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Old 07-01-2014, 09:11 PM   #1
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Default Quick question on adjusting mash pH

So I got my new pH meter. And according to the Bru'n instructions, I check my mash pH 5-15 minutes after dough-in. But if it's been sitting there for 5-15 minutes, and I check and my pH is too high, isn't it too late to adjust? Or is this "now you know for next time" territory?

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Old 07-01-2014, 09:36 PM   #2
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Unless you do a mini mash then yes, it is probably too late. You can do an adjustment if you want. I have. (I was at 150F and pH of 5.8. I got it down to 5.6 pretty quick but I was ball park to start) The lower you are mashing at and the slower the conversion the more the outcome will be affected. At 158 some people that check their conversion swear they are done in 20 minutes.

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Old 07-02-2014, 02:03 AM   #3
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If the pH was only a tenth or so too high, then you might let it go. If its much above that, then you really should add acid to try and bring the kettle wort pH down to a reasonable range so that the hop and bittering character isn't rough.

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Old 07-02-2014, 06:27 PM   #4
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How accurate are the estimates in the Bru'n sheet? If it estimates, for example, that I need 10 mL of Some Acid Or Other (tm) to bring it down to my target pH, should I add that much before dough-in and see how it goes, or do I start with less than it recommends (half, maybe) so I have room to adjust?

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Old 07-02-2014, 09:38 PM   #5
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They are estimates... meaning precision is variable. That said, I find Bru'n pretty accurate, and when it isn't - there has been a user input error on my part. If you are nervous about how much acid to add, I would suggest a test mash with a very small portion of the grist to calculate, and then titrate the acid to find the right amount. I tend to do this now when I have a large percentage of specialty or adjunct in a new recipe to give me the confidence to proceed with a full mash. That said - usually Bru'n is very close on the acid estimation.

While you can titrate your mash down with acid as needed till you hit your expected number, be aware that those numbers will continue to change past the 15 minute mark, and it will be easy to overshoot your desired target. The mash is a dynamic system. I have brewed and measured enough to have pretty good confidence in Bru'n's estimates. (not sure that punctuation is correct ?!?!) I find that at 10 minutes, my mash pH is slightly higher than my target, and by 15-20 minute is usually very close, and at the end of the mash, might be slightly lower.

This also assumes you are using a calibrated and stable pH meter properly and measuring at room temperature. Targeting a 5.4 mash pH also has a bit of fail safe built in - meaning that any reading +/- 0.1 still puts you into a very good range for most beers.

Take measurements consistently at room temperature, note them in the recipe and make the appropriate adjustment next time you brew it. Make notes when you taste the final product and correlate to the mash pH where possible. Brew again at a different target and compare the notes and observe the differences. That really is the best way to get a handle on the procedure and improving the overall application.

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Old 07-02-2014, 09:45 PM   #6
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Newbie here... Duhh What's Bru'n? Software or what?

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Old 07-02-2014, 10:01 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SDFarmer View Post
Newbie here... Duhh What's Bru'n? Software or what?
It's a nice water spreadsheet, with a lot of good brewing water information. It helps predict mash pH as well as help to tweak flavor additions and/or acid adjustments in sparge water if needed.

Can you see signatures? If you can, look at post #3 by scrolling up, and the link to brun'nwater is in the author's signature.
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Old 07-07-2014, 02:12 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Calypso View Post
How accurate are the estimates in the Bru'n sheet? If it estimates, for example, that I need 10 mL of Some Acid Or Other (tm) to bring it down to my target pH, should I add that much before dough-in and see how it goes, or do I start with less than it recommends (half, maybe) so I have room to adjust?
Some find the estimates accurate, others do not. Does your base malt have a distilled water pH equal to the baseline assumption for that malt in the software? If you can't answer that, then you shouldn't expect much accuracy, as it'll be a matter of luck.
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Old 07-07-2014, 02:17 PM   #9
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Some find the estimates accurate, others do not. Does your base malt have a distilled water pH equal to the baseline assumption for that malt in the software? If you can't answer that, then you shouldn't expect much accuracy, as it'll be a matter of luck.
What is a distilled water pH? I have a pH meter, if that helps.
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Old 07-07-2014, 03:41 PM   #10
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Default Quick question on adjusting mash pH

Quote:
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What is a distilled water pH? I have a pH meter, if that helps.
If you make a mash with each malt and distilled water, you'll get a certain pH, lets say 5.7 for pilsner malt and 5.4 for crystal 20. This is the main input in the calculators. But instead of requiring you to input the values, they assume certain values. But if your particular malts don't match we'll with their assumptions, then it won't predict well. And this is a non-trivial source of error.

Best thing you can do is make a test mash (e.g. 1 lb) before every batch. That's kind of a pain. Second best thing is to make a test mash using 100% of your couple favorite base malts. Then you can correct the assumptions in the calculators and it'll predict fairly well when you use those malts. Worst thing you can do is simply run the spreadsheet "as is", but even then you'll usually be within 0.2. All depends how accurate you want to be.
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