Adjusting ph when batch sparging

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bellam87

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I have just starting paying closer attention to ph levels with my brews lately and was wondering if anyone adjusts their ph while batch sparging or just in the main mash? I've heard conflicting opinions on this and would like to clear it up for future brews.
 

Nateo

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I always adjust my sparge pH to <6. That way there's no way the pH will rise over that during sparging, batch or otherwise. It's probably not always necessary, but it's worth the peace of mind to me.
 

LKABrewer

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Nateo said:
I always adjust my sparge pH to <6. That way there's no way the pH will rise over that during sparging, batch or otherwise. It's probably not always necessary, but it's worth the peace of mind to me.
+1 a little phosphoric acid goes a long way.
 

Lost

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How about lactic acid? That's what I always used when fly sparging. Never thought about other acids, any difference between them?

I don't suppose it would hurt to watch the ph in a batch sparge but one of the pluses of batch sparging is supposed to be that you don't have to watch the ph.

I've gotten to the point where I don't even check the mash ph, I might add a jug or two distilled water if the beer is light, that's about it. So I'm no expert..
 

Nateo

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Whatever acid you use leaves the anion of the acid behind. So lactic acid > lactate, sulfuric acid > sulfate, hydrochloric acid > chloride, phosphoric acid > phosphate, etc. Malt contains a ton of phosphate already, so a little more won't be noticeable. Some people have a very low threshold for lactate, so high amounts might have an off-flavor for some people.
 

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Lactic acid works well, as long as you stay under the taste threshold. For me, I use 5 ml of lactic acid in 5 gallons of my tap water and it keeps the alkalinity down. It's also below the taste threshold.

I will say that I only adjust my sparge water when I'm fly sparging, as with batch sparging I haven't needed to.
 

GodsStepBrother

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I mash in at 101 for half an hour, let it rest for 10 minutes pull my sample in a frozen jar so It cools quick, check it, adjust and then decoct to get me to my sac rest.
 

Paramecium

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I usually test the mash and then make adjustments for next time. Mash PH should be checked at room temp and it takes something like 15 minutes for mash PH to stabilize so by the time you pull a sample and get it cooled down your mash is about done anyhow. Unless I'm completely screwed up but that is how I understand mash PH.
 

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I usually test the mash and then make adjustments for next time. Mash PH should be checked at room temp and it takes something like 15 minutes for mash PH to stabilize so by the time you pull a sample and get it cooled down your mash is about done anyhow. Unless I'm completely screwed up but that is how I understand mash PH.
Well, yes. But we're talking about batch sparging in this thread.
 

Paramecium

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Alright then I must be missing something. I batch sparge as well but as far as I have been able to tell it still takes about 15 minutes for the PH to settle after mashing in. So my process with a batch sparge is mash in, wait about 30 mins, give a stir and check temp as well as pull a small amount for a PH sample. My understanding is that PH should be measured at room temp so it takes about that long for my 60 minute mash to be done anyhow. I drain the tun then add my water for the batch sparge. The PH sample is cool by then but it seems to late to do much about the PH of the mash at that point so I take notes to make any necessary adjustments for the next time I brew that beer.

Again I may be missing something here but I don't see how you can really get a PH measurement during that mash that will effect the current brew. As far as batch sparging being concerned I can see how it is different then fly sparging where say you stop when the sparge PH hits 6.0 or something along those lines. I haven't checked the 2nd runnings before but I imagine they are much higher than the first running which I usually shoot for somewhere in the 5.4 to 5.6 range.
 

Nateo

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Again I may be missing something here but I don't see how you can really get a PH measurement during that mash that will effect the current brew.
I mash in. Wait 5min. Draw a small sample (1oz?) of the mash. Stick cup in freezer. Wait 2 minutes. Check pH. Adjust mash pH if necessary. It takes under 10 minutes from dough-in to first pH adjustment, and under 15min from dough-in to doublechecking any adjustments I made.

In any rate, the OP was asking whether or not to pre-acidify his sparge water. Since the malt reacts with water hardness to lower the mash pH (the malt's buffering capacity). Malt's buffering capacity is limited, so any alkalinity in your sparge water could raise the pH during sparging over 6 pretty easily. I think it's a good idea to preacidify your sparge just to avoid having to check the mash pH during sparging.
 

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In any rate, the OP was asking whether or not to pre-acidify his sparge water. Since the malt reacts with water hardness to lower the mash pH (the malt's buffering capacity). Malt's buffering capacity is limited, so any alkalinity in your sparge water could raise the pH during sparging over 6 pretty easily. I think it's a good idea to preacidify your sparge just to avoid having to check the mash pH during sparging.
That was what I was trying to say, but not nearly as well. I drink, you know. :drunk:

Even though we do make pH adjustments in/for the mash, the topic is about acidifying our sparge water for batch sparging.

I do not, when I batch sparge, as I've checked the runnings as well as the sparge water stirred into the grainbed, and not exceeded a pH of 6.

But when I fly sparge I DO acidify my water, a bit.
 

g-star

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I remember Palmer saying on a brew strong that acidification of sparge water was unnecessary when batch sparging....the pH will never get above 6 once the water hits the spent mash. My own testing of the sparged mash and 2nd/3rd runnings supports this.
 

Paramecium

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ah, forgive me. I'm an idiot lol. Yous guys are right. I was pretty tired when I was posting last night and somehow kept missing that we are talking about the water for the rounds of sparging and not the actual mash. I am really dumb.
 

Denny

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I adjust the pH for the mash and it stays good through the sparge. You shouldn't have to adjust your sparge water unless it's seriously wacky and you;re using enough to throw the sparge pH off. That seldom happens.
 

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ah, forgive me. I'm an idiot lol. Yous guys are right. I was pretty tired when I was posting last night and somehow kept missing that we are talking about the water for the rounds of sparging and not the actual mash. I am really dumb.
No, you are not dumb, and we did get off topic a bit talking about mash pH. That's confusing, but we needed to direct the conversation back to the batch sparging/adjusting pH discussion before we got too far off topic. That was my fault for not making clear what I was talking about.

I have alkaline water with a high bicarbonate level, so I do have to adjust the pH of my sparge water when fly sparging. But not with batch sparging- that was one of the beauties of batch sparging for me until I got my RO water system.
 

Homercidal

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Hmm... I've started adjusting my sparge water with acid so as to not get below the magic 6, but am I wasting time? I may be wrong, but I don't think my beers have tasted quite as good since I started doing this.

My alkalinity is like 186. I have not actually taken a pH reading of the sparge water after combining with the grain to see where it lands. Maybe I really should.
 

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Hmm... I've started adjusting my sparge water with acid so as to not get below the magic 6, but am I wasting time? I may be wrong, but I don't think my beers have tasted quite as good since I started doing this.

My alkalinity is like 186. I have not actually taken a pH reading of the sparge water after combining with the grain to see where it lands. Maybe I really should.
You're batch sparging, Homer? It wouldn't hurt to take a pH reading just to see where you're at. If your beers aren't quite as good as before, and this is the only thing that has changed, it'd be worth considering. Which acid are you using? I can use 5 ml of lactic acid in 5 gallons of sparge water and be under the taste threshold, but lately I"ve been using more RO water and less tap water and haven't needed as much (I usually, but not always, fly sparge).
 

Homercidal

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I do batch sparge. I used hydrochloric before and lately started using phosphoric. Some batches I've treated with either of these and some I just used RO water if I had it on hand.

My paler beers seem to have a bit more tartness to them than I like or think they should. Mash pH has been proper, but I never checked to see where sparge pH was, trusting the software to get me into the general area.

I crushed grain for an IPA last night before working on the washer, so I"m ready to brew what I was SUPPOSED to brew this weekend before said washer decided to strip the power coupling between motor and gearbox.

I plan to brew tonight or tomorrow night and I can check. I've been wondering if I'm playing with my water too much, but my measurements indicate the mash pH is fine.
 

Denny

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Hmm... I've started adjusting my sparge water with acid so as to not get below the magic 6, but am I wasting time? I may be wrong, but I don't think my beers have tasted quite as good since I started doing this.

My alkalinity is like 186. I have not actually taken a pH reading of the sparge water after combining with the grain to see where it lands. Maybe I really should.
Yeah, you need to take a pH reading of your sparge runoff. As long as it's under 6, you're good.
 

Nagorg

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Since Denny woke this post up.... :) I just use BrunWater to calculate pH and I do adjust my sparge water too; BrunWater does this. I check mash pH about halfway through to see if I'm on target.

But like some of the other comments here (from the way back machine) I'm not sure that I'd have enough time to adjust if I was off. And I've never checked sparge runoff pH, I batch sparge and that happens pretty quickly! So far, beer is good so I am good!
 

Denny

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Since Denny woke this post up.... :) I just use BrunWater to calculate pH and I do adjust my sparge water too; BrunWater does this. I check mash pH about halfway through to see if I'm on target.

But like some of the other comments here (from the way back machine) I'm not sure that I'd have enough time to adjust if I was off. And I've never checked sparge runoff pH, I batch sparge and that happens pretty quickly! So far, beer is good so I am good!
I use Bru'nwater also. I just ignore the suggestion for sparge pH.
 

scottchandler

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Hey guys, I batch sparge and use acidulated malt to hit a proper mash pH... would you recommend acidifying my sparge water? (the pH of my tap water is around 9) Would it be better practice to acidify my whole volume of brewing water? Thanks!
 

day_trippr

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The pH of water actually means little on its own, whether for strike or sparge liquor. For example, the pH of the water exiting my RO system is roughly 6.5, but as it also has a TDS of 6 or less there's virtually no buffering capacity. Hence, whatever it's mixed with will totally dominate the resulting pH (to wit: a scant .4 ml of 25% phosphoric acid will shift 12 gallons of that pH 6.5 water down to below pH 5).

What matters is the alkalinity of the water, wrt keeping the sparged wort below ~ ph 5.6 or so to avoid tannin extraction. If the alkalinity is low enough there may be no need to acidify the sparge liquor at all as the mash pH will be low enough to hold up through the sparge. You need a good water test to know either way.

fwiw, I treat my strike and sparge volumes separately (the former in the BK and the latter in the HLT) as light color beers need some acid in the mash, while my sparge liquor hardly needs any. I add the same mineral dosage per liter to both...

Cheers!
 
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