Problems with pH

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

Help Support Homebrew Talk:

phendog

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 1, 2016
Messages
184
Reaction score
49
Was always curious about my pH and just got a Hanna pH Checker. I calibrated it using buffer solution and brewed the next day. Initial mash pH was right at ~4.9 - 5.0. Added 1tsp of 5.2 pH stabilizer per instructions, stirred the mash and rechecked 20mins later and the pH was the same - also the same at the end of the mash.

I'm getting my water from my outside spigot through a potable water hose and using an inline water filter in Suffolk VA. Never sent a sample in, but don't think my water is "bad". Beer taste good but think it could be better.

Understanding that water, specifically pH, is critical, what is the easiest way to bump the pH up to 5.2? - lost confidence in 5.2 stabilizer.

Please don't reply with PHD level water chemistry recommendations. :)
 

MidAtlanticBrew

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 7, 2016
Messages
328
Reaction score
130
Location
Newark
really tough to say without more details, what was the mash? do you have a water report from your utility?

The easy and potentially bad answer is baking soda, or chalk.
 

55x11

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 24, 2015
Messages
1,115
Reaction score
307
Location
san diego
Was always curious about my pH and just got a Hanna pH Checker. I calibrated it using buffer solution and brewed the next day. Initial mash pH was right at ~4.9 - 5.0. Added 1tsp of 5.2 pH stabilizer per instructions, stirred the mash and rechecked 20mins later and the pH was the same - also the same at the end of the mash.

I'm getting my water from my outside spigot through a potable water hose and using an inline water filter in Suffolk VA. Never sent a sample in, but don't think my water is "bad". Beer taste good but think it could be better.

Understanding that water, specifically pH, is critical, what is the easiest way to bump the pH up to 5.2? - lost confidence in 5.2 stabilizer.

Please don't reply with PHD level water chemistry recommendations. :)
baking soda would be my suggestion. Chalk is not very water soluble, so it's a bit of a guessing game.

What is the pH of the water you started with and what is the grain bill?
 

Gavin C

Well-Known Member
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Jul 21, 2014
Messages
7,035
Reaction score
3,478
Location
Dallas
Was always curious about my pH and just got a Hanna pH Checker. I calibrated it using buffer solution and brewed the next day. Initial mash pH was right at ~4.9 - 5.0. Added 1tsp of 5.2 pH stabilizer per instructions, stirred the mash and rechecked 20mins later and the pH was the same - also the same at the end of the mash.

I'm getting my water from my outside spigot through a potable water hose and using an inline water filter in Suffolk VA. Never sent a sample in, but don't think my water is "bad". Beer taste good but think it could be better.

Understanding that water, specifically pH, is critical, what is the easiest way to bump the pH up to 5.2? - lost confidence in 5.2 stabilizer.

Please don't reply with PHD level water chemistry recommendations. :)
Some requirements going forward. No explanations to conform with your request for lack of in depth explanations.

  1. ph Stabilizer. Dump it. It does not work
  2. Know the make up of your water or use RO water as a blank canvas
  3. Bru'n water. Learn how to use it and use it. (it's free)

Things to always do.
  • Eliminate chlorine and chloramines with Campden tablets if using water from a municipality

Things never to do:
  • Add things to water without knowing your starting point
  • Use pH stabilizer
  • Use chalk
  • Waste money on a POS pH meter (there are some good ones for ~$130)
  • Be concerned with isolated data points like pH of starting water (useless data on its own)
  • Put faith in the adage "my water tastes good so it must be good for brewing"

The brew science forum contains a number of stickied threads. If exploring water profiles and managing mash pH is of concern to you you would be well served to read the first few posts in each.

A mash of 4.9-5.0 likely speaks to measurement error in some form or other.

All mash pH adjustments should be pre-emptive. Never adjust pH mid mash. (no explanation per your request)

Take pH readings at room temperature, not on hot samples. The pH of an acid changes with temperature. In most cases pH falls with rising temperatures but there are some notable exceptions to this where the pH rises with rising temperatures.
 

Braufessor

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Dec 27, 2011
Messages
4,195
Reaction score
1,838
Location
NE Iowa
Was always curious about my pH and just got a Hanna pH Checker. I calibrated it using buffer solution and brewed the next day. Initial mash pH was right at ~4.9 - 5.0. Added 1tsp of 5.2 pH stabilizer per instructions, stirred the mash and rechecked 20mins later and the pH was the same - also the same at the end of the mash.

I'm getting my water from my outside spigot through a potable water hose and using an inline water filter in Suffolk VA. Never sent a sample in, but don't think my water is "bad". Beer taste good but think it could be better.

Understanding that water, specifically pH, is critical, what is the easiest way to bump the pH up to 5.2? - lost confidence in 5.2 stabilizer.

Please don't reply with PHD level water chemistry recommendations. :)
What was your grain bill and what kind of water were you starting with?

My first thought is this - It is quite hard to get a mash pH of 4.9-5.0 without adding a lot of acid to your mash... so, my initial thought is your pH meter is not giving you an accurate reading.

I see almost no way that simply adding grain to water would give you a pH that low.

Second - 5.2 pH stabilizer does not do what it says (or implies). Don't use it. It does not work.

A little more info about your grain bill, what beer you are trying to brew, and what kind of water you started with would help.
 

FVillatoro

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 29, 2015
Messages
295
Reaction score
82
As said here, toss that 5.2PH stabilizer.

Get yourself a good PH meter - I recommend this one https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00CMFVXMA/?tag=skimlinks_replacement-20

What I do is that while i'm heating up my mash tun before I dough in, I calibrate the PH meter with the included buffering solutions and record their temperature. Then, after 10 mins of dough-in, I draw a wort sample and cool it down to the temperate that I calibrated the buffer solution at for the best accuracy.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

mattdee1

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
May 15, 2015
Messages
682
Reaction score
405
I think you're either using waaaaaaay too much dark/roasted malts, or your pH measurement is flaky.
 

normonster

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 31, 2014
Messages
1,484
Reaction score
408
I agree with @Gavin C above. Either get a report and build from existing or take the easy route and build from RO using Brew'n Water.
 
OP
phendog

phendog

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 1, 2016
Messages
184
Reaction score
49
I'll try to answer in a consolidated response.
- On the assumption that my pH Checker is accurate after calibration using the correct buffers, my tap water through the filter, or straight from the tap, is 7.73.

- I added one Campden tablet to my mash water
- I checked my mash pH after mashing in and stirring for 10mins. Should I cool my sample before reading??

- Grain Bill as follows:
11.8oz Marris Otter
12oz Biscuit Malt
8oz Crystal Malt 120

I've also used pH test strips in the past and color change is negligible - it usually reads 4.8 per the color chart on the test strip bottle after stirring the mash for 10mins.

If I understand the feedback correctly, my course of action should be.
1. Get a water sample report.
- Since I am on city water, wont that change periodically?
2. Invest in a quality pH meter.
- Is the Hanna Checker I paid 55 bucks for no good???
3. Use Bru'n Water
- Sounds like some kind of investment in various chemicals
 

Gavin C

Well-Known Member
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Jul 21, 2014
Messages
7,035
Reaction score
3,478
Location
Dallas
I'd use the paid version of Bru'n water.
As would I but it's nice to test the waters with a free version first.

OP pH strips are not useful. Trash them along with the pH stabilizer.

pH meter: There are a few that meet the criteria. Reading stability is key. I'm not aware of any good data in support of your chosen meter. Sounds like a junker. Use one that works well or don't use one at all. The software when used correctly has very strong predictive power.

Water pH is not important to know. On its own it is a useless number.

Take pH readings at room temperature for a variety of reasons.
 
Top