pH "Errors" and Distilled Water

Discussion in 'General Brewing Discussions' started by Nosybear, Aug 21, 2017.

  1. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    Today I brewed for the first time with distilled water. I've always used my tap water - very good - but have often had trouble hitting my target mash pH. We had another thread recently where we were discussing "errors" with the calculator so I decided to test it. Remembering, mash pH is a function of the buffering power of the mash and the buffering power of the water. The water calculator uses several factors to determine the mash pH, one of which is the water report. If you use municipal water, the water will vary over the course of the year. That was my thought when I couldn't hit mash pH so I decided to brew with as pure water as I could get.

    The results: Nailed it. I did a step mash with a predicted mash pH of 5.3. First step, pH was 5.11. Second step 5.24 due to dilution. The finished wort? I did two tests, cooled. One came out at 5.30, the other at 5.29. I came out one point short on gravity but what a beautiful wort! Granted, this is an n=1 situation but at this point I'm sold: If the beer comes out as nicely as I think it will, there's a RO rig in my future.
     
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  2. The Green Man

    The Green Man Active Member

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    #2 The Green Man, Aug 21, 2017
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2017
    Good to see the ph calculator is ok. How are you testing ph? I've not done this yet, but aim to from next time. All I can find is soil testers, I reckon they'll do though.
    I'm hoping for a big jump on efficiency, using citric acid to balance out my bottled water.
     
  3. Ozarks Mountain Brew

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    whats nice about ro water is you have a defiant base reading to start with to build your beer with, good luck
     
  4. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    I'm using a Milwaukee Instruments MW-102 pH tester. Needs calibration every time but seems fairly accurate.
     
  5. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    I can deal with the variability with just about every style other than Helles, which happens to be just about my favorite beer! But I'm thinking RO is that next step for me. I brew good beers but have minor repeatability problems. RO water might help that.
     
  6. The Green Man

    The Green Man Active Member

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    Hate to sound ignorant, but what is 'ro water'?
     
  7. Trialben

    Trialben Well-Known Member

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    Reverse Osmosis water. The system nosey is talking about is a reverse Osmosis water filtration system. It takes pretty much every mineral out the water.

    One of.them systems would cost.me 400 bucks.
     
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  8. BoomerBrian

    BoomerBrian Active Member

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    I use RO every time since I do 3 gallon batches.
     
  9. Mase

    Mase Well-Known Member

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    I used bottled spring water
     
  10. Ozarks Mountain Brew

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  11. The Green Man

    The Green Man Active Member

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    Me too, but from what I'm reading I would do better to check and adjust mash ph. Not done that yet.
     
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  12. The Green Man

    The Green Man Active Member

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    Just read that article. Thanks for sharing. I need to get myself some gypsum and bicarbonate of soda...had ideas of using citric acid, but will scrap that now. Any reasonably cheaply available other biggies you recommend for water chemistry? RO water and/or machines unavailable, sadly.
     
  13. Mase

    Mase Well-Known Member

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    #13 Mase, Aug 21, 2017
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2017
    I might consider raising the mash pH a few points for the stouts. The beauty of homebrewing is that you can make beer that tastes better then a commercial version with pretty simple brew day approach, or you can go "all-in" in search of perfection, but that all depends on what you want out of home brewing at that stage of your brewing hobby or obsession. If my approach didn't taste well enough to be better then a commercial version, I would be the first one making changes. But for now, me and my wife are just enjoying making beer and enjoying it with each other and friends and family. That all being said, I think most new Brewers (myself included), tend to over worry and feel that everything the read or hear, should be heeded or else. To the contrary, a simple extract kit with a few pots and pans from the kitchen can yield a damn good beer. Each and every brew we have done (a dozen or so) so far has had at least one upgrade from the previous. Those upgrades may be small, like adding whirlfloc and yeast nutrient to the boil, to larger upgrades like adding pumps and hoses. I have plenty of those types of minor and larger improvements to keep me busy before I delve into water profiles. Sorry for the rant, but seemed a good time. Enjoy!

    For the last 5-6 brews we've been checking by pH and hitting consistently around 5.0 to 5.2.
     
  14. Trialben

    Trialben Well-Known Member

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    Calcium chlodride wouldnt go astray for a malty octoberfiest. I usually add gypsum and calcium chloride. I was adding chalk or calcium bicarbonate but herd most likely doesnt disolve amd ends up on edge of kettle:rolleyes:.

    Also if you wanna drop ph or acidify mash either lactic acid or phsphoric acid is the go.
     
  15. The Green Man

    The Green Man Active Member

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    Yeah, its a beautiful hobby with a touch of a search for the 'holy grail' about it. My brews are good, but not where I want them to be yet. I think ph and water chemistry may get me closer, so well worth adding it into my brewday. Still, very, very happy with my brews. When I think of my brewing days as a college student, there is no comparison. I'm close to commercial, but not there yet...
     
  16. BoomerBrian

    BoomerBrian Active Member

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    I never mess with ph but water chemistry made a huge difference for my beers.
     
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  17. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    When you're messing with the chemistry, you're messing with the pH.
     
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  18. BoomerBrian

    BoomerBrian Active Member

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    Very true. I just don't worry about or measure ph.
     

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