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Old 05-03-2012, 03:16 PM   #1
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Default Acid Malt

Does acid malt in the order of 4.0% of the grist seem like too much. My mash pH according to Bru'n Water is 5.7, and adding 1lb 2oz of acid malt brings it down to pH 5.4.

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Old 05-04-2012, 03:10 PM   #2
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Actually most text recommend no more than 5% additions of acid malt, other I have recommend 4%. Its up to you I have never tasted the difference, but you shouldn't need that much.

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Old 05-04-2012, 04:12 PM   #3
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It depends on the alkalinity of your mashing water. If its fairly high and the resulting RA is still high, then its possible.

Which version are you using for this pH estimate? I reduced the acid malt acidity in v1.12 to better match AJ's rule of thumb stating that 1% acid malt would bring the mash pH down by 0.1 units. The original acid malt acidity was based on Kai Troester's paper that indicated the acidity value was on the order of 333 meq per kg (about 150 meq / lb) of acid malt. Using that value produces far more than a 0.1 unit pH drop per 1% addition. So, I reduced the value to 30 meq / lb to better agree with AJ's usage rule.

Note: I don't use acid malt and don't believe in its use. Its much more expensive and less accurate than using a liquid or solid acid. So I have not had an opportunity to field test those acid malt results in comparison to the Bru'n Water values. If there are brewers that have findings one way or the other as to the accuracy of the lower 30 meq/lb value or the old 150 meq/lb value, please forward your findings or suggestions. I'll correct the value to which ever one is most accurate.

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Old 05-04-2012, 07:01 PM   #4
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I appreciate the plug but it isn't really my rule of thumb. It is Weyermann's. I got it from their website. I have always found it to be pretty accurate but then I'm using it as it is intended to be used - in German lagers. Doesn't mean you can't use it with other styles, of course, but I'm sure that very little consideration that went into Weyermann's recommendation was derived from Robust Porter.

I think it is important to understand that Sauermalz has desirable properties beyond just being a means of reliably controlling pH. It also contributes nuanced flavors of its own which are definitely good IMO. Yes, it costs a bit but a little goes a long way. I'm still on my first sack.

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Old 05-08-2012, 01:10 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mabrungard View Post
It depends on the alkalinity of your mashing water. If its fairly high and the resulting RA is still high, then its possible.

Which version are you using for this pH estimate? I reduced the acid malt acidity in v1.12 to better match AJ's rule of thumb stating that 1% acid malt would bring the mash pH down by 0.1 units. The original acid malt acidity was based on Kai Troester's paper that indicated the acidity value was on the order of 333 meq per kg (about 150 meq / lb) of acid malt. Using that value produces far more than a 0.1 unit pH drop per 1% addition. So, I reduced the value to 30 meq / lb to better agree with AJ's usage rule.

Note: I don't use acid malt and don't believe in its use. Its much more expensive and less accurate than using a liquid or solid acid. So I have not had an opportunity to field test those acid malt results in comparison to the Bru'n Water values. If there are brewers that have findings one way or the other as to the accuracy of the lower 30 meq/lb value or the old 150 meq/lb value, please forward your findings or suggestions. I'll correct the value to which ever one is most accurate.
What type of acid do you prefer?
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Old 05-08-2012, 01:03 PM   #6
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What type of acid do you prefer?
In terms of availability for most US homebrewers, lactic acid is fairly available. If the tap water alkalinity is modest (say 150 ppm or less) and you are brewing darker styles, lactic acid is suitable since the amount added doesn't seem to impact flavor in my opinion. Lactic is less suitable when alkalinity is that high and the beer is lighter in color or style since I find it can be tasted sometimes. If the alkalinity is high, the potential to reach a taste threshold will increase. Then switching to a 'cleaner' tasting phosphoric acid is preferable. If the cleanest possible taste is prefered, then phosphoric is likely to be most suitable.

The whole issue of acid flavor becomes moot when the water alkalinity is low. Then a brewer is typically adding little acid and its taste threshold is not reached. In that case, there are plenty of acids suitable for use. Citric, Tartaric, Malic, Acetic are possible choices. The flavor thresholds of those acids are quite low, so its easy to get into trouble with them. But a crafty brewer could also incorporate the taste impacts of those acids into the beer to enhance it. This aspect is just Beer for Thought.

Hydrochloric and sulfuric acids are possible candidates, but they are strong and fume producing acids that can be pretty hazardous. In addition, the addition of chloride or sulfate ion may not be ideal for the beer style at hand. I'm not really a fan of these acids unless the tap water is really low in that particular anion.

So for my preferences, I'd say phosphoric is tops for its cleanest taste impact and then lactic would be next when used in moderation.
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Old 05-09-2012, 12:12 AM   #7
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Damn. Thanks for the info. My water is moderately alkaline - about 70 pom. Even with dark beer, I have to add a couple percent acid malt, according to ez water.I had to add close to 5% for a wit, which I think I can taste. Unfortunately. I also sparge with all RO, to try to keep the pH Under 5.8. I might try some phosphoric acid next time. Some of my light beers have a little twang to them.

And I do have brun water, just haven't had the chance to get into it much. Thanks again!

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Old 05-09-2012, 02:05 PM   #8
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Don't be swayed by the implied advice that one should not use acid malt. Some of the larger craft breweries do with great success and there is no reason home brewers shouldn't use it too and for the same reasons. It is an effective and reliable means of pH control and it adds those nuanced additional flavors to beer which, IMO, make the difference between good and great beers. I can still remember the first time I used the stuff. I was really surprised at how much it improved the beer (a Vienna) and have used it in every beer since then.

It only makes sense that there is going to be some variability in the acid content of the product but as I'm still on the first sack I bought I have not seen that. Nonetheless a pH check of any mash which contains it is doubtless a good idea (actually it's a good idea in any mash - sauermalz or no).

This is, of course, a matter of taste and so I would advocate trying it and comparing the result with beers in which pH was controlled with another acid (such as phosphoric). Then use whichever gives you the best result.

My comments are based on the use of sauermalz with German and Bohemian lagers and ales. It, and its cousin sauergut, are traditionally used in those beers to control pH as Biersteuergesetz disallows mineral acids (or any acid that is not naturally produced in the brewery). An interesting and often missed point is that Kolbach's paper in which he describes RA is often read to the point where that is discussed and then put aside. Thus readers often miss the real intent of the paper (translation avaiable at www.wetnewf.org). It is really an appeal for the use of mineral acids in German brewing.

If things work out just right one can tweak chloride and sulfate and neutralize alkalinity at the same time with the proper mix of sulfuric and hydrochloric acid. Some of the safety concerns with those have already been mentioned but the ability of concentrated sulfuric acid to rip water out of anything it touches (remember the demo in high school where some was poured of table sugar) was not and that is, to my way of thinking, its principle hazard.

In the UK a suitably diluted mix of food grade sulfuric and hydrochloric acids is sold as CRS (Carbonate Reducing Solution). It is not, AFAIK, available in the US. One can go to the hardware store to obtain hydrochloric and to the auto parts store to obtain sulfuric but I don't want a product put up for removing the laitance from concrete in my beer.

Of the organic acids lactic is really the only practical choice with citric a possibility. The others are too strongly flavored. If malic acid tasted good wine makers wouldn't bother with malo-lactic fermentation (converts it to lactic) and we all know what vinegar (acetic) tastes and smells like. Lambics do contain some but I just can't imagine it in other styles. Of course it eventually comes down to taste. If you like it, use it.

If you look in the old home brewing books (Bravery, for example) a tsp of citric acid was de rigeur. Don't know why it isn't any more as the idea of lowering mash pH is definitely a plus. I expect the citric flavor it imparted was what put it out of favor. But it's now a brave new world with Citra hops out there.

Phosphoric is flavor neutral and one can always argue that as there is already lots of phosphate in malt it can't hurt to add a bit more for control of alkalinity.

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Old 05-09-2012, 05:24 PM   #9
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Do not consider using any acid that is not certified as food-grade or lab-grade. Acids dissolve metals readily and you would not want to imbibe some acid that had been in contact with any heavy metals. The hardware or auto-parts store products would be fool-hardy to use.

While vintners do sometimes conduct malolactic fermentations, they also add malic acid to their wine to increase acidity. It is intensely sour and its the stuff used to make those sour kid's candies. At low dosage, its quite refreshing. You can buy malic acid at many homebrew shops. It is intended primarily for vintners, but it might have some use in brewing.

And to reinforce AJ's point about Kohlbach's paper, Kohlbach probably recognized the inconsistency of having to add acid via a natural avenue instead of the more accurate and economical liquid acid route.

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Old 05-09-2012, 05:50 PM   #10
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How much lactic acid needs to be added before you can taste it? I have hard water (I cant remember the alkalinity right now) and I have added a few ounces on a couple of brews. Is that too much? Is there a cap to how much LA should be added at which point I should think about doing the phos or maybe acid malt?

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