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Old 03-26-2011, 05:11 PM   #1
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Default Sparge water pH

I've finally learned enough about mash pH (thanks ajdelange!) to have a grasp of understanding some of it.

My new question is about sparging. I have hard alkaline water, and usually mix with RO to get to a good mash pH. But what about during fly sparging? What is a good range for the sparge pH? I know we want to stop sparging by the time the runnings get to 1.010 or so, but what about the pH of the sparge? What's a "good" number? Should I acidify my sparge water? Or is the sauermaltz still "working"?

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Old 03-26-2011, 05:14 PM   #2
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I use the Five Star 5.2 in my sparge and mash water. Seems to work out ok. But as far as an actual number Im not sure but I would guess some where in that range.

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Old 03-26-2011, 05:18 PM   #3
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As usual; I'll quote the great Kaiser...

Quote:
Originally Posted by braukaiser.com
But sparging with high alkalinity water can quickly consume the mash's buffer capacity and lead to pH levels that lead to excessive tannin extraction into the wort. This is because the high concentration of carbonates and bicarbonates in the water forms a strong buffer. As the sweet wort is diluted and with it the mash’s ability to buffer its pH at a level closer to the mash pH, the sparge water and its pH are taking over which can raise the pH above 6.0 and cause excessive tannin extraction.

There are a number of ways that this pH raise during sparging can be prevented or at least mitigated such that the pH is not allowed to raise above 5.8:

Limited sparging: If sparging is stopped before the pH of the water, that most of the grain sits in, rises above 6.0 an excessive amount of tannins will not be extracted into the boil kettle. While this limits the efficiency of the lauter, it is the most practical way of controlling tannin extraction from the grain husks. It also complies with the Reinheitsgebot (German beer purity law). An elegant way of limiting the amount of sparging is lowering the amount of water used for sparging and increasing the amount of water used for mashing. Pilsner beers, which are delicate beers that would suffer from excessive tannin extraction, are brewed with a mash thickness of up to 5.5 l/kg (2.5 qt/lb) which limits the amount of water that is available for sparging [Narziss, 2005]
Low alkalinity sparge water: The buffer capacity (alkalinity) of soft water is not strong enough to counteract the buffer of the mash even at high dilution rates. If brewing water is build from distilled or reverse osmosis water the salt additions destined for the sparge water can be made in the kettle while “plain” water is used for sparging. For brewers who care, this method is not approved by the Reinheitsgebot.
Sparge water acidification: The sparge water alkalinity can be reduced though acid additions and its pH can be lowered to a pH of 6 where it will only have a weak buffer capacity and will not be able to significantly counteract the pH that is set by the mash’s strong buffer. It is compliant with the Reinheitsgebot if lactic acid is used that was derived from malt based fermentation with malt derived lactobacillus.
I don't know if that helps any, as a lot of Kai's is over my head!

http://braukaiser.com/wiki/index.php...ffects_brewing
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Old 03-26-2011, 05:20 PM   #4
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I use the Five Star 5.2 in my sparge and mash water. Seems to work out ok. But as far as an actual number Im not sure but I would guess some where in that range.
Thanks for the suggestion. I'm of the opinion that the 5.2 stuff is garbage, and I've thrown mine out so that's out of the question for me! I gave away a jar of it during the last "Pay it Forward" round because I know some people use it and like it. It didn't work at all for my mash.
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Old 03-26-2011, 05:24 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by AZ_IPA View Post
As usual; I'll quote the great Kaiser...



I don't know if that helps any, as a lot of Kai's is over my head!

http://braukaiser.com/wiki/index.php...ffects_brewing
Oh, that does help! I wonder about simply using lactic acid in my entire sparge volume? That would be quick and easy.

But where to start? Do you start with a certain ML for XXXX pH of the water, and then assume that it's going to be 6 or under in the grain bed? Does that make sense? I guess I'm asking where to start. If you wait until the grain bed is already near 6, then it would be too late to add the lactic acid, or at least it would be hard to know how much to add.

I hope I'm being clear in my question. I guess I'm asking where to start with acidifying the sparge water.

Sometimes my head hurts when I think about it, so I just batch sparge! But I really want to do this.
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Old 03-26-2011, 05:26 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Yooper View Post
What is a good range for the sparge pH? I know we want to stop sparging by the time the runnings get to 1.010 or so, but what about the pH of the sparge? What's a "good" number? Should I acidify my sparge water? Or is the sauermaltz still "working"?
Most authors (and authorities) seem to feel that as long as the runoff pH is less than 6 you are OK and that certainly has worked for me.

You should know what my answer to the question as to whether you should acidify you sparge water will be: get a pH meter and see whether you need to. You won't have to do this as a matter of course - you will soon learn how pH behaves relative to runoff gravity (checked accurately enough for this purpose with a refractometer) with your equipment, methods and materials.

I really don't quite understand the preoccupation with sparge water vs mash water. I assume the dead guys sparged with the same water they brewed with and I have always done the same. Certainly, if you are going to brewing soft water beers for which you have cut the source water heavily with low ion water the resulting water will have low alkalinity and the acids in the malts will prevail. OTOH if you brewed with a highly alkaline water and used acid to beat that alkalinity you will probably need more for the sparge. I guess an easy answer is "always sparge with RO".

Another way to look at it is to observe that 1.010 SG is 2.5°P. That means that every extra liter of wort you collect contains only 25 grams of extract. Do you really need that extract? If you stopped earlier at 1.020 it would be about 50 grams per liter. Depending on how fast the gravity drops as runoff progresses you might want to think about stopping collection at a higher gravity but really a pH measurement is the best guide.

As for the 5.2 - it will buffer low ionic content water to pH 5.8 - a bit below 6 and should bring higher ionic content water to near that (it is a buffer after all if a weak one). I think we may have found a second use for 5.2 (the other being checking pH meters).
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Old 03-26-2011, 05:29 PM   #7
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I've only measured my sparge pH once....

It was 5.29 mid-sparge.

I've used 5.2 as it seems to work for me (though I haven't measured my pH without it - I'll do that once I run out of 5.2).

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Old 03-26-2011, 05:43 PM   #8
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I've used 5.2 as it seems to work for me (though I haven't measured my pH without it ).
That's why it seems to work.

I assume you mean that it seems to work in the mash. The suggestion that it be used to buffer sparge water was not entirely serious. There are better ways to manage sparge pH and the 5.2 adds more sodium.
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Old 03-26-2011, 05:44 PM   #9
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That's why it seems to work.

I assume you mean that it seems to work in the mash. The suggestion that it be used to buffer sparge water was not entirely serious. There are better ways to manage sparge pH and the 5.2 adds more sodium.
Yes, exactly. I use it in the mash only...
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Old 03-26-2011, 05:58 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by ajdelange View Post
Most authors (and authorities) seem to feel that as long as the runoff pH is less than 6 you are OK and that certainly has worked for me.

You should know what my answer to the question as to whether you should acidify you sparge water will be: get a pH meter and see whether you need to. You won't have to do this as a matter of course - you will soon learn how pH behaves relative to runoff gravity (checked accurately enough for this purpose with a refractometer) with your equipment, methods and materials.

I really don't quite understand the preoccupation with sparge water vs mash water. I assume the dead guys sparged with the same water they brewed with and I have always done the same. Certainly, if you are going to brewing soft water beers for which you have cut the source water heavily with low ion water the resulting water will have low alkalinity and the acids in the malts will prevail. OTOH if you brewed with a highly alkaline water and used acid to beat that alkalinity you will probably need more for the sparge. I guess an easy answer is "always sparge with RO".

Another way to look at it is to observe that 1.010 SG is 2.5°P. That means that every extra liter of wort you collect contains only 25 grams of extract. Do you really need that extract? If you stopped earlier at 1.020 it would be about 50 grams per liter. Depending on how fast the gravity drops as runoff progresses you might want to think about stopping collection at a higher gravity but really a pH measurement is the best guide.

As for the 5.2 - it will buffer low ionic content water to pH 5.8 - a bit below 6 and should bring higher ionic content water to near that (it is a buffer after all if a weak one). I think we may have found a second use for 5.2 (the other being checking pH meters).
Thanks for the explanation! I know sparging with RO water would solve my problems, but as I don't have an RO system, I'd have to haul more water than I do now and I guess it's just laziness. I also want to have residual water in my HLT so I don't sparge my grainbed dry, and I hate buying RO water and leaving it in the HLT.

That's what I was thinking about the 5.2 buffer myself! Darn- maybe it would have worked for sparging!

Another question- how much lactic acid is ok to use before it's perceptible?
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