Getting to optimal pH, sanity check

I am looking again at my water profiles so I wanted to get some input from other folks.

Water Report
Ca - 14
Mg 8.5
HC03 - 42.7
CaCo3 - 35
SO4 - 25
Measured pH 7 to 7.8 depending on time of year.

I am doing a 15 gallon batch of IPA that is Yellow in color.
88% 2row
5% dextrine
3% Crystal
1% Honey Malt

10 Gal Mash, 12.5 Gallon Sparge
To get to an IPA water Bru’n Water says Add 15 grams of gypsum to Mash and 18.8 to sparge
5ml of 88% Lactic Acid to Mash and 54 ml 10% Phosphoric Acid to Sparge

(I split the acid types because it seemed so aggressive but as a ball park you can eyeball if I went one type either way.

The question I have is this too aggressive? Does it sound right? This targets me at 92 Ca, 221 Sulfate, -92 Bicarbonate

What do you guys think?

Our water pH is similar. That’s a bit more acid than I use in my IPAs but I use about 20% vienna or munich and about 8% c40 in my grist bill. A lower SRM will typically require more work to get the pH down.

Having said that I’ve used considerably more lactic acid than that when brewing a pils with my water and it turns out fine. I’ve heard people say there’s a “taste threshhold” for lactic acid at aroud 4-5 ml for a 5 gal batch. I’ve never noticed it personally.

What mash pH are you shooting for?

Bru’n Water puts me at a pH 5.31 with that amount of acid adjustment and grain bill. It’s also telling me to add 1.5 grams/gal of Gypsum. As you can see I have really low Calcium and Sulfate as well (basically my water is snowmelt). Man though almost 35 grams for a 14 gallon batch. It’s a ton. This is based on the Pale Ale water profile on Bru’n Waterm which is pretty aggressive on the Sulfate.

All of it seems like a lot and fairly aggressive. I have made several batches of quite good beer with a bit less Gypsum as the only adjustment. Given my Mash pH without the acid is 5.5, 5.6 range and sparge water is 7.8 with no adjustment I thought I’d try to take it to the next level and dial it in more.

The pale ale profile pushes sulfates very high to increase the expression of bitterness. I brewed quite a few IPAs with 300ppm sulfates. Lately I’ve been keeping the sulfates closer to 200ppm and have been happier with the finished beer.

Link below to an old thread where some of us geeked out on pH and IPAs. Might be some interesting info in there for you…or not…

Oh I didn’t see that one before. Just read through it. Good stuff. Thanks.

I agree with @dannyboy58 in regards to the sulfate. In fact I I found my APA/IPA are better using SRM rather than the style profile.

I’ve never made a 15gal batch as I do 10gal but I use RO water and have never even gotten close to needing 15g in the mash and 18g is sparge. AND I use crystal malts sparingly, usually around 5%. Are you sure your water amounts are entered correctly?

When brewing hoppy and bittered styles, keeping the mashing pH up around 5.4 does help improve the hop expression. So don’t target too low a pH for those styles.

Sulfate can be a great addition to those styles. The drying effect of sulfate does help express the hoppiness and bittering. However, if you’re working with a recipe that has had its bittering optimized when using low sulfate water, boosting the sulfate can make the beer seem overly bitter and harsh. In that case, backing off the bittering level can provide the balance you seek. Conversely, if you have a recipe that just doesn’t pop with the hoppiness or bitterness that you want, then its likely that a boost in sulfate content will do you good. I like 300 ppm, but finding your happy place is part of the joy of brewing.


It really depends on what kind of IPA you’re brewing as well.

I like a well balanced IPA with a good malt base and great aroma over an ultra bitter dry IPA. Bells 2 hearted, firestone walker jack kind of beers with more aroma. I also like them clear and bright with good head.

The one I’m drinking now was mashed at 5.49 per brunwater, using the pale ale profile, sulfates at 239ppm. 25IBU of bittering hops and the rest whirlpool and dry hop to about 50 IBU. (Lots of aroma but not as long lasting and stable as late boil hop bursting provies IMO)

It’s pretty much right where I want it with regard to body, bitterness and aroma. So it depends on what you’re going for. The calcium level in that profile will improve clarity too.

If you want hard hitting bitterness increase the sulfates. If you want a thick mouthy hazy IPA you want to decrease the calcium and increase the pH and mash at 154-156 IME.