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Author Topic: Mash pH  (Read 1025 times)

Offline BrewBama

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Mash pH
« on: February 06, 2021, 11:16:50 am »
In the thread “Brewhaus efficiency for No Sparge”, Goose asked me:


One of my Brew Year resolutions is to be very intentional in what I am doing and why. I’ve decided that focusing on mash pH is one way to place those words into action. I’ve realized a gravity point or three simply by hitting 5.2 mash pH.


Are you trying to adjust your mash pH 5.2 for all of your beers?  If I am between 5.2 and 5.6  I feel I have done a good job and I am always in that range.  My lighter ones come in at around 5.3-5.45 and my darker ones are down in the 5.2 range.  I set my brewhouse efficiency for 80% for lighter beers and normally hit it within a point or two.  The darker ones with more specialty grains are down around 73-75% (they are always in that range) and I just live with that.  In addition, I am usually spot on to what Bru'n Water predicts for the specific water profile I am using.

If I can learn something new here to increase efficiency, I am all for it.   BTW I only fly sparge and don't do BIAB.


Well, like I said it was a New Year’s resolution so I haven’t brewed a lot of beer within the month since ...but... I, like you, would target anything from 5.3-5.4 pH at room temp depending on dark, light, etc.

I try to control my processes and my outputs are fairly consistent within small tolerances. I control milling output, liquor:grist ratio, mash in temps and technique, I mash using RIMS using a PID to control temp and by controlling the flow gpm, I mash out at consistent temp, lauter at a controlled flow, batch sparge at a consistent temp and flow gpm, I control heat by kW in the boil, cool and whirlpool the same way every brew day, pitch at consistent pitch rates, control ferment , cold crash, and serving temps, and on and on. I treated my strike water after ran off my sparge into a HLT and before I pumped it into the MLT underletting the entire grain bill.

However, I read Brewing Better Beer by Gordon Strong a long time ago and forgot about it pretty much.  I decided to look into it again because I wanted to keep an open mind.

I decided to try a cpl of his techniques to focus only on Calcium above 50 ppm and 5.2-5.4 pH in the mash. Everything else will take a back seat in the mash. I can add crystal and dark grains after the mash is complete and season the wort later — in the kettle.  Every mash will be pale so consistency should be attainable.  I figured it can’t hurt for a batch or three to see if there’s an improvement.

So, I brewed a Blonde Ale (start small) the other day using 5/8 tsp of CaCl and 3/8 tsp gypsum added directly to the MLT along with distilled water pretreated to 5.5 pH with phosphoric acid for all my brewhaus liquor (strike and sparge).

In BBB, Gordon says, “All this talk of mash pH probably has you thinking this is complicated and requires a lot of fiddling. Actually, it doesn’t. For the most part, the mash pH regulates itself, as long as your water is reasonable.”

As advertised, the Calcium I added directly to the MLT reacted with phosphates in the grain husks to release phytic acid, which lowered the mash pH naturally. To my surprise I hit right on 5.2 pH (at room temp) during my normal 20 min ck.

I was also surprised at exceeding my normal gravity by a cpl points for this recipe. Additionally, the wort seemed brighter and clearer than it has in the past. I caught myself smiling.

Of course, that’s just one brewday so it could be a plethora of causes (correlation does not imply causation). ...and proof is in the pudding. We’ll see if I made a better tasting beer or not. It’s finishing up in the fermenter and I’ll close transfer into a CO2 purged keg in a day or so, cold crash and carbonate it, and give it a taste.

So, if the next few beers taste good I will continue to use these techniques for a few more brews to see if the initial findings are validated.

I brewed a Brown Ale using my old techniques prior to the Blonde so I decided to rebrew it in a cpl weeks using Gordon’s techniques: I will 1) pretreat my distilled water to create brewhaus liquor below 6 pH (targeting 5.5 pH), 2) use only 1 tsp of CaCl added directly to the MLT during mash in for mash pH adjustment, 3) withhold crystal and roast malts (that screw with mash pH) to the mash out, then vorlauf, lauter and sparge (equal to ~30 min steep) and 4) season with remaining salts (if any) in the kettle. Then, I can compare old vs new techniques side by side.

We’ll see.

Ref: https://beerandbrewing.com/dont-harsh-my-beer/

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« Last Edit: February 07, 2021, 09:12:48 am by BrewBama »

Offline roger

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Re: Mash pH
« Reply #1 on: February 06, 2021, 04:11:47 pm »
Thanks Brewbama, timely post.

I also have a copy of Gordon's book, and like you forgotten some of the concepts. The on-deck brew is a chocolate cream stout. These same techniques would seem to apply perfectly to this style - dark, but not acrid. Plan to brew this when opportunity knocks hopefully next week.

Thanks again for the reminder,
Roger

Offline BrewBama

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Re: Mash pH
« Reply #2 on: February 06, 2021, 05:49:46 pm »
Hey Roger, how long have you lived in Blufton?  Do you remember the old Talmage Bridge across the Savannah River?   My CH-47 slung load that bridge (cut up into pieces) out into the Atlantic to create fish habitat.


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Offline roger

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Re: Mash pH
« Reply #3 on: February 06, 2021, 07:27:21 pm »
I retired here in 2015 from Ohio, we love it here. The old bridge was replaced long before that.

Chinook pilot? You have my respect, there's no way those machines are supposed to fly. Some time ago, I spent a few weeks working with some Vietnam era Huey pilots. Wow, what they went through.
Roger