Pre-mash and sparge water pH

Reads 2715 • Replies 7 • Started Tuesday, September 13, 2016 8:12:10 AM CT

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Homer321
beers 5341 º places 54 º 08:12 Tue 9/13/2016

So last weekend I brewed with a friend. He followed the same filtering and campden tablet treatments that I do for his brewing water. But he also added 2 tsp of 10% phosphoric acid to the mash water (before adding the grain, it was about 7 gallons), and a Tbsp to the sparge water (about 10 gallons).

I’ll be honest, I’ve never done more than add a little 5.2 stabilizer to my mash and sparge water. And yes, I know this is ridiculed among the serious folks. But I get 5.2 stabilizer from our homebrew club raffle because I don’t need more shirts or glasses. Anyway.

How many of you adjust the pH of your water with acids? If so, what acid do you prefer? What pH are you shooting for before you add grain (let’s say this is a pale ale or amber with little to no grain about a 60-80L). How do you measure your pH: strips or a meter? Do you make any pH adjustments while mid-mash or just adjust the next time?

 
CLevar
places 23 º 08:25 Tue 9/13/2016

We adjust with lactic as we are mashing in, followed by adjustment of the sparge water with lactic prior to starting the sparge.

We really only make mash pH adjustments if we are way off for some reason- otherwise, a note to add 5ml more or less next time is enough. Really the only times that I can recall having to add more acid midway through is when we have a new recipe with lots of wheat or roasted malt and are not quite sure what to use. We typically brew two turns/day though, so this allows us to dial it in on the second batch.

I suppose we could just as easily acidify the entire HLT, but there are a number of tasks requiring hot liquor in the morning that do not depend on a certain pH.

 
VsXsV
beers 4715 º places 87 º 09:20 Tue 9/13/2016

I also adjust the pH with lactic acid, tend to land a bit high (5.8ish) in pale (well, beers that aren’t pitch black) beers otherwise. Calculate the amount needed with EZ water first and then confirm the pH with a digital meter after mashing in. Usually also add a bit of calcium chloride and magnesium sulfate as the water here is quite low on minerals in general.

I don’t add any lactic acid to the sparge water, just minerals to get the right water profile.

 
skinnyguy
11:27 Fri 9/16/2016

I often use phosphoric acid, especially when I am making lighter beers. But I would suggest reversing the amounts, and adding more to the HLT than to the mash (the grain will acidify the mash, and you have to worry about the mash losing acidity as it is sparged).

I usually just use strips to measure, but I am pretty comfortable with the levels and additions so I don’t always measure. If I am using gypsum when making a hop forward beer, I may omit some of the acid.

 
drowland
beers 9210 º places 292 º 11:43 Fri 9/16/2016

I used to always put a few drops of phosphoric acid in my sparge water. I read that in a book when I was beginning... something about trying to stop the drastic pH change when you suddenly start adding more water to the mix. I haven’t been doing it lately and my last couple of batches came out weirdly bitter. I might try going back to it.

I used to take a sample and adjust my mash appropriately (almost always down, as I recall), but my pH meter broke so I just stopped doing it. I haven’t noticed a difference and that was a solid year or two ago, so I probably won’t worry about it henceforth unless I get more serious (I typically just brew to drink myself and share, don’t do a lot of competitions or have goals of going pro).

 
SamGamgee
beers 2452 º places 182 º 23:03 Sat 9/17/2016

We use phos with RO water and salts when mashing in. Target 5.4 mash pH and then sparge with RO. We don’t add any acid to the sparge and final runnings are never over 5.8 so I see no reason to acidify sparge water. I guess if you had water with high residual alkalinity you might need to but always let the pH of the final runnings determine this.

 
DA
places 1 º 09:18 Sun 9/18/2016

Because of my well water which is fairly hard I need to reduce the alkalinity with lime and use acid to adjust PH. I use a few ml of lactic in the HLT to get in the proper mash ph range. Without the alkalinity adjustment it takes a lot more acid to adjust.

 
BookmDano
14:12 Wed 3/22/2017

What am I doing wrong? I get my water from a cave in Georgia (flows to the outside). The water has won awards for purity and taste and as a side note runs to a pond with Rainbow trout (Rainbow trout in Georgia ... got to be good.) Anyway, I used it in an all grain recipe using 24 lbs of grain, mashed in right at 154 degrees and held it for an hour. O.G. was 1.06 after sparging (for 24 pounds??). Long-story-short I’m having a tough time with extraction. Tested the Ph and it’s at 6 and hardness was 180 ppm. What and how do I need to adjust 5 gallons of water?

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