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Old 03-20-2009, 12:47 AM   #1
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Default Is it really important to adjust the water pH?

I use spring water for mashing, and its pH is 7.1

the question is :

Do you really, I mean "really!", care about your mash water pH? Is it important? or Am I wasting my time trying to adjust it?

Thank you.

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Old 03-20-2009, 01:23 AM   #2
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Our tap water's average pH is 6.8 - from snowmelt-fed watershed in the local mountains (sounds Canadian, don't it?)

I add some gypsum for British ales, but besides that I haven't had any major problems.
Mind you, this water could be making swill and I wouldn't know

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Old 03-20-2009, 01:28 AM   #3
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No. The ph of the water doesn't matter. What matters is the mash ph. That should be in the 5.2 range. Even neutral water is 7.0, and some are a bit higher. That's fine, since the grain is acidic (especially darker grains).

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Old 03-20-2009, 02:45 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zzyvba View Post
I use spring water for mashing, and its pH is 7.1

the question is :

Do you really, I mean "really!", care about your mash water pH? Is it important? or Am I wasting my time trying to adjust it?

Thank you.
What Yooper said. The pH of your water is irrelevant. The pH of your mash is important. Are you wasting your time? No, unless you consider the extra time of mashing compared to extract brewing is a waste of time to begin with. Unless you have some very unusual water it's really not that big of a deal to do brewing ion adjustments. I think too many folks get caught up in what they perceive to be an overly complex process and either get themselves in too deep or throw up their hands and say the hell with it. Do you have to do it? No, beer is pretty forgiving and if you mix hot water and malted barley together it's going to make beer. But with just a little extra effort you can improve your results. Your choice.
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Old 03-20-2009, 03:22 AM   #5
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Its only likely a problem for NA water if you are trying to brew really pale lagers. Anything with some darker grains will be fine.

GT

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Old 03-20-2009, 02:52 PM   #6
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Thank you Nugent
Thank you Yooper.
Thank you BigEd.
Thank you GT.

I'll leave adjusting pH to later brews. not in my first AG brew, and see how it'll end.

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Old 03-20-2009, 03:28 PM   #7
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Yeah this has been beaten to death a few times already, but it has to do with the water chemistry so it's worth revisiting.

Water can have a neutral pH and still have a lot of buffering power (called residual alkalinity) making it unsuitable for brewing pale beers. My water has a pH of 7.1 yet I still need to dilute it with RO water when I make pale beers such as blonde ales or cream ales since it has a lot of bicarbonates. Our local water source is a man-made lake which is essentially a giant hole dug in a huge slab of limestone. There is plenty of calcium and magnesium in the water which causes the pH to read neutral at room temp. However, if I start adding acid to the water (chemistry process called titration) the pH will not change until I have neutralized all of the carbonates. I know from experience I can neutralize the carbonates in 5 gallons of water by adding 2.5 mL of phosphoric acid. I do this to treat my sparge water when I make a dark beer with 100% tap water, and leave the mash water untreated. The mash has a good pH from the dark grains - in the 5.4 range according to test strips; however the buffering power of my water will cause the pH of the last runnings to rise to 6.2 or higher, which can extract tannins from the grain. Titrating my sparge water to neutralize the alkalinity keeps my last runnings at a pH of about 5.8, and as a few other folks have noticed, seems to increase the yield slightly as well.

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