couple of ticks higher than my readings (carbonic acid... I don't know) but I did learn something:  pH matters and I find that a lower finished beer pH makes a snappier and more refreshing beer, IMO.  I had heard descriptions of "flabby" beers (where the final pH is high and makes the beer drab and uninteresting) and vowed at that point to make sure that I pay attention to "kettle pH".  But I have also heard people say that the yeast (and fermentation in general) is partially responsible for the final pH of the beer and that the brewer shouldn't really attempt to impact things.  I figure that if my mash pH and the pH of my sparge & grains (batch sparge) is in the low-to-mid 5s, I really don't have to worry about more than that.  I also fear that I may push it lower than it should go and I don't know what the result would be... overly acidic beer?

You could always hit a pint of your gold lager with a tiny bit of lactic acid and taste it. If you prefer it try hitting the keg with a bit.

The whole pH through the whole process has been on my mind lately. It seems theres some benefits to a higher mash pH of around 5.5, acidifying slightly post mash to ensure the boil is 5.2 or so, then adjusting the final product slightly if need be. Wether that's worth the trouble vs just adjusting the mash I don't know. The two final beer test adjustments I did were fairly dramatic (the way too high pale ale + an acidic irish stout) but Jim's minor adjustment making a big impact doesn't surprise me.

I'm curious if production breweries screw around with this much - I would imagine the light lager breweries dial it in since their consistency is key.
I have done just about everything "post-fermentation" when it was required.  I added gypsum to some boiling water and then added that right to a keg because the beer lacked crispness.  I have added calcium chloride the same way on some beers that were lacking depth.  I have used a syringe/dropper to add lactic acid to a keg and I have even boiled some brown sugar with water and added it to a spiced pumpkin ale that needed just a hint of sweetness.  It's nice to know you can recover that way although I would much rather it be correct from the start of the process.  Here's my approach:  Get the mash in the 5.2 to 5.4 range as is almost always mentioned.  If you're a fly- or batch-sparger, make sure that water that is coming in contact with your grains is not over 6.0.  Actually, I should shut my mouth about fly sparging because I have never done it.  For me and my 7.5 pH water, I add lactic acid to it before I heat it for the mash and for the sparge.  On the sparge, I get that water to about 5.5 pH, heat it and add it.  If my mash pH is 5.2 to 5.4 and my sparge water pH is 5.5 (which should drop a little), I should be good on kettle pH.  I would like to know of a source for "optimal kettle pH for various styles" if there is such a thing.  My beers got a whole lot better once I started paying attention to water composition and pH control.  Cheers.

Offline BrodyR

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Re: pH of German Pils
« Reply #11 on: November 11, 2015, 03:14:34 PM »
Did the gypsum, CaCl adjustments make a big impact?

Google Weyerman pH in the Brewhouse, their slide show has a nice breakdown of target final pH (although the slide is incorrectly labeled mash pH) which can be used to try to back into kettle pH's

Offline Village Taphouse

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Re: pH of German Pils
« Reply #12 on: November 11, 2015, 03:28:15 PM »
Did the gypsum, CaCl adjustments make a big impact?

Google Weyerman pH in the Brewhouse, their slide show has a nice breakdown of target final pH (although the slide is incorrectly labeled mash pH) which can be used to try to back into kettle pH's
Yes, the additions did exactly what I hoped they would.  I got that idea when various brewers [who are smarter than I am :)] said you could get a feel for how a certain ingredient impacts beer flavor by adding it directly to your glass of beer.  I figured that if I could do that, I could also try to recover from a poorly-made beer [or a beer that just missed the mark] by adding something to the keg.  I have added a muslin bag of hops to the keg as well when some late hop aroma was needed... but I'm sure that's a common thing.

I have seen that Weyermann slide show and it was an important tool when I was looking into pH.  Thanks for reminding me of it... I should probably look at it again.  From the time I started brewing I wanted to make things like pilsner, helles, kolsch, etc. and I didn't realize that the 138ppm of bicarb in my water was going to torture me for years until I got around it.  I made many, many dreadful batches of gold lager without knowing why.  Neutralizing bicarb with lactic acid, understanding water composition and pH through the process helped me make some outrageously good pale lagers with 100% filtered tap water and once I got that tool in my toolbox, there was much rejoicing.  :D  Cheers.

Offline charles1968

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Re: pH of German Pils
« Reply #13 on: November 11, 2015, 04:58:11 PM »
It surprises me that a .1 pH difference is noticeable. I still refuse to get a pH meter, but reading you guys adjusting your beers down or up by .1 pH or so and it making a difference is making me consider it...

it's a logarithmic scale like decibels, so pH 4 is ten times more acidic than pH 5. 

Offline charles1968

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Re: pH of German Pils
« Reply #14 on: November 11, 2015, 05:03:10 PM »
pH readings of commercial beer:
http://embracethefunk.com/ph-readings-of-commercial-beers/

At a guess the average looks like 3.75. Looks like they were tested while still carbonated just after pouring.