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How to adjust pH levels

After brewing several all grain batches I have noticed my efficiency is lower than expected (low 60’s), and while the beer is decent, it has a too much astringent flavors. I have read that a high mash pH can cause both of these issues, so I had my water tested and the pH level was reported to be 8.6.

So my question is what to do about it. Do I try to adjust the water pH before I add it to the mash, or adjust the mash after the water is added? In either case, what are the best additives to use to lower pH and do you know of any calculators that will help me calculate the right amount of additions?

Also, does this mean I will need to adjust my sparge water as well?

Thanks in advance for the help?

Your starting water pH is of little concern. What’s important is your water profile and grain bill. You want to adjust your pH after you mash in. Google Bru’n water. It’s the best program to help adjust water accordingly. It looks intimidating at first but once you get the hang of it the program is easy.

On one of the tabs there is a lot of info about water and additions. Read this, then re-read it.

As for your sparge, you might need to acidify it. If you fly sparge your pH is of greater concern as the water is in contact with the mash longer.

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Water pH is meaningless in brewing since the buffering system produced by the malt will have greater effect on wort pH. However, water alkalinity is another major buffer and it can also produce a large effect on wort pH. In most cases, water alkalinity needs to be zero or near zero for good brewing. Bru’n Water and the Water Knowledge page on the Bru’n Water site should assist you in understanding the requirements for brewing water adjustment.

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