Mash pH always 4.8

Discussion in 'General Brewing Discussions' started by Mase, Feb 28, 2018.

  1. Mase

    Mase Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2017
    Messages:
    1,772
    Likes Received:
    2,116
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    #1 Mase, Feb 28, 2018
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2018
    Wanting to raise my mash pH to at least 5.2, I have been reading about mineral additions of; Gypsum, Calcium Carbonate, Pickling Lime, and Baking Soda. But I don't know which is easiest or best. I considered briefly trying the 5.2 Mash Stabilizer product, but only briefly as the reviews for the 5.2 Mash Stabilizer product is mostly negative, so I don't want to use it. Plus that's not where i will be going to when i step up to water chemistry and additions. I am eventually going to move into water adjustments starting with RO water, but until that time, and for now, I just want to bump up the pH from 4.8 to 5.2.

    To test for pH (at the end of my 60 minute mash), I use the cheap pH test strips, but from what I have read, they [pH test strips] are typically reading 0.2 points off. I have been hopeful that the 0.2 makes my reading of 4.8 pH, actually a 5.0, but I haven't read where the strips are 0.2 low or high from the actual. And yes... Once I get into water improvements beyond using bottled spring water from the same manufacturer [Deer Park], i will also get a real pH meter. but that's for another discussion and down the road.

    Nevertheless, and until i am ready and willing to get into the water chemistry side of brewing, my questions are simple (with hopefully simple suggestions):
    • Which should I use... Gypsum, CaCO3, Baking Soda or pickling lime
      • Add to mash or strike water
      • When to add to mash or strike water
    • How much should I does a 5 gallon batch (typically 16-18 qts as I us 1.5 qts/lb of grain ratio) to get from 4.8 to 5.2
    Prior to posting this, I was heading down the path of using household baking soda and mixing 1 teaspoon of baking soda to 4 oz. of the same spring water i mentioned above, mix it well (until dissolved) then pour 1 oz. of the solution into the mash (1/4 tsp.), then mix well into the mash and then test in 10 minutes. Although arguably, conversion happens in the first 10-15 minutes, it may be to late to fix if it goes too high.

    Ps. I was planing on getting some acidulated malt to recover if I over do it, but since the mash conversion happens in the first 10 minutes, it'll probably be too late.
     
  2. Yooper

    Yooper Administrator
    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2013
    Messages:
    2,486
    Likes Received:
    1,566
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Female
    Occupation:
    Happily retired
    Location:
    Upper Michigan/Florida
    Without adding a boatload of acid to your mash, there is no possible way your mash pH is 4.8.

    To guestimate the actual pH, try using the advanced water calculator and seeing what the projected mash pH is.
     
    J A likes this.
  3. Yooper

    Yooper Administrator
    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2013
    Messages:
    2,486
    Likes Received:
    1,566
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Female
    Occupation:
    Happily retired
    Location:
    Upper Michigan/Florida
    To go down the water chemistry route isn't difficult at all- but there should be an understanding of what certain things bring to the mashing water and wort. It can be a lot to take in, but if you want to start an easy way, I wrote this three part article to help with beginning water chemistry. https://www.brewersfriend.com/blog/ Since they came out in order, they are listed in the blog in reverse order so I suggest scrolling down to read the first one, then up to the middle one, etc.

    A short answer to your question is that none of those things will do what you want them to do, if you don't know some basic things about your water's alkalinity to start with. You can probably find the specs on Deer Park water online, but if not , start with reverse osmosis or distilled water.
     
  4. Mase

    Mase Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2017
    Messages:
    1,772
    Likes Received:
    2,116
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    Using the water analysis report from Deer Park to me is useless.... they have 6 or 7 “springs” that they source from the Northeast and you don’t know which one you are getting at any given time.

    My well water is high in iron... not using that. And not interested yet in monkeying with water chemistry.

    Beers have tasted great so far, so I’ll just leave well enough alone.
     
  5. Yooper

    Yooper Administrator
    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2013
    Messages:
    2,486
    Likes Received:
    1,566
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Female
    Occupation:
    Happily retired
    Location:
    Upper Michigan/Florida
    If you can get RO water (from those big "water machines" at places like Walmart, you can start with a blank slate and then know what you're starting with.

    the thing is, without knowing what you're starting with, adding things is not likely to improve the beer and could make it worse. If you want to tackle mash pH, that's a great start but it's really impossible for your mash pH to be 4.8 if you didn't add any acidity so those strips are wrong.
     
  6. Trialben

    Trialben Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2016
    Messages:
    9,433
    Likes Received:
    9,490
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Pest control tech
    Location:
    Palmwoods QLD
    usually im trying to lower mu mash PH further down towards 5.2 ish PH. i use the brewersfriend water calculator loaded through the recipie so the grist is loaded in and then make my adjustments from there using gypsum calcium chloride and lactic acid for PH control. tweeking your water can turn your great beers into awesome beers. my adjustments a miniscule up to 6g so its worth playing around with i think and your only giving your yeast some more calciumnto help em out.
     
  7. HighVoltageMan!

    HighVoltageMan! Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2015
    Messages:
    831
    Likes Received:
    807
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    Big Lake MN
    First off, raising mash pH is tough. Calcium carbonate won't go into solution easily, I believe you have to have it it the presence of CO2 to make that happen. Baking soda works really good, but it adds sodium. Pickling lime is supposed to work too.

    It's a lot easier to lower pH than raise it. 5.2 stabilizer won't raise mash pH, it's only supposed to lower it. I used it once or twice and realized it sucked. So I went out and bought a pH meter and adjusted the pH with brewing salts and acids. Much better and in the long run it's turned out to be pretty easy.

    But before you down that path, make sure that your mash pH measurement is accurate. Like Yooper said, it's not very likely your mash pH is that low without the help of a significant amount of acid or roasted malt.
     
    Trialben likes this.
  8. Hawkbox

    Hawkbox Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2017
    Messages:
    3,738
    Likes Received:
    2,972
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    IT Manager
    Location:
    Edmonton
    I bought some of those strips and they're so broad that they're pretty much useless for our purposes.
     
  9. BOB357

    BOB357 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2018
    Messages:
    3,982
    Likes Received:
    7,290
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Fallon, Nevada
    Hey Mase,

    Welcome to the early stages of brewing that all of us have gone through. Anyone who says they haven't is full of the round straw colored spheres that re ejected from just under the base of equine tails.

    Before going any further let me ask, are you satisfied with your beers in general? If not, is there a particular flaw, or flaws, you find in them on the whole? The reason I ask is that it appears you're really guessing at the properties of your water without a proper analysis and possibly blaming it when it may not be the problem.

    If most/all of your beers have problem(s) in common, post as good of a description as you can, and let the experienced brewers here try to pin down the possible cause(s). I'm new to this forum, but have received a lot of help from many brewers on different forums over the past 10+ years and am not embarrassed to say that I am still learning.

    Try not to be too critical of yourself. If you stick with it your beers will get better.
     
    Fat Duck Brewery likes this.
  10. Mase

    Mase Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2017
    Messages:
    1,772
    Likes Received:
    2,116
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    As previously mentioned, our well water is a bit high in Iron for beer brewing, and it’s for this reason I started our first batch using bottled spring water, and we’ve used the same brand of bottled spring water ever since.

    To provide an analogy, look at my question(s) as accelerating while in the same gear. We are not ready to shift into the next gear (water adjustments), rather still accelerating in the current gear.

    Barely over a year into home brewing, we only have 23 brews under our belt, of which 21 have been All Grain on a 3 vessel system.

    Back to the analogy of shifting gears, our last “gear shift” was tweaking our overall efficiency. We were typically in the low to mid seventies and have now been consistently in the low to mid 80’s and holding stable. Not that grain bill is a huge cost, but wanting to stabilize and improve our efficiency was our goal and we have achieved that. Low to mid 70’s was great for recipe kits as the kits were developed for that range.

    The one nagging constant in all of our brews was Mash pH. We have only used the pH strips (4.6 to 6.0) and have ranged from 4.8 to 5.4 for every single brew. Whether it’s a Kolsch that Trialben and Jeffpn gave great guidance too, or an Oatmeal Stout, the pH has remained in that range.

    As for our beers, biased aside (as much as possible as I am fairly critical of my work) they have been all great in my mind, save for a Nugget Nectar early on in our homebrewing experience and that, through my thorough notes, traced back to a bad hop addition. The beer was a bit too bitter. We’ve brewed a lot of clones to see if we were actually making better tasting beer than their commercial counterpart. And again, save for the Nugget Nectar, all of our clone beers have been better tasting than their commercial counterpart, and that includes others tasting our beers besides me and the wife. Considering we’ve used the same water source for each beer we’ve made without water adjustments and feel they are equal or better than the commercial version is something that I feel good about.

    Back to the analogy of gear shifting, we wanted to ground truth that we could actually make better tasting versions of a commercial beer before we shifted gears into recipe building.

    While in the current gear, per se, I started digging into the nagging low pH and thus this thread. What I am now realizing and have been considering is that our pH strips approach to measuring our pH of our mash is a weak link. We’ve got what we consider, a tidy some of cash in our brewing “apparatus” and still using cheap pH strips.

    So while in this same gear and still accelerating, I think I will invest in a good pH meter (with buffer solution) to verify that our pH is not at 4.8.

    Realizing one of our future up-shifts (back to the analogy) is starting with RO water and adding “brewing salt” to the style we are brewing, in investment into a good pH meter is the first step.

    Sorry for the rant, but I wanted to set the record straight as I wasn’t providing enough information in the original post to provide a better picture/background for others to reply to.

    Our homebrewing hobby (arguably obsession) wouldn’t have been were it is at without the following, so special thanks to the following:

    - YouTube: Craig Tube (if you’ve never brewed or even if you have, his ways are questionable, but his videos got me hooked on homebrewing.
    - Northern Brewer. InBev owned or not, their business model works. From great kits to text support and brewmaster hotline to customer service
    - Brewers Friend. Invaluable source for raising questions to “oh wow! I didn’t know that”. The community here is second to none and almost a home away from home for home brewing.
     
    Trialben likes this.
  11. Hawkbox

    Hawkbox Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2017
    Messages:
    3,738
    Likes Received:
    2,972
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    IT Manager
    Location:
    Edmonton
    Hmm I'm curious, I haven't actually watched any Youtube stuff in a long time. I should again.
     
  12. BOB357

    BOB357 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2018
    Messages:
    3,982
    Likes Received:
    7,290
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Fallon, Nevada
    I had some suspicion that your beers were turning out well. Thanks for clearing that up. I agree with you that the next step with your water would be to go with RO and build to the style you're brewing. A good quality pH meter will definitely help you do this. It appears that you are making wise decisions and I'm sure the end results will be rewarding.
     
    Mase likes this.
  13. Trialben

    Trialben Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2016
    Messages:
    9,433
    Likes Received:
    9,490
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Pest control tech
    Location:
    Palmwoods QLD
    buffer solution is the Smarts mase as you need to calibrate them every so often to make sure its reading right. onwards and upwards.
     
    Mase likes this.
  14. Trialben

    Trialben Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2016
    Messages:
    9,433
    Likes Received:
    9,490
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Pest control tech
    Location:
    Palmwoods QLD
    its one thing i learned the hard way after purchasing mine a year or so back PH 7 is my meters buffer calibration solution.
     
    Mase likes this.
  15. Mase

    Mase Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2017
    Messages:
    1,772
    Likes Received:
    2,116
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    So the end result of my original question of how to raise Mash pH. And as typical with this forum, I’ve ended up with purchasing a “real” pH meter and buffering solution, and will quite possibly, shifting gears into water additions. Thanks all... will report back in this thread what my mash pH actually is. As mentioned early, using the cheap strips we’ve been recently at 4.8. Cheers!
     
    Hawkbox and BOB357 like this.
  16. Yooper

    Yooper Administrator
    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2013
    Messages:
    2,486
    Likes Received:
    1,566
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Female
    Occupation:
    Happily retired
    Location:
    Upper Michigan/Florida
    That is exactly what happened to me- asked a question, and ended up digging a bit deeper into the subject.

    The short answer to the question "how can I raise mash pH?" is usually baking soda. BUT, in 99% of cases the issue is a too high mash pH, not one that is too low, so it's suspect that you'd have a mash pH anywhere near 4.8 without adding roast malt and a ton of acid. So a pH meter, calibrated on each brew day, is a good place to start.
     
    Mase and Hawkbox like this.
  17. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2012
    Messages:
    9,385
    Likes Received:
    6,615
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Aurora, CO, USA
    Baking soda is good, as Yooper mentions. There are other options but they generally require special handling. Quicklime - Calcium Hydroxide - is a good possibility and is used in pickles and sauerkraut, among other places, to make the veggies crisper after fermentation. Provides some calcium, too. One thing I'd say to the group at large: If you're going to do water chemistry beyond dechlorination, get an accurate pH meter. The Milwaukee Instruments MW-102 is a relatively inexpensive model and you can replace the probes once they go non-linear (about 2-3 years). One problem with test strips is color: If you test a colored liquid, the color of the liquid is now absorbed into the test strip and messing with the reading. Beer is colored, even the lightest of Weizens.
     
    Mase likes this.
  18. Hawkbox

    Hawkbox Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2017
    Messages:
    3,738
    Likes Received:
    2,972
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    IT Manager
    Location:
    Edmonton
    I got a Hanna PH meter and it seems to work well enough, but my water is pretty consistent and our local homebrew group's education person did up a cheat sheet for our city water.
     
    Mase likes this.
  19. Mase

    Mase Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2017
    Messages:
    1,772
    Likes Received:
    2,116
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    #19 Mase, Mar 3, 2018
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2018
    I’ve not used a pH meter since chemistry class back in high school. I don’t mind spending a few extra dollars, but is accuracy tied to price or is durability tied to price. What I am driving at here is it necessary to spend $100+ or will a $50 pH meter serve the needs of a home brewer.

    Sub $50 meter:
    https://hannainst.com/hi98107-phep-...xssZFJeGQkR8MBzC83MF-QK2Cxw02IVBoCcfwQAvD_BwE

    Going to be brewing a Lemondrop Saison next next weekend and going to obtain a pH meter ahead of time.

    @Nosybear i have often wondered the same thing, if the color of wort would effect the color of the pH reading.
     
  20. Ozarks Mountain Brew

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2012
    Messages:
    7,767
    Likes Received:
    3,976
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    IT Managment
    Location:
    The Ozark Mountains of Missouri
    I’ll tell you the issues with ph meters, if you look at the link you posted and click on the pic showing the bottom you'll see a plastic bubble protecting the sensor, that plastic degrades using it in hot wort over time and changes the readings, that style of meter would wear out the same as a cheap $10 model that I buy using it in hot wort
    I just buy a cheap one every year and throw away the old, so a good one won’t be that style but the one you’re looking at is pretty good just cool the wort first
     
    Mase likes this.

Share This Page

arrow_white