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Old 12-18-2012, 09:02 PM   #1
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Default Counter too much lactic acid with baking soda

Hi all,

I have been dealing with a rather unpredictable (unstable?) pH meter lately as I work to refine my water adjustments. In my last batch I think I've added too much lactic acid as there's a slight, but noticeable, sourness on the tongue.

In a fit of desperation I added a very small pinch of baking soda to a sample pint and it seemed to counter the sourness. In the interest of seeing what would happen, I added another pinch which resulted in a more rounded flavor (sourness gone) but a bit more of a salty flavor.

Obviously the correct solution to this issue is to get a better pH meter and make proper adjustments, but in the efforts to save this batch (for my personal consumption alone, wouldn't share beer that I didn't think was good with others) would this be a viable solution? Are there are other things that might help counter the lactic but not be as salty?

Thanks in advance for your wisdom, this hobby is very humbling at times.


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Old 12-18-2012, 10:43 PM   #2
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If you neutralize acid with base the products are water and a salt.

HAn + Cat(OH) --> H2O + CatAn

Salts taste salty.


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Old 12-22-2012, 08:46 PM   #3
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That sounds familiar from my last chemistry class 15 years ago... getting old I guess.

When you do your tests for a new grist to figure out what adjustments need to be made for pH, how do you do it? Just a super small batch or do you do a different procedure?
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Old 12-22-2012, 08:59 PM   #4
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The very best procedure is to directly evaluate test batches with the actual ingredients and water to observe the mash pH result. I feel the second best procedure is to use software such as Bru'n Water to estimate what the pH result will be and the effect of adjustments to get it closer to your target. This procedure is far better than chasing your tail with alternating acid and base additions.
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Old 12-22-2012, 09:10 PM   #5
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Hmm I really like the idea of using Bru'N Water to get me in the ballpark then do a really small test batch to refine.

I thought I was making it easy by using DI/RO water but I seem to be struggling still. My meter being a bit unreliable hasn't helped much.

I guess it's time to get a better meter then a long research period on all the Bru'N Water, pH meter calibration/usage (again), and maybe some small batch tips posts.

As always, thanks for the wisdom.
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Old 01-03-2013, 09:29 PM   #6
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If you get some lime, sodium hydroxide, i.e. a strong base, you can use just a tiny bit of it as opposed to a weak base like baking soda that will require considerably more.
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Old 01-03-2013, 09:44 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by coryforsenate View Post
If you get some lime, sodium hydroxide, i.e. a strong base, you can use just a tiny bit of it as opposed to a weak base like baking soda that will require considerably more.
This doesn't work the way you thing it does. At beer pH pretty much all of the bicarbonate from the baking soda will go towards neutralizing the acid. This means that you'll add the same amount of Sodium with baking soda than you add with sodium hydroxide.

The fact that sodium hydroxide is a strong base means that it will always release OH- ions regardless of pH while baking soda becomes less and less effective if the pH approaches 8 or higher.

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Old 01-03-2013, 10:46 PM   #8
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True but if he uses Ca(OH)2 he's making calcium lactate (which probably doesn't taste as salty as sodium lactate). Worth a try anyway. Remember that most of us by Ca(OH)2 as 'pickling lime' so named because it is often used to reduce the acidity of pickles. Of course pickles are so salty anyway that the saltiness of calcium acetate probably wouldn't even be noticed.
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Old 01-04-2013, 02:27 AM   #9
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The pickling lime was decidedly less salty in taste. It actually made quite a nice difference. While not ideal it certainly was much more drinkable

EDIT: seems less soluble than banking soda however
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Old 01-04-2013, 02:46 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jyda View Post
EDIT: seems less soluble than banking soda however
yes it is, but it should be soluble enough for the amounts that you need.

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