Back to Shopping at

Acid addition for Bru'n Water

So… I have hard water. According to a recipe I have brewed before and now plugged into Martin’s calculator these are my acid “options”.

Are there problems with adding this much acid to the sparge primarily.

Mash water with 88 % Lactic = 2.5 ml for 5 gallons.
Sparge water with 88 % Lactic = 6.5 ml for 5 gallons.
3 g Gypsum & 1 g CaCl2 as well.

I have done this in the past just not the sparge addition of acid. Tastes very good. :smiley:

I have some Phosphoric acid and might like to try it but the numbers freak me out a bit.

Mash water with 10 % = 15 ml
Sparge water with 10 % = 41 ml
Same Gypsum and CaCl2.

My main questions are:

a). Is a total of 9 ml Lactic going to be too much for a 5 gallon batch. Specifically that 6.5 ml to the sparge water?

b). Is 56 ml too much Phosphoric acid, WAY too much, to be adding to a 5 gallon batch?

c). At what levels do I risk “tasting” the acidification of the mash/sparge?

These numbers reflect 40 % dilution with distilled water on the"Water Profile Adjustment Calculator" page of the program. I am assuming this is dilution of the whole batch not just mash water.

Thanks for any & all input.

A total of 9 mL of lactic is just under two teaspoons in five gallons (minus a little for what’s left in the grain as well), so no, that doesn’t seem outrageous and it shouldn’t add any flavor. And while the volume of the phosphoric is much greater, it’s also very dilute, so adding those amounts wouldn’t bother me either.

I agree with shadetree…if your water inputs were correct…the lactic you’re adding is simply enough to buffer the residual alkalinity and bring the pH into sparge range of 5.5 to 5.8. This is especially important for lighter color beers.

This wont add any flavor…

If you want to add tartness, add 13ml/gal of 88% lactic acid to the keg or bottling bucket at packaging…I make a summer beer this way. You get a faux sour without the wait. Another great way to make a quick Berliner Weiss…

Thanks for the replies. In the past I have been using EZ Water and have been happy with it. Just thought I’d give Martin’s a spin.

Recipe calls for 9 # Pale Ale malt, 6 # Golden Promise, 0.75 C60L, 0.75 Aromatic 1 oz Roasted Barley. Pretty sure I entered everything correctly and I was using Pale Ale Style as my “base” setting.

Did I mention I have hard water? :lol:

I just have NO experience with adding those kind of numbers of acid and wanted to get a little input.

On a side note, any problem using one acid for mash and another for sparge that anyone knows about?

Thanks again.

I might be in minority but I wouldn’t go over 3ml 88% lactic acid in 5 gallons. Too twangy for me. Noonan states that only water with under 120 ppm bicarb can be successfully acidified. I would cut with RO until I got under this before using additional acid. Phosphoric might be less objectionable but I would still cut to get under 120ppm bicarb. Then you will likely not need acid in the mash at all but some calcium salts and much smaller quantity of acid to acidify sparge. Truthfully you are probably better off just building your water from RO or distilled than fooling around with radical cuts and acid for all but the darkest of beers. Sorry man.


I don’t recommend building water from scratch ALWAYS–as it’s kind-of a hassle–but I do recommend simply diluting the bicarbonate down to 1/2 or 1/3 of the normal value with RO. THEN, assess your bicarbonate/mash pH levels and other mineral compositions (easy to do with BrunWater), and adjust from there.

Using this approach, I usually can keep my mineral additions down as low as possible: 1-2g of CaSO4, and 0-1g CaCl2 and/or 0-1ml of 88% lactic.

Thanks for all the input. :smiley:

These are the suggested numbers EVEN WITH a 40 % dilution with distilled water!

Did I mention I have hard water? :lol:

I guess I’m really interested in the fact if anyone knows where a flavor threshold might be as far a large acid additions. I’m definitely NOT looking for a sour beer.

Thanks to all!

IIRC the agreeable threshold for lactic acid is 3-4ml:5G batch. Also, I recall under 1.5ml or so is not noticeable, 1.5-4ml noticeable but not objectionable, over 4ml starting range for sour beer territory. Somewhere I remember mentioning 8ml for a psuedo berliner.

Some guys are not sensitive to it apparently, but I sure am! That said, I love sour stuff… I have ruined several beers with 3ml+ acid or so. I mean, they’re drinkable but they get really cloying fast and even non homebrew people will say the beer is kinda sour. You might be able to sneak more in really intense beers like IPA’s but not in lagers or other delicate stuff. That said, this really goes against shadetree’s post and he usually is spot on…

You’re proposing 9ml of 88% lactic acid to a 5g batch… >>> 1.8ml per gallon >>> .11ml per cup. Try it and taste it for yourself BEFORE you brew. I would wager this much acid would be a pretty sour.

I know building brewing water is a pita but I would wager you would notice a large improvement in your lighter beers if you to try it…

The qty of lactic acid left in the beer is dependent on the amount of residual alkalinity in the brewing liquor. If you have water around 8pH with 300ppm of CaC03 as the alkalinity, it will ‘consume’ over 5ml of lactic acid just to reduce the pH to 5.5 (sparge water not mash). You would have be very sensitive to taste any tartness at this beer pH, because there wouldn’t be any lactic acid left…it would have reacted with the CaCO3 to release enough H+ ions to lower the solution pH. There would be no lactic acid left until you add enough to reach pH approx 4.3, then all of the CaCo3 would be reacted out and you would begin building residual lactic acid. There may be some by-products that would cause flavor changes, but usually the pH of the beer has to fall into the 3s before it is tart…

So the taste threshold for lactic additions depends on the water. If you have low alkalinity water (in the 20ppm range), .1ml in a cup of water will be tart…if high (above 100ppm) you won’t taste twice that much.

Try this experiment…add lactic acid to a 12oz glass of water (.1ml at a time) until it taste sour…then add a pinch or two of baking soda…the sourness goes away…in fact it can go over to the sodium/soda taste…if it does…add more lactic acid…the salty soda taste goes away and the tartness comes back…

The long and short of my post is that I don’t believe generalizations can be made about water chemistry, other than sulfate-hoppy, chloride-malty, pH-critical. Knowing your water and how additions work with it specifically is important to the quality of your brewing. Hitting that 5.5ish in the mash and the 4.2-4.2 pH in the final product is a key component of your product quality. If it takes 9 ml of lactic acid to buffer the alkalinity, then that’s what it takes. If you’re worried about off flavors…do what others have recommended and use a different acid.

edit: I forgot to be mindful of the fact that the OP didn’t give us any water data…if the water data was entered correctly into Martin’s workbook, then the additions are correct, it just means that the OP’s alkalinity is in the high 300s after dilution…The Brun Water workbook is very comprehensive…as we all know and love.

[quote=“zwiller”]Somewhere I remember mentioning 8ml for a psuedo berliner…[/quote]I haven’t done a Berliner with lactic acid, but the recipes I’ve seen call for anywhere from 80-200mL for a five-gallon batch.

I use 60-90ml for my fake Berliner.

Thanks. This has been very informative. I will try the experiment! 8)

My #'s are via a Ward Labs test:

pH 7.4
Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) Est 346
Electrical Conductivity, mmho/cm 0.58
Cations / Anions, me/L 6.2 / 6.0

Sodium, Na = 8
Potassium, K = 3
Calcium, Ca = 78
Magnesium, Mg = 23
Total Hardness, CaCO3 = 291
Nitrate, NO3-N 4.2 (SAFE)
Sulfate, SO4-S = 7 (has been multiplied by 3 as per Martin’s instructions to = 21)
Chloride, Cl = 21
Carbonate, CO3 < 1
Bicarbonate, HCO3 = 283
Total Alkalinity, CaCO3 = 232

Like I said, hard water. Tastes very good. Always has. :smiley:

Personally, I am quite happy with my beers. I’m just tinkering and trying to improve where I can.

Primarily, I brewing APA, IPA’s… I like hops!

Thanks all!

Upon further investigation and re-reading Martin’s instruction concerning the sparge water calculations, I have rejiggered numbers.

Numbers that seem “more comfortable” to me.

Still 40 % dilution and same recipe. I did bump up the Gypsum to 5.0 g for the total amount. Split between mash & sparge per calculator.

3.2 ml Lactic for the mash and 4.0 ml Lactic for the sparge adjustments.

If I chose to go with Phosphoric I’m at 21 ml mash and 25 ml sparge.

These additions get me to a final RA of -27 with a SO/Cl ratio of 3.41. My Bicarbonates are now down to 51.

I was getting a little mixed up with the sparge water page. After correcting the water alkalinity after dilution my acid required dropped accordingly. 1st time user error! :shock:

I also read where acid is added prior to boiling. I had been placing mine directly into the mash. Is everyone else adding acids to the water before it hits the grain?

Thanks for all the great insight and the great tool!

Not sure if you have listened to any of the Brew Strong Podcasts - but there is a 4 part series on water that is awesome. Parts 3 and 4 Touch on some of these questions in regard to water acid additions - all 4 parts are really good. May 2009 -

One thing they did mention in there (listened to it today) is that 1-2 ml/per gallon of lactic acid is fine, but above that is the threshold and you can start to taste it after that. Also, one problem with phosphoric acid is that it pulls calcium out of solution, so when you add that, you are losing calcium.

I have the similar water to you - for IPA’s/Pale ales I use a 60% RO dilution rate. I use 5-7 grams gypsum in the mash, plus about 1.5 grams of CaCl. I do not use any acid in the mash. I do similar additions to the sparge. This has made a BIG difference in my hoppy pale beers. I am still experimenting with these gypsum/CaCl/RO additions, but they have been good so far.

Pilsners/light beers I go 100% RO water
Ambers I use 40% dilution
Browns I use 20% dilution
Porters/Stouts 0-20% dilution

Thanks! I have listened to those but I will have to revisit.

Dilution seems to be my best bet and I do similar to you for the few lighter styles I brew.

Gypsum & CaCl2 are friends of mine! :lol:


Back to Shopping at