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I checked the pH in my mash at the end of my mash yesterday and it was 6.6 (using a calibrated electronic meter). I'm trying to work out how to get that down into a more normal range without adding so much salt that it throws the water profile off the charts. I measured my water without any additions, and it read 7.2.

I had my water tested by [Ward Labs][2] last year:

  • pH 7.4
  • Sodium, Na 10
  • Potassium, K < 1
  • Calcium, Ca 46
  • Magnesium, Mg 11
  • Total Hardness, CaCO3 161
  • Nitrate, NO3-N 1.3 (SAFE)
  • Sulfate, SO4-S 6
  • Chloride, Cl 14
  • Carbonate, CO3 < 1
  • Bicarbonate, HCO3 146
  • Total Alkalinity, CaCO3 120
  • Total Iron, Fe < 0.01

I'm using the EZWaterCalculator spreadsheet. Recipe is a 7 gallon mash, 7# of 2-row, 10# of wheat malt, 1# of carapils, 1# of aromatic.

According to the calculator, estimated mash pH is 5.94. I can get that down around 5.6 by adjusting the Gypsum, Calcium Chloride and Epsom Salt, but I have to add so much that the ions in the water profile go way, way over the recommended ranges. And that's still quite a bit lower than the actual reading of the wort.

Do I have other good options for acidifying my mash and staying within my water profile? Are there other calculators out there that will take them into account?

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Good question, tricky answer. –  brewchez Aug 13 '12 at 23:15
mdma says use acid –  mdma Aug 13 '12 at 23:50
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2 Answers

up vote 3 down vote accepted

I use either lactic or phosphoric acid to reduce pH. You can also use acid malt. I think the absolute best water calculator around is Bru'nwater (https://sites.google.com/site/brunwater/). Its author, Martin Brungard, is a professional water engineer who has done work for many large breweries, including Sierra Nevada. It also has a great section on water knowledge.

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denny, just edited to make that useful resourse a link. –  mdma Aug 14 '12 at 0:03
with many dissolved solids, you can't adjust pH using only minerals, since you will easily reach the taste threshold trying to counteract the hardness of the water. acid is the way to go here, or dilution with witer with low hardness. –  mdma Aug 14 '12 at 0:13
Thanks guys. I hadn't thought of water adjustments for profile and mash pH as two separate things. The Bru'nwater sheet is pretty daunting at first, but I'm getting the hang of it. It still comes up with a much lower result than I read with my pH meter, but I'll continue to experiment. –  JoeFish Aug 14 '12 at 14:53
It does take some work to learn it, but it's not too bad and it's really paid off for me in terms of better beer. –  Denny Conn Aug 14 '12 at 15:53
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Keep your water profile basically the same and add acid. You can use many online calculators, but I think its better to deal with it practically. Start your mash and measure pH, then slow add acid a ml or drop wise, remeasuring as you go. Keep track of how much you add, then you have a good starting point to begin with for the next mash.

I'd also measure your starting water without the mash. Once you get a sense of how much acid it took to titrate the mash down to 5.4, you can start acidifying your water before you even dough in. That way your brew day will be a simple function of acidifying the brewing liquor and mashing in. You should be able to hit it right every time.

Of course you'll have to learn how to account for darker malts if you shoot for a different style of beer.

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