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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > All Grain & Partial Mash Brewing > When to Test Mash pH?
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Old 06-20-2013, 01:37 PM   #1
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Default When to Test Mash pH?

I want to check the pH of my mash. I know that the grains will bring down the pH, but I don't know how long this takes. How long after adding the grains to the strike water should I check the pH?

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Old 06-20-2013, 01:42 PM   #2
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I check around 10 minutes in. I use a very small pyrex food container, swirl it around to get down to 90F, and then pop it in the freezer for 3-5 minutes to get to room temperature.

Then, I add some aciduated malt after the pH reading to bring it down to the 5.5 range, at room temperature. I use the heuristic of 1% acid malt per 0.1 drop in pH. It's worked pretty well for me.

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Old 06-20-2013, 03:25 PM   #3
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Thanks!

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Old 06-20-2013, 04:28 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by novahokie09
I check around 10 minutes in. I use a very small pyrex food container, swirl it around to get down to 90F, and then pop it in the freezer for 3-5 minutes to get to room temperature.

Then, I add some aciduated malt after the pH reading to bring it down to the 5.5 range, at room temperature. I use the heuristic of 1% acid malt per 0.1 drop in pH. It's worked pretty well for me.
If you expect to need an acid adjustment, then waiting until 15-20 minutes isn't a sound strategy since so much of the conversion takes place in the first 15 minutes, I.e. before you've adjusted the water. I'd suggest including your acid malt to the initial mash, then adjusting afterward if needed with lactic or phosphoric acid, which will act very quickly.
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Old 06-20-2013, 04:34 PM   #5
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How about if I use the EZ Water Calculator to determine the initial adjustment based on the report from my town's water department, then test and adjust (if needed) after 5 minutes of mash?

Or should I just go with the EZ Water Calculator and let it go at that?

I only have pH strips from the LHBS to test the pH. The strips only read at 5.0, 5.4, and 5.8 in the range desired for the mash.

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Old 06-20-2013, 05:56 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smyrnaquince View Post
How about if I use the EZ Water Calculator to determine the initial adjustment based on the report from my town's water department, then test and adjust (if needed) after 5 minutes of mash?
...
That's the typical procedure. Try to base it off your experience as much as possible since the calculators are just rough guesses.

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I only have pH strips from the LHBS to test the pH. The strips only read at 5.0, 5.4, and 5.8 in the range desired for the mash.
Your test strips are not reliable, but you may already know that. ColorpHast strips are just barely useful, but they read very low. Some say .3, but my strips are .4 to .5.
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Old 06-20-2013, 06:50 PM   #7
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The colorPhast 4-7 range are pretty close, certainly close enough for our purposes. I test at 5 minutes in.

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Old 06-20-2013, 07:43 PM   #8
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Checking mash pH at about the 5 to 10 minute stage is appropriate. In my RIMS, the wort is recirculated fairly rapidly. So I check at about 5 minutes. In an uncirculated tun, then you should check shortly after you think the mash is well-mixed enough.

+1 on using an appropriate mash pH calculator to estimate the proper acid or base additions needed for a desirable pH BEFORE the mash. If you are mashing in and then checking pH and then adjusting, far too much of the enzymatic activity will have transpired and the beer may suffer for it. On top of that, if you don't use a calculator, then you won't have a good idea of the dose of your adjustments beforehand. Don't chase your tail.

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Old 06-21-2013, 01:54 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smyrnaquince View Post
I only have pH strips from the LHBS to test the pH. The strips only read at 5.0, 5.4, and 5.8 in the range desired for the mash.
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Originally Posted by SpeedYellow View Post
Your test strips are not reliable, but you may already know that.
I'll see if I can return them. It seems like they won't get me any closer than the EZ Water Calculator will.

Hitting a different LHBS today. My favorite one did not have lactic acid. Based on EZ Water, I've come up with a mix of gypsum, epsom salt, and lactic acid to bring the pH down, bump up some of the elements (e.g., calcium), and not get anything out of whack. This will be a witbier. I used Bru'nwater to see the Hoegarden water analysis to try to mimic, but I found EZ Water easier to use (at least this first time trying to adjust water).
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Old 06-21-2013, 03:02 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smyrnaquince
...
Based on EZ Water, I've come up with a mix of gypsum, epsom salt, and lactic acid to bring the pH down, bump up some of the elements (e.g., calcium), and not get anything out of whack. This will be a witbier. I used Bru'nwater to see the Hoegarden water analysis to try to mimic,...
a couple points:

1) One big change in home brewing in the last few years is that folks aren't trying to use minerals so much to affect mash pH. Instead, use lactic or phosphoric acid. Minerals aren't very effective and can mess up your flavor, mouthfeel, etc.

2) For a witbier, I'd keep the water as soft as possible. I'm skeptical Epsom salts could help that kind of beer.

3) I'm not sure if you're trying to mimic a city's water profile, but that process has also fallen out of favor since many breweries change their water; e.g. reduce their residual alkalinity.

Some folks, me included, try to minimize minerals; just keep calcium at a reasonable level and maybe watch the chloride-sulfate [oops- thanks Denny] ratio.
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