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Old 11-02-2012, 12:43 PM   #21
ajdelange
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That's becoming a bit confusing. I'm not that savant in water chimestry. I just need simple and quick answer.
Unfortunately it is a complicated subject. While there is basic science behind it there is a fair amount of misinformation out there. Some of this is being 'cleaned up' but not all of it. Because of the complexity people tend to grasp at straws which appear to simplify things but often they lead one astray. In addition to that while it is clear that the goal is 'good' beer there is disagreement as to what 'good' means.


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1- My water have 140ppm of HCO3. Is there a situation where I would need to add more? Like a big stout with a lot of roasted barley and black malt...
Roasted barley does not lower mash pH that much. In fact with even a quite dark stout made with all roast barley and your water you would probably need to add some acid. Black malt can be quite acidic but what is often not appreciated is that dark crystal malts can be too. If you use enough of these even 140 mg/L bicarbonate can be overcome. With lighter beers water chemistry can be pretty simple (see Primer). With these dark beers on the edge there is uncertainty about mash pH which can only be resolved with a pH measurement of the mash or a test mash.


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2- The Mash PH should be around 5.2 and 5.8. With my 6, 6.5 water, the grain should lower that to the right spot. Am I right? I use the ph5.2 stuff, too, maybe it can help.
When we speak of mash pH we are referring to the pH of a sample measured at room temperature. There is no optimum but it should probably fall between 5.4 and 5.6. Base malts will, in distilled water, go to pH values between 5.6 and 5.8 depending on the color of the malt. 5.7 - 5.75 is a typical value. Bicarbonate, if which you have quite a bit, will pull the pH higher and the acids of dark malt will pull it lower. For most beers you will need to add acid. A better approach is to get rid of some or most of the alkalinity. You might find the Primer in the Stickies helpful. Calcium does have a pH lowering effect but it is small relative to that of acid. The 5.2 product you refer to is not very effective - you should not use it as it adds quite a bit of sodium and does not lower pH much.


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3- What should be the PH at the boiling? And should I adjust if not correct.
Anything below 5.4 at the end of the boil should be OK. I wouldn't adjust even at that level but if it got up to 5.5 I'd probably add some acid to get it down to 5.4 or below. You probably don't want to have it below 5.0. Keep in mind that the higher the kettle pH the more bittering you will extract from the hops.
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Old 11-02-2012, 03:34 PM   #22
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Thanks a lot! That helps. So I should add some acid for both mash and sparge water in my case. I'll use the bru n water calculators for that.

When you say.. The higher kettle PH, the more bittering I extract...Just to make shure that I read the PH range the same way as you.... 5.5 is Higher than 5.2..?

Other thing... It's a bit had to me since english ain't my first language.... but anyways.. what is the difference between PH and Alkalinity... For what I know... 7- is Acid, 7 is neutra, and 7+ is Alkalin. So Alkalinity ain't just a pole of the ph chart?

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Old 11-02-2012, 05:43 PM   #23
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When you say.. The higher kettle PH, the more bittering I extract...Just to make shure that I read the PH range the same way as you.... 5.5 is Higher than 5.2..?
Correct/

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Other thing... It's a bit had to me since english ain't my first language....
It is much better than my French

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but anyways.. what is the difference between PH and Alkalinity... For what I know... 7- is Acid, 7 is neutra, and 7+ is Alkalin. So Alkalinity ain't just a pole of the ph chart?
No. It is unfortunate that the same word is used to mean quite different yet related things. Chemical species that exchange protons (hydrogen ions) form acid/base pairs. Of particular significance here are carbonic acid and bicarbonate ion:

H2CO3 <---> H+ + HCO3-

which says that carbonic acid, at the left, can give up a proton (H+) to become bicarbonate ion (on the right) and conversely (that's why the arrow has two heads). The pH is minus the logarithm of the hydrogen ion activity (which is essentially its concentration). The alkalinity is, in brewing water, essentially the concentration of bicarbonate ions. If you add another acid, say sulfuric acid to pure water (water with no bicarbonate) the hydrogen ions from the sulfuric acid will increase the hydrogen ion concentration in the water and the pH will lower. The alkalinity, however, will be close to 0 because there is no bicarbonate.

It is possible to have low pH water with high alkalinity and high pH water with low alkalinity but the two are not completely independent of one another. A full explanation is quite detailed.
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Old 11-02-2012, 05:49 PM   #24
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Hey, AJ, I should probably ask this in the Primer thread, but water to grist ratio do you normally use?

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Old 11-02-2012, 07:21 PM   #25
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I usually start in pretty thick to give me some leeway for infusions for temperature adjustment. About 1.25 quarts per pound.

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Old 11-02-2012, 07:30 PM   #26
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I usually start in pretty thick to give me some leeway for infusions for temperature adjustment. About 1.25 quarts per pound.
Have you done any experiments comparing pH at different water to grist ratios? I tend to use a thinner mash (1.5+...grain size permitting) and I find Bru'n water estimates a lower pH for a given amount of a given amount of acid, and I find it to be a bit more accurate than EZ Water which tends to estimate a higher pH for a given amount of acid.
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Old 11-02-2012, 08:49 PM   #27
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Have you done any experiments comparing pH at different water to grist ratios? I tend to use a thinner mash (1.5+...grain size permitting) and I find Bru'n water estimates a lower pH for a given amount of a given amount of acid, and I find it to be a bit more accurate than EZ Water which tends to estimate a higher pH for a given amount of acid.
Recognize that the comparison of the total effective alkalinity of the mash water (RA meq/L x liters of water) and the total acidity of the mash (meq/kg x kg of grain) is how Bru'n Water estimates mash pH. As you can see in this balance, changing the volume of water changes the total effective alkalinity added to the mash. Since the grain volume is a constant, you can see that there is a direct effect on mash pH. This phenomena can be exploited to help drive mash pH in a particular direction. Of course, this is only effective in a reasonable range of water/grist ratio.

I've wondered aloud if some of the effects reported in studies of water/grist ratio were partially a result of this mash pH effect. I don't know, but makes me scratch my head! I do tend to use a somewhat thinner target water/grist ratio in recent years based on findings by Troester. I'm typically 1.5 qts/lb now and used to be around 1.25. I agree with AJ that when infusions are required, starting thick is probably a requirement.
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Old 11-02-2012, 10:49 PM   #28
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Thanks a lot AJ. I unsterdant better now. In french, there are two different terms for each sens of ''alkanility'', that's why I was confused.

It's more clear now. I'm going to get some lactic or phosphoric acid. But im brewing tomorrow, so I won't have acid yet. Bru n water estimations are that my mash would be around 5.8. I'd maybe put some ph5.2 to lower it a bit. You saif it was adding calcium too.. but I was already planning to have a bit of calcium to get right concentration, I might just skip it.

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Old 11-15-2012, 03:39 PM   #29
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I bought some Malic Acid. I only found it in powder form, and Bru n Water calculations are based on liquid acid. How can I transpose it?

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Old 11-15-2012, 03:44 PM   #30
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I bought some Malic Acid. I only found it in powder form, and Bru n Water calculations are based on liquid acid. How can I transpose it?
Why'd you buy malic acid? Malic acid is normally used in wines/meads, afaik.
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