Starting mead pH too high?

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hotspurdotus

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Hi folks,

I've made a few 1 gallon batches in the past, but recently decided to get more serious about making good mead. One of my new tools is an Oakton EcoTestr pH tester, recently calibrated.

I just a semi-sweet, no-heat mead batch yesterday.

15 lbs Tulip Poplar honey
3.5 gal RO water
2 tsp yeast nutrient
1 tsp energizer
1 tsp calcium chloride
2 packets Montrachet

My OG was 1.105 and my pH was 5.4

From what I've read, a pH of 5.4 seems high for mead fermentation. I expect pH to dip below 4 during fermentation; that seems like a long way to fall. One advantage is there's basically no bicarbonate in the water, so there's very little to buffer a pH change at this point.

Ken Schramm's book lists Tulip honey pH as relatively high (4.45), so I suppose it makes sense.

How important is initial pH in mead fermentataion? Is something I should be worried about?

I plan to take another pH test a few days into fermentation; should I just let it ride until then?

Thanks for any advice!

P.S. I love how easy no-heat mead is to make compared to beer. I acquired a 75 lb shipping scale recently, which makes transferring honey a snap. I just pour from one bucket into another, don't even need a utensil.
 

Arpolis

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Yea I agree no heat is the way to go!

Just let this ride for now. Starting PH just needs to not dip below about 3.3-3.5 to keep the yeast happy. I did not know that the PH of your honey was that high. I always thought of honeys being much lower.

I see you added calcium chloride to this recipe. That also bumped up your PH to where it is at. But I hear that calcium chloride has a saltier taste so potassium bicarbonate is often a better choice in meads and it adds potassium which yeast need and honey is in short supply of.

It may be interesting to do another batch in the future but use the potassium bicarbonate instead and compare the two meads.

In short your PH is fine if not a little on the high side. Worst case scenario is that you need to add a little citric acid at bottling to bring the PH down where it tastes a little better.
 
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hotspurdotus

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Yea I agree no heat is the way to go!

Just let this ride for now. Starting PH just needs to not dip below about 3.3-3.5 to keep the yeast happy. I did not know that the PH of your honey was that high. I always thought of honeys being much lower.

I see you added calcium chloride to this recipe. That also bumped up your PH to where it is at. But I hear that calcium chloride has a saltier taste so potassium bicarbonate is often a better choice in meads and it adds potassium which yeast need and honey is in short supply of.

It may be interesting to do another batch in the future but use the potassium bicarbonate instead and compare the two meads.

In short your PH is fine if not a little on the high side. Worst case scenario is that you need to add a little citric acid at bottling to bring the PH down where it tastes a little better.
Thanks for the reply, Arpolis!

Honey pH can vary quite a bit; the ones Schramm lists range from low 3 to mid 6. That really surprised me.

Adding Calcium Chloride should lower pH, while Potassium Bicarbonate will raise it. I added the Calcium Chloride for yeast health and to accentuate sweetness and fullness; at least that's what those minerals accomplish in beer making. FWIW, I tested the pH before and after adding it and got the same reading both times.

I'll definitely pick up some Potassium Bicarbonate. It seems like a better way to raise mead pH than Calcium Carbonate or pickling lime since it adds needed potassium.

I suspect the pH of my mead will drop quickly once fermentation ramps up. I'll be taking a reading tonight.

:mug:
 
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hotspurdotus

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The pH is down to 4.4 this evening. So much for that concern.

This is the earliest I've opened up a mead fermentation. With all the carbonation being released, it sounded like a glass of soda after pouring.
 

fatbloke

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Adding Calcium Chloride should lower pH, while Potassium Bicarbonate will raise it. I added the Calcium Chloride for yeast health and to accentuate sweetness and fullness;
Hum? Have you got a link for that as I understood that the "chloride" would also increase pH and overuse would give it a salt/metallic note.......

might be getting my chems mixed up though.......
 

Arpolis

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Adding Calcium Chloride should lower pH, while Potassium Bicarbonate will raise it. I added the Calcium Chloride for yeast health and to accentuate sweetness and fullness; at least that's what those minerals accomplish in beer making. FWIW, I tested the pH before and after adding it and got the same reading both times.

I was curious about that as well. Because from my understanding calcium chloride when dissolved in water ph of 7 you can notice over a 12 - 48 hour period the PH rises as far as 9 assuming you are at saturation of calcium chloride. That would also explain why your PH did not change immediatly but makes me wrong as to why your ph was higher at time of measurement. What happens is the the calcium chloride reacts to CO2 in the air and chloride ions are shed while the calcium binds to the CO2 and an additional dissolved oxygen to create calcium carbonate. Now calcium carbonate or calcium bicarbonate is used in brewing to raise PH already but what you get in this case with calcium chloride is these free floating chloride ions. Now what processes they go through I am not sure. But chloride if I remember right is used in the making of some artificial sweeteners which to taste are sweeter per volume compaired to many simple sugars. So to some degree that may be happening and may shed some truth to when you say it accentuates sweetness.
 
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hotspurdotus

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I'm bringing my knowledge from the beer brewing side; I'm still try to figure out how much is applicable to mead.

Palmer discusses brewing salts here:

http://www.howtobrew.com/section3/chapter15-4.html

For answers about why Calcium Chloride lowers pH, I turned to the Bru'n Water spreadsheet, which I use to create water profiles for my beer recipes.

Calcium is typically the principal ion creating hardness in water. It is beneficial for mashing and enzyme action and is essential for yeast cell composition. In the mash, it reacts with the malt phosphates to lower the mash pH by precipitating calcium phosphate and liberating protons (H+). Calcium improves the flocculation of trub and yeast and limits the extraction of grain husk astringency. It also reduces haze and gushing potential, improves wort runoff from the lauter tun, and improves hop flavors.
Is there any phosphate present in a mead fermenation for Calcium to react with? There's also not much bicarbonate in my brewing water, so I'm not certain that it would be precipitating Calcium Carbonate, either. I'd be interested to know what's actually going on here.

Chloride – Chloride accentuates fullness and sweetness and improves beer stability and clarity. The ideal range is 10 to 100 ppm, but the upper limit should be reduced in water with high sulfate concentration to avoid harshness.
I assume these perceptions will translate to mead, but that's just an assumption at this point.

After my Calcium Chloride addition, My water looks something like this:

Calcium: 61
Magnesium: 0
Sodium: 5
Sulfate: 1
Chloride: 112
Bicarbonate: 24
Alkalinity: 0

The absence of Alkalinity should allow the pH to continue to drop. I won't be surprised if I need a mineral addition to raise it back to the 3.7 range next time I check pH.

Thanks for the conversation! My 1 gallon batches should be drinkable this summer; can't wait to try them.
 
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