Author Topic: PH and Interesting beer  (Read 689 times)

Offline flbrewer

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PH and Interesting beer
« on: January 27, 2016, 03:16:47 PM »
I'm listening to a podcast and John Palmer talks about PH for pale beers and the importance of getting down to 5.2 or so. He also mentions that as the PH climbs to 5.6 or higher it softens the malt and the beer becomes less interesting to drink.

I've really never measured or chased PH in my beers. Mind you, he was talking about German beers. Does this same PH school of thought apply to most beer styles?

Secondly, has anyone noticed a big difference in their beer once they dialed in PH?


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Offline BrodyR

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Re: PH and Interesting beer
« Reply #1 on: January 27, 2016, 03:41:02 PM »
Adjusting pH seems to make a significant impact depending on what your base is. A buddy of mine brewed a pale ale with our philly tap water and it was terrible. I measured the final beer pH and it was ridiculously high - added some lactic acid and it improved a bit.

I'm sure some others can get a lot more scientific than I can but target mash pH seems to vary depending on what you're doing. I initially heard 5.2 referenced a lot (and it seems to work well for a few APAs I brewed). The Germans seem to like it a little higher - I've read from 5.3 to 5.5 for light beers and 5.4 to 5.6 for dark. Decocting vs Step Mashing seems to affect this as well.

Besides affecting conversion pH in the boil is important to consider as it affects bitterness. Sounds like you want it low enough that the bitterness isn't harsh and protein coagulation is encouraged but high enough that you don't loose too much utilization. Some folks mash at a higher pH then acidify during the boil.

Cash out pH is important for yeast health (5.1 to 5.3 or so I've read).

And finally, the pH of the serving beer affects taste. Above 4.6 and some bacteria can be active - that pale ale I referenced earlier was like 4.8 and terrible. Ideally fermentation will bring it down enough but Jim recently adjusted his APA in the keg with some lactic (to 4.3 was it?) and was pretty happy with the results. Messing around in the glass with baking soda/lactic acid is a fun way to approximate the effect.

I've been messing around with pH in Stouts lately and it makes a huge impact. I brewed one beer that ended up at 3.85 (Similar to Guinness) and that acidity/twang was a major component of the flavor. Subsequent stouts at 4.2 or so we're much smoother. pH was HUGE for me in stout experimentation. I also measured the pH of a well regarded local breweries (Tired Hands) pale ale and was surprised at how low it was (3.9 IIRC?) - I think the slight acidity melds well with the whole fruit juice sort of thing they go for.

Steve Holle talked about this in his 2008 seminar German Brewing Techniques. Kai talks about pH alot as well (http://braukaiser.com/wiki/index.php?title=The_Theory_of_Mashing#Protein_converting_enzymes), sounds like the Germans in general focus more on it.

I'd buy a relatively cheap meter and some calibration solution and jump in, see if it adds value to you. Who knows, your water may be close enough to ideal for what you brew. Mine is fine for stouts but terrible for pale beers.



Offline Wort-H.O.G.

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Re: PH and Interesting beer
« Reply #2 on: January 27, 2016, 03:44:41 PM »
depends IMO.

for pils,amber lagers Ive been mashing at higher PH-  around 5.4 , then dropping PH in kettle before boil to 5.15-5.2.  my reasoning is the higher mash PH lands in both beta and alpha amylase for step mash, and the lower PH after conversion is to give a more crisp finish that Ive found to be what I like for this beer style.

For pale ale, IPA I just roll with single infusion at around 5.4PH, and have not tinkered with lowering PH in the kettle...mostly because of what Ive read about PH and hop utilization. Perhaps tinkering with lowering PH after fermentation/hopping to see if there's any noticeable improvement to me might be something to try in future.
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Offline HoosierBrew

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Re: PH and Interesting beer
« Reply #3 on: January 27, 2016, 03:58:29 PM »
Secondly, has anyone noticed a big difference in their beer once they dialed in PH?


Depending on your source water for a given style, the results could be anywhere from slightly noticeably better to vastly better. But you'll notice a difference with pH control. Yeast performance/flocculation, clarity, head retention, color, conversion and flavor are all influenced by proper pH. Keep in mind this is just for controlling mash pH which for me is in the 5.2-5.6 range, depending on style. It's also often beneficial for beers to add salts like gypsum or calcium chloride to dial in the flavor profile of a beer as well, independent of pH control. You should download Brunwater and try it out. 
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Offline flbrewer

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Re: PH and Interesting beer
« Reply #4 on: January 27, 2016, 04:22:10 PM »
I have Brunwater and do add Gypsum and CaCl. I've just never actually measured mash PH.

Offline Wort-H.O.G.

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Re: PH and Interesting beer
« Reply #5 on: January 27, 2016, 04:30:40 PM »
I have Brunwater and do add Gypsum and CaCl. I've just never actually measured mash PH.

do you have a PH meter? IMO, how do you get to where to want to go if you don't know where you are?

if you've seen other posts lately, software is a tool to target/predict PH; however different maltsters base malts may not align with the software calcs.

As mentioned PH is important and impact throughout entire process.
Ken- Chagrin Falls, OH
CPT, U.S.Army
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Harveys-Brewhaus/405092862905115

http://braukaiser.com/wiki/index.php?title=The_Science_of_Mashing

Serving:        In Process:
Vienna IPA          O'Fest
Dort
Mead                 
Cider                         
Ger'merican Blonde
Amber Ale
Next:
Ger Pils
O'Fest

Offline flbrewer

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Re: PH and Interesting beer
« Reply #6 on: January 27, 2016, 04:33:47 PM »

I have Brunwater and do add Gypsum and CaCl. I've just never actually measured mash PH.

do you have a PH meter? IMO, how do you get to where to want to go if you don't know where you are?

if you've seen other posts lately, software is a tool to target/predict PH; however different maltsters base malts may not align with the software calcs.

As mentioned PH is important and impact throughout entire process.
I do I picked up a Milwaukee one but got frustrated months ago when I initially tried to calibrate it. I'm going to look into a simpler one piece device. 

Offline denny

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Re: PH and Interesting beer
« Reply #7 on: January 27, 2016, 04:36:45 PM »
I'm listening to a podcast and John Palmer talks about PH for pale beers and the importance of getting down to 5.2 or so. He also mentions that as the PH climbs to 5.6 or higher it softens the malt and the beer becomes less interesting to drink.

I've really never measured or chased PH in my beers. Mind you, he was talking about German beers. Does this same PH school of thought apply to most beer styles?

Secondly, has anyone noticed a big difference in their beer once they dialed in PH?


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IMO, it's dependent on style  I wouldn't advise you to generalize.
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Offline Wort-H.O.G.

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Re: PH and Interesting beer
« Reply #8 on: January 27, 2016, 04:36:58 PM »

I have Brunwater and do add Gypsum and CaCl. I've just never actually measured mash PH.

do you have a PH meter? IMO, how do you get to where to want to go if you don't know where you are?

if you've seen other posts lately, software is a tool to target/predict PH; however different maltsters base malts may not align with the software calcs.

As mentioned PH is important and impact throughout entire process.
I do I picked up a Milwaukee one but got frustrated months ago when I initially tried to calibrate it. I'm going to look into a simpler one piece device.

the milwaukee PH pen, PH56 model is reasonably priced, one piece meter. I also have thermoworks 8100 that has a probe pen and temp probe..more expensive.
Ken- Chagrin Falls, OH
CPT, U.S.Army
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Harveys-Brewhaus/405092862905115

http://braukaiser.com/wiki/index.php?title=The_Science_of_Mashing

Serving:        In Process:
Vienna IPA          O'Fest
Dort
Mead                 
Cider                         
Ger'merican Blonde
Amber Ale
Next:
Ger Pils
O'Fest