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Old 04-22-2011, 06:40 AM   #1
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Default PH and mash question

So going into AG brewing how important is the PH levels in the water being used and why if so? What is a good mash ph level?

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Old 04-22-2011, 06:44 AM   #2
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There will be a lot of different opinions but honestly for me, I take it one step at a time. If i'm making extract beer that taste good with my water then AG isn't going to be much different. Water chemistry hasn't been a priority for me yet so I haven't looked into it, I figure I make the best beer I can, then when i'm happy with everything, step it up and look at what to improve. I think water chemistry should be the least of your worries when moving up to AG. Of course, that is my personal opinion.

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Old 04-22-2011, 06:50 AM   #3
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To add to my last post, once you start AG you start getting into specific styles. Some styles require different water profiles (i.e. hard vs. soft), at that point I would look into it. For starters don't complicate things and just make a beer AG, then perfect.

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Old 04-22-2011, 12:11 PM   #4
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I have well water that tastes good, but makes awful beer. (It is hard & very alkaline.) Since following the water primer by ajdelange, my beer is great. In my case, it is very important. http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f128/bre...primer-198460/ My mash pH is typically at 5.3 by following the primer.

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Old 04-22-2011, 02:41 PM   #5
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The pH of the water itself is not really important at all. Most of the popular spreadsheets ignore it completely and still do a fairly good job. What is important is mash pH - that is, IMO, as important as temperature. Mash pH is largely influenced by the bicarbonate content of the brew water and that is reflected in the alkalinity found in every water report (every one that is useful to brewers anyway).

The reason that mash pH doesn't get the attention it should is that it requires a pH meter to measure it and this prospect is frightening to beginners (part of the fright is in the price of a decent meter though they are a lot less expensive than they used to be).

It is possible to get a stab at mash pH by using guidelines such as those in the Primer here or by using one of the available spreadsheets but neither approach is as good as actually metering.

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Old 04-22-2011, 10:27 PM   #6
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ajdelange, what's a decent ph meter? What do you use?
Cheers.

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Old 04-23-2011, 11:25 AM   #7
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That's a good question as there are so many choices. Personally I use a Hach HQ40d. It's a fine instrument and the electrode (fillable) is the most stable one I have ever owned. It has held calibration for over a month on occasion and that is unheard of. It's got lots of bells and whistles - it actually does DO and conductivity as well as pH, displays calibration parameters each time you calibrate, has ATC, auto buffer recognition and don't even have to write readings down. Each is recorded in memory tagged with time, date, time of last cal, cal parameters, operators name etc and can be transferred to a computer in a format which is readable by Excel (and any other program that can read CSVs) or transferred to a memory stick. The downside is that if you want to own one of these you'd better be prepared to drive a beat up old pickup truck like mine. Priorities!

I couldn't believe that Hanna could sell the little pHep units for as little as they do given all the features they claim so I got one of those and checked it against the more expensive meters from time to time. It actually performs quite well. So that's the one I usually recommend but there are certainly several out there in comparable price range that claim comparable performance. Look for resolution of 0.01 and accuracy of 0.05 (preferably better), ATC (you can live without it and it can fool you but it does make life a little simpler) and automatic buffer recognition. Most of the close to but under $100 meters seem to have most of these.

I used to have to go on about electrodes at length because brewing is quite demanding on the electrode and the electrode is sort of like the speakers in hifi (it doesn't matter how good the electronics are if the speakers are lousy). In recent years there have been many improvements in electrode design which seem to be much more robust (hence the ability of mine to hold calibration for so long).

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