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Old 07-03-2014, 05:08 PM   #1
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Default Question about Mash PH and late mash addition steeped grains.

Hey guys,

Hoping someone can help me out regarding a new process I am trying tomorrow.

I've been reading Gordon Strong's book "Brewing Better Beer" and he is advocating the steeping of Crystal malts and dark malts like chocolate malt, it seems logical to me, but where my confusion lies is with the ph level of the mash water.

Everything I have read up until now basically states that the acidity of those Darker malts is what helps brings your PH into the appropriate ranges for that particular style of beer.

So without adding those malts for the first 40 minutes or so of the mash (I'm planning on just adding them for the last 20 minutes and transfer.)

1) Do I calculate any water additions to get my PH in range with just my base malts? (6lb two row and 1lb flaked oats), as those are ultimately what needs to have the enzymes convert the sugars.

2) If by doing so, when I add my 1.5lb Crystal and 1.5lb Chocolate malts, won't that throw the PH off for the boil?

3) How would I calculate/prepare for the difference in temperature for the addition of another three lbs of grain? Seems that it would lower the temperature of the mash pretty significantly for the last 20 minutes. Im thinking I would need to hold back about 4.5 quarts of strike water to steep with at the same temperature as the mash... then I can just add that at vorlauf or straight in the kettle.

Any thoughts are very appreciated. thanks.

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Old 07-03-2014, 05:39 PM   #2
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Maybe his assumption is that you will be measuring and adjusting mash pH as you go?

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Old 07-03-2014, 05:52 PM   #3
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Maybe, but I'm not really sure how you would adjust PH after the mash either.

And do you need to have a direct fire mash tun in order to do this to adjust for the temperature change of 3lbs of grain being added?

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Old 07-03-2014, 05:56 PM   #4
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As long as your mash pH is in order, you don't really need to worry about the pH in the boil kettle. Most strains of sacch won't have trouble unless you end up un the mid to low 3s, and that's not going to happen in any standard recipe.

If you do end up adding the dark grains to the mash, make sure conversion is complete beforehand.

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Old 07-03-2014, 05:59 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Flaviking View Post
Maybe, but I'm not really sure how you would adjust PH after the mash either.

And do you need to have a direct fire mash tun in order to do this to adjust for the temperature change of 3lbs of grain being added?
Throughout the mash, you use a pH meter and some acid (lactic, phosphoric) if you need to adjust down and (I think) Baking Soda (I'm sure there are others; but not Chalk) to adjust up.

You are correct in terms of the temperature loss. You would have to account for the temperature of the grains, etc. Doesn't he offer suggestions on handling this?
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Old 07-03-2014, 06:01 PM   #6
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It's not a problem, generally speaking, to add more hot water to maintain temps. That gets you around the need for a direct fired MLT.

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Old 07-03-2014, 06:04 PM   #7
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Maybe you could just put them in a grain bag and put them in with the runoff. Kind of like you would do with first wort hops. Temperature is not super critical for steeping grains. As far as pH goes, I'm with GuldTuborg. Kettle pH should be fine.

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Old 07-03-2014, 06:27 PM   #8
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As long as your mash pH is in order, you don't really need to worry about the pH in the boil kettle.
Actually, kettle pH can be as critical to the final beer quality as mash pH. Since we are reserving those acidic grains from the mash to keep the mash pH in a proper range, we should recognize that the pH of the kettle wort will be lower than the mash pH. This may or may not be a problem for the resulting beer.

In the case of some dark styles, an overly low kettle wort pH may make the roast flavor perceptions more sharp and acrid. While a higher kettle wort pH (say 5.4 to 5.6) may smooth and mellow those flavors.

In the case of hoppy styles, an overly low kettle wort pH will reduce the extraction of hop flavor and bitterness. That may reduce the impact of the hops on the beer. That may not be what a brewer wants in a hoppy style. Keeping the kettle wort pH up around 5.4 is a good idea for hoppy beers.

As you should see, using the late addition technique can effectively protect the mash pH. But there can still be consequences from low kettle wort pH. Proper water chemistry management can be a way to better beer than the late addition technique.
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Old 07-03-2014, 07:05 PM   #9
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Thanks for the clarification. I was on my phone before and needed to be brief.

I'm aware of a good many differences that come from pH differences at various points in the brewing process. There's a fantastic, yet concise, writeup here.

I think my general point, more clearly stated, is that if OP has his mash pH in order, and then adds some extra grains that were cold steeped, that change by itself is not going to result in a pH change in the kettle so large that it needs to be compensated for. Perhaps I was generalizing a bit too much in this, but given the OP's line of questioning, I judged it to be something low on the priority list of concerns. There's certainly nothing wrong with testing kettle pH and adjusting, but a good many brewers monitor mash pH alone, worry not at all about kettle pH, and still make great beer.

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Old 07-05-2014, 03:49 PM   #10
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Not sure about the style or what you are brewing. Maybe this could be an option.

Dough in the base grains at 1-1.5 qt/lb and maybe rest for 30-40 minutes in the beta temp range. Using RO water 7-7.2 pH, the mash pH will probably be in the 5.6-5.8 range. After the main mash has rested for 15-20 minutes. Steep the specialty grain in 1-1.5 qt/lb in 170'ish water for 15-20 minutes. Use the hot specialty grain mash to raise the main mash into an alpha temp rest. Do a 15-20 minute alpha rest. The mash pH will drop because of the black and crystal. After conversion, pull out the mash liquid and boil it for 10 minutes and add it back to the main mash to hit mash out temp. Something to consider; for enzymatic reasons, mashing should not begin if pH is above 6 or below 4.6 pH. A malt data sheet, sometimes, will indicate the pH of the malt being used. A fired mash tun makes things a little easier. Hot water infusion doesn't have to be figured in, when it comes to maintaining rest temps or hitting conversion temps. BREW ON!! Good luck with the brew..

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