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Some thoughts on mashing at pH 5.6 instead of 5.4 (when measured at room temp.)

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Larry Sayre, Developer of 'Mash Made Easy'
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I came across this interesting article by Kai Troester (Braukaiser) which may be taken to imply that mashing at a (room temperature sample measured) pH of around 5.6 may have a multitude of benefits over mashing at 5.4 pH or lower, as many of us (myself included) are presently inclined to do. Here is the link. The relevant section (pH and Brewing Water) starts about 3/4 of the way down on the linked page. Your comments are welcome.

http://braukaiser.com/wiki/index.php?title=Starch_Conversion
 
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applescrap

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Lots of good reading there, thanks. The mash experiments a quality read as well. Gives a brewer the chance to experiment with many different variables. Collect the data and then utilize the ultimate tool of taste.
 

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But how did the beer taste that was mashed at 5.6? Yes you might be able to hit optimal numbers with a higher PH but there’s plenty of info out there that says the character of the beer will be better at much lower mash PH.
 

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But how did the beer taste that was mashed at 5.6? Yes you might be able to hit optimal numbers with a higher PH but there’s plenty of info out there that says the character of the beer will be better at much lower mash PH.
^this, maybe.
However, Brulosophy HAS looked at flavor:
http://brulosophy.com/2017/07/24/wa...e-impact-of-high-mash-ph-exbeeriment-results/
http://brulosophy.com/2017/01/30/wa...he-impact-of-low-mash-ph-exbeeriment-results/
Whether we can extrapolate from these two results, who knows?
Where are the data to suggest that the flavor is highly dependent on mash pH, and not perhaps on sparge alkalinity or simply by the addition of acid to the final beer? People say there's plenty of info; is it scientific via tasting comparisons?

FYI Kai has more here:
http://braukaiser.com/wiki/index.ph...ity_and_efficiency_in_single_infusion_mashing

Anecdotally I just mashed my wild ale at 5.50 to maximize fermentability, based on Kai's info. The wort smelled and tasted great. Beer samples taste great so far.
HTH
 
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So per Brulosophy, neither the unusually high (6.39) or low (4.45) mash pH resulted in a beer that the respective panels of assembled triangle testers could statistically distinguish from an identical beer brewed at a more mainstream normal pH. This would imply that if one mashes at a "targeted" pH of 5.6, the efficiency and fermentability benefits should not generally hinder the flavor.
 
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At the very least, if one targets a mash pH of 5.50, and allows for the realistic potential for +/- 0.2 pH error, that would place most mashes within a window of 5.30 to 5.70 pH.
 
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As to Kai's thoughts on this matter, I quote him and provide the source:
And to answer the question that is most interesting to brewers, I believe that the optimal mash pH range is 5.3-5.5 for light beers and 5.4-5.6 for darker beers when testing a room temperature sample of the mash. This pH range is a good compromise between optimal enzyme activity, good boil pH and good cast-out wort pH.
http://braukaiser.com/blog/blog/2011/03/02/about-ph-targets-and-temperature/

So for Kai, the optimal mid-range room temperature mash pH target for lighter beers would be 5.4, and for darker beers the optimal room temperature mid-range pH target would be 5.5. Leaving one to presume that beers in the middling SRM color range hovering about 14-15 should target 5.45 pH at room temperature.
 
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couchsending

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Kunze, one of Kai’s often quoted resources, lists many flavor/mouthfeel/stability benefits to a mash PH of 5.2. (Room temp)

John Kimmich can be seen adamantly saying great beer can’t be made with a PH higher than 5.2 (I believe someone reached out to him and he was referencing mash temp)

Pliney Mash PH spec is 5.3-5.5 room (direct from the brew log)

But yeah is it PH beyond mash that is even more important? If sparging I would worry about a really high mash PH, a high boil PH is not ideal for many reasons, and a high KO PH would make some flabby beer depending on the yeast strain you’re using.

All depends on the beer you’re trying to make though. Pretty sure it varies greatly by style, ingredients, yeast, etc.
 
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John Kimmich can be seen adamantly saying great beer can’t be made with a PH higher than 5.2 (I believe someone reached out to him and he was referencing mash temp)

All depends on the beer you’re trying to make though. Pretty sure it varies greatly by style, ingredients, yeast, etc.
John Kimmich's target of 5.2 pH at mash temp. would be roughly 5.5 to 5.55 pH at room temp. This would be a solid vote for mashing at a target of 5.5 pH when taking the (nominal ~20 minute mark) room temperature pH reading. EDIT: But in reading this again he appears to be seeing this (I.E. 5.2 pH at mash temperature) as a maximum upper limit and not as a midrange target.

You are probably right about the target mash pH varying by style, but pH can be adjusted further downstream also.
 
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Mash pH is the general focus because it's the starting point in the process, but pH adjustment beyond the mash rarely gets attention. The mash pH is (mostly unknowingly) adjusted such that the subsequent boil pH is appropriate thus carrying over to fermentation.

The natural pH (DI pH) of the light colored malt (base) should produce an acceptable if not excellent beer with no adjustments to the mash (when mashed with DI water) and a modicum of salts added to the start of the boil.

I've tried mashing 8lbs of pilsner (DI pH of 5.6 - 5.8) in DI water (no salts/acids added), adding a half teaspoon of CaCl2 to the start of the boil and proceeding from there after hot break with hops. The resulting beer was excellent.

Water calculators come into play when dealing with alkaline waters that knock the natural (DI) pH of the malts out of whack.

What would be interesting is to mash with an alkaline water and add the salts at the start of the boil. I think an excellent beer would still be produced.

An interesting question, that I've not thought much on is, what Lovibond malt produces or has a natural (DI pH) mash pH of 5.4? In other words how dark does the average barley variety have to be kilned in order to hit a DI pH of 5.4?
 
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An interesting question, that I've not thought much on is, what Lovibond malt produces or has a natural (DI pH) mash pH of 5.4? In other words how dark does the average barley variety have to be kilned in order to hit a DI pH of 5.4?
My first educated guess is that a blend consisting of 2/3 Briess Bonlander 10L Munich and 1/3 Briess Aromatic 20L Munich malts would come close to mashing straight up at 5.4 pH (room temperature) within 100% DI water (nothing added). And given a 90 to (perhaps better) 120 minute mash this mix just might have sufficient diastatic power to undergo complete saccharification. This mix would result in a final beer SRM on the order of 13.
 
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In mash water with ballpark 80-90 ppm of Ca++ added (and nothing else) a roughly 11 Plato grist consisting of 100% Bonlander 10L Munich should "nominally" mash at a pH of ~5.4 (as measured at room temperature). And it has sufficient diastatic power to convert.

Edit: For the case of BIAB with no sparge the required Ca++ must be reduced to ballpark 45 ppm.

Edit again, and looking at this from the perspective of an ~5.5 to 6 gallons in the fermenter batch, at roughly 11 Plato:

3 gal mash water, ppm Ca++ ~= 128 ppm
4 gal mash water, ppm Ca++ ~= 96 ppm
5 gal mash water, ppm Ca++ ~= 77 ppm
6 gal mash water, ppm Ca++ ~= 64 ppm
7 gal mash water, ppm Ca++ ~= 55 ppm
8 gal mash water, ppm Ca++ ~= 48 ppm
8.5 gal mash water, ppm Ca++ ~= 45 ppm
Etc...

In the end it is the mEq's of Ca++ (and Mg++) that must be kept constant within the mash water, and not the ppm's (mg/L's). This being in keeping with my recent discussion(s) regarding the total fallacy of recommending "ideal" ppm concentrations of minerals. Since we all choose to mash within different concentrations of mash water (or different water to grist ratios), there is no way to recommend the mash waters "ideal" mineral concentration in ppm's (as required to meet a given pH related task) without also duly considering the gallons of the mash water to be involved.
 
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An interesting question, that I've not thought much on is, what Lovibond malt produces or has a natural (DI pH) mash pH of 5.4? In other words how dark does the average barley variety have to be kilned in order to hit a DI pH of 5.4?
In keeping with the discussion involving mashing at the higher 5.5 to 5.6 pH range, base malts such as Vienna or Briess Ashburn (or light colored European Munich malts in the 5-8 Lovibond range) should mash straight up in pure DI water, and (generally, with this being clearly more questionable for Vienna) fall within this higher mash pH range with no need for acidification or mineralization. Depending upon the crop (lot) and/or allowing for some seasonality or annual anomoly, either Briess or Rahr 2-Row Brewer type (all purpose) base malts may also (on occasion) fit the (grist) bill here, but banking upon this without measurement would be like randomly tossing a coin and hoping for it to come up heads each time. I only mentioned these 2 malts because they are generally known to have lower end DI_pH's, as base malts in the ~2L range go.

OTOH, Pilsner class base malts would not have much hope of mashing straight up in DI water and falling within 5.5 to 5.6 pH (room temperature). And neither would the "Pale, or Pale Ale" class of low Lovibond base malts.
 
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mabrungard

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There is validity in mashing at a slightly higher pH. Many German brewers employ that, but they often perform a saurgut addition at the end of the boil to bring the kettle wort pH down into an acceptable range. They also don't make what I would term "highly hopped or bittered" beers. So consider that in your assessments too. There is nothing sacred about targeting 5.4, but do recognize that there can be other effects that will need to be addressed.
 
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There is validity in mashing at a slightly higher pH. Many German brewers employ that, but they often perform a saurgut addition at the end of the boil to bring the kettle wort pH down into an acceptable range. ...
Could a pinch of Lactic Acid be added at this juncture instead of saurgut?
 

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Absolutely. I suppose you could consider lactic acid to be a pure and concentrated form of saurgut.
I would disagree with that. What sets Sauergut apart from straight Lactic is the malt base.
 

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Well pure lactic acid is indeed produced by fermenting carbohydrates and in that sense it could indeed be a pure and concentrated form of sauergut. But people need to understand that sauergut and sauermalz both contribute flavors beyond those of the lactic acid they contain. They also need to understand that the titration properties, and thus the ability to influence mash pH, of sauergut or sauermalz containing x grams of lactic acid are not the same as x grams of lactic acid. The curve for lactic acid shows a clear step at its pK. Sauergut and sauermalz do not show that step.

I'm in my 70's and I figure that nothing much is going to surprise me any more. Whenever I think that, however, something comes along as it did tonight whilst checking on how lactic acid is prepared commercially. As it is definitely brewing related I will pass it on here and hope no one will be offended:
https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/6926115/vagina-beer-poland-lactic-acid-underwear-models/
 

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Well pure lactic acid is indeed produced by fermenting carbohydrates and in that sense it could indeed be a pure and concentrated form of sauergut. But people need to understand that sauergut and sauermalz both contribute flavors beyond those of the lactic acid they contain. They also need to understand that the titration properties, and thus the ability to influence mash pH, of sauergut or sauermalz containing x grams of lactic acid are not the same as x grams of lactic acid. The curve for lactic acid shows a clear step at its pK. Sauergut and sauermalz do not show that step.

I'm in my 70's and I figure that nothing much is going to surprise me any more. Whenever I think that, however, something comes along as it did tonight whilst checking on how lactic acid is prepared commercially. As it is definitely brewing related I will pass it on here and hope no one will be offended:
https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/6926115/vagina-beer-poland-lactic-acid-underwear-models/
Obligatory:

I'd tap that.

Edit: Oh It's not in a keg, nevermind.
 

day_trippr

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Um.....no thanks :drunk:
Had the same reaction to Rogue's Beard Brew...
 
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