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Old 09-14-2010, 09:54 PM   #1
Mateo
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Default Wort and Beer pH

I was wondering if anyone could point me to some reading regarding the pH of certain worts and certain beers.

I have searched but found very little out there. Perhaps I am searching wrong.

m.

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Old 09-14-2010, 10:03 PM   #2
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There are some advanced books that cover pH ranges but I'm not aware of any online resources. Unfermented wort is 5.0 - 5.5 and fermented beer is 4 - 4.5.

Do you have a specific question?

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Old 09-15-2010, 01:23 AM   #3
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This is an area of brewing that is new to me and I am starting to delve into it. I would like to know what other's research has yielded.

I brew primarily very light colored lagers with very soft water and thus it has propelled me in the direction of researching pH and its affect on the final product.

I have been testing the lagers that I like and most of them are very low pH. I have brewed a few beers prior to paying much attention to pH and found them to be very high in comparison to the commercial lagers. This prompted me to dig deeper.

There seems to be a subtle complexity to the beers with slightly lower pH readings and those with higher pH readings seem to be simpler.

I did read that Ales tend to have lower pH than Lagers. Is this correct?

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Old 09-15-2010, 02:40 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mateo View Post
I brew primarily very light colored lagers with very soft water and thus it has propelled me in the direction of researching pH and its affect on the final product.
That's step one for a successful lager. Step 2 is to use acid (sauermalz) to set the pH between 5.2 and 5.5.

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I have been testing the lagers that I like and most of them are very low pH. I have brewed a few beers prior to paying much attention to pH and found them to be very high in comparison to the commercial lagers. This prompted me to dig deeper.
That's because commercial brewers (not all but most) control wort pH. Get that right and the beer will fall into place.

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There seems to be a subtle complexity to the beers with slightly lower pH readings and those with higher pH readings seem to be simpler.
That, in few words, is the secret to lager beer. One fellow who saw the light described it in terms of all the flavors being brighter.


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Originally Posted by Mateo View Post
I did read that Ales tend to have lower pH than Lagers. Is this correct?
Yes, in general. Here's what I found in my logbook for my last few brews:

Kölsch: 5.16 --> 4.41
Pils: 5.17 --> 4.53
Weizen: 5.22 --> 4.03
Märzen: 5.26 --> 4.40
Bock: 5.08 --> 4.59

with the value on the left being the value just after pitching and the number on the right the pH in the fermenter close to or at the end of fermentation. All these were brewed with soft water and sauermalz.

OTOH the new brewpub in town does not use sauermalz nor check pH during the brewing process. His last Alt came in at pH 4.45 and a Kölsch at 4.40. Both very good beers.
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Old 09-15-2010, 05:30 AM   #5
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I'll add that beer with a pH closer to 4 has a sharper, more defined flavor than a beer closer to 4.5 due to the additional acidity and its interplay with other flavor compounds.

However, beers closer to 4.5 are more flavor stable for a longer period of time. There is always a trade off.

Also, sour beers are typically below 4 due to the lactic and acetic acid.

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Old 09-15-2010, 11:14 AM   #6
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Once I began measuring pH I first measured a pils at mash-in with a pH of 5.8, I did nothing to adjust the pH and the beer came out decent. It was well received and did not last long. The following beer I used an extended acid rest and the mash-in was 5.1 and the wort measured slightly lower. This beer is still lagering and I am not sure what the final pH will be. I brewed a subsequent Export Hell which I added 3 oz. of sauermalz to the grist and the pH was 5.3 at mash-in. This beer is also still lagering, however I sampled a taste of it and it has the potential to be my best beer yet.

I have two other helles that are fermenting that I used acid rests on for 30 minutes and 1 hour respectively. Both of these mashed-in at 5.2 pH.

When measuring wort or beer to you calculate for temperature? Or degas the beer?

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Old 09-15-2010, 01:34 PM   #7
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Also, sour beers are typically below 4 due to the lactic and acetic acid.
Yes, but note that the Weizen (an ale) almost busted 4 (4.03) and some British ales have pH < 4

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Originally Posted by lamarguy View Post
However, beers closer to 4.5 are more flavor stable for a longer period of time. There is always a trade off.
The de Clerck Chair is a multi day conference of brewers sponsored jointly by the Waloonian and Flemish manifestations of the Catholic University of Louvain. Chair XI was entitled "The pH Paradox" and dealt with those trades.


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The following beer I used an extended acid rest and the mash-in was 5.1 and the wort measured slightly lower.
Tell me more about this. If "extended" means a couple of days at elevated temperature I can see malt lactobacilli going to town and producing enough lactic acid to get you to 5.1 (sour mash) but I can't see anything like this happening in a few hours.

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Originally Posted by Mateo
When measuring wort or beer to you calculate for temperature? Or degas the beer?
The sample is just placed in a small cup, placed on the bench and the measurement taken. Because the volume is small it is warmed somewhat by the time the electrode is inserted (and that,of course, tends to warm it some too). I also wait a while so that the meter bulb doesn't get covered with CO2 bubbles and a stir to sweep whatever do form off. But no formal warming or decarbonation step. If it's a check on fermenting beer it's the remainder of the hydrometer sample which has been well shaken so the hydrometer can be used.

So what's the effect of temperature and pH? I just drew a sample of Pils and checked the pH: 4.48 @ 5.5 °C. I let it warm to 10.1 °C at which time the pH measured 4.49. With vigorous swirling/sloshing the pH rose to 4.55 - this would be the effect of departing CO2. As the beer warmed further the pH fell back a bit to 4.54 and stayed there up to 17.6 °C which was reached over an hour later.
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Old 09-15-2010, 02:23 PM   #8
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Yes, but note that the Weizen (an ale) almost busted 4 (4.03) and some British ales have pH < 4
Which helps explain why so many imported English ales taste rancid and/or oxidized by the time they make it to your glass in the states.
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Old 09-15-2010, 02:34 PM   #9
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Of course we're talking 'tart' here. Hardwick lists various gueueze's (I can't spell it let alone say it) ranging from 3.20 to 3.45. Now that's sour!

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Old 09-16-2010, 08:44 AM   #10
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I have 4 experimental batches brewing.

The first I purchased 1 extra pound of grain and mashed it in a igloo cooler by itself. I put it in at about 95F and measured the pH every hour and recorded its changes. Initial pH was about 5.8 and over the course of 5 or 6 hours it dropped to about 5.1. So using this principal I mashed 50% of my grain at 95F over night. Mashed in at 95F around 7pm and recommenced at about 6am. The mash pH had dropped from 5.8 to 4.7 over night. I added the rest of the grain and the mash stabilized at about 5.1 to 5.2. Once the mash was finished I could detect a distinct affect of the acid rest. It was quite pleasant, however I do not yet know its final effect on the beer as it is lagering. I measured around 4.8 after the boil was complete.

The next batch I used 3 oz. of sauermalz. This was straight to the protein rest and on to full mash temps. This one was mashed with an enhanced decoction and mashed in at 5.3 or so with the saurmalz. It is currently lagering.

The next batch I used an acid rest at 95 for about 1 hour or slightly more. This mash was at about 5.4 pH after the acid rest. It started around 5.7. I did not accurately measure the time and it could have been a bit longer. This mash was allowed to sit at 150F overnight. The following day the mash was just below 5. Perhaps in the 4.8 to 4.9 range. This beer is lagering.

The last beer I used a fairly short acid rest at about 30 minutes as the mash-in pH was 5.2 due to an adjustment in the brewing salts. I allowed this one to sit over night at 150F and it was below 5 in the am. This beer is lagering as well.

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