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Old 10-16-2013, 06:35 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by philipmeese View Post
Okay, AJ, so then bottom line, what you're saying is that I shouldn't expect Bru'n Water to be very accurate,
Depends on what you mean by 'accurate' but I will stand by my recommendation that it be used as a guideline with checks or by incremental additions.

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I should use it as an initial indication and incrementally add lactic acid to zero in on my desired pH. Do I have that right?
Yes and the remark applies to all the other spreadsheets/calculators out there as well. It isn't that the models are bad (though most of them assume that buffering capacity is constant with pH) so much as it is that it would be impossible for them to have data on the particular lot number of a particular malt from a particular maltster who bought the barley from a particular farmer.


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Old 10-16-2013, 06:54 PM   #12
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Hi Philip,

Your mileage may vary. Take the comments below with a grain of salt - I am still learning.

AJ's clarification is spot on, not that he needs my validation. He is an expert, I am not. I do believe the spreadsheet is a valuable brewing and educational tool, and has helped me tremendously.

On brewday, it makes sense to measure pH after/during your salt additions, and then adjust using acid or base as required during dough in. This really helps to address variability of your source water. Because I have spent invested in a R/O system, I have been spending a lot of focus and care in measurement. I measure the pH and volumes of my strike and sparge water separately as they will be treated differently (I do not dump everything into the HLT). I then add the salts (dough in) to the mash and measure the change in pH. With my RIMS system, I find the change occurs rapidly at from mixing with the malts. I will make an additional measurement(s) to verify that things have stabilized after about 5 minutes. I will adjust then with acid/base only if required. I have found this process very well aligned to Bru'n water's predictions, although 5 minutes in may be too late for the adjustment. I toss the rest of the salt additions into the sparge water and then measure pH to ensure it is somewhere close or below 6.0 pH. If needed, I add acid 1 ml at a time until I hit the target.

Another complication maybe your use of chalk, which is very difficult to dissolve and quickly impact the mash pH. Theoretically the chalk and the lactic acid will counter each other - so not sure about the net result there. I have moved chalk completely out of my brew house and replaced it with pickling lime. Baking soda adds sodium, which I avoid, but is part of your target ideal water profile.

In using the spreadsheet, I focus almost exclusively on acid additions for calcium and sulfate choices, and not on alkaline. Of course, with roasted and crystal grains, I will most likely need pickling lime to adjust the estimated mash pH, and will rebalance the acids to achieve sulfate and calcium needs and my target mash pH and minimize additions.

On the mash acidification worksheet, I only choose ROAST or CRYSTAL when I specifically know it is such, or see a dark Lovibond rating (darker than 8-10 L). All else I treat as BASE malt, even un-malted grain or flakes. This could be completely wrong - happy to be corrected - but again is has worked as expected on my brew days.

Your PDF showed a 20 ounce Rye Malt addition, 3 L, that yielded 0.2 mEq/L acidity. If treated as Base Malt, it would add half that total acidity into the equation. Also, I want to make sure that you intend a 7.36 gallon post boil volume? Not sure that makes a lot of difference here, but does change the beer color calculation slightly.

I will have a go at putting your target and recipe information into the spreadsheet and PM you the results.



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Old 10-16-2013, 07:32 PM   #13
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. The smart camper uses the spread sheeet or calculator as a guide and adds the acid in increments checking pH as he goes.
Quick question AJ:

I'm almost sure I remember you writing (maybe it was in the primer thread) that it takes something like 15 minutes for the mash pH to stabilize before you can take a reading that is worth anything - and at that point it's too late to adjust the pH and have it make a difference. So I recall that the advice was basically to take the reading to know what adjustments to make next time.

Am I remembering that right?

If so, how would you "check pH as you go"? Obviously the test mash would fix that but that isn't on the fly.

This is, at the moment, academic as I don't have a meter. But it is something that's on my list.

Thanks
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Old 10-16-2013, 08:13 PM   #14
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Philip, sorry for your troubles. However if your water supply is subject to change, then it would be impossible to have any program predict pH accurately. Garbage In = Garbage Out.

Colin Kaminsky has had to deal with variable water quality from his water supplier for years. He tests hardness and alkalinity prior to each brew to assess the current quality. He alters his water treatment based on that result. You would be wise to include that sort of 'spot' testing too. The main culprit in unexpected mash pH response is alkalinity. At a minimum, I would obtain an alkalinity test kit so that you would have the ability to monitor that piece of the puzzle.

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Old 10-17-2013, 02:32 PM   #15
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I'm almost sure I remember you writing (maybe it was in the primer thread) that it takes something like 15 minutes for the mash pH to stabilize before you can take a reading that is worth anything - and at that point it's too late to adjust the pH and have it make a difference. So I recall that the advice was basically to take the reading to know what adjustments to make next time.

Am I remembering that right?
Yes and that is fine if your mash pH comes in somewhere between 5.2 and 5.6 but if it comes in at 5 or 6 you should probably try to do something about it. It may take you 15 minutes to have a good idea as to what the mash pH would settle in at eventually (most of the change takes place early on and you can guess reasonably well where it will finally come to rest and it may take another 15 minutes before you see the fruits of any correction you try. You may overshoot. or you may overshoot again requiring a second correction so it could be 45 minutes to an hour before you get the pH right. I 'll bet lots of readers (and the writer) have spent an unpleasant afternoon or evening chasing pH. Experience helps a lot and I think that you'll have to accept that you are going to miss a couple of times before you start hitting it right consistently. Even if it takes an hour, enzymes are not going to be denatured by the range of pH into which you might take them (unless you used 10N acid when you thought you were using N acid). But heat is working against them so that it is clear that you won't get the beer you would have had you gone straight to the correct pH but I'm guessing that you'll get better beer than if you don't correct. Remember that once the mash pH is correct you can expect pH to track pretty well throughout the rest of the process.

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If so, how would you "check pH as you go"? Obviously the test mash would fix that but that isn't on the fly.
I really favor a test mash especially for the beginner. Keep in mind that an actual mash is a test mash too. This brings us back to the make a note and correct next time if you are within reason based on an particular addition approach.

Keep in mind that a spreadsheet or calculator can be used to advantage to calculate a trial acid addition for a test mash. Also keep in mind that if a test mash comes in high with a given addition incrementing the amount of acid and then retesting on a new test mash will probably give a better result than trying to correct the original test mash on the fly.
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Old 10-17-2013, 03:20 PM   #16
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Philip, sorry for your troubles. However if your water supply is subject to change, then it would be impossible to have any program predict pH accurately. Garbage In = Garbage Out.

Colin Kaminsky has had to deal with variable water quality from his water supplier for years. He tests hardness and alkalinity prior to each brew to assess the current quality. He alters his water treatment based on that result. You would be wise to include that sort of 'spot' testing too. The main culprit in unexpected mash pH response is alkalinity. At a minimum, I would obtain an alkalinity test kit so that you would have the ability to monitor that piece of the puzzle.
Martin: Thanks for the reply.

Woe to the brewer who is subject to municipal supply. When it's good, it's pretty good, but the variability is killing me!

I'll look into the alkalinity test kit as a short term solution, and longer term I may go to RO to reduce the variation completely.

Are there specific water test kits you would recommend?
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Old 10-17-2013, 05:10 PM   #17
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I've always used Hach which isn't to say that some of the other manufacturer's kits aren't good. But you do get what you pay for and Hach stuff isn't as cheap as some of the alternatives. Alkalinity is actually the easiest of water parameters to measure. You can even put a test kit together yourself. See http://wetnewf.org/pdfs/measuring-alkalinity.html. Even if you don't want to put the stuff together scan over the whole thing and check out the 'digital buret' illustrated in the last picture. These make tests accurate, simple, repeatable and can be used for hardness, alkalinity, chloride and other ions (but not, unfortunately, sulfate, sodium or potassium).

The cheap and dirty approach is drop count kits available from pool suppliers, pet stores and hardware stores.

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Old 11-09-2013, 09:08 PM   #18
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Would test for alkalinity and hardness be enough to use the bru'n spreadsheet? I have a water report from ward but my water changes by the season. Could I estimate the water additions with just the alkalinity and the hardness? I have a ph meter on the way.

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Old 11-09-2013, 09:14 PM   #19
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To estimate mash pH is a fairly simple matter. You compute the proton deficit of your water at the desired mash pH. You do the same for the base malt and any specialty malts that have a proton deficit at the desired pH. You compute the proton surfeit of any specialty malts that have a proton surfeit at the target pH. You add up all the deficits and subtract all the surfeits and, unless your beer has lots of dark malt, there will be a deficit which is made up by adding lactic acid. As the properties of lactic acid are well known it is easy to determine how much to add to balance a particular deficit. It is also easy to determine the deficit of water of known alkalinity. This is where 'easy' ends. It is not easy to determine the proton deficits or surfeits of malt without making an elaborate set of measurements on each and this means each of the malts you are actually using. If you don't do that then you can only estimate what the deficits or surfeits might be at a particular pH based on the malts' colors or measurements done by someone else. There are some of these abroad but they were not done rigorously so the data is approximate. As such you can only get an approximate estimate of the amount of acid needed. The smart camper uses the spread sheeet or calculator as a guide and adds the acid in increments checking pH as he goes. Better yet, he makes a test mash, determines how much acid it takes to get that to proper pH and then scales the answer to the size of the full mash.

Slaked lime is fine for mash pH adjustment but it may take more than you calculate because some of the calcium reacts with malt phosphate thus releasing acid which neutralizes some of the lime's alkalinity. This doesn't matter as the calcium is precipitated and the neutralized alkalinity is only water.
^^^^what he said even thou i dont understand a thing he said
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Old 11-09-2013, 11:40 PM   #20
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Would test for alkalinity and hardness be enough to use the bru'n spreadsheet? I have a water report from ward but my water changes by the season. Could I estimate the water additions with just the alkalinity and the hardness? I have a ph meter on the way.
It would be enough for you to estimate pH and for you to see the effects of calcium salt and acid or base additions to the mash. Clearly it would not be enough for you to set sulfate and chloride to a particular level.


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