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-   -   Batch or Fly pH concerns (http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f36/batch-fly-ph-concerns-10942/)

Desert_Sky 07-07-2006 06:34 PM

Batch or Fly pH concerns
Well my Phil's sparge arm comes in tomorrow. Im excited, but at the same time Im not. Ive read pros and cons from both sides, and Im not here to get into that argument. But after hearing both sides, theres only one reason why I wouldn't want to fly sparge. I don't want to start having to deal with the pH of my mash. Well not yet anyways, still learning the AG ropes.

With batch sparging you dont need to worry about it, with fly (well I havent done it yet) I guess you do. Is it really that big of a problem? I mean if I don't want to have to add anything more to my beer than I have to, especially if I need to correct a pH problem.

What are you guys' thoughts on this? With my Phil's Sparge arm, will I be needing to worry much about pH?

DesertBrew 07-07-2006 06:58 PM

I use a sparge arm and my PH is high here. I don't worry about it much and my beer comes out great. Only thing I do is add 5 tsp of gypsum to the sparge water (usually 6-7 gal) to reduce the PH a bit and call it a day.

Relax... you know the rest.

ajf 07-07-2006 08:37 PM

I do like desertBrew, but only add 3 tsp gypsum (but my pH is close to neutral).
It shouldn't me necessary to even do that if you keep the sparge temp below 170.

I don't think it is a batch/fly sparge issue. It should apply to both methods if the sparge is hot enough (or too hot).

You may want to do a little experimenting before using it.

Mine needs about 1 1/2 g of water in the HLT to spin the arm. (Running out of sparge water is not a good thing.) The water also cools considerably as it meanders through the hose, so you may want to heat it a little more.

Good luck,


david_42 07-07-2006 09:35 PM

I use pH 5.2 because I really hate tannins in beer. My water is almost chemically pure, so I could probably get away without using it.

Desert_Sky 07-07-2006 10:55 PM

Well to be perfectly honest, I have absolutely no clue what the pH of my tap water is. Ive never cared, probably becasue I think it tastes great. I know that doesn't mean that much regarding pH though.......or does it

Actually, what should i be looking for in taste if my pH is off? Just for future reference in case I do have a mash that the pH is off and i didnt correct it.

ajf 07-08-2006 12:01 AM

Sparging is simply rinsing all of the desirable ingredients (mostly sugars) from the mash. You need hot water to do this, as sugars are not very soluble in cold water, and cool water tends to increase the possibility of stuck sparges.

The problem is, that as you increase the sparge water temperature, you tend to leach tannins (which have a bitter flavor) from the grain husks. The tannins are something you don't want.

It is generally recommended that the sparge water temp should be <= 168. This is warm enough to dissolve most of the sugars, but not hot enough to dissolve the tannins.

Decreasing the pH of the sparge water allows you to use higher temperatures without leaching excess tannins. Don't ask me how because I have no idea, but it works. I know this because I did four experimental identical brews with hotter sparge water. On two of the brews, I added gypsum. On the other two I didn't. The brews without the gypsum were noticeably more bitter, and it wasn't from the hops.

Another related issue for dly sparging is the mash out. If you don't mash out, then slowly adding sparge water to a mash that is somewhere in the 150 degree range, results in a sparge that is well below optimum temperature. By raising the mash up to the recommended sparge temperature prior to sparging, you can get a much more efficient sparge. This does not apply so much for batch sparging, where you add the water in bulk and can adjust the temperature to get an efficient sparge.

If you are happy with your efficiency, and don't get astringent beer, then don't worry.

If you want to increase the efficiency without noticebly increasing the tannins, then you may want to acidify the sparge water and sparge hotter.

If you fly sparge, mash out.


Desert_Sky 07-08-2006 12:06 AM


Originally Posted by ajf
If you are happy with your efficiency, and don't get astringent beer, then don't worry.

If you want to increase the efficiency without noticebly increasing the tannins, then you may want to acidify the sparge water and sparge hotter.

If you fly sparge, mash out.



that made perfect sense (the whole part, not just what I quoted)

you rock, thank you :mug:

I love this site

Lost 07-08-2006 10:47 PM

I've found that gypsum doesn't have much of an effect on the ph of neutral water, I'm really not sure why but it works better in the mash. Adjusting the ph of the sparge is easily done by adding some lactic acid. It's inexpensive and a spoonful added to 5 gallons or so should have more than enough of an effect.

Anyhow, that's just my 2 cents.. gypsum for the mash and lactic acid for the sparge. I would also think that ph is important for batch spargers as well as fly spargers.

RichBrewer 07-08-2006 11:10 PM

Most of my home brewing experience has been all grain. I've used a sparge arm and fly sparged for every AG batch and have never had a problem with astringency. The only thing I do is check the wort's gravity toward the end of the sparge to be sure it hasn't dropped below 1.010. Usually it is more like 1.018 when the sparge is finished.
I think for this one you need to RDWHAHB. :mug:

By the way- at mash out I add about a gallon to a gallon and a half of nearly boiling water to the mash (added about 2 cups at a time and stirred well) to get the temp up to about 168 degrees. I then recirculate, install the sparge arm, and begin draining into the brew pot.

Desert_Sky 07-08-2006 11:52 PM


Originally Posted by RichBrewer
I think for this one you need to RDWHAHB. :mug:


well said, cheers

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