If the mash/fermentation is done well, the main driver for final pH is the yeast strain. Dry hopping raises pH and higher pH’s sharpen bitterness (+4.5). Each strain has a “sweet spot” for finish pH.
I don’t always measure it, but I do time to time. Higher wort pitch pH can effect pH, but it has to be way out of line, 5.4-5.5 at pitch or higher.
Interesting point that I had never considered about dry hopping. I wonder if it's worth targeting a lower pitching pH in heavily dry hopped beers to mitigate some of this potentially sharper bitterness.
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That is, assuming pitching pH translates directly to finished beer pH(or ANY other process pH target for that matter). Which I (and most professional literature agrees) do not necessarily think it does.
The reasons pH targets are there is for the optimization of process at hand. -Generalizations-
Mash pH targets
Higher (5.4+)Extract Considerations -Beta, alpha, others, LOX considerations
Start of Boil
Higher (5.4+) = More hop utilization, better break formation (larger flakes)
If applicable faster DMS removal
End of boil
Lower (5.1-) = promotes faster break removal, actually allows your kettle finings to work optimally, Allows yeast to work faster.
Lower (4.5-) Yeast will move/buffer pH low, independent of what it saw at end of boil
. Yeast will not start fermenting until buffering is at its desired level. If its lower, it has less to buffer, hence less lag time, and better fermentation (less reserves used).
End of fermentation- EOF pH levels are driven by yeast strain, and fermentation performance (faster the fermentation the lower the finishing pH normally). This is not driven off of any other pH levels. So targeting any levels above matter not. The curve ball is that there are factors that influence raising of EOF pH, hopping and autolysis are the primary ones. If fermentation/dry hopping pH will raise and it causes the beer to not be as "clean and sharp" as desired, and it will stale faster as well. It is desired that if you dry hop, especially large amounts as in NEIPA, you add some form of acid to bring the pH back down. This will help with making bright flavors, and stability. Autolysis is easily avoided.