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Old 06-11-2011, 10:48 PM   #1
kyle0226
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Default Water chemistry is hard

Enclosed is my spreadsheet from EZ calculator for my water profile. I will be brewing a stout mirroring Dublin water. My source water has a ph of 9.0. My mash ph is reading low according to the calculator, 5.18. How is this possible when my source water has such a high ph?

Grain bill is

11 lbs 2 row
4.5 lbs barley flaked
2.25 black barley

Beersmith is telling me to add 13 grams chalk and 2.3 grams epsom salt, but according to EZ calcualtor my ph would still be low.

Water profile is

Na 91
Ca 28
Mg 8
Total Hardness, CaCo3 103
SO4 108
Cl 115
Co3 6
bicarbonate HCO3 40
Total Alkalinity CaCo3 43
ph 9.0

Pardon my picture quality, but it was the only way to upload the sheet.

preview-ez_water_calculator_2.0.1.xls-.jpg  
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Old 06-11-2011, 10:50 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kyle0226 View Post
How is this possible when my source water has such a high ph?
That happens when your water isn't strongly buffered, i.e. small amounts of salts or acids will change the pH by a lot.
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Old 06-11-2011, 10:52 PM   #3
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Any thoughts on how to fix this? I can't add any more baking soda or chalk cause I'll go over on my ranges.

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Old 06-11-2011, 11:08 PM   #4
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Squeezing lime in will reduce mash pH

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Old 06-11-2011, 11:13 PM   #5
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I need to raise mash ph.

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Old 06-11-2011, 11:20 PM   #6
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5.2 is a perfectly good mash pH.

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Old 06-12-2011, 01:06 AM   #7
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Ah, balls. Sorry! I misread something and saw "my source water has such high pH."

Also, you're right ArcaneXor. 5.2 is the butter-zone for mash pH.

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Old 06-12-2011, 03:25 AM   #8
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Most of the spreadsheets persist in using beer color as a strong predictor of mash pH. They tend, therefore, to underestimate mash pH considerably especially for dark beers. It is, in fact, unlikely that your mash pH will be as low as is predicted by these spreadsheets unless you are using inordinate amounts of black malt in which case your beer will taste like charcoal briquettes anyway and you needn't worry much about mash pH. There is some uncertainty here so the best advice I can give is that you obtain a pH meter and use it to check dough-in pH. You can stir in a little chalk if you find you need it but don't do this until you have checked pH and determined that it is necessary. Absent a pH meter, brew the beer with the water you have with no salt additions and you will be fine.

A typical Irish Dry Stout recipe (taken from Aston Lewis's chapter in Michael Lewis's monograph on Stout) calls for 10% of the grist to be roast barley. With your water the pH for such a mash would be about 5.5-5.6. No additional alkali is necessary. I note you are using 15% roast barley so your pH will probably a around 5.45 - a good value.

So the answer to your question "how can this be?" is "it can't". The buffering capacity of your water is modest at 43 but the base malt has buffering capacity too. It takes, in my experiments, about 30% roast barley to pull mash pH as low as 5.2 and that's 3 times what you need for a balanced stout.

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Old 06-12-2011, 12:56 PM   #9
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AJ's example is a little narrow and uncharacteristic of most brewer's grists. Roast malts are rarely the only color producers or flavor producers used by brewers. In addition, roast malts produce only modest acidity in comparison to most crystal malts. While AJ is usually right, he focuses on a single example that misses the mark for most brewers.

Programs like EZ Water and Bru'n Water use malt color and type to help estimate the effect of the grist on mash pH. I haven't researched EZ Water, but it probably predicts the mash pH decently. I know that Bru'n Water predicts the mash pH within 0.2 units every time. The next version will even correct the anomoly that AJ pointed out for the pH predicted when a pale grist with distilled water.

It turns out that the decarbonation of water that contains alkalinity is a predictable and consistent phenomena when the water is heated to mash temperatures. RO and distilled water have very little or no alkalinity and their decarbonization upon heating is essentially zero. Thus the effect of calcium carbonate dissolution that any brewer using alkaline water experiences, would not be seen when brewing with a non-alkaline water. This effect explains why all the actual mash pH response data that brewers from around the world have reported to me is reasonable and AJ's prediction using Kohlbach's information is accurate also. Bru'n Water is relatively accurate now when your brewing water contains moderate to high alkalinity. It will be more accurate for low alkalinity water in the future.

For the OP, forget anything that Beersmith recommends regarding water additions. It has no basis in fact. As mentioned above, the tap water is relatively low in alkalinity and would need additional alkalinity to avoid dropping the mash pH too far. I recommend that in most cases, mash pH should not be allowed to drop below 5.3 (room temperature measurement). In the case of darker beers, I find that bumping up that minimum recommended pH by a tenth or two is helpful for rounding the flavor. Do be careful when increasing alkalinity. As AJ says, you do not want to add any more alkalinity than absolutely necessary to achieve proper mash pH. I think that Bru'n Water gives brewers accurate knowledge of what the amount of alkalinity might be. Checking with a pH meter is the best way to check, but having a good idea of what amount of a alkalinity producing mineral you'll need is very helpful to me.

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Old 06-12-2011, 01:33 PM   #10
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In my previous post I focused on a particular example because OP asked about a particular example i.e. a stout with a recipe similar to Lewis's using water similar to mine (WRT to alkalinity and hardness - I haven't got his sodium or sulfate thank Ninkasi). I simply reported what he is likely to experience if he brews Lewis's recipe with water untreated based on my experience and lab measurements with similar grist and similar water. If I put Lewis's recipe and my water into EZ presumably I'll get the same predicted pH OP did. If I put those data into Bru'n water I get a prediction of 5.1 and an admonition, in red, to add alkalinity to my mash water. I've brewed this beer many times (well, several anyway) and mash pH has always come in at about 5.5 with no water treatment. Thus neither EZ nor Bru'n model the roast barley in Lewis's recipe very well.

I have no doubt that some crystal malts contain more acid than some roast malts (based on Kai's data) and apparently at least Bru'n water models many beers well. But it doesn't model Irish Stout very well. If OP adds alkali to his water (or mash) I think he'll regret it (if he ever tastes an Irish stout made with water and recipe to his without). It also doesn't model my dark or light lagers very well. So sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. In engineering we'd say the model isn't "robust". That does not mean it isn't useful.

Is this problem fixable? Yes, it is - the spreadsheets need to be modified to recognize that roast barley is less "powerful" than the way it is currently modeled. Following such an approach could improve the utility of these spreadsheets greatly but each such improvement adds complexity to the spreadsheet to the point where it becomes unwieldy (for the programmer at least). My take on this is that the problem has too many degrees of freedom (too many available malts with too much variation between cultivar, grower, maltster and even within a particular maltings, lot to lot). So I don't even try to model mash pH. I do look at Kolbach's shift but take it with a big grain of salt. I've been doing this long enough that I can pretty much guess what mash pH will be but if you asked me to brew something I've never brewed before I'll bet my guess wouldn't be so good.

If anyone reading my previous post interpreted it to mean that any dark beer brewed with water like OPs will get pH 5.5 then let me make it clear that what I reported is what I measured for Lewis's recipe and his recipe alone though it is obvious that similar results should be obtained for similar recipes with similar hardness/alkalinity water and indeed several have confirmed that here and in other fora.

The real bottom line to me is that if you are willing to forgo a couple of sessions at your favorite brewpub* you will save enough money to buy yourself a decent pH meter. Then you won't have to rely on my advice or that of anyone else. You will know what the real story is.

*If your favorite brewpub is Mad Fox ignore this.

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