Bag WILL NOT drain. Why?

Homebrew Talk - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Forum

Help Support Homebrew Talk:

IslandLizard

Progressive Brewing
Staff member
Mod
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Jan 9, 2013
Messages
17,570
Reaction score
7,674
Location
Pasadena, MD
I too use a 5.25 mash pH for NEIPAs. If that acid addition worked before don't change a winning team.

What brand 2-row was that?
Could it have been [EDIT] chit malt? raw, unmalted barley?
It's possible they dumped a wrong sack in the 2-row bin, at your supplier.
I would definitely try to check that before brewing another batch.

As I said before, do a small 8-16 oz test mash with that "2-row" in a small pot in a 155F warmed up then turned off oven. Check for conversion.
 
OP
HopsAreGood

HopsAreGood

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 13, 2019
Messages
642
Reaction score
896
Location
New Jersey
I too use a 5.25 mash pH for NEIPAs. If that acid addition worked before don't change a winning team.

What brand 2-row was that?
Could it have been [EDIT] chit malt? raw, unmalted barley?
It's possible they dumped a wrong sack in the 2-row bin, at your supplier.
I would definitely try to check that before brewing another batch.

As I said before, do a small 8-16 oz test mash with that "2-row" in a small pot in a 155F warmed up then turned off oven. Check for conversion.
Supposed to have been Briess 2-row. The same Briess 2-row I’ve used a million times before from the same shop. The more I go through all of the possibilities, the more I think there has to be something wrong with the grain.
 

IslandLizard

Progressive Brewing
Staff member
Mod
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Jan 9, 2013
Messages
17,570
Reaction score
7,674
Location
Pasadena, MD
The more I go through all of the possibilities, the more I think there has to be something wrong with the grain.
Oh, definitely!
And it's not the oat malt that's wrong, it has a low DP, it can barely convert it self, if at all. The horsepower comes from the 2-row malt, and from what it looks, it had none.
 

JJinMD

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 9, 2021
Messages
48
Reaction score
71
Since you don't mill, it might be worth it to keep iodine and some amylase on hand so you can check for starch and then add amylase if needed. I saved a brew one time with a pound of distillers malt when my mash temp got out of range and wasnt passing iodine test.
 

grampamark

Icons clast. Inquire within.
HBT Supporter
Joined
Sep 1, 2017
Messages
9,298
Reaction score
17,517
Location
The Frozen Tundra/The Magic City
I’m inclined to agree with @IslandLizard that someone at the LHBS put unmalted barley in the 2-row bin. There doesn’t appear to be anything about your process which would cause a complete denaturing of the enzymes. If the grain was mislabeled, the store should be receiving complaints similar to yours from other customers. I’d continue to follow up with the store staff.
 

Bobby_M

Vendor and Brewer
HBT Sponsor
Joined
Aug 3, 2006
Messages
25,348
Reaction score
4,404
Location
Whitehouse Station
I guess it's a good time to chime in as I'm the grain vendor. First, I agree that based on the wet grain picture that it's extremely starchy looking so I'm positive it's a conversion issue. My first thought was temperature but that was already fully discussed. I see the 212 in boiling water test but would also recommend an icewater slurry test to make sure the calibration is linear.

Grain source: First, we do not buy or stock unmalted barley but I wouldn't rule out Briess putting unmalted barley in a standard Brewer's Malt bag. However, We buy our Briess 2row from primarily LD carlson and BSG and I buy 20-30 sacks at a time. Both of the OP's batches came out of the last 3 sacks we had in the lot because I'm down to about 10 pound from being out right now. If there was a problem with that lot of malt, there would have been about 850 pounds of it used previously and I would have heard about it. Actually two of my employees just recently brewed with the 2-row as well.

One thing that I do every brew day is take in-progress samples from the mash and test the gravity. I like to see the gravity rising and compare that against the elapsed time to see if I think I'm hitting my numbers or not. If I had a mash that wasn't converting, I'd see that right away as I'd be way off the numbers.

I'm performing a small mash right now with one pound of the malt and will report back in an hour.

Water... It's possible the profile has changed quite a bit which is why I stopped using tap water over the years. I'd send a sample to Ward a few times a year and see it waver in a way I wasn't comfortable with. $100 later I have an RO system and build from zero each time. It's worth trying a batch with RO or distilled to see.
 
Last edited:
OP
HopsAreGood

HopsAreGood

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 13, 2019
Messages
642
Reaction score
896
Location
New Jersey
I guess it's a good time to chime in as I'm the grain vendor. First, I agree that based on the wet grain picture that it's extremely starchy looking so I'm positive it's a conversion issue. My first thought was temperature but that was already fully discussed. I see the 212 in boiling water test but would also recommend an icewater slurry test to make sure the calibration is linear.

Grain source: First, we do not buy or stock unmalted barley but I wouldn't rule out Briess putting unmalted barley in a standard Brewer's Malt bag. However, We buy our Briess 2row from primarily LD carlson and BSG and I buy 20-30 sacks at a time. Both of the OP's batches came out of the last 3 sacks we had in the lot because I'm down to about 10 pound from being out right now. If there was a problem with that lot of malt, there would have been about 850 pounds of it used previously and I would have heard about it. Actually two of my employees just recently brewed with the 2-row as well.

One thing that I do every brew day is take in-progress samples from the mash and test the gravity. I like to see the gravity rising and compare that against the elapsed time to see if I think I'm hitting my numbers or not. If I had a mash that wasn't converting, I'd see that right away as I'd be way off the numbers.

I'm performing a small mash right now with one pound of the malt and will report back in an hour.

Water... It's possible the profile has changed quite a bit which is why I stopped using tap water over the years. I'd send a sample to Ward a few times a year and see it waver in a way I wasn't comfortable with. $100 later I have an RO system and build from zero each time. It's worth trying a batch with RO or distilled to see.
Thank you for chiming in. I just ordered another test kit from ward labs. I’m definitely interested to see if the water has changed and will report back once I get the results. Should prob be about 7-10 days or so.

Prior to getting my first report I always used to build from distilled/RO. One of the main reasons that I wanted to start using my tapwater, if it was indeed brew worthy, is because it comes out of my tap at about 130 degrees. It takes me all of about 5 to 10 minutes tops to get it up to strike temp as opposed to bringing up the distilled/RO from room temperature. I’m all about shortening the brew time wherever I can without cutting corners. For whatever it’s worth I did run my thermometer under the water as it was filling the kettle like I always do, and it read right at 130.

Also, hopefully it’s been pretty clear that I’m in no way pointing fingers whatsoever. Just trying to figure out what could’ve possibly happened by a process of elimination. If indeed it’s not the grain, then it has to be something else, and I’m definitely willing to figure out what that may be.
 
OP
HopsAreGood

HopsAreGood

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 13, 2019
Messages
642
Reaction score
896
Location
New Jersey
So now that I’m thinking about the fact that my water may or may not have changed, I plugged in some numbers into my Calculator just to see how much it might change. Leaving all things equal including the starting water volume, the grains, the color, the acid addition, the brewing salts, etc. and only changing the pH of the tapwater, I get these results:

Tap water PH of 6.5: mash PH unaffected 5.25
Tap water PH of 7: mash PH unaffected 5.25
Tap water PH of 7.5 (what I had initially inputted and am currently under the impression it is) 5.25
Tap water PH of 8: mash PH of 5.26
Tap water PH of 8.5: mash PH of 5.26

So even if the new water report comes back different, will it really make that much of a difference to completely screw up the mash’s ability to convert?

Obviously there are other components to the water but could they be so significant to cause this?
 
Last edited:

IslandLizard

Progressive Brewing
Staff member
Mod
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Jan 9, 2013
Messages
17,570
Reaction score
7,674
Location
Pasadena, MD
Tap water PH of 6.5: mash PH unaffected
Tap water PH of 7: mash PH unaffected
Tap water PH of 7.5 (what I had initially inputted and am currently under the impression it is) 5.25
Tap water PH of 8: mash PH of 5.26
Tap water PH of 8.5: mash PH of 5.26

So even if the new water report comes back different, will it really make that much of a difference to completely screw up the mash’s ability to convert?
The pH of the tap water means nothing (or very little). It's the alkalinity and dissolved minerals that drive the pH, and more so, the resistance to change the pH.

You can call your water company, ask for quality control. They can tell you about their water sources, and have the daily mineral content and alkalinity for you. As well as changes in them with the seasons or weather events (droughts, heavy rainfall, winter road runoff, etc.).
 
Last edited:

Bobby_M

Vendor and Brewer
HBT Sponsor
Joined
Aug 3, 2006
Messages
25,348
Reaction score
4,404
Location
Whitehouse Station
Not at all. I'm not in full defensive position as I'm just as interested in figuring it out as you are. Mash test result was good. 1.055 OG with 1 pound in 2 liters of water.

Here's a very key question. Did you measure your mash pH with 90mL of phosphoric added or did you trust it based on previous calculations/results?

The reason I ask is that I just received a phone call (I mean literally as I typed the first sentence above) from LD Carlson telling me that I should discard the bottles of phosphoric that I got on my last order because it had a higher concentration than 10% as labelled. I didn't think to ask them what the actual concentration was and then I keep getting their voice mailbox. Low and behold, I looked it up and you got one of those bottles from me. I will find out what the concentration actually is but you probably had a mash pH of 1 or something goofy like that. 90mL even at 20% (double) your mash would have been 4.49. I know phosphoric is available in 75 and even 85% concentrations and if that's the case, the pH would be REALLY low.

I'm going to make LD replace the phosphoric and grains. I'll get your last two orders credited right away.
 
OP
HopsAreGood

HopsAreGood

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 13, 2019
Messages
642
Reaction score
896
Location
New Jersey
If your water content fluctuates much or makes it totally useless for brewing at times, but unknown to you, do what @Bobby_M did, get yourself a small RO system, for around $100. That would be my choice and preference.

Russ from @Buckeye_Hydro is a forum sponsor, he can set you up.
It’s certainly an option. As I’ve said repeatedly though this is never been an issue before and I’ve brewed a lot of beer. The make up of my tapwater from the original ward labs report I got is actually really really good. Definitely looking forward to seeing what the next report says.
 
OP
HopsAreGood

HopsAreGood

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 13, 2019
Messages
642
Reaction score
896
Location
New Jersey
Not at all. I'm not in full defensive position as I'm just as interested in figuring it out as you are. Mash test result was good. 1.055 OG with 1 pound in 2 liters of water.

Here's a very key question. Did you measure your mash pH with 90mL of phosphoric added or did you trust it based on previous calculations/results?

The reason I ask is that I just received a phone call (I mean literally as I typed the first sentence above) from LD Carlson telling me that I should discard the bottles of phosphoric that I got on my last order because it had a higher concentration than 10% as labelled. I didn't think to ask them what the actual concentration was and then I keep getting their voice mailbox. Low and behold, I looked it up and you got one of those bottles from me. I will find out what the concentration actually is but you probably had a mash pH of 1 or something goofy like that. 90mL even at 20% (double) your mash would have been 4.49. I know phosphoric is available in 75 and even 85% concentrations and if that's the case, the pH would be REALLY low.

I'm going to make LD replace the phosphoric and grains. I'll get your last two orders credited right away.
Ding Ding Ding! We have a winner. The last two batches in question both used that bottle that I purchased with the first bag of grains. I ran out of my previous bottle and purchased a new one and it has only been used on these two batches. I personally do not measure my pH… I simply trust the calculations because they’ve always been accurate enough, and like I said I’ve never had any problems. It’s 100% the phosphoric acid.
 

IslandLizard

Progressive Brewing
Staff member
Mod
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Jan 9, 2013
Messages
17,570
Reaction score
7,674
Location
Pasadena, MD
I just received a phone call (I mean literally as I typed the first sentence above) from LD Carlson telling me that I should discard the bottles of phosphoric that I got on my last order because it had a higher concentration than 10% as labelled. [...]
Ouch!!!
That could very well be the monkeywrench we've been looking for!

If it's 85% Phosphoric Acid, it would be syrupy, similar to Starsan concentrate (before dilution).
A 10% solution would be watery.
 

doug293cz

BIABer, Beer Math Nerd, ePanel Designer, Pilot
Staff member
Mod
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
May 14, 2014
Messages
11,524
Reaction score
7,756
Location
Renton
If it is the overly concentrated phosphoric acid, it would be interesting to know what the mash pH actually was. This would give us a data point about what pH level will almost completely shut down conversion.

Brew on :mug:
 

Gusso

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 3, 2020
Messages
186
Reaction score
212
After a second look I guess I don't see a lot of flaked grains but I still think you could be dealing with an over milled situation.
I really doubt that. I mill my grains finer in my BIAB. I never have anything near to what he described
 

DavidWood2115

Member
Joined
Aug 31, 2017
Messages
20
Reaction score
9
If it is the overly concentrated phosphoric acid, it would be interesting to know what the mash pH actually was. This would give us a data point about what pH level will almost completely shut down conversion.
Dropping the mash pH to 4.5 (using 20% phosphoric acid) is unlikely to have stopped the mash, as a Brülosophy xBmt showed that tasters couldn't tell the difference between beers with a 4.45 pH and a 5.33 pH mash, respectively (Water Chemistry: Evaluating The Impact Of Low Mash pH | exBEERiment Results!).

On the other hand, if it was 85% phosphoric acid, which is apparently the most commonly found lab concentration, that would push the mash pH down around 2.8 (according to my quick estimate using a mash calculator). That is almost as acidic as Coca-Cola, so wouldn't be surprised if it mucked up the mash.
 

DuncB

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 5, 2019
Messages
1,382
Reaction score
641
Location
Paremata New Zealand
Very interesting the mash hasn't thickened more but the plot has.
Can you stick your pH meter in that old ball of gloop on your lawn?

I sort of hinted that I tend to taste the grains after sparging ( you possibly don't sparge and couldn't sparge that lot), you would have noticed that it was nothing like your normal grain post mash and drain. I also tend to dry some of my used grains for adding to porridge so might have noticed that way if I could have got a lump or two to dry.

On the bright side you have a very large supply of phosphoric acid once diluted down or compensated in your calculator.
 

Dr_Jeff

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 13, 2011
Messages
1,000
Reaction score
441
Location
Henagar, Alabama or EAS, Alaska
For a conversion test, I'll oftentimes get a pinch of the mash after it has been in there 10 minutes or so and again, just before the sparge.
If everything is going good, the first time it will be sweet and tasty, and the last time, pretty much flavorless.
 
OP
HopsAreGood

HopsAreGood

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 13, 2019
Messages
642
Reaction score
896
Location
New Jersey
Happy to report that all is back to normal. I picked up another bag of grains from the same shop this morning, set everything up, mashed in, pulled the bag and everything went just as smooth as it always has. I picked up some other phosphoric acid from a different shop just to be sure that I could eliminate that variable. It was the same LD Carlson that I always have but perhaps from a different lot of the recent one that was way too strong. I did everything the same way I always do so I am 100% convinced, as if there was any doubt, that it was the bad phosphoric acid.

I’d just like to give a genuine thank you to everyone who chimed in yesterday to help figure out the problem. I really appreciate all of the insight and input.

Special thank you to @Bobby_M.

For anyone interested in supporting a great shop, check him out here:

www.brewhardware.com

(I’m assuming I can share this link but if not just let me know)
 
OP
HopsAreGood

HopsAreGood

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 13, 2019
Messages
642
Reaction score
896
Location
New Jersey
Not sure if you have a pH meter, but it would be a great addition to your process to double check pH at various stages.
I don’t have a pH meter, but I’ve thought about getting one for years. The only thing that’s preventing me from doing so is the fact that I’ve never had any problems like this before. I typically do my calculations, follow the process and everything works out fine.
 

dirkomatic

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 6, 2011
Messages
371
Reaction score
81
Location
Blacksburg
What an interesting outcome. I have always been under the impression that I don't need to use anything to adjust my mash pH. Every time I tested it, it was fine without adding anything, so I never added anything and I even stopped checking. I guess maybe because I always start with distilled or RO....? Is there any other reason one would need to use phosphoric acid?
 

VikeMan

It ain't all burritos and strippers, my friend.
Joined
Aug 24, 2010
Messages
3,632
Reaction score
2,703
What an interesting outcome. I have always been under the impression that I don't need to use anything to adjust my mash pH. Every time I tested it, it was fine without adding anything, so I never added anything and I even stopped checking. I guess maybe because I always start with distilled or RO....? Is there any other reason one would need to use phosphoric acid?
If you never add anything to your distilled water mashes, but your pH is always in range (say 5.2-5.6), you must not be brewing very pale beers. There's no such thing as a water source that will land every grist in a preferred range.
 

dirkomatic

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 6, 2011
Messages
371
Reaction score
81
Location
Blacksburg
I do use additives (salts, etc.) I use additives for the style I am brewing and have them in the recipes I have created. I never add any acid and I have brewed pale beers. I can see why my previous post is misleading... I stated "I never add anything." I should have stated I was fine without directly adding acid and I have not directly added acids other than salts for the style I am brewing.
 

BrewZer

Slacker Brewing Company
HBT Supporter
Joined
Jul 4, 2017
Messages
572
Reaction score
769
Location
SW Ohio
The reason I ask is that I just received a phone call (I mean literally as I typed the first sentence above) from LD Carlson telling me that I should discard the bottles of phosphoric that I got on my last order because it had a higher concentration than 10% as labelled.
An online search doesn't reveal any kind of recall message...

However, there are some reviews on Amazon indicating others have had issues with it...
 

jerrylotto

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 15, 2020
Messages
290
Reaction score
180
Location
North Chelmsford
It's easy enough to determine the concentration of a phosphoric acid solution using methyl orange as an indicator by titration with a known sodium hydroxide solution concentration. All you need is a beaker and a pipette - both reagents are cheap and readily available. Once you know what it currently is, you can dilute it to the desired concentration.
 

cajunrph

Well-Known Member
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Sep 25, 2010
Messages
65
Reaction score
42
Location
Lake Jackson
It's easy enough to determine the concentration of a phosphoric acid solution using methyl orange as an indicator by titration with a known sodium hydroxide solution concentration. All you need is a beaker and a pipette - both reagents are cheap and readily available. Once you know what it currently is, you can dilute it to the desired concentration.
Clear as mud to some. Haha Although I know what you're talking about. Brings back memories of Pharmacy School.
 

z-bob

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Oct 2, 2014
Messages
3,425
Reaction score
1,193
Location
Rochester, MN
Don't throw away the phosphoric acid, 85% is good stuff, you just use a lot less.

I was going to say the picture *looks* starchy, but could that just be beta glucan from all the oats? When I brewed a beer that was >50% rye I did a protein rest (rye doesn't have glucanase enzymes for a beta glucan rest) and it was still a little gummy -- it did drain though, it was just slow and I had to squeeze the bag.
 

IslandLizard

Progressive Brewing
Staff member
Mod
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Jan 9, 2013
Messages
17,570
Reaction score
7,674
Location
Pasadena, MD
Don't throw away the phosphoric acid, 85% is good stuff, you just use a lot less.
==> Although it's a total no-brainer, I'm really glad you mentioned it! <==

Now determining the actual strength can be a bit cumbersome for most.

Those little 4oz brew store bottles of 10% Phosphoric acid are ridiculously expensive for what it gives you. 88% Lactic Acid lasts 8.8x longer and is lower priced. ;)
I bought a gallon of 85% Phosphoric Acid from Duda Diesel, and split half of that with some group grain buy members. I'm set for 2 brew lives with the remaining half gallon. ;)
 
OP
HopsAreGood

HopsAreGood

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 13, 2019
Messages
642
Reaction score
896
Location
New Jersey
I just got my ward labs report back and while we determined that it was indeed the acid that caused the problems, here is the report. The first report is from May of 2020:
E10C6A03-B3A7-43BD-84F0-89C4E5DC3540.png


And here is the one I just got back. While not identical, the numbers are very, very similar:

7A2CABC4-23C9-4F9D-86E9-420A710B53BE.jpeg
 

RufusBrewer

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 3, 2015
Messages
389
Reaction score
166
Location
Nashville
What about the rest of us that recently got some LD Carlson phosphoric acid?

I did not get it from Brew hardware. But I assume the issue is greater than Bobbie's bottles.
 
Top