Author Topic: When and how to adjust mash pH  (Read 5033 times)

Offline Jkrehbielp

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When and how to adjust mash pH
« on: April 15, 2017, 02:34:38 PM »
I finally have a good quality pH meter, so I am taking mash pH somewhat more seriously than I used to. The problem I have is this: by the time I've taken a sample, cooled it, measured pH, added lactic acid to the mash, stirred it, taken another sample, cooled it, and measured pH it could be 15-20 minutes.

As I understand it, most of the conversion is done in the first few minutes of the mash, so I'm essentially mashing at the wrong pH regardless of adjusting.

That said, does it make sense to dough in at a somewhat low temperature (say 120 F) and adjust before raising to mash temperature?

All this may be moot (I hope) as I've just downloaded the Bru'n Water spreadsheet, which I find easy to use and very promising.

Offline stpug

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Re: When and how to adjust mash pH
« Reply #1 on: April 15, 2017, 02:57:58 PM »
My SOP is to target the values I desire; at the appropriate time (20-30min into mash) get my pH; determine how to adjust to more closely match my desired pH; adjust for the difference on the next batch (the next time I brew).

Offline mainebrewer

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Re: When and how to adjust mash pH
« Reply #2 on: April 15, 2017, 04:23:48 PM »
Trying to re-adjust pH during the mash is somewhat pointless as you noted.
As noted in the previous post, my process is similar.
Determine the target pH using Brunwater or something similar.
Add the brewing salts and/or acid to mash water.
Mash in
20 min or so after mashing in, pull sample
Cool sample to whatever temp your meter calls for, mine calls for 25 degrees C.
Measure pH
If you are off, figure how to adjust for your next batch.
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Offline Phil_M

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Re: When and how to adjust mash pH
« Reply #3 on: April 15, 2017, 05:01:02 PM »
I find it best to not adjust during the mash, and just make a note of what needs to be changed on subsequent batches. Since the pH changes throughout the mash, you're basically aiming for a moving target if you adjust on the fly.

That being said, I don't regularly check my pH anymore, Bru'n water gets me close enough for my current goals. That being said, a good pH meter is on my shopping list, hoping to spend a little money and revisit my mash procedures soon.
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Offline PORTERHAUS

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Re: When and how to adjust mash pH
« Reply #4 on: April 18, 2017, 01:10:21 AM »
You say you have only just now downloaded Bru'n Water, so my advice would be to play around with that and get a good feel for how to use it in preparation for your next batch. But...you need to input the correct info into Bru'n Water to get accurate estimations and results. Have you had a water test to go off of for those parameters to input into Bru'n Water?

My water is pretty stable, I find Bru'n Water gets me right on the money...sometimes for whatever reason if I'm playing around with a water profile and adding Gypsum and Calcium Chloride, results may be a bit off from estimations, but I blame that on measuring error on my part or humidity levels acting upon my brewing salts. If I simply adjust with lactic acid, I find Brun' Water very reliable and I don't often have to adjust the mash itself. I usually target a mash ph ~5.3 so that I have some wiggle room either way. It's only dark beers that I want to target a bit higher.

Oh...but here's a tip. Line up some shot glasses in the freezer so they are pre-chilled. If you need to adjust the mash and test again, you will have a couple on hand. Once you add only just enough wort to take a ph reading, the temp is almost where I need it. I do the same thing with a glass measuring cup to get my pre-boil hydrometer reading. Cuts the cooling time down a lot. And to answer your question, I think it's safe to take a ph reading within the first 10 mins of the mash, seems to be plenty of time for me for it to come together after stirring in and settling on my mash temp. 
« Last Edit: April 18, 2017, 01:20:02 AM by PORTERHAUS »

Offline dmtaylor

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Re: When and how to adjust mash pH
« Reply #5 on: April 18, 2017, 02:16:49 AM »
Everyone will hate this advice, but...

I measure my pH directly in the mash at like 150 F.  To adjust for temperature, I add 0.2.  So if shooting for 5.3 as measured at room temp, I shoot for 5.1 as measured in the mash.

I know, I know, shame on me, it will shorten the life of my pH meter, yadda yadda.  Yeah, but, my meter was only like $14 on Amazon.  So who the frick cares!

 ;D

Then, if pH is too low, add a teaspoon of baking soda at a time to bring it up.  If too high, add a couple tablespoons of acid (any acid, like, I use vinegar  :o  8) ) until it comes down.
Dave

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MaltMaker

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Re: When and how to adjust mash pH
« Reply #6 on: April 18, 2017, 01:23:50 PM »
Everyone will hate this advice, but...

I measure my pH directly in the mash at like 150 F.  To adjust for temperature, I add 0.2.  So if shooting for 5.3 as measured at room temp, I shoot for 5.1 as measured in the mash.

I know, I know, shame on me, it will shorten the life of my pH meter, yadda yadda.  Yeah, but, my meter was only like $14 on Amazon.  So who the frick cares!

 ;D

Then, if pH is too low, add a teaspoon of baking soda at a time to bring it up.  If too high, add a couple tablespoons of acid (any acid, like, I use vinegar  :o  8) ) until it comes down.

Troll bait?  Sarcasm?  Put the crack up?  Ohh, I know you're drunk?  Aren't you that crazy small batch brewer who brews 1 gallon batches and lots of them?  You put 1 tsp of baking soda in a 1 gallon batch?  Even a 5 gallon batch?  Do you know what that amount will do to the pH in those batch sizes?  And you use a couple teaspoons of a random acid?  Must be weak solution if you're using a couple teaspoons.  Nothing unusual about using vinegar though.  Do you drink the beer you brew?  And you adjust mash pH on the fly using these techniques?  Wow, you're some kind of stallion - boy.  Who cares about the life of your damn pH meter, your beer will shorten your life!! :o  8)  :D
« Last Edit: April 18, 2017, 01:25:33 PM by MaltMaker »

Offline dmtaylor

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Re: When and how to adjust mash pH
« Reply #7 on: April 18, 2017, 02:47:58 PM »
Troll bait?  Sarcasm?  Put the crack up?  Ohh, I know you're drunk?  Aren't you that crazy small batch brewer who brews 1 gallon batches and lots of them?  You put 1 tsp of baking soda in a 1 gallon batch?  Even a 5 gallon batch?  Do you know what that amount will do to the pH in those batch sizes?  And you use a couple teaspoons of a random acid?  Must be weak solution if you're using a couple teaspoons.  Nothing unusual about using vinegar though.  Do you drink the beer you brew?  And you adjust mash pH on the fly using these techniques?  Wow, you're some kind of stallion - boy.  Who cares about the life of your damn pH meter, your beer will shorten your life!! :o  8)  :D

Yup.  I'm cheap, effective, experienced, crazy.  I've been called far worse.  Small batches, yes.  Sarcastic, no, not really.  Yes, I do take shortcuts.  Sure, my beer kind of sucks half the time.  But the other half the time... it doesn't suck.  I'm still seriously working on that whole sucking thing.  I figure eventually I'll only have 10% suckage and 90% awesomeness.  That's my goal.  Eventually.  When I get around to it.
Dave

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Offline mabrungard

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Re: When and how to adjust mash pH
« Reply #8 on: April 18, 2017, 09:49:40 PM »
Don't chase pH. Find out your water profile and use it to estimate your water adjustments prior to brewing and then live with the result. If you have a good pH meter, check the measurement at several points during the mash duration and see how the prediction and measurement compare. If there is variation, bias your future batch pH adjustments as guided by those observations. Don't worry if the pH was off by a tenth or two.

Dave, don't kid yourself that any of your measurements are worth spit. Hopefully your meter is calibrated, but abusing it with hot wort is a recipe for short life and inaccurate measurement. The application of a 0.2 correction is probably not correct. There is a lot more going on. It is still best to cool the sample and measure at room temp....more accurate and repeatable too.
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Offline dmtaylor

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Re: When and how to adjust mash pH
« Reply #9 on: April 18, 2017, 10:24:28 PM »
Dave, don't kid yourself that any of your measurements are worth spit. Hopefully your meter is calibrated, but abusing it with hot wort is a recipe for short life and inaccurate measurement. The application of a 0.2 correction is probably not correct. There is a lot more going on. It is still best to cool the sample and measure at room temp....more accurate and repeatable too.

Don't worry about little ole me.  I'm gonna run some more experiments to determine the proper temperature correction factor, and keep on taking my shortcuts, as much as I feel I can get away with.  I am the laziest homebrewer on planet Earth, and I intend to maintain that self-proclaimed title for as long as I can usually make pretty-okay beer.
Dave

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Offline denny

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Re: When and how to adjust mash pH
« Reply #10 on: April 19, 2017, 01:04:01 AM »
Dave, don't kid yourself that any of your measurements are worth spit. Hopefully your meter is calibrated, but abusing it with hot wort is a recipe for short life and inaccurate measurement. The application of a 0.2 correction is probably not correct. There is a lot more going on. It is still best to cool the sample and measure at room temp....more accurate and repeatable too.

Don't worry about little ole me.  I'm gonna run some more experiments to determine the proper temperature correction factor, and keep on taking my shortcuts, as much as I feel I can get away with.  I am the laziest homebrewer on planet Earth, and I intend to maintain that self-proclaimed title for as long as I can usually make pretty-okay beer.

Drew and I would challenge you for that.
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Offline zwiller

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Re: When and how to adjust mash pH
« Reply #11 on: April 19, 2017, 02:19:56 AM »
Don't chase pH. Find out your water profile and use it to estimate your water adjustments prior to brewing and then live with the result. If you have a good pH meter, check the measurement at several points during the mash duration and see how the prediction and measurement compare. If there is variation, bias your future batch pH adjustments as guided by those observations. Don't worry if the pH was off by a tenth or two.
+1000;  My last meter's life (average is 6mos-a year at best IMO) was dedicated to comparing the real world to both EZ water and BNW and found both to be excellent and BNW to be slightly more accurate.  Accurate enough that I brew sans meter since which has got to be near 10 years now.  BNW is no good unless you have the Ward Labs test or other reliable water data... 
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Offline Andor

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Re: When and how to adjust mash pH
« Reply #12 on: April 20, 2017, 07:56:34 PM »
Everyone will hate this advice, but...

I measure my pH directly in the mash at like 150 F.  To adjust for temperature, I add 0.2.  So if shooting for 5.3 as measured at room temp, I shoot for 5.1 as measured in the mash.

I know, I know, shame on me, it will shorten the life of my pH meter, yadda yadda.  Yeah, but, my meter was only like $14 on Amazon.  So who the frick cares!

 ;D

Then, if pH is too low, add a teaspoon of baking soda at a time to bring it up.  If too high, add a couple tablespoons of acid (any acid, like, I use vinegar  :o  8) ) until it comes down.


Not doing that ^ would likely tip the suck scale in your favor

Offline dmtaylor

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Re: When and how to adjust mash pH
« Reply #13 on: April 20, 2017, 08:37:32 PM »
Not doing that ^ would likely tip the suck scale in your favor

Doubt it.  I just got my pH meter for Christmas.  My sucky:excellent ratio has remained constant before:after.  Before that, it was just the crappy paper pH strips that only measure to like plus/minus 0.3, and I only used them "once in a while".  Now, at least, with a proper meter, I can obtain false data anytime I want at the push of a button.  Instant knowledge of what *might* be true!  ;D
« Last Edit: April 20, 2017, 08:45:19 PM by dmtaylor »
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Offline bayareabrewer

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Re: When and how to adjust mash pH
« Reply #14 on: April 20, 2017, 09:57:19 PM »
starting off with RO water and using Bru'n water, mas ph reading have gone the way of Iodine starch conversion tests. After so many times of hitting my desired mash ph ( or getting damned close) I don't feel the need to confirm it anymore.