Unusually high mash pH?

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swingerwc

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Hey guys I usually am a lurker but today im throwing my hands up. I have to admit Im stumped and need some help.

I’ll try to keep this short but I attempted this same mash twice and am getting low pH levels off the pH chart for the test strips I have. Lowest is a dark yellow indicating 4.6 but my strips are showing bright yellow the entire way through the mash with recirculating, stiring, etc.

The problem is that after building my water profile in Brunwater it’s telling me that to achieve a pH of ~5.2 I need to add 2.1 ml of lactic acid. I attempted the exact same recipe a week ago and Brewfather said I needed over 7ml for my 7 gals if strike water. I put in 5mL on that 1st batch figuring that I could always add more. Well it was bright yellow. I decided to do the exact same mash again this evening and use brunwater and not add any acid and just see where I was at 15 min after mashing in… again bright friggen yellow (under 4.6?!)

Im brewing a SMaSH using
11lbs of Weyerman floor-malted bohemian pilsner with 7 gallons of strike water.
Water profile is distilled water with the following water additions
3.5grams of calcium chloride
.6 grams of gypsum
.6 grams of magnesium chloride.

Both brunwater and brewfather are saying I need to add acid but clearly my mash is extremely acidic already. Tonight when I saw it happening again I decided to put 7 grams of calcium carbonate in.. incrementally into the mash and there is not the slightest/noticible change in pH.

Im really pretty disheartened here.. can’t figure out why my mash water is so acidic.
 

doug293cz

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Throw out those test strips. They are worse than not measuring pH at all. You are better off trusting the software recommendations blindly, than using those test strips. If you want to measure pH get a real pH meter, make sure to calibrate it before each use, and cool your samples to room temp before measuring.

Brew on :mug:
 
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swingerwc

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Well I decided to get an Apera pH60 and wide spectrum test strips and some narrow band test strips.
I was looking at the review of the strips I had and they look like garbage. Plus I don’t know how long they have been sitting on the store shelf.
Anyways, I doubt my mash was at 4.2 to 4.6 with the what I had in the mash. I assumed the ph strips were correct but I don’t see how they can be.

I see a number of similar threads about this “low ph” issue and I suspect similar case for many.
 
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swingerwc

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Throw out those test strips. They are worse than not measuring pH at all. You are better off trusting the software recommendations blindly, than using those test strips. If you want to measure pH get a real pH meter, make sure to calibrate it before each use, and cool your samples to room temp before measuring.

Brew on :mug:
Doug, thanks for responding!! And my goodness im so happy to hear you say that. I’ve used brunwater in the past when I was brewing every weekend and had a meter and it was always right on for the most part. Im getting a meter and will take care of it and calibrate it at every brew.
Thanks again for the friendly push to dump the strips.
 

hotbeer

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So how have your beers been turning out? If they've been good to great, then you might want to question if you have something messed up in your water profile that might be leading you astray on what to add.
 

mabrungard

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Hmm? 5.2 is a bit low for many styles, so I caution using that target.

The other thing that you are seeing, is the very low initial wort pH. That is normal, but it's not what you should observing or reacting to. The grains that we use in our mashes are very effective buffers, but it takes a while to draw that buffering out of the grain during the mash.

If you mix up a batch of water for a pale beer including its necessary acid additions, and then measure its pH, I guarantee that the pH will be in the 4 range. But when the grain is added, that pH begins to moderate. The pH continues to moderate through the mashing duration. The ASBC testing procedure for testing the pH of malt in distilled water requires a time of 30 minutes before measuring pH. But the ASBC procedure also has the malt pulverized (finely ground) for the testing and that probably brings the buffering out of the grain more quickly. I find that it takes about 45 minutes for the mash pH to stabilize when regularly milled grains are used. So the message is, plan your water treatment and then monitor the pH during the mash, but don't freak out if the pH is NOT where you want it to be during the early stage of the mash. It should moderate toward a pH closer to about 5.4 with time. If you're brewing a dark beer, the initial wort pH might actually be ABOVE your target in the early stage, but it should drop toward your target.

PS: don't rely on pH strips for wort pH. They're not very helpful. Either get a calibrated pH meter or just rely on Bru'n Water to guide your water treatment.
 
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swingerwc

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Hey all, thanks so much for weighing in. I’m largely a lone wolf when it comes to brewing so it’s really positive to get feedback like this.

Well, I tapped the first batch in question and it’s an absolute delight! I keep trying some of it in an attempt to pick out any pH related issues and i simply cannot.
Im hoping the 2nd will be just as good though I’m interested to see how my “course correction” with the calcium carbonate affected the end product. Im thinking it will likely be just fine, but maybe with a little astringency.
I’ll just have to find out the good ole fashioned way.
 
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