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Old 04-12-2012, 11:59 AM   #1
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(* edit - BEERsmith)I just found the water tool on BS2 - which makes me feel like a tool but that's a different thread.

So if I start w/ distilled and do what it says to match whatever profile I need... What do I do about pH or is it somthing that I can/ should just roll with?
I know brewing water should be around 5.2-5.4 ph optimally and I know you can compensate with acid or acid malt BUT do you do this on the fly or is there a way to figure it out? I know the grain bill will effect it but is there a rule of thumb or do you measure pH and add acid directly to the mash till you get what you are looking for? That can't be right, can it?



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Old 04-12-2012, 12:12 PM   #2
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Well, the target profile needs to be formulated to give you the proper pH. I use the Bru'n Water spreadheet to give me that information. It can be overwhelming at first - EZ water calculator is more approachable, but the two spreadsheets will sometimes give you somewhat different results.



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Old 04-12-2012, 12:16 PM   #3
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I'm not sure about everyone, but I'll say confidently that most people probably DONT use acid, or at least only if they have to. As long as the calcium and carbonates are adjusted in the right amounts, you should be ok as long as you do your homework.

As an example, I have somewhat hard water here in Indianapolis, around 250 or so ppm bicarbonate, a form of carbonate. Calcium is around 60 ppm. If I do a brown ale I don't do anything to the water except carbon filter for chorine bleach in the water. It comes out great.

If I do a lighter beer and forget to dilute my water by 50/50 distilled (which I have done), my efficiency goes down and I won't hit my gravity. It is probably out of optimal pH range.

I don't use a pH meter or strips, but you certainly can, and add lactic acid to bring it down, after your water profile is adjusted beforehand though. If you try to brew a Pilsner with hard water, you may not be able to get it down without adding a large amount of acid.

There is a product called 5.2 which adds a phosphoric acid buffer to automatically bring it to the proper pH, but if you are concerned with water profile, you probably don't need it.

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Old 04-12-2012, 04:26 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Brewskii View Post

So if I start w/ distilled and do what it says to match whatever profile I need... What do I do about pH or is it somthing that I can/ should just roll with?
Mash pH control is definitely on the short list of things you can do which will dramatically improve your beer.

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I know brewing water should be around 5.2-5.4 ph optimally
The pH of the water itself is of minor importance. What is important is the pH of the mash. It should be between 5.3 and 5.6 as measured at room temperature.

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and I know you can compensate with acid or acid malt BUT do you do this on the fly or is there a way to figure it out?
With experience you will be able to figure it out. Until then there are calculators and spreadsheets which estimate mash pH from water characteristics and grain bill. Sometimes their predictions are quite good. Sometimes they are not. I sometimes suggest that people get a couple of these and average their results.

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I know the grain bill will effect it but is there a rule of thumb or do you measure pH and add acid directly to the mash till you get what you are looking for? That can't be right, can it?
There is a rule of thumb regarding the use of sauermalz. Each percent (by weight) of sauermalz in the grist will reduce mash pH by about 0.1 unit. Thus for a Pils with mostly pilsner malt, a few percent cara-something and soft water you would aniticipate a mash pH of about 5.7 and would add 2 - 3% to get you to 5.4 - 5.5. One approach is to make a test mash - everything but the sauermalz - and measure its pH. Then add sauermalz to the main mash per the rule of thumb checking on the main mash pH to see how you did.

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Originally Posted by mbobhat
...most people probably DONT use acid,
Probably not and that's a pity because they could be making noticeably better beer.

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Originally Posted by mbobhat
There is a product called 5.2 which adds a phosphoric acid buffer to automatically bring it to the proper pH,...
If it did add phosphoric acid it would be more effective at pH control than it is. What it does add is monobasic and dibasic sodium phosphate i.e. it tries to combine with the phosphate in malt to form a buffer. Problem is that phosphate buffers aren't very good buffers at mash pH. All it really does, therefore, is load up your mash with sodium and phosphate.

Phosphoric acid can be, and often is, used by brewers to control mash pH.
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Old 04-12-2012, 07:36 PM   #5
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Thanks for the info everybody.
ajdelange ....I wish that I were familiar enough with water to be able to acid- adjust brewing water in the HLT as the thought of replacing base malt in the grain bill to adjust the pH seems strange to me ( mystery malt).
Since I have never done this before and have just started to scratch the surface I know things should get better with time. Looks like a lot of trial and error is in my future especially considering my diverse brew schedule this year.

Thanks again

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Old 04-12-2012, 07:53 PM   #6
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Quote:
Quote:
Originally Posted by mbobhat
...most people probably DONT use acid,

Probably not and that's a pity because they could be making noticeably better beer.
What I meant by this was most people don't unless they need to, correct? If the water is good for the style then it should fall into range? Thoughts?
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Old 04-12-2012, 08:14 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Brewskii View Post
Thanks for the info everybody.
ajdelange ....I wish that I were familiar enough with water to be able to acid- adjust brewing water in the HLT as the thought of replacing base malt in the grain bill to adjust the pH seems strange to me ( mystery malt).
Since I have never done this before and have just started to scratch the surface I know things should get better with time. Looks like a lot of trial and error is in my future especially considering my diverse brew schedule this year.

Thanks again
Thanks to AJ, there is an acidification calculator in Bru'n Water that allows you to calculate your acid additions for sparging water and mashing water. It has proven to be very accurate in practice. You do need to know the alkalinity of your raw water to use that calculator effectively.
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Old 04-12-2012, 08:30 PM   #8
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Quote:
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What I meant by this was most people don't unless they need to, correct? If the water is good for the style then it should fall into range? Thoughts?
One needs to be a little careful here. We all assume that Pilsen water is good for Pilsner beer and that the water of Munich is suitable for Helles. And they are if they are treated the way the brewers of those cities treat them. In the case of Pilsen sour mash (acid) is added to the water and in the case of Helles the water is decarbonated and acid is probably added. It's a safe bet that for most light beers some acid in some form will be necessary. The Germans, tied as they are to Biersteuergesetz, may only use natural acid produced in the brewery and so employ sauergut or sauermalz. In Britain, where the same is generally true, i.e. that acid is needed in most cases, they tend to use a blend of sulfuric and hydrochloric acids sold as 'CRS' (carbonate reducing solution).
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Old 04-13-2012, 02:43 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by ajdelange View Post

With experience you will be able to figure it out. Until then there are calculators and spreadsheets which estimate mash pH from water characteristics and grain bill. Sometimes their predictions are quite good. Sometimes they are not. I sometimes suggest that people get a couple of these and average their results.
Its also very easy to make a scaled mash to determine the resulting pH.


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