Ph change ..what to do?

Discussion in 'Beginners Brewing Forum' started by Ward Chillington, Jun 25, 2018.

  1. Ward Chillington

    Ward Chillington Well-Known Member

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    So I got a water question. I brewed a blonde ale today...centennial and cascade hops. I goofed up somehow and came up short on my wort volume but we'll deal with that. I also discovered that my well water Ph changes!
    How do you other guys on well water manage the changes when you discover this sort of thing at last minute? My water has been around 7 but today I was 6.
     
  2. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    Keep a supply of acid on hand and use it if you need to. Bicarbonate can raise pH if you need to, it's in your kitchen cabinet - baking soda. Also, water pH isn't that important, the mash pH is. You get a shift like this, dough in, wait 5 minutes, test your mash pH then, if it's not between 5.2 and 5.6, adjust. I don't test my water pH, it's mostly irrelevant, it's the mash pH that counts.
     
  3. Ward Chillington

    Ward Chillington Well-Known Member

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    Ok..so I can add some B soda in the mash? Never thought about that...

    Any guidance on the dosing and the how to would be welcome...

    WRT this batch, the mash PH was within range so...hmmm..let's see what happens!
     
  4. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    I don't know what buffers are in your water so you'll have to use the water calculator to tell how much a given amount of baking soda will change the pH. And test.
     
  5. Yooper

    Yooper Administrator
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    Remember that water pH is meaningless and it's the mash pH that is important. It's the alkalinity (usually in the form of bicarbonate) that you would need to look at to estimate the mash pH.
     
  6. Hawkbox

    Hawkbox Well-Known Member

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    Water chemistry still confuses the hell out of me, and depending what software and what source I use for information I can get significantly different values. It's confusing shit.
     
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  7. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    Pick one and adjust. Best thing I can think of.
     
  8. Ozarks Mountain Brew

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    how are you measuring the ph? it could be your probe needs to be cleaned or calibrated
     
  9. Ward Chillington

    Ward Chillington Well-Known Member

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    Yooper…"water pH is meaningless"...yeah..I'm beginning to think that way...make the fix at the outcome, the mash pH not the water.

    Ozarks, no probes, just simple paper test strips and the forethought to get the sample down to room temp.

    Nosy, I'm in the same boat, I need to breakdown and pay for a water profile. I have no idea what buffers are in the well water. I'm just scratching the surface of understanding water. Given my location near farm land and being on a well how much are the other components subject to change? What's gonna be the value of a profile if it changes?
     
  10. Hawkbox

    Hawkbox Well-Known Member

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    Hard to say but you could just suck it up and do 3-4 over the course of a year and just assume it never changes year to year. ;)

    Or even just do a couple and see if they vary much.
     
  11. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    Depends on how deep your well is. If you're on one of our Colorado deep hard rock wells, the water won't change much, if at all, due to seasonal changes. If your well is shallow, you may see some changes throughout the year. What I'd do? Get a profile and set my "standard" values to that. Measure the mash pH at 5 minutes into the mash and if you need to, adjust the pH, acid to lower it, base to raise it. Use a standard process: If your water has a lot of carbonate (temporary) hardness, you may want to boil the water and cool it - then you'd have to get a profile of the boiled, cooled water! The Brewing Elements book "Water" talks a lot about the subject and is far more expert than me.
     
  12. Ozarks Mountain Brew

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    well first test strips aren't 100% relatable, I would start by getting a meter first
     
  13. Blackmuse

    Blackmuse Well-Known Member

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    I just used WARD LABS to get a water report on my well. Cost 27 bucks - quick and easy too. Water chemistry sure is confusing though... It appears I am best suited to make Pilsners without having to adjust anything in my water. Funny thing is - I'm not much of a fan of that style. Maybe I can make one that changes my mind!

    Also, my well pH is 6.4 and most of the recipes I punch into the water calc here put me at a mash pH between 5.3-5.6 with just the grist.... I suppose I'll take that as a win.
     
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  14. Ward Chillington

    Ward Chillington Well-Known Member

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    As always, thanks for the advice guys! I'm going to have to put more planning into the "how to react" to my mash based on where the target pH is SUPPOSED to be!

    Penn State offers a number of different tests for a good price but ironically, the one for drinking water doesn't have all the components that John Palmer cites as standards...almost all of those are on their test for greenhouse irrigation!

    Blackmuse, did the Ward Labs test give you residual alkalinity along with the different calcium and magnesium figures??

    Nosy...." Get a profile and set my "standard" values to that. " Point taken...Benchmarks are everything!
     
  15. Blackmuse

    Blackmuse Well-Known Member

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    Ward labs test is everything you need for brewing. It is test 5A I believe ( called brewing water test).
     
  16. Ozarks Mountain Brew

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    yes get your base water tested then buy a ph meter, calibrate it every month just to double check and then use the water calculator here on this site. it will tell you everything you need
     
  17. Ward Chillington

    Ward Chillington Well-Known Member

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    Got it....bottom line..brew more, learn more!:D

    I took a quick glance at the water calculator here......yikes! How many credit hours do I get for that one? That was just a tad intimidating but I'm sure worth it if I'm adjust things.

    This batch of blonde will be an interesting test as I had 2 known pooch screwing moments that I am interested as to how they will effect the outcome of things. The too little post boil volume doesn't have me too concerned but I know I should be looking for overly bitter and hazy beer due to the big slosh of whirlpool gunk that landed in my carboy. Almost a week later and my fermenter looks still so I may be bottling things on Sunday or Monday night.

    BTW OMB...any recommendations on the pH Meter?? Amazon has a couple $15 units that had varying reviews, do you get what you pay for or is it a luck of the draw thing?

    Also, general question....is the reliable issue on litmus paper the paper or the user's ability to correctly match colors shortcoming? Given a large population of men are color blind, I'm leaning towards the colorblindness factor. Good grief, what did we do before the days of inexpensive electronic whodinkies from China!!??
     
  18. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    It looks more intimidating than it is. Start simple and eventually you'll be using all of it! Water is a complex subject but you don't have to know everything to improve your beer.
     
  19. Head First

    Head First Well-Known Member

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    There is a 3 part tutorial on water on this site in the blog. It's a good read and will answer lots of your questions for you.
     
  20. Yooper

    Yooper Administrator
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    This is the link to part 1: https://www.brewersfriend.com/2017/11/19/brewing-water-basics-part-1/

    I tried to make it as simple as possible, as water really is the base for all of our beers. If you have any questions at all or need any clarification on the articles, please feel free to just ask me here on the forum. I am NOT name calling here at all, but I felt that I needed a “Brewing Water Chemistry for Dummies” for myself and so I tried to write it for the non chemistry folks (like me).

    For me, water chemistry was the final frontier of brewing. It took me a long time and lots of reading to understand it and use it to my advantage. I will say that it improved my brewing exponentially, and I wanted to share that knowledge with all of you.
     

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