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Author Topic: Raising pH in finished beer  (Read 626 times)

Offline JackBFlyin

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Raising pH in finished beer
« on: November 12, 2022, 07:54:08 am »
Many threads touching on this topic but I’d like additional input from the forum.  I have a finished 6 gallons of vanilla porter and now considering final pH.  The mash used RO water treated Including baking soda) to get a Brown Balanced water profile. At 95% I added .5g pickling lime (in 20ml distilled water) to raise pH 4.13 to 4.26.  I expect I’d have a bit maltier flavor at a higher pH.  Now I’m considering ways to bring the pH up to 4.5.  I’m concerned about flavor, calcium, and clarity if I add pickling lime and I’m concerned about the same along with additional sodium if I add baking soda. Any recommended course here?  Perhaps I’m better off leaving it alone?  Thanks in advance for your input.

Offline HopDen

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Re: Raising pH in finished beer
« Reply #1 on: November 12, 2022, 08:01:54 am »
If memory serves me correctly pH range for a finished beer should be in the 4.0-4.5 range. Therefore I believe you’re good.

Offline BrewBama

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Re: Raising pH in finished beer
« Reply #2 on: November 12, 2022, 09:15:08 am »
I believe you should taste the beer and see if you need to fiddle with it at all. Numbers are great guidelines but we don’t drink numbers.

I take a ‘less is more’ approach to adjustments. You’ve already added way more than I would have.

Regardless of what you choose to do, I hope it’s the best beer you’ve ever brewed!  Cheers!

Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: Raising pH in finished beer
« Reply #3 on: November 12, 2022, 09:17:51 am »
Why the concern with the calcium? Isn't it relatively flavor neutral?
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Offline JackBFlyin

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Re: Raising pH in finished beer
« Reply #4 on: November 12, 2022, 10:29:46 am »
The reason for calcium is I want enough of it to help the beer clear up and the reason for the higher pH is I want a little more perceived maltier-sweet character (right?).  Currently, with yeast still in suspension and dropping out, it does have a bit of a mouth-watering bitterness.- a few more days will tell.   “Less is better” will be my course but I appreciate the discussion.  I’m having fun learning a bit more of the science while relaxing and having a Homebrew.   I read a bit about an interaction between bicarbonate and the calcium hydroxide that can cause the calcium to drop out.  So I think I want the calcium to remain in the beer along with a higher pH. I’m not sure I’m correctly understanding the big picture of the interaction. I’ve also read the pH can make a difference and a bottle of Breckenridge Vanilla Porter I tested last week had a pH of 4.65.  Any of you taste the difference in similar small pH change?
« Last Edit: November 12, 2022, 10:31:29 am by JackBFlyin »

Offline chinaski

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Re: Raising pH in finished beer
« Reply #5 on: November 12, 2022, 10:57:33 am »
I'll add that you are close to the margin of error in reading pH; at least in my experience.  Several tenths of pH isn't worth chasing down at the homebrew level in my opinion.  If you do pursue it; do it in a glass of beer rather than the whole batch.

Offline mabrungard

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Re: Raising pH in finished beer
« Reply #6 on: November 12, 2022, 01:22:38 pm »
While chalk is nearly useless for adding alkalinity to brewing water because there aren't enough acids to dissolve it, there are plenty of acids in beer.  Chalk is a good additive if you have any beverage that has an overly low pH. 
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Offline denny

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Re: Raising pH in finished beer
« Reply #7 on: November 12, 2022, 01:38:04 pm »
While chalk is nearly useless for adding alkalinity to brewing water because there aren't enough acids to dissolve it, there are plenty of acids in beer.  Chalk is a good additive if you have any beverage that has an overly low pH.

Good to know!
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Offline JackBFlyin

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Re: Raising pH in finished beer
« Reply #8 on: November 12, 2022, 09:12:03 pm »
Good stuff-  thanks for the input!

Offline goose

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Re: Raising pH in finished beer
« Reply #9 on: November 13, 2022, 08:32:00 am »
IMHO, I have never really worried about pH in a finished beer.  I go by the mantra, if it tastes good, leave it alone.  Maybe I should start measuring it for grins, but I may do nothing more about it.  i am more concerned about mash and sparge pH and am very meticulous about measuring and adjusting them.
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Offline mabrungard

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Re: Raising pH in finished beer
« Reply #10 on: November 13, 2022, 02:17:32 pm »
Goose, think beyond regular beer. Sours, ciders, meads, dark beers can have excessive acidity. While I agree in letting things ride, I’ve also had anomalies that needed a bit of chemistry adjustment to make them more palatable.
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Offline Cliffs

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Re: Raising pH in finished beer
« Reply #11 on: November 14, 2022, 10:02:21 am »
many years back my homebrew club did beer tastings where we took the same beer and in different glasses adjusted the finished PH up or down with baking soda or phosphoric acid. The taste difference was quite remarkable, even when only a small adjustment was made. Personally I've never adjusted post ferm ph, but I could see it having it merits.

Offline kramerog

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Re: Raising pH in finished beer
« Reply #12 on: November 16, 2022, 12:41:14 pm »
I recommend trying out any adjustments in glasses first. Because of how little alkalinity is needed, you probably have to dissolve the alkaline in solution so you can dose several glasses at different concentrations to taste the difference and measure the pH. I would keep the pH below 4.4 to stay well below the 4.5 limit given the limited accuracy in measuring pH especially at home. Baking soda is what I would use here because it dissolves easily and you need more of it than quicklime so easier to measure accurately. FYI, I do some post fermentation adjustments for cider, meads and sour beers.

Offline erockrph

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Re: Raising pH in finished beer
« Reply #13 on: November 21, 2022, 08:02:47 pm »
I recommend trying out any adjustments in glasses first. Because of how little alkalinity is needed, you probably have to dissolve the alkaline in solution so you can dose several glasses at different concentrations to taste the difference and measure the pH. I would keep the pH below 4.4 to stay well below the 4.5 limit given the limited accuracy in measuring pH especially at home. Baking soda is what I would use here because it dissolves easily and you need more of it than quicklime so easier to measure accurately. FYI, I do some post fermentation adjustments for cider, meads and sour beers.

I agree with all of this. Baking soda is probably the easiest option to add to taste. I used a pinch in a few glasses from a stout that I wasn't super happy with years ago, and I thought it worked well. I will adjust ciders and meads from time to time, but it is always adding acid rather than something alkaline.
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