If your pH = 5.4 why add salts to change target profile

Discussion in 'General Brewing Discussions' started by AHarper, Jun 30, 2020 at 7:26 PM.

  1. AHarper

    AHarper Active Member

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    After building a recipe with malts and hops it comes out at a pH of 5.4 - right in the middle of the desired range (by all accounts). I used bottled water with a published chemistry so I use the Chemistry Calculator to adjust the salts to a Target Profile of Balanced. The pH now calculates as 5.31. The pH of the Source water is 7.8. This was selected in the recipe before selecting the Water Chemistry calculator so was this included in the initial calculation of the 5.4 pH or was that solely base on the Grain Bill?
    The added salts are to tweak the flavour profile for the style of beer but my question is Is it worth bothering with if it alters the mash pH? Will it be noticeable in the end?
     
  2. ^Tony^

    ^Tony^ Active Member

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    Most source water is about 7.8 but you can verify that with a pH test on your own or call your water provider to get more information.

    pH is important but not as important as either the grist or the salts. Both will either increase or decrease your mash/water pH. I always aim for around 5.2-5.6 on the chemistry calculator and that seems to work out for me. IMO: the MINERALS in the salts is what matters the most and if you are using bottled water that is missing those minerals you should add them. Cloride (Cl) and Sulfates (SO4) especially. But yeast also need things like a tiny amount of Magnesium (Mg).
    A pH of about 5.2-5.6 is best to ensure you have a proper and complete mash conversion. If your pH is in the 6.5 range or something like it, you will get conversion but it may not be a complete conversion. You can still make beer though. Things like aciduated malt can help bring pH down so adding that into your grain bill will help. Others use lactic acid. It is a preference which you use.

    5.31 pH is good. I dont think you should worry about that. But I would avoid going below 5.2 or you start having an effect on the fermentation attenuation.
     
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  3. AHarper

    AHarper Active Member

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    Thanks for that Tony. I do normally add the salts as the calculator determines and I also tweak the pH with the acidulated malt. I can never tell where I went wrong when the beer does not come out like the aimed for style. Practice should make perfect. I'll just need to make MORE beer....
     
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  4. Craigerrr

    Craigerrr Well-Known Member

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    Adjusting the water profile is about more than pH,you can adjust your profile to accentuate hop bitterness, or to help accentuate the malt flavors,amongst other things. As far as pH goes 5.3, or 5.4 you are in the right neighborhood, so I wouldn't sweat that. Source water pH is pretty much irrelevant, mash pH is all really matters.
     
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  5. Craigerrr

    Craigerrr Well-Known Member

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    If you are brewing a light colored hoppy, pH 5.2 to 5.4 would be optimal. For a dark and malty 5.4 to 5.6 is ideal. Personally I have come to trust the pH predictions from the recipe editor, haven't used my pH meter for ages. I also use acidulated malt, I always forget toadd the lactic acid, just makes it simpler for me.
     
  6. Yooper

    Yooper Administrator
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    Think of brewing salts as "salts"- that is, seasonings for your beer just as you add salt, pepper, etc, to your food. Think of spaghetti sauce. If you add nothing to the tomato sauce, it's ok. If you add a little salt, it's better. If you add some garlic and salt, it's even better. The same is true of these flavor ions. It can make the flavors pop, become more pronounced, and give the beer that extra something.

    While chloride enhances a 'roundness' of flavor, sulfate enhances the perception of dryness. Adding gypsum to a meh beer won't magically make it great, but adding the right salts to an already good (but maybe bland) beer can take a very good beer to very very good.

    It's not magic, but it does make a difference in the final beer.

    Ages ago I wrote a three part article about these salts, and what they do (and what they don't do).
    https://www.brewersfriend.com/2017/11/19/brewing-water-basics-part-1/
    https://www.brewersfriend.com/2017/11/19/brewing-water-basics-part-2/
    https://www.brewersfriend.com/2018/02/13/brewing-water-basics-putting-it-all-together/
     
  7. BOB357

    BOB357 Well-Known Member

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    Next time you grill a nice steak, don't season it. Just grill it to perfection. Is it as good as it was when you seasoned it?

    Brewing salts are to beer what seasoning is to a great steak. You season it first, and then cook it to perfection. That's why you always adjust the pH last.

    That said, if you're happy without any adjustments other than pH, it's your beer.
     
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  8. Mark Farrall

    Mark Farrall Well-Known Member

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    Ignoring the pH and flavour effects, calcium is useful for improved alpha amalyse performance. I've seen the number of around 50ppm to allow that enzyme to perform well (that's me repeating other peoples statements - haven't gone hunting for primary or secondary sources for that).
     
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  9. HighVoltageMan!

    HighVoltageMan! Well-Known Member

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    There is so much more to pH then a target in the mash. As Yooper said, water salts highlight the flavors your looking for in the finished beer. Mash pH is one point to measure. 5.4 to 5.6 at room temperature will give you a mash pH at temperature of 5.2 to 5.4. Perfect. Slightly lower is not a big deal. Higher can become a problem if you pH gets away from you in the sparge. pH should be maintained in the pre-boil, boil and fermenter. If the pH is too high, add acid. If it’s too low, don’t mess with it, just let it ride. Low pH is less of a problem than high pH in most cases. A pH of 5.2 or lower for light beers and 5.4 or so for dark beers going into the fermenter will have a big impact on the final beer. The yeast also has a huge impact on beer pH, yeast can drop the finish pH as low as 3.9 depending on the strain. So salts can enhance flavor and pH refines the overall beer and it’s finish.

    Pay attention to finish pH and record it. You’ll find it has an impact on the final product. That’s your ultimate goal.
     
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