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Old 10-17-2013, 06:16 PM   #791
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As this is the Primer thread you should expect the guidance: follow the Primer. That would say use RO water with some calcium chloride and or calcium sulfate (total of 5 grams, 1 tsp, or less per gallon e.g. 2.5 g of each or 5 grams of one or the other.) You don't rely on minerals to set mash pH (you note that they have an effect and account for that, however). Acid is used to set the pH. Following the Primer's advice you would use 2-3% sauermalz to to that. The idea behind the Primer is simplicity. You can make it much more complicated if you want to by using one or another of the spreadsheets and calculators which are available.

Your brew day is not a good time to learn how to use a pH meter. If you have time before brew day the best approach is to familiarize yourself with the operation of the meter. We hope it will be like riding a bicycle. There are some tips at http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f128/ph-meter-calibration-302256/. When comfortable that you can make a valid, stable, calibrated reading (just reading back the calibrating buffers will do) then make a small test mash with the grist you plan to use and some of the prepared water at the planned strike temperature. Adjust your sauermalz or acid additions according to the pH of the test mash.



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Old 10-17-2013, 09:06 PM   #792
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Thanks!

Yeah, it had been awhile since I read through the primer, so I guess I should've done that first.
Thanks also for the links on pH probes. I'll read those through.

Right now I think I'm pretty close to the primer guidelines, but I think my Ca additions may be off based on primer recommendations vs those complicated spreadsheets.

TD



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Old 10-17-2013, 09:22 PM   #793
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You can't really be that far 'off' the Primer recommendations as the Primer doesn't specify a tight calcium requirement. The Primer is based on the philosophies
1) KISS
2) We don't really care that much about calcium (no, we don't believe your beer will be wombat pee if you don't have at least 50 mg/L) but we do want a minimum level of chloride
3) Nobody complains about chloride until it gets pretty high but lots of people don't like the effects of sulfate (but lots do) so start with calcium chloride and work up the sulfate
4) Less is better
5) If we posted what we really think (about half the levels in the Primer), we'd have no credibility.

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Old 10-21-2013, 03:02 PM   #794
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ajdelange
You can't really be that far 'off' the Primer recommendations as the Primer doesn't specify a tight calcium requirement. The Primer is based on the philosophies 1) KISS 2) We don't really care that much about calcium (no, we don't believe your beer will be wombat pee if you don't have at least 50 mg/L) but we do want a minimum level of chloride 3) Nobody complains about chloride until it gets pretty high but lots of people don't like the effects of sulfate (but lots do) so start with calcium chloride and work up the sulfate 4) Less is better 5) If we posted what we really think (about half the levels in the Primer), we'd have no credibility.
Thanks!

I ended up using that bru'n water spread sheet. I found the water profile for the beer in a book, and matched my water as closely as I could. I couldn't figure a way to conduct a sample mini mash because I could not be sure the acid malt would be evenly distributed. In retrospect I suppose I could've gone with the percentages and crushed a smaller grist for testing. However, I didn't. I used the pH meter for first time, and was easy to figure out. measured pH was exactly as predicted by the spreadsheet, even including the acid additions to the water. Added some CaCl to the boil kettle.

Thanks for the help and info!

TD
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Old 10-28-2013, 11:53 PM   #795
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Hi Everybody. I am a newish brewer (4 months) and just did my 10th 6 gallon all grain batch on Saturday. I was brewing a hoppy blonde. This was my first batch where I was going to measure PH and try to use a water "recipe". Previously, all I have done is use bottled spring water and added a TB of the PH 5.2 product.

I used the water chemistry calculator at brewer's friend targeting the profile "light and hoppy" which instructed me to use 8.75 gallons of distilled water and to add 2.75 tsp of gypsum and 1 tsp of calcium chloride. I did this to the letter and then added my grains to mash. I used Precision Labs test strips which indicated my PH was very low... under 4.6. I slowly added chalk (5tsp) and kept testing with no change. I then moved to baking soda and added 2 tsp. This finally got my test strips to register a PH of 5.

When I enter those additions into the brewer's friend calculator, it reports that my water profile is crazy unbalanced.

Should I have left the PH alone? Is there a best process that differs from what I did? Did I destroy my beer? I hit my numbers just fine and it is fermenting like crazy.

Any thoughts on this would be greatly appreciated. Thank you all.



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Old 10-29-2013, 04:06 AM   #796
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I used Precision Labs test strips which indicated my PH was very low... under 4.6.
This was your first mistake. Test strips just don't seem to work with mash - perhaps it is the coloration of the mash/wort itself. It is very unlikely that your mash pH was as low as 4.6 with what I presume is a grain bill of light malts. In fact it was probably around 5.6.

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Originally Posted by Frazeart View Post
I slowly added chalk (5tsp) and kept testing with no change.
This was your second mistake. Chalk is ineffective at raising mash pH because it takes a long, long time to react. In fact it takes so long that you are likely to make another mistake like...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Frazeart View Post
I then moved to baking soda and added 2 tsp. This finally got my test strips to register a PH of 5.
What happens here is that the carbonate, which doesn't react very fast doesn't raise pH but the bicarbonate does. Since you would most probably need acid rather than alkali for this beer the bicarb will push the pH too high. Then, after you have sailed on under the assumption that all is OK because of the erroneous pH strip reading the carbonate will begin to react raising it still higher. This won't happen fast enough to damage things further in the mash but will raise the kettle and fermenter pH (unless the chalk particles are large enough that they get trapped in the grain bed during sparge in which case the additional damage is limited to the vorlauf/sparge phase). Thus your beer will have mashed, boiled and fermented at too high a pH. It may be drinkable but don't expect it to be the best beer you have ever made.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Frazeart View Post
When I enter those additions into the brewer's friend calculator, it reports that my water profile is crazy unbalanced.
If you tell a spreadsheet that you are adding chalk and baking soda to DI water and it comes back and says there is an ionic imbalance there is a problem with the spreadsheet. What it should tell you is that the mash pH was way too high as indeed it most probably was. In the early days many of the spreadsheets did not handle the stoichimetry of chalk properly. Most have, AFAIK, been corrected to recognize that carbonate ion is divalent but most don't, again AFAIK, account for the reaction of the calcium in chalk with malt derived phosphate.

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Originally Posted by Frazeart View Post
Should I have left the PH alone?
Yes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Frazeart View Post
Is there a best process that differs from what I did?
As this is the Primer thread we would presume that you would have followed the recommendations of the Primer though there is no claim that that is the best way to procede. These would have had you add some calcium chloride and some gypsum with some sauermalz (acid).


Quote:
Originally Posted by Frazeart View Post
Did I destroy my beer?
Probably not but you doubtless diminished it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Frazeart View Post
I used the water chemistry calculator at brewer's friend targeting the profile "light and hoppy" which instructed me to use 8.75 gallons of distilled water and to add 2.75 tsp of gypsum and 1 tsp of calcium chloride. I did this to the letter and then added my grains to mash.
Any thoughts on this would be greatly appreciated.
The difference between the Primer and the Brewer's Friend approaches (which are clearly similar) is that the latter tells you what is best for "light and hoppy" whereas the Primer gives you recommendations that are intended to serve as a starting point and encourages you to adjust additions until you find out what is indeed best for you in this style.
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Old 10-29-2013, 03:53 PM   #797
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ajdelange View Post
This was your first mistake. Test strips just don't seem to work with mash - perhaps it is the coloration of the mash/wort itself. It is very unlikely that your mash pH was as low as 4.6 with what I presume is a grain bill of light malts. In fact it was probably around 5.6.



This was your second mistake. Chalk is ineffective at raising mash pH because it takes a long, long time to react. In fact it takes so long that you are likely to make another mistake like...


What happens here is that the carbonate, which doesn't react very fast doesn't raise pH but the bicarbonate does. Since you would most probably need acid rather than alkali for this beer the bicarb will push the pH too high. Then, after you have sailed on under the assumption that all is OK because of the erroneous pH strip reading the carbonate will begin to react raising it still higher. This won't happen fast enough to damage things further in the mash but will raise the kettle and fermenter pH (unless the chalk particles are large enough that they get trapped in the grain bed during sparge in which case the additional damage is limited to the vorlauf/sparge phase). Thus your beer will have mashed, boiled and fermented at too high a pH. It may be drinkable but don't expect it to be the best beer you have ever made.





If you tell a spreadsheet that you are adding chalk and baking soda to DI water and it comes back and says there is an ionic imbalance there is a problem with the spreadsheet. What it should tell you is that the mash pH was way too high as indeed it most probably was. In the early days many of the spreadsheets did not handle the stoichimetry of chalk properly. Most have, AFAIK, been corrected to recognize that carbonate ion is divalent but most don't, again AFAIK, account for the reaction of the calcium in chalk with malt derived phosphate.


Yes.


As this is the Primer thread we would presume that you would have followed the recommendations of the Primer though there is no claim that that is the best way to procede. These would have had you add some calcium chloride and some gypsum with some sauermalz (acid).



Probably not but you doubtless diminished it.



The difference between the Primer and the Brewer's Friend approaches (which are clearly similar) is that the latter tells you what is best for "light and hoppy" whereas the Primer gives you recommendations that are intended to serve as a starting point and encourages you to adjust additions until you find out what is indeed best for you in this style.
Thank you so much for taking the time to so clearly answer my questions. In this age of message boards full of snarky, no account gremlins, it is so refreshing to get a genuine, helpful mentor.

Many thanks!!!! I will start with your primer and continue the journey.

PS. One last note... I don't know if it helped or not, but I did also use a tablespoon of the "5.2 ph buffer" product in this brew. If I did indeed raise my PH too high with the additions, hopefully that product mitigated the damage.
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Old 10-29-2013, 06:39 PM   #798
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.
PS. One last note... I don't know if it helped or not, but I did also use a tablespoon of the "5.2 ph buffer" product in this brew. If I did indeed raise my PH too high with the additions, hopefully that product mitigated the damage.
In this case the 5.2 would help. The monobasic phosphate ion in 5.2 is acidic relative to chalk and bicarbonate and would mitigate their effects somewhat but see http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f128/5-2-ph-stabilizer-whats-436563/ before ordering a drum of this stuff.
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Old 11-16-2013, 12:17 AM   #799
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Go to the canning section of your supermarket and buy some 'pickle crisp'. That is calcium chloride.
Just wanted you to know that this post may have just saved my weekend of brewing.

LHBS didn't have any Calcium Chloride, they gave some 'Burton Salts' used to reproduce the famous Burton water, but I was dubious about using them for my IIPA I wanted to brew since following the primer has worked so well for me so far.

*edit: So three different grocery stores did not have this and tried to sell me pickling salt. Finally found some at Walmart. Let me tell you, going to Walmart during holiday shopping season on a Saturday was almost enough to get me to drown myself in my own homebrew. But at least I found what I needed!
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Old 11-16-2013, 09:57 PM   #800
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By Ajdelange


...

The following recommendations apply to “soft” water. Here we will define soft as meaning RO or distilled water or any water whose lab report indicates alkalinity less than 35 (ppm as CaCO3 – all other numbers to follow mg/L), sulfate less than 20 (as sulfate – Ward Labs reports as sulfur so multiply the SO4-S number by 3 to get as sulfate), chloride less than 20, sodium less than 20, calcium less than 20 and magnesium less than 20. If your water has numbers higher than these, dilute it with RO or DI water. A 1:1 dilution reduces each ion concentration to 1/2, a 2:1 dilution to 1/3 and so on. If your water contains chloramines add 1 campden tablet per 20 gallons (before any dilution)

Baseline: Add 1 tsp of calcium chloride dihydrate (what your LHBS sells) to each 5 gallons of water treated. Add 2% sauermalz to the grist.

Deviate from the baseline as follows:

For soft water beers (i.e Pils, Helles). Use half the baseline amount of calcium chloride and increase the sauermalz to 3%

For beers that use roast malt (Stout, porter): Skip the sauermalz.

For British beers: Add 1 tsp gypsum as well as 1 tsp calcium chloride

For very minerally beers (Export, Burton ale): Double the calcium chloride and the gypsum.

...
Maybe I am being too picky here. If I am, please let me know and I will release my ADD.

I am going to brew a classic Amber Ale. How do I figure out what additions based upon the above info I need? I have sought to find the water style I need but am unable to find it.


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