Confusion about pH and target water chemistry

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Bw1985

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Hi all,

I've brewed a few batches successfully with tap water using campden tablets. The beers turned out quite good, however I'd like to get my water chemistry more locked down.

For my next brew this weekend I am going to try a "juicy" IPA using RO water. I used BeerSmith to create my recipe and created an RO profile for my water, and am choosing an appropriate target recipe to get my necessary brewing salt addition amounts.

My question is why are most of the target water's pH levels so high (the one I chose is "Sweet Pale Ale" pH=7)? I thought mash pH was always supposed to be around 5.2. If I'm using RO water with a pH of 6.5 how will this work? This kind of confused me also as to when to add my brewing salts (assuming they would put my mash pH over 5.2). If anyone could clarify this for me, it would be appreciated.

Thanks!
 

VikeMan

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My question is why are most of the target water's pH levels so high (the one I chose is "Sweet Pale Ale" pH=7)? I thought mash pH was always supposed to be around 5.2. If I'm using RO water with a pH of 6.5 how will this work?
The water's pH isn't really relevant, though its alkalinity is. With RO water, you're starting with no alkalinity, which means the pH of the mash will be easier to influence, which is generally a good thing. What matters is the pH of the mash, which will be influenced by the alkalinity (or lack thereof) of the water, the grains used, some salts if added, and acids if added.

This kind of confused me also as to when to add my brewing salts (assuming they would put my mash pH over 5.2). If anyone could clarify this for me, it would be appreciated.
What salts are you talking about? The one's you'd be likely use for a NEIPA (say, CaCl2 and CaSO4) will actually reduce mash pH. They can be used in the mash (to move mash pH downward and affect flavor/mouthfeel) and/or in the boil (where they would affect flavor/mouthfeel).

Maybe give this a read...
 
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Bw1985

Bw1985

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The water's pH isn't really relevant, though it's alkalinity is. With RO water, you're starting with no alkalinity, which means the pH of the mash will be easier to influence, which is generally a good thing. What matters is the pH of the mash, which will be influenced by the alkalinity (or lack thereof) of the water, the grains used, some salts if added, and acids if added.



What salts are you talking about? The one's you'd be likely use for a NEIPA (say, CaCl2 and CaSO4) will actually reduce mash pH. They can be used in the mash (to move mash pH downward and affect flavor/mouthfeel) and/or in the boil (where they would affect flavor/mouthfeel).

Maybe give this a read...
Thanks for your reply. I gave the PDF a read, and I get the concept but there is definitely some complexity here that will take some time to understand.

Based on my RO water profile I created and my target water, here is what BeerSmith calculated:

Mash (4.5 gallons):
4.34g - Gypsum
3.85g - Calcium Chloride
2.13g - Epsom Salt
0.94g - Salt
0.34g - Baking Soda

Sparge (4.5 gallons):
4.30g - Gypsum
3.81g - Calcium Chloride
2.11g - Epsom Salt
0.93g - Salt
0.34g - Baking Soda

Does that make sense? Are all of those additions necessary?
 

VikeMan

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There's no reason for the baking soda. It's raising your mash pH. If your target profile includes HCO3, take that out and see where you are. A rule of thumb: never add chalk/baking soda/pickling lime unless you need to increase pH.
 

TheMadKing

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Think of pH like your health in Halo, in that metaphor alkalinity is your shield. Ammo (Acids) eat up your shields and are then consumed, so only Ammo (acids) beyond what was needed to eat up your shields can drop your health (pH)
 
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Bw1985

Bw1985

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Appreciate the responses! I picked up some RO water and intend to brew tomorrow, thanks again.
 

ScrewyBrewer

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Thanks for your reply. I gave the PDF a read, and I get the concept but there is definitely some complexity here that will take some time to understand.

Based on my RO water profile I created and my target water, here is what BeerSmith calculated:

Mash (4.5 gallons):
4.34g - Gypsum
3.85g - Calcium Chloride
2.13g - Epsom Salt
0.94g - Salt
0.34g - Baking Soda

Sparge (4.5 gallons):
4.30g - Gypsum
3.81g - Calcium Chloride
2.11g - Epsom Salt
0.93g - Salt
0.34g - Baking Soda

Does that make sense? Are all of those additions necessary?
Here's a tip on something else that can possibly make life a little easier.

You can treat 4.5 gallons of strike water and sparge your grains using 4.5 gallons of untreated RO water.​

You can treat 9 gallons of RO water and use 4.5 gallons as strike water and 4.5 gallons as sparge water.​
 
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