Low pH Mash = My Best Beers

I’ve been going through my brewing notebook and noticed that a lot of my best brews had a mash pH of around 5.2 to 5.3.

Normally I try shoot for 5.3 to 5.6, but I might shoot for the lower end now.

Anyone else notice the same thing?

What type of beer?

These have mostly been APA’s and IPA’s where I’ve brewed the same recipe multiple times. (Most of my other beer styles have only been brewed once.) I’ve noticed when I’ve brewed the same recipe more than once with these APA’s and IPA’s the batches with the lower mash pH came out better.

And none of the batches with the higher mash pH were bad, just not as good. (And those mash pH’s were never higher than 5.65 I think.)

[quote=“JohnnyB”]These have mostly been APA’s and IPA’s where I’ve brewed the same recipe multiple times. (Most of my other beer styles have only been brewed once.) I’ve noticed when I’ve brewed the same recipe more than once with these APA’s and IPA’s the batches with the lower mash pH came out better.

And none of the batches with the higher mash pH were bad, just not as good. (And those mash pH’s were never higher than 5.65 I think.)[/quote]

A lower pH leads to a crisper beer, which is what you’re going for in those styles. For darker beers, I prefer more like 5.4-5.6.

Good to know. Thanks!

I’ve found particularly for APA and IPA that lower finished pH makes a significant difference in the way I perceive the overall quality of the beer. Higher pH tends to present an overall muddled character. It can be the difference between an OK and a great APA/IPA.

I think a lot of homebrewed IPAs are a shadow of how good they can be. The typical yeast strains used in that style (White Labs and Wyeast versions of American Ale and American Ale II) tend to be a low acid producer, causing these beers tend to finish with a high pH without care being taken to ensure the post-boil pH is low enough.

I’m curious what your results have been with different strains.

Most of my APA’s and IPA’s have been done with US-05. I have tried a couple of different yeasts, but like a dummy I didn’t write them in my notebook and can’t exactly remember what was what. They were in my software but I lost it in a computer crash.

I’ve been too lazy and using US-05 way too often for all kinds of stuff (Mocktober fest, Brown ale, Honey Rye ale) but I’m about to go on a mad brewing spree over the next few months and going to try a lot of different things.

Although I’ve got 80 batches under my belt, I have yet to try US-05. I’ve been meaning to. I’ll have to make that a priority.

Have you noticed any procedural or recipe differences between the batches that finished with lower and higher pH.

[quote=“kcbeersnob”]Although I’ve got 80 batches under my belt, I have yet to try US-05. I’ve been meaning to. I’ll have to make that a priority.

Have you noticed any procedural or recipe differences between the batches that finished with lower and higher pH.[/quote]

I actually haven’t been recording the finished beer pH. I’ll start doing that.

What I’ve recorded is the pH of the mash. My old process was to shoot for between 5.3 and 5.6, and if it fell in that range to call it good. The batches that were mashed at the low end (and a couple around 5.2) all turned out better to my tastes.

Now I didn’t realize that some styles might be better at a higher pH until Denny pointed it out, but as it turns out most of my brews are styles that would favor lower pH and all my batches mashed below 5.4 were those kinds of styles. I guess I got lucky in that regard.

I just bought a better balance and spent several hours with Bru’n water and reading up on water. I’ve used EZ water and Bru’n water in the past and they helped. But I didn’t fully understand some things about them, and my old balance wasn’t capable of weighing salts very accurately. I’m really going to focus on this stuff going forward.

Edit: also I was using Poland Spring water for all my batches. But apparently now it comes from different sources so I’m not sure if the numbers from the analysis are accurate all the time. I’m considering switching to distilled water.

Oh, my bad. There it is, right in the subject: “Low pH Mash.” Also your 5.x numbers should have been a dead giveaway. :oops:

It had never occurred to me that finished pH might matter until a local pro brewer mentioned this during a private tour.

Your lower mash pH is probably improving your APA/IPA batches, because the lower starting point is setting up conditions for the beer to finish lower. I do that intentionally in these styles. I mash at or below 5.3 and I acidify my sparge water to ensure my pre-boil pH is on the low side.

From my experience with these styles, any reading >4.6 results in a sub-par beverage.

My results from a recent session IPA using WLP051:

Mash pH: 5.27
Preboil pH: 5.26
KO pH: 5.22
Final pH: 4.44

Yes, my brewing notes are one of my greatest assets. In over 15 years of brewing, they have been quite valuable in honing in on success and avoiding the duplication of failure. If you aren’t keeping good records of your brewing process and ingredients and outcomes, you are short changing yourself.

While I generally agree that a slightly low pH can be desirable in some styles, I’ve recently come to the conclusion that I do need to be more prudent in which styles I target lower pH. One thing to remember is that yeast have a large influence in the final beer pH and some yeast are more prolific acid producers than others. I brew several British and German styles and find that I prefer the British styles at a bit higher pH. I’m not sure why, but that’s my preference.

Differing source of Poland Spring water? Wow, I didn’t know that. The original water was almost RO quality, just like New York City water. Both are great starting points for brewing.

[quote=“mabrungard”]Yes, my brewing notes are one of my greatest assets. In over 15 years of brewing, they have been quite valuable in honing in on success and avoiding the duplication of failure. If you aren’t keeping good records of your brewing process and ingredients and outcomes, you are short changing yourself.

While I generally agree that a slightly low pH can be desirable in some styles, I’ve recently come to the conclusion that I do need to be more prudent in which styles I target lower pH. One thing to remember is that yeast have a large influence in the final beer pH and some yeast are more prolific acid producers than others. I brew several British and German styles and find that I prefer the British styles at a bit higher pH. I’m not sure why, but that’s my preference.

Differing source of Poland Spring water? Wow, I didn’t know that. The original water was almost RO quality, just like New York City water. Both are great starting points for brewing.[/quote]

It could be that all the sources are the same quality – I have no idea.

All I know is that they now use multiple sources in Maine, and I think they even use some sources outside of Maine. (They were trying to purchase water in MA and got sued for some reason.)

I figure it might just be easier to build a consistent profile from distilled water, even though it will cost me about 20% more to purchase distilled than it costs for Poland Springs.