Author Topic: Hitting you mash pH  (Read 2502 times)

Offline denny

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Re: Hitting you mash pH
« Reply #15 on: December 16, 2015, 08:14:07 PM »
I start by getting the salts I want for flavor set, then look at how they affect the pH.  Then I use lactic (or make pickling lime) to get the pH where I want it.

Same thing I do, except for using baking soda to raise.

Yeah, sometimes I use baking soda, too.  Kinda depends on the particular beer.
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Offline charles1968

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Re: Hitting you mash pH
« Reply #16 on: December 16, 2015, 11:23:15 PM »
This may be a subjective question, but...

Is it best to try to hit your target mash with salts alone and then make your adjustments with acid malt or lactic acid?

Or is OK to include an acid addition as part of your initial water treatment?

I've been doing the latter, trying to keep salt additions as small as possible.  Is one way better than the other and why?

Thanks!

I don't think one is better than the other. I pretty much agree with nearly everything else on the thread. Use a water calculator like BruNWater or Brewersfriend. I find Brewersfriend better as it's all calculated online and it allows me to input CRS (carbonate reducing solution) additions, which is basically a blend of acids that I use instead of lactic acid.

Figure out what water profile you're aiming for first. See if you can get in the right ball park with your tap water and mix of gypsum, calcium chloride and acid (or chalk if you're water is too soft rather than too hard). You'll need to know the relevant ion levels in your tapwater though - finding that out can be a challenge in itself.

My water is so bad that I have to dilute it with bottled soft water, but fortunately that's very cheap. I can input the secondary water source on Brewersfriend. Then it's just a juggling act, playing with different levels of salt and acid until I'm close to my target water profile and close to my mash pH without getting any red flags for excessive bitterness, saltiness etc. I can't do it with just gypsum or just acid - I tend to need a bit of everything. Often I have to do a bit of compromising to avoid buying too much soft water. It's fun when you get the hang of it.

One thing you might need to measure first is the alkalinity of your tap water. That's a proxy for level of bicarbonate, which buffers acidity and so stops pH dropping as low as it should. you can measure it with this kit:
http://www.amazon.com/Salifert-Carbonate-Hardness-Alkalinity-100-200/dp/B001EJ3DOG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1450308349&sr=8-1&keywords=salifert+alkalinity+test+kit
« Last Edit: December 16, 2015, 11:28:42 PM by charles1968 »

Offline klickitat jim

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Re: Hitting you mash pH
« Reply #17 on: December 17, 2015, 01:09:46 AM »
I've noted a curious pH result in some mashes. The pH can vary by over 0.1 units during the course of a mash. Needless to say that this could be alarming when you are expecting a certain result. However, continued monitoring of the pH during my last several mashes have shown that the pH tends to come back to the targeted value by the end of the mash.

In addition, it seems that mash pH tends to self correct to a value closer to 5.4 when the pH is either higher or lower than that value. So my darker mashes in which I'm targeting a pH of 5.5 or more tend to drop their pH throughout the mashing period and paler mashes in which I'm targeting a pH of 5.3 or less tend to rise. The final result typically gets closer to around 5.4.

Interesting results that suggest that we should NOT be overly alarmed when a pH reading isn't exactly where you intended it to be. Don't go reaching for more acid or alkali when an early reading isn't where you want it, give it some more time.
That shouldn't be too much of a surprise since from mash in through to the kettle the composition of the wort is constantly changing. Seems like we could expect the ph to fluctuate a little. Fully agree with you on not chasing the ph around with salts and acid.

Offline Gloridaze Brewing Company

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Re: Hitting you mash pH
« Reply #18 on: December 17, 2015, 02:51:39 AM »
I've heard recommendations for Brun'water and Brewer's Friend's advanced calculator. Anyone EZ Water Calculator?  I find that one the easiest.

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Re: Hitting you mash pH
« Reply #19 on: December 17, 2015, 02:53:46 AM »
Bru'n water all the way, every time.

Offline Gloridaze Brewing Company

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Re: Hitting you mash pH
« Reply #20 on: December 17, 2015, 03:22:45 AM »

Bru'n water all the way, every time.

Is that because you find it more accurate or easier to use?

Offline PORTERHAUS

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Re: Hitting you mash pH
« Reply #21 on: December 17, 2015, 10:48:10 AM »
I've heard recommendations for Brun'water and Brewer's Friend's advanced calculator. Anyone EZ Water Calculator?  I find that one the easiest.

EZ Water is easy to use I give it that. I started out using EZ water and I still compare it against Bru'n Water just to see where they both estimate things. I have found them both quite accurate, Bru'n Water a bit more accurate. Ez Water is easy, especially for someone starting out with adjusting their water and trying to get a handle on things. But Bru'n Water has more too it and includes some handy features EZ doesn't have. Bru'n Water was quite overwhelming for me to look over at first...it took me a while to know how to work through the program.

That being said, for the most part EZ water estimates about .1 higher than Ez water or Bru'n Water estimates about .1 lower ph than Ez Water. I usally fall right in between the difference...close enough for me. The water profile for any water additions match closely as well. The real difference I see is when you start making adjustments with acid, after that the Alkalinity and RA numbers are way from eachother (not that it matters) and ph estimation gets further apart between the two programs. Before any acid additions, they estimate ph quite close.

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Re: Hitting you mash pH
« Reply #22 on: December 17, 2015, 12:41:40 PM »


Bru'n water all the way, every time.

Is that because you find it more accurate or easier to use?

It definitely seems more accurate and comprehensive. If your toying with water already than ease of use shouldn't be a consideration. Once you figure out Bru'n water and how to manipulate it then it's very simple to use.

Offline charles1968

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Re: Hitting you mash pH
« Reply #23 on: December 17, 2015, 01:16:47 PM »
The standard version of Bru'n water doesn't have an option to include CRS additions but Brewersfriend does. Otherwise very similar results. Brewersfriend's water calculator is integrated into the recipe builder, which is very handy if you use the site for building recipes, but you can use it on its own too.

I wouldn't recommend either for a beginner though. First priority is to find out what it's your own water and understand how alkalinity affects mash pH. Otherwise you'll end up have problems with terms like hardness and carbonate - source of much grief on homebrew forums.

Offline jimpdx

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Re: Hitting you mash pH
« Reply #24 on: December 18, 2015, 05:51:44 PM »
Here is the question that has been bugging me lately. Even using Brun' Water I rarely hit my target. I have written to Martin about it and re-tested my water so I must be doing something else wrong. But regardless, I pull a sample about 15 minutes into the initial mash rest, cool it over ice water, take the measurement. Once I know what adjustment to make, it ends up being 25-30 minutes before I can nail my pH. Does this cause any issues? Ideally I would nail the pH target immediately but since I am sometimes high and sometimes low, I can't exactly make a blanket adjustment in advance. In general, my new theory is to stick with absolutely minimal adjustments. I think part of my problem has been TOO MANY adjustments.

For example on a recent Wee Heavy I had 10 different grains in my malt bill - 45 pounds on a 12G batch. I wanted to accentuate body, maltiness, roundness, sweetness, etc. In order to hit a 5.4 mash pH I had calculated the following additions (added to mash only) with pretty soft/clean Portland water:
  • Gypsum - 4g
  • Calcium Chloride - 8g
  • Epsom Salt - 6g
  • Baking Soda - 5g

With these additions I should have produced the following mash water:
  • Calcium - 66ppm
  • Magnesium - 11ppm
  • Sodium - 27ppm
  • Sulfate - 77ppm
  • Chloride - 90ppm
  • Bicarbonate - 82ppm

20 minutes into the mash my first pH reading was 5.7. I was able to get it down to 5.4 using 3/4tsp of Lactic Acid. But that adjustment took place 1/2 way into the mash. Should I not worry about the 30 minutes of the mash sitting at the higher pH?
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Offline Gloridaze Brewing Company

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Re: Hitting you mash pH
« Reply #25 on: December 18, 2015, 07:04:43 PM »
After you take your mash ph reading at 15 mins how do you calculate how much acid or baking soda to add?  The spreadsheets all seem to focus on pre brew session planning, not adjustments along the way.

Offline jimpdx

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Re: Hitting you mash pH
« Reply #26 on: December 18, 2015, 07:06:58 PM »
After you take your mash ph reading at 15 mins how do you calculate how much acid or baking soda to add?  The spreadsheets all seem to focus on pre brew session planning, not adjustments along the way.

Excellent point! I look back at previous brew logs and I see where I added say 8ml of lactic acid and saw a drop of 0.3 pH, and adjust for the batch size. It is a rough approximation but usually gets me close. I don't think I ever found a calculator for those adjustments. Great idea @MartinBrugard for next version! :)
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Offline charles1968

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Re: Hitting you mash pH
« Reply #27 on: December 19, 2015, 12:39:36 AM »
Here is the question that has been bugging me lately. Even using Brun' Water I rarely hit my target. I have written to Martin about it and re-tested my water so I must be doing something else wrong. But regardless, I pull a sample about 15 minutes into the initial mash rest, cool it over ice water, take the measurement. Once I know what adjustment to make, it ends up being 25-30 minutes before I can nail my pH. Does this cause any issues? Ideally I would nail the pH target immediately but since I am sometimes high and sometimes low, I can't exactly make a blanket adjustment in advance. In general, my new theory is to stick with absolutely minimal adjustments. I think part of my problem has been TOO MANY adjustments.

For example on a recent Wee Heavy I had 10 different grains in my malt bill - 45 pounds on a 12G batch. I wanted to accentuate body, maltiness, roundness, sweetness, etc. In order to hit a 5.4 mash pH I had calculated the following additions (added to mash only) with pretty soft/clean Portland water:
  • Gypsum - 4g
  • Calcium Chloride - 8g
  • Epsom Salt - 6g
  • Baking Soda - 5g

With these additions I should have produced the following mash water:
  • Calcium - 66ppm
  • Magnesium - 11ppm
  • Sodium - 27ppm
  • Sulfate - 77ppm
  • Chloride - 90ppm
  • Bicarbonate - 82ppm

20 minutes into the mash my first pH reading was 5.7. I was able to get it down to 5.4 using 3/4tsp of Lactic Acid. But that adjustment took place 1/2 way into the mash. Should I not worry about the 30 minutes of the mash sitting at the higher pH?

Some people have inconsistent tap water - alkalinity can swing unpredictably. It might be worth measuring alkalinity before your next 5 or 6 brews to see if it changes. Depends where you live. Mine is very steady.

Offline PAYCHECK

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Re: Hitting you mash pH
« Reply #28 on: December 26, 2015, 12:09:07 AM »
i use bru'n water, start with RO, and try to achieve the target water profile selected, and then only use lactic or add acid malt if necessary.
Hitting a PH level at the beginning of the mash is optimal.  PH can also affect your mash with regards to the grain husks and bitter or off notes. 
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Offline mabrungard

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Re: Hitting you mash pH
« Reply #29 on: December 26, 2015, 02:28:00 AM »
20 minutes into the mash my first pH reading was 5.7. I was able to get it down to 5.4 using 3/4tsp of Lactic Acid. But that adjustment took place 1/2 way into the mash. Should I not worry about the 30 minutes of the mash sitting at the higher pH?

I can virtually guarantee that you were chasing your tail. The fact is that mash pH varies during a mash. I've noted a fairly consistent tendency for a high initial pH to fall a bit during the mash and a low pH to rise a bit. There seems to be a buffering action that tends to bring mash pH closer to 5.4. So that 5.7 would have naturally fallen if you had given it time.

My strong recommendation is to NOT adjust mash pH during the mash. Make the predetermined adjustments using a program like Bru'n Water and let the pH go. Do monitor the actual room temperature pH during the mash and make note of the final pH at the end of the mash. If its more than a couple of tenths off, make a note of it and add either a dose of acid or alkali to the kettle to bring the pH closer to expectation. But don't chase pH during the mash since it will vary by itself.

Jim, did you measure the kettle wort pH before the boil? I'm curious if the pH was at your target or below.   
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