My new house is on well water, pretty hard water with a PH of 6.6. Is that too far out of the optimum? I brew simple beers, not picky about style match and no competitions. Thanks
I don’t think pH is nearly as important as hardness and mineral content. Do you have a water report for your well water?
No, all I know is it has a high mineral content, ie hard water.
Is the water pH 6.6 or is your mash pH 6.6? pH of the water isn’t very important at all, only pH of the mash. But regardless of pH, the specific mineral make-up will affect flavors.
You will want to try to mash some grain, see what pH you end up with, and if it is not in the optimal 5.2 - 5.5 range, spend some time figuring out how to correct that so you get decent conversion efficiency. Then decide if the flavors are where you want.
So the same time I’m doing my pre-boil O.G. test, also test PH? Then if it’s well above 5.5, how to I lower it? Is there a calculation available?
You want your mash (grain/water) to be in that range…not the wort in the boil kettle/pot.
Whats the difference, the wort in the kettle came from the mash. Does the grain change the ph as soon as it’s added and then changes over the hour? I’m confused.
Yes the grains change the pH of the mash water as they are added. You want that resulting mash within a specific range for proper enzyme conditions for conversion, yet not too acidic to pull tannins out of the husks? If you use a water calculator like Bru’n Water excel sheet, you load grain types & amounts of base vs crystal vs roasted malts.
The grain does affect the pH. All it takes is a masters in chem - or maybe a pHD.
Send a sample of your water to Ward Labs for analysis. Then go to Bru'n Water and download the Bru’nwater spreadsheet. It will help you identify the ions you need to brew any style of beer.
Don’t let the spreadsheet intimidate you! Read the instructions on the first tab (twice). Then, play with it a bit to get a feel for how it works. It will tell you how to solve virtually all your water adjustment problems.
Once you’re hooked, send Martin a donation and he will send you an even more capable version.
The reason you want to measure at the beginning of the mash is because the pH affects the activity of the enzymes that convert the starches to sugars. And yes, it does change over the course of the mash, and which grains you use will affect the pH differently. So this is a complicated subject to master.
But the simply answer is, mash in the grain, wait 5 minutes for the water to mix well and the pH to make most of its change, then take a sample and cool it down to room temperature before you measure the pH (pH measures differently at different temperatures). If the pH of the mash is above 5.5, you can lower it using lactic acid - which you can buy at most brew shops. If the pH is below 5.2 (not usually the case, but possible if you brew dark beers), you can raise it using baking soda. Mix well before measuring again to see if you got the amount right. If you need to add anything to adjust pH, be careful not to add too much. Half a teaspoon at a time is probably OK for a 5 gallon batch between tests to see if you are on target.
Think of it like mash temperature only a little more involved… You want to mash 9 lbs of grain at 152 deg…You have some past temperatures (or a program like BeerSmith) that are having you heat your water up to 161 degrees before adding grains so the mash temp after everything settles is close to 152…not trying to heat/cool after mash has started.
Same with the water, I have a water report (city report found on their web site)…dilute 50/50 with RO water…then back add powdered vitamin C / lactic acid / gypsum / Epsom salt / canning salt / calcium chloride based on Bru’n spreadsheet for that grain bill and type of beer (yellow balanced…Amber…dark…etc) so that the mineral content and pH are where I want them to be after dough in…not trying to measure & adjust after.