How do you adjust the mashing pH?

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How do you adjust the mashing pH?

Unread postby Nath83 » Sat Mar 29, 2014 8:24 am

I've just jumped on board the PH reading game just to make sure my water adjustments from EZ match what's actually happening. I only got one of the cheap Chinese ones, I don't expect it to be very accurate, just hoping it gives me a close idea to what's going on in the mash.

My LHBS who sold me the BM said he mashes in at room temp and doesn't do anything else until his PH is good. What methods do you guys use to read/adjust on brew days?

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Nath
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Re: HM Digital PH-200 - Waterproof pH Meter

Unread postby Dicko » Sat Mar 29, 2014 7:49 pm

Nath83 wrote:I've just jumped on board the PH reading game just to make sure my water adjustments from EZ match what's actually happening. I only got one of the cheap Chinese ones, I don't expect it to be very accurate, just hoping it gives me a close idea to what's going on in the mash.

My LHBS who sold me the BM said he mashes in at room temp and doesn't do anything else until his PH is good. What methods do you guys use to read/adjust on brew days?

Cheers
Nath


I use EZ Water spreadsheet for my calculations.

My additions are only ever CaCl, CaS04 and acid if necessary. These additions are adjusted to suit hoppy or malt style beers. EG I favour CaS04 for a hoppy style. I only use acid if I want the water to be very low on minerals say for example a Pilsener.

I steep dark grains separately and add them at the end of the mash so as not to require the addition of chalk or anything else to have to raise the PH of the mash.

I only use reverse osmosis water as this gives me a "blank canvas" to work from and the water that is supplied in my town is extremely "hard" and high in mineral content.

I check my Ph about 15 minutes into the Beta rest and I cool the sample to 20deg c for testing. I do not rely on the ATC feature of my meter.

My PH readings are always quite close to the spreadsheets calculations and if I am repeating a recipe exactly I go as far as to not check the PH but just rely on the previous results.

I also do not brew with a water profile that is close to the town or area that the beer originated from.
I used to but found at times that this did not work for me to achieve the correct PH. No one really knows if each brewery did not alter their water profile anyway.

Cheers
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Re: HM Digital PH-200 - Waterproof pH Meter

Unread postby Nath83 » Sat Mar 29, 2014 11:01 pm

Cheers, Dicko

I used to use the Beersmith town water profiles too, but when comparing that to EZ, my PH was always way too high (above 5.8). I've been using my towns water report and have quite soft water here in Newcastle, so I've found the additions according to EZ are always fairly low.

I'm keen to see how the actual PH turns out to see if I need to adjust much more.
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Re: HM Digital PH-200 - Waterproof pH Meter

Unread postby Cervantes » Sat Mar 29, 2014 11:19 pm

Dicko wrote:
I only use reverse osmosis water as this gives me a "blank canvas" to work from and the water that is supplied in my town is extremely "hard" and high in mineral content.

Cheers


Dicko,

Do you have an RO unit or do you buy the water?

I've got the analysis on my tap water and whilst I think that I can get away with it for darker beer and porters I'll struggle to produce decent lighter beer unless I at least dilute with RO water.

I don't really want to invest in an RO unit at the moment, so am considering installing a big rainwater tank just for brewing. In the mean time am trying to find a cheap source for either distilled or RO water.

I've attached my water report and would be very interested in hearing your take on it.

Cheers
Andy
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Carvantes Water Quality.jpg
Cervantes Water Analysis
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Re: HM Digital PH-200 - Waterproof pH Meter

Unread postby Dicko » Sun Mar 30, 2014 1:49 am

I bought a reasonably cheap RO water unit that I use for all my brewing water.

Your water analysis indicates a lacking of Sulphate and would be a problem with any hoppy ales, I would imagine.

If I put your water figures into EZ Water and cut your town water with 50% RO or rain water (assuming for this exercise that rain is close to pure) you need to add some Gypsum (CaS04) and some acid to bring the PH down.

See attached file.....no that is not going to work site wont allow the upload. :(

So what I find is that you will need to add 10 gr of Gypsum and 5 mls of acid to achieve a PH of 5.47 which is in between the two boundaries of 5.4 to 5.6 at room temp.

The above will also give you a good balance for Chloride / Sulphate Ratio

I have simplified this exercise by assuming just 5 kg of Pils malt with a total amount of brewing water of 34 litres and not divided into mash and sparge volumes.
I suggest you download the EZ Water spreadsheet and run your own figures to achieve what you want.
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Re: HM Digital PH-200 - Waterproof pH Meter

Unread postby niels » Sun Mar 30, 2014 6:39 am

Dicko wrote:See attached file.....no that is not going to work site wont allow the upload. :(

That should be fixed now. Sorry for the inconvenience...

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Re: HM Digital PH-200 - Waterproof pH Meter

Unread postby Dan » Sun Mar 30, 2014 8:03 am

Cervantes wrote:.. am considering installing a big rainwater tank just for brewing..


Andy - I use rainwater, run it through a 2 stage particle/carbon filter (around $80) and treat it as RO. All good so far.
2 things to look out for with rain water:
- Are you close to any mines or industry? There is a possibility of higher mineral content falling with the rain.
- Over summer, if your level gets very low, you may load up the filter with sediment (keep the tank clean and you're all good).
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Re: HM Digital PH-200 - Waterproof pH Meter

Unread postby Dicko » Sun Mar 30, 2014 1:27 pm

niels wrote:
Dicko wrote:See attached file.....no that is not going to work site wont allow the upload. :(

That should be fixed now. Sorry for the inconvenience...

Niels


Thanks Niels, I will upload that file when I am on my desktop tomorrow :)
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Re: HM Digital PH-200 - Waterproof pH Meter

Unread postby Cervantes » Sun Mar 30, 2014 10:03 pm

Dicko,

Many thanks for the in depth reply.

I do use EZ-Water and have attached my calculations. with no dilution and by adding 5 ml of Lactic Acid and 2 grams of Epsom Salts I can get most of my levels including mash pH into the Green.

I'd based my calculation on treating the 25 litres that I mash in with, but no treatment for the sparge/rinse water. My thinking for this is that that if I've mashed out at 78 then all enzyme activity will have stopped and so correct mineral and pH balance isn't as important. Please correct me if this isn't a sound assumption.

Even for undiluted water 10 grams of Gypsum looks to be a better solution than my 2 grams of Epsom salt, especially for IPA's etc. The Gypsum just pushes my Calcium concentration into the red, but it does give me a much more balanced Chloride/Sulphate ratio.

That said, I prefer my beers malty, so the 4.58 ratio that I get from the Epson Salts wouldn't necessarily be a problem with the ESBs and Porters that I like.

The only things that I can't fix without dilution are the very high Sodium and Chloride levels. As I understand it no amount of filtering; boiling or mineral additions will reduce these levels. It has to be dilution.

As you say a 50% dilution with RO or Distilled water is probably going to be the best solution.

With your RO unit what do you do with the waste water that is full of the concentrated bit and bobs? Is it okay for the garden?

Dan,

Thanks for that. I think that this will be the approach that I'll end up taking. We live out in the sticks with no local mining or heavy industry, so rain water quality should be okay.

Cheers
Andy
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EZ_water_calculator_3.0.2_metric.xls
(90.5 KiB) Downloaded 35 times
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Re: HM Digital PH-200 - Waterproof pH Meter

Unread postby Dicko » Mon Mar 31, 2014 12:25 am

Good morning Andy,

My RO system produces approx 50% waste and I allow generally 34 litres of water for a brew. any water that is left over I use for yeast starters and other brewing related things like making candi sugars etc.
I let the waste go down the sink as I am not set up for putting it onto a garden without filling buckets and to be honest I can't be bothered watching it work until a bucket is full and then emptying it.
Having said that I have filled two 25 litre cubes with the waste water for chilling in the fridge and then pumping through my Immersion chiller with an ice slurry to chill my wort.
I can get my wort to 9 deg c using this method if I need to.

Here is the sample I compiled on EZ Water

EZ Water Calculator SAMPLE.xls
(74.5 KiB) Downloaded 46 times


I am by no means an expert on water but I will give you my take on it.

By adding Mg (Epsom Salts) you are adding Magnesium which will assist in lowering PH, however MG is present in modern grains and it is claimed by some experts that it is not required in any large amounts for brewing. In fact it is claimed to cause off flavours and create a laxative effect if used in quantity.
I would be very judicious with using it in a Pils for example.
I try to keep the MG level at 10 or below on EZ Water.

Calcium is required in a brew for yeast health and for cold break formation to assist with chill haze and additions of Cacl or Ca S04 will help to lower PH.

I have experimented with Chloride / Sulphate ratios and this figure has a marked effect on bitterness, IMO.
My experiments have been done on a beer similar to Aussie Lager which has no real malt or hop influence as per the style.
I have found that there has been a marked difference in the bitterness of a beer at a ratio of .60 as opposed to the same beer at 1.5
In my observations the hops lose their bitterness at the higher ratio and the beer becomes "soapy" for want of a better description.

My feeling is that there would be no need to go as high as you suggested with your ratio for a malt forward style. I would tend to maintain a ratio around 1.2 to 1.5

What I did on the spreadsheet was just a quick adjustment by using your town water and diluting it with rain water.
The figures kept the Mg in check as well as achieved a reasonable balance for Chl /Sul ratio.

Treating just the mash water is fine and many do it that way. I treat all the water that I am going to use for the brew as it is just a habit that I have formed over the years.

Rain water is ideal for brewing if it is clean and is adjusted to suit the beer. I don't use my rainwater because I believe my roof is dirty and may not provide me with the best sample. Rainwater, for all intents and purposes, can be treated as RO or distilled for brewing use and adjusted with salts as necessary.

Cheers
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Re: HM Digital PH-200 - Waterproof pH Meter

Unread postby Cervantes » Mon Mar 31, 2014 1:46 am

Dicko,

Many thanks once again for the great information.

I'll go with your advise and swap out the Epsom Salts for Gypsum. I think that I'll also see if I can buy some RO/Distilled water for dilution until such times as I can rig up a means to collect rain water (And we get some rain).

That should hopefully give me better quality water for brewing.

I already collect most of the water output from my immersion chiller for use as cleaning water. I hadn't thought of chilling it and re-using. That's a great idea.

Cheers
Andy
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