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Old 05-08-2009, 02:26 AM   #1
thisjrp4
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Default Pale ales and mash pH

I've been AG brewing for a while and just starting to get into water chemistry, mainly to find a solution to my grainy bland pale ales. I have very soft water with a pH of 7.2 (according to my water report) and I usually add gypsum to my brewing water regardless of style. My brown to very dark beers come out great but my pale beers are grainy and bland. According to Palmers spreadsheet my water is good for pale beers but needs chalk or baking soda to be suitable for darker beers. Is it possible that my grainy pale ales are not being mashed at the right pH? Should I be adding 5.2 stabilizer to my pale ale mashes to help get rid of the grainy taste and give me a cleaner hop bitterness? Should I be adding 5.2 to my darker ales and stouts?

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Old 05-08-2009, 02:32 AM   #2
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5.2 will help all your brews.

Have you measured your actual wort pH?

An inexpensive pH meter will help you to determine what you might need to hit the water chemistry for your desired style.

Otherwise, use Five Star's 5.2 and relax, don't worry.

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Old 05-08-2009, 03:11 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by thisjrp4 View Post
I usually add gypsum to my brewing water regardless of style.
Why?

Different styles require different water profiles. You haven't posted your water analysis but assuming being very soft that it has little in the way of brewing ions adding some gypsum will at least provide some needed calcium. However, while gypsum is the common choice in brewing salt with many homebrewers it isn't necessarily the right choice for all beers.


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My brown to very dark beers come out great but my pale beers are grainy and bland. According to Palmers spreadsheet my water is good for pale beers but needs chalk or baking soda to be suitable for darker beers. Is it possible that my grainy pale ales are not being mashed at the right pH?
Sure it is but have you measured the pH to find out? Your statements re the water spreadsheet and your brewing experience contradict one another. You say you are adding gypsum for all beers although the spreadsheet indicates that a carbonate salt is required for dark brews. Adding gypsum to your water for a dark beer is the opposite of what you say needs to be done yet you claim it is the light beers rather than the dark beers that are not meeting expectations.


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Should I be adding 5.2 stabilizer to my pale ale mashes to help get rid of the grainy taste and give me a cleaner hop bitterness? Should I be adding 5.2 to my darker ales and stouts?
I don't think so, at least not until you figure out what the water profiles are supposed to look like. Assuming the water profiles are in line once the correct ions are added via the addition of the proper brewing salts the 5.2 product should be unnecessary. Soft water with low mineral content is fairly simple to modify with a few common brewing salts. I suggest you post your water analysis and look for some pointers from the membership.
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Old 05-10-2009, 02:25 AM   #4
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I definitely need to measure my mash pH to see what's really happening. Here is my water analysis: Calcuim 20, Magnesium 4, Alkalinity 42, Sodum 13, Chlorides 27, Sulfate 12, pH 7.2. Its kind of a blank slate for mineral additions. I suppose there are plenty of salt combinations I can add, but based on my water analysis can anyone suggest a good combo for pale ales? How about brown ales or stouts? If someone with more experience in this department can help I'd really appreciate it.

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Old 05-10-2009, 06:16 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by thisjrp4 View Post
I definitely need to measure my mash pH to see what's really happening. Here is my water analysis: Calcuim 20, Magnesium 4, Alkalinity 42, Sodum 13, Chlorides 27, Sulfate 12, pH 7.2. Its kind of a blank slate for mineral additions. I suppose there are plenty of salt combinations I can add, but based on my water analysis can anyone suggest a good combo for pale ales? How about brown ales or stouts? If someone with more experience in this department can help I'd really appreciate it.
There are plenty of water calculators out there. Here is but one:

Brewing Water Chemistry Calculator | Brewer's Friend
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Old 05-11-2009, 05:20 PM   #6
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Get your calcium up a little for yeast health, but if you're trying for a lighter brew that isn't balanced towards the hop bitterness, first thing's first - stop adding gypsum.

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Old 05-11-2009, 07:25 PM   #7
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For nice hoppy pale ales, get your calcium at least over 50 and at least a 2:1 ratio of sulfate to chloride. Make sure your pH during the mash is 5.2-5.4
I've been going 100+ on calcium and my chloride is 87 so I've been using ~200 for sulfate. Check that your Residual Alkalinity is proper for the color you want. Then in the mash, if the pH is still off, add in some 5.2, a half dose is often enough.

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