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Mash ph help

Anyone want to pitch in some advice on this one? I’m still a relatively new brewer and have done 10 batches now the last four of which have been all grain. I’m just starting to think about water chemistry. I usually use arrowhead Springwater because I can get it easily and I like the way it tastes. I’ve been reading " The complete joy of homebrewing" and Papazian states that a good compromise between diastatic and proteolytic enzymes in the mash is a ph of 5.2, but a ph of about 5.2 is naturally achieved when neutral water is mixed with grains. The mineral content of the water I have been using is below, and i’m wondering if i should start messing with the ph (gypsum) and other minerals during the mash or just leave it as is? I have had pretty good success without any off flavors but just want to get better. My average efficiency – batch sparge – over the last four brews has been about 75%. I have been mostly brewing pale ales, ipas, some stouts too. Thanks.

Looks like a good mild water source. Looks good for stout without any need for adjustments. Your pale ales and IPAs might improve if you add a teaspoon or two of gypsum and/or calcium chloride to bring the calcium and sulfate levels up, which reduces pH closer to 5.2 and increases perception of bitterness when desired. That’s it in a nutshell.

Difficulty I’d see is that the bicarb range they give is enormous, unsure of how to predict what the mash pH will be given that range. :?:

I agree with Flip. Huge range in bicarb and pH. You might be better off getting a good RO water and building it from there to get consistent results.

Thanks everyone

Google bru’nwater and follow Martin Brungard’s instructions at his website. The dude is a water chemistry expert giving great tools.

+1. There is no way you can reliably use that water given that range. What this also tells me is that they bottle their water from multiple different sources (or springs); it doesn’t all come from the same place.

Just digging into water chemistry myself. Could you please elaborate on why the bicarb level makes the ph unpredictable?

Bicarbonate is a basic buffer. While a base (like lye) will have a very high pH, a basic buffer may not necessarily have a high pH. But it will react with an acid. That basic buffer neutralizes the acids produced by the reaction of the malt, water, and calcium.

When there is little bicarbonate, little of the acids are neutralized and the mash pH will be lower. When there is a lot of bicarbonate, a lot of the acids are neutralized and the mash pH will be closer to the water source’s pH. Since typical drinking water pH often ranges between 6 and 9, its easy to see that the mash pH will probably be above the desirable mashing pH range of 5.2 to 5.6.

Oh I see. Thanks. So the issue with that water report is the bicarb range is so broad? Would most water reports show a smaller range than 15-240?

[quote=“twotacotuesday”]Oh I see. Thanks. So the issue with that water report is the bicarb range is so broad? Would most water reports show a smaller range than 15-240?[/quote]Yes, you should try getting you municipal water report or have it tested at Ward Labs, otherwise you may want to go with distilled water from the food store and kick it up or down with what minerals it needs for the style.

Depending upon the sources a water utility has at its disposal, they could also have huge variation in a number of concentrations. I know of utilities that normally draw from a modestly mineralized surface water source. But it times of drought, they draw from wells in a limestone aquifer with much higher mineralization. So, its possible.

If this potential exists for a water utility, a brewer would be wise to have a TDS meter in their kit along with a cheap alkalinity test kit. Those tools would help to assess how the tap water quality is stacking up at any point in time.

When I first started trying to figure out my water I contacted my city’s utility manager, explained what type of data I was looking for and why. He sent me a report with the data on all the wells the city can draw from which is pretty nice to have. It is nice to know I likely won’t have the problem that Martin mentions with widely varying water depending on which they draw from since all of my city’s wells are in the ballpark of each other.

I got the water report from my water dept. It had the bare minimum of information. They can have a lab do a more detailed report for $95. I said thanks but no thanks. I’ll have to send a water sample to a lab i found online for $21 in order to get the detailed profile I need.

Yeah, that is the water safety report they have to provide. I explained that I wasn’t concerned about safety and sent them the list of stuff I was interested in and they got me that info since it was something they had tested in the past.

Ward Labs is the place I used and what I think most others have used.

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