Water Profiles Low Mash pH

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I use Brewfather (BF) for building and tracking recipes on brew day and during fermentation. I have entered my water profile, which is tested RO water with zero minerals. Based on the water profile, BF consistently suggests that I need to add upwards of 6 ml lactic acid (depending on the grain bill) to maintain a target mash pH.

Lately i consistently come up at my target mash pH at, or just below target without adding any lactic acid. I use BF to adjust salt additions like Gypsum, Calcium Chloride and Epsom Salt during mash and sparge. On rare occasion my pH is lower than 5.2, and I end up adding a small amount of Calcium Hydroxide to raise the pH going to boil kettle. I've had some recent competition feedback that my beers have some astringency. Is this a result of the pH situation I'm describing, a product of my chosen grain bill, malt crush or none of these? Any ideas?
 

cire

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Astringency is most usually a result of excessively high pH, certainly not expected at pH 5.2. Do you sparge and if so, have you measured pH at the end to see if those have a high pH. I wouldn't expect a minor adjustment to increase pH in the kettle to cause astringency, although I see no advantage other than if pH was too low for your copper finings to be effective.

Brewing with zero minerals is more difficult than with adequate calcium for all processes, and prolonged lagering is often necessary to produce the best outcome.
 
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@cire, thanks. If time and as brew day allows, i try and check the pH both during mash, sparge and during boil. I add calcium and other salts to match the target water profile. I feel like my salt additions are off in the calculator if the software is suggesting that based on my salt additions i still need to add lactic acid and rarely ever do.
 

mashpaddled

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What are you normally targeting for ph? What temperature are you reading ph?

I have to add lactic acid more often than not in my beers.
 

marc1

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I use a (calibrated on every brew day) Milwaukee MW 600 pH meter

What temperature are you measuring at?

And when in the mash are you measuring? The mash pH changes during the course of the mash. For me it evens out between 30-60 minutes. I usually just measure near the end. I know others measure much earlier; I think as long as you are consistent in your process and learn what it means for you, then it's an area of personal preference.

Are you adding all of your acid and minerals at the beginning of the mash, or dosing them in as it goes?
 
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I missed the second half of your question: BF calculates the salts needed for mash and sparge. I have been adding mash salts when the HLT is coming up to strike temp. I add my measured sparge during mashout and run off to boil. I think you might on to something, i might try to dose the salts after i've checked mash pH and see where i'm at, and then dose the salts over the course of the mash vs during temp ramp at doughin?
 
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What temperature are you measuring at?

And when in the mash are you measuring? The mash pH changes during the course of the mash. For me it evens out between 30-60 minutes. I usually just measure near the end. I know others measure much earlier; I think as long as you are consistent in your process and learn what it means for you, then it's an area of personal preference.

Are you adding all of your acid and minerals at the beginning of the mash, or dosing them in as it goes?
I missed the second half of your question: BF calculates the salts needed for mash and sparge. I have been adding mash salts when the HLT is coming up to strike temp. I add my measured sparge during mashout and run off to boil. I think you might on to something, i might try to dose the salts after i've checked mash pH and see where i'm at, and then dose the salts over the course of the mash vs during temp ramp at doughin?
 

marc1

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I missed the second half of your question: BF calculates the salts needed for mash and sparge. I have been adding mash salts when the HLT is coming up to strike temp. I add my measured sparge during mashout and run off to boil. I think you might on to something, i might try to dose the salts after i've checked mash pH and see where i'm at, and then dose the salts over the course of the mash vs during temp ramp at doughin?

I dose everything beforehand. Some of the salts dissolve better in cooler water than hot.

I don't recommend adjusting on-the-fly. That seems like it would be difficult to keep consistent batch-to-batch. If you want to dose only some salts to the mash, then you could put the rest in the boil. Whether they are in the sparge or not doesn't really matter except that you want to minimize alkalinity in the sparge water.
 
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I dose everything beforehand. Some of the salts dissolve better in cooler water than hot.

I don't recommend adjusting on-the-fly. That seems like it would be difficult to keep consistent batch-to-batch. If you want to dose only some salts to the mash, then you could put the rest in the boil. Whether they are in the sparge or not doesn't really matter except that you want to minimize alkalinity in the sparge water.
Nice. I appreciate the feedback from you and @ScrewyBrewer.
 
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