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Mash pH and effciency

I used “Brown Malt” for the first time today in a Smoked brown porter. I use EZ water calc spread sheet and distilled water with water treatment additions. “I live on a well that’s contaminated. I can’t remember with what. It’s safe to drink but I never used it for all grain.” I have noticed that the spread sheet is consistently off for me. I usually have to have the “Estimated pH” in the red at 5.6 for it to come in at 5. I use the color pHast strips from NB. I have read about testing at room temp and hot and all sorts of stuff. If memory serves me right there is a .2-3 swing from room temp to 150ish?? I used the strips before in both settings and didn’t seem to notice a difference so when I test I just dip into my mash tun. When I put this recipe into EZ calc. I didn’t go as far as I typically would for my robust porter or a stout. My thoughts being that the brown malt would lower the pH less because it isn’t kilnd as long. However when I checked the pH it was higher then 4.7 but lower then 5 “I’m working on a pH meter” I just left it alone; did a iodine test at 50 minutes and noticed no color change. Wort tasted rich sweet smokey. So I began to run off. I did my usual sparging routine with which I hit my numbers right on or real close. I stopped taking pre boil readings and just stick with post boil readings for ease. “working on a refactometer also” Beersmith was a estimated OG of 1.069 I came in at 1.058. Could a low mash pH of say 4.8 be responsible for that much of a difference?

Grain bill is

6LB- Warminster floor malted maris otter (Lower then normal maris otter?)
6LB- Briess cherry wood smoked malt
1LB- Bairds carastan malt-(English crystal 30-40L)
1LB- English Brown malt
4oz- Fawcett pale chocolate
4oz- Weyermann chocolate wheat

I know that I’ve seen repeated posts that the colorphast strips regularly read ~.3 low and now that I’ve got a pH meter I confirmed that for myself. From Bru’n Water:

[quote]SPECIAL NOTE: pH strips typically used by homebrewers are reported to mis-report mash pH by about 0.2 to 0.3 units lower than actual. Homebrewers should use caution when using pH strips. Without another means of pH verification, Brewers are advised to accept a pH strip reading that is about 0.2 units lower than their targeted pH to avoid undershooting the mash pH. pH measurement by a calibrated pH meter is preferred.

Also I recall seeing something about wort at temp reading lower than room temp due to differences in chemistry, nearly all mash pH recommendations I see are quoted at room temp. This quote is straight out of Bru’n Water’s Water Knowledge tab.

[quote]The pH of the mash varies with temperature. The mash pH reading is about 0.2 to 0.3 units lower at 150°F than at room temperature. Therefore, it is important to standardize the temperature at which the pH is measured. All pH readings presented here assume measurement at room-temperature. Brewers should note that Automatic Temperature Compensating (ATC) pH meters only compensate for the response of the pH meter’s electrode at varying temperature. It does not compensate for the actual pH shift produced in the mash by the increased temperature. All mash pH measurement should be performed at room-temperature. ATC pH meters are not necessary for brewing use.

Between the offset for colorphast strips and the temp difference your pH may actually be in the desired range.

Yes, a mash PH that’s either too high, or too low can negatively affect efficiency. I was just reading an article in BYO that talks about it.

Thanks for the positive note from Flip above, but I had a misprint in that note about how a brewer should interpret their colorpHast strip readings. That should have said that the brewer should accept a pH strip reading that is about 0.2 units BELOW their targeted pH.

Sorry for the confusion. The Water Knowledge page on the Bru’n Water website was corrected about a week ago, but I haven’t bothered to re-issue an update to the program for that.

Brainfart…I know it stunk. Sorry!

I’ve read about the colorphast strips being low so many times I skipped right over that last part. :oops: I corrected the note copied from the Bru’n Water spreadsheet to reflect your correction.

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