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My Stouts And Brown Ales Taste Sour **Mash PH?**

Correct me if im wrong here but if my final beer PH hits 4.0< wont the beer taste sour? My most recent batch I made a brown ale with at least 1lb of roasted grains and my mash PH was 5.2 the final beer PH is 4.0 could this be the reason the beer is sour??? Fermentation was at 68 using Wyeast 1056. It’s either an infection or the PH right? I tried adding Baking Soda to the Mash to bring the PH up to 5.4 but apparently a tsp of it didnt raise it enough because it remained at 5.2. What do you think?

I can see using roast barley in a dry stout but why would you use a pound of it in a brown ale? Roast barley gives a certain sour bite, and it does lower pH although I don’t know that this is the only thing giving you the sourness.

pH 4 will definitely taste tart, not super-sour, but noticeable, and you shouldn’t see a pH that low in a regular beer. How did you measure the mash pH? And just FYI, “4.0<” means the pH was greater than 4.0, not less than.

The brown ale has Brown malt Pale chocolate and Kilned coffe malt the SRM is 15 and it very tart and roasty.

And < is the less than sign

[quote=“jklamz”]And < is the less than sign[/quote]Depends on which side you put it - “< 4.0” means less than 4.0, but “4.0 <” means greater than 4.0 (although this is better represented as “> 4.0” ).

That’s what I thought you meant… So is 4.0 way to low? I use a Hanna ATC PH meter

[quote=“jklamz”]So is 4.0 way to low? I use a Hanna ATC PH meter[/quote]“Too low” is for you to judge, it’s just a number, but in a non-intentionally sour beer it’s definitely on the low side - if the beer is too tart, but the gravity is stable over time, then it’s probably just that you used a little too much roasted malt and drove the pH down and not an infection. You could add a pinch of baking soda to a glass and pour a bottle, see if that helps.

Lagers are 4.4-4.8, I saw where wheat beers are under 4. What would you expect of a brown? I’d think he’s right where he should be.

I’m curious how you arrived at a one tsp baking soda addition.

I’ve had good luck using Bru’n Water

to calculate mineral additions to get my mineral profile and pH in the right range.

[quote=“tom sawyer”]I’d think he’s right where he should be.[/quote]I would agree that he’s OK but he thinks he’s too tart, that’s what I was trying to convey - the pH isn’t as important as the beer. 4.0 is towards the lower end of the ale scale (4.0 - 4.3 from what I’ve read) so maybe he just needs to cut back on the roasted malt a little next time.

[quote=“kcbeersnob”]I’m curious how you arrived at a one tsp baking soda addition.

I’ve had good luck using Bru’n Water

to calculate mineral additions to get my mineral profile and pH in the right range.[/quote]

I started with one tsp to get the PH higher than 5.2 I thought that was a safe amount to start off with

Heres the recipe:

shooting for 75% Efficiency and got 58% for some reason(maybe because the mash PH???)

Mash PH 5.2 added tsp of baking soda and no change so I left it.

5.5Gallon batch

OG: 1.057 I got 1.044
FG 1.014 I got 1.011

8.25lb Pale Malt
1.52lb Munich Malt
11oz Caramel Malt 40
5.5oz Brown Malt
4.6oz coffe Malt
3.7oz Melonoidin
3.7oz Pale Chocolate

IBU target was 29

Mashed at 153f
Wyeast 1056 68F

I usually always have 75% efficiency. I honestly did nothing different with this batch to get such low Efficiency. Im going to blame it on bad Mash PH

Are you controlling temps somehow? 68F is fine for 1056 but if thats room temp then it could be jumping into the mid-70’s and that would potentially result in some sourish flavors.

You really don’t taste pH per se, its the organic acids (tartaric malic, acetic) and their salts that taste sour. I think even carbonic acid can give a sharp character that can be considered sour in conjunction with other flavors.

As an aside, I always fight tartness in my wheat beers. I recently made a big batch of American wheat and used 1056, the first keg was sweet with no tartness. Friends drank that down quick. Put the second keg on and it had a certain tartness, I thought it might be infection but its stable and just slightly tart so I don’t know. After having seen the relatively lower pH range of wheats, I wonder if wheat has more of some organic acid(s) that is causing this tartness.

lower PH will indeed have a more sour flavor, because your body perceives acids as sour. For example vinegar (acetic acid solution) is very sour and has a ph of about 2.4. But your beer isn’t sour because the ph is low, the ph is low because the beer is sour. If that makes sense. 5.2 was a perfectly reasonable ph for mash at mash temperatures (ph changes with temperature), I don’t think that was your problem.

My guess - your beer tastes sour either because that is a natural consequence of the grain bill and yeast you used (my vote), or because you have a mild lactobacillus or acetobacter infection. Any chance any dust from your grain found its way in to the beer post boil?

If you think there’s any chance its infected, drink it up before it gets any worse. It aint gonna hurt ya. Of course you could also set some aside and see if it turns into the worlds best malt vinegar.

Soda pH is 3.0 and most of them are not sour at all. Your body only perceives organic acids as sour and its not because they are acids, the neutral salts are just as sour. inorganic acids aren’t the same.

I’d worry about getting a salty flavor with a significant amount of baking soda. I use calcium carbonate, its not as effective at neutralizing due to solubility but it doens’t bring a taste with it.

[quote=“tom sawyer”]Soda pH is 3.0 and most of them are not sour at all. Your body only perceives organic acids as sour and its not because they are acids, the neutral salts are just as sour. inorganic acids aren’t the same.

I’d worry about getting a salty flavor with a significant amount of baking soda. I use calcium carbonate, its not as effective at neutralizing due to solubility but it doens’t bring a taste with it.[/quote]

Fair enough. Although any sour character that may or may not exist in a soda would easily be masked by the crap ton of sugar. Electrons are my thing, I just know enough chemistry to be dangerous. :slight_smile:

[quote=“tom sawyer”]I’d worry about getting a salty flavor with a significant amount of baking soda.[/quote]For fast, reliable, no-flavor pH raising, try pickling lime (calcium hydroxide). It easily dissolves and is thus predictable, unlike chalk.

Going to throw something out here. Should I be checking PH levels, I never had but reading this it seems that it is a normal procedure.

On a side not thanks for the math refresher…

[quote=“Jon462”]Should I be checking PH levels, I never had but reading this it seems that it is a normal procedure.[/quote]It’s an “advanced” brewing technique, and you can get away without checking pH and make good beer, but when you want to nail down the process and create great beer, consistently, you need to check the pH, at least in the mash.

Ok how do I check the PH level is there a paper like when you check the chemicals in a pool or what…

Bumping the mash pH up into the 5.4 to 5.5 range helps smooth the flavors of roasted malts and avoids the tartness in my opinion. As mentioned, pickling lime is a sure way to add the alkalinity needed without other flavor effects.

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