Author Topic: Acidifying the mash  (Read 12871 times)

ccarlson

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Re: Acidifying the mash
« Reply #30 on: April 04, 2011, 09:36:00 AM »
Thanks, but I already threw it away. I tried it several times and with different amounts, some at almost double the recommended ones. It would help a little but not enough that I felt was worth having something more than the 4 basic ingredients in my beer.

Offline tschmidlin

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Re: Acidifying the mash
« Reply #31 on: April 04, 2011, 09:37:25 AM »
Bummer.   Sorry it didn't work for you.
Tom Schmidlin

Offline Tristan

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Re: Acidifying the mash
« Reply #32 on: April 04, 2011, 11:55:09 AM »
Tom, Gordon, Martin and Denny, thanks for the well stated points and advice!  Sometimes I have a tendency to focus on the wrong things in brewing and over look the things that matter most.  When I run out of lactic acid I'll give phosphoric a shot!
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Offline malzig

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Re: Acidifying the mash
« Reply #33 on: April 04, 2011, 08:55:11 PM »
To be clear, I am not saying that the calcium phosphate precipitation reaction does not take place. 
Right; neither am I.  But what's that got to do with what's actually taking place in the mash?  The "goofy idea" is that you can take a perfectly reasonable concept and then totally misapply it in practice.  Just because a basic fact is true doesn't mean that subsequent statements are also true, particularly if they ignore physical evidence to the contrary.  This isn't a new problem; it's been around long enough that there is a Latin term for it: non sequitur.  It's also how people wind up with beers that taste like Alka Seltzer.
Calcium is typically limited in tap water around here and I see plenty of beers that exhibit the physical evidence that they probably would have benefited from a little more Calcium.  I couldn't, in good conscience, recommend that brewers here add more phosphate, instead of Calcium Chloride or Sulfate.

I'd be curious to see the evidence that Phosphoric Acid doesn't remove calcium from the mash, though.

Offline tschmidlin

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Re: Acidifying the mash
« Reply #34 on: April 04, 2011, 09:33:57 PM »
I couldn't, in good conscience, recommend that brewers here add more phosphate, instead of Calcium Chloride or Sulfate.
I'm sorry, maybe I'm misunderstanding . . . why is it either/or?  Why can't it be both?  If you had water that was low in calcium but high in bicarbonate, couldn't you add CaCl to bump up the Ca while adding phosphoric acid to acidify the mash in a pale beer?  Although if your water lacks calcium then maybe it is low in lots of things and doesn't actually need acidification anyway.

As far as phosphoric acid not removing calcium from the mash, I think the point is that there is already a lot of phosphate in the mash from the malt, so adding a little more isn't going to impact the precipitation much.  So it's not "does it or doesn't it", but "does it matter"?  I never acidify my mash and always add calcium, so I don't really know, but Martin and Gordon's points make sense from a chemistry standpoint.
Tom Schmidlin

Offline gordonstrong

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Re: Acidifying the mash
« Reply #35 on: April 05, 2011, 03:56:28 AM »
If you throw a rock in the ocean, does it raise the water level?  Then my God, we're all going to be flooded!

See the analogy?

Phosphoric acid removing calcium doesn't mean that you don't have calcium for brewing.  The evidence is that the resulting beer doesn't show any signs of a calcium deficiency.
Gordon Strong • Beavercreek, Ohio • AHA Member since 1997 • Twitter: GordonStrong

Offline malzig

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Re: Acidifying the mash
« Reply #36 on: April 05, 2011, 04:23:01 AM »
I would rarely need to add acid after adding an appropriate amount of calcium, so it would mostly be an either-or situation.  Also, our local water has about 4 ppm calcium.  Maybe that's why adding something that would remove additional calcium seems like a goofy idea, to me.  But it also means I don't have any personal experience with the effects of adding phosphoric acid, either.

I worry that this argument sounds an awful lot like the "malt converts completely in xx minutes" argument.  Well, your mash may convert that fast, but his doesn't.  You may find that removing additional calcium by adding phosphoric acid doesn't hurt your beer, but that might not be true for the guy with 4, 10 or maybe even 50 ppm calcium in his water.

Really, I have no problem with adjusting the pH with phosphoric acid.  Just the statement that it doesn't precipitate calcium without any evidence to support that claim.

The stoichiometry is relatively simple, so we can figure out how much calcium could be lost, which might be helpful.  How much phosphoric acid are you typically adding?

Offline gordonstrong

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Re: Acidifying the mash
« Reply #37 on: April 05, 2011, 04:54:48 AM »
Maybe 1/4 to 1/2 a tsp in 5 gallons of RO water.
Gordon Strong • Beavercreek, Ohio • AHA Member since 1997 • Twitter: GordonStrong

Offline johnf

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Re: Acidifying the mash
« Reply #38 on: April 05, 2011, 05:24:28 AM »
I would rarely need to add acid after adding an appropriate amount of calcium,

That sounds odd to me. I usually brew with RO water adjusted to 50 ppm Ca with CaCl or more. I have to add acid to most mashes to get a pH around 5.4 (measured by a freshly calibrated pH meter).

I don't think anyone is saying adding marginal phosphoric acid precipitates no marginal calcium but rather that it is immaterial. When you have breweries like Sierra Nevada produces hundreds of thousands of barrels of technically great beer made with phosphoric acid that displays no symptoms of low calcium, the burden of proof for the claim that phosphoric acid should not be used lies with the claimant.

Offline Tristan

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Re: Acidifying the mash
« Reply #39 on: April 05, 2011, 06:00:02 AM »
I can see where both sides are coming from and can see the validity of a "fart in the wind" argument.  Maybe that's where the sulfur comes from on all my beers with WLP830?  It's gonna take lagering for that aroma to dissipate.  Now that you've all told me to challenge everything, I don't believe any of you!   ;D

Maybe 1/4 to 1/2 a tsp in 5 gallons of RO water.

What concentration?  I can find 10% Phos at my local shop, but not 75% that most of the brew pubs would use.  I wonder if this is another safety consideration for the home brewer?  
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Offline mabrungard

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Re: Acidifying the mash
« Reply #40 on: April 05, 2011, 06:54:23 AM »
I would rarely need to add acid after adding an appropriate amount of calcium, so it would mostly be an either-or situation.  Also, our local water has about 4 ppm calcium.  Maybe that's why adding something that would remove additional calcium seems like a goofy idea, to me.  But it also means I don't have any personal experience with the effects of adding phosphoric acid, either.

The calcium precipitation reaction is dependent upon the concentration of calcium in the water.  And the reaction takes a percentage out, not a fixed amount.  So that nice 4 ppm Ca water would not be losing much and it clearly needs supplemental Ca to support good fermentation and clarification.  The bottom line is that this water needs calcium to bring it into a suitable range for brewing and any minor loss due to phosphate precipitation can be ignored. 

By the way, one of my clubmates found that DudaDiesel sells food grade 75% phosphoric acid for about $14/ qt.  In these small quantities, it does not incur the hazardous goods shipping surcharge. 
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Offline Tristan

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Re: Acidifying the mash
« Reply #41 on: April 05, 2011, 08:07:02 AM »
By the way, one of my clubmates found that DudaDiesel sells food grade 75% phosphoric acid for about $14/ qt.  In these small quantities, it does not incur the hazardous goods shipping surcharge. 

Thanks for the information Martin.  I saw this come up on a Google search last night and thought about pulling the trigger.  It's good to know someone else in the brewing community has experience with this vendor.
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Offline johnf

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Re: Acidifying the mash
« Reply #42 on: April 05, 2011, 08:29:55 AM »
My LHBS sells 75%. I don't think it is dangerous to handle per se (certainly safer than strong acids, but don't give it to your 5 year old to play with). I think it is more the hazardous material shipping restrictions Martin sites which tend to drive up the cost a bit (same reason it is hard to get Acid #5 or similar, though that is genuinely more dangerous than 75% phosphoric).

Another advantage to the 10% stuff is that you will be adding more of it and so maybe you are measuring with teaspoons and tablespoons rather than pipettes. I think a lot of people would prefer working with larger quantities.

I'm an acid malt fanboy myself though I might experiment with other methods of acidification.

Offline gordonstrong

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Re: Acidifying the mash
« Reply #43 on: April 05, 2011, 02:03:45 PM »
Maybe 1/4 to 1/2 a tsp in 5 gallons of RO water.

What concentration?  I can find 10% Phos at my local shop, but not 75% that most of the brew pubs would use.  I wonder if this is another safety consideration for the home brewer?  

I generally use this: http://www.northernbrewer.com/brewing/review/product/list/id/451/category/61/
Gordon Strong • Beavercreek, Ohio • AHA Member since 1997 • Twitter: GordonStrong

Offline mabrungard

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Re: Acidifying the mash
« Reply #44 on: April 05, 2011, 02:33:24 PM »
Maybe 1/4 to 1/2 a tsp in 5 gallons of RO water.

You don't have to add acid willy nilly.  Bru'n Water includes AJ DeLange's very capable water acidification calculator.  If you know your water profile, the acid type and strength, you can calculate what your addition is fairly precisely.  I've been using that calculator for a decade and its correct every time.
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