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Should I worry about my pH?

Was hoping I could get some opinions on my pH and if I should be “worried”. I plan to brew a porter this weekend. Here is my grain bill.

10.000 lb Pale Malt (74.07%)
1.250 lb Crystal 40 (9.26%)
1.250 lb Munich (9.26%)
0.500 lb Black Patent (3.7%)
0.500 lb Chocolate (3.7%)

Here is my water profile:
(Ca ppm) 32
(Mg ppm) 10
(Na ppm) 30
(Cl ppm) 33
(SO4 ppm) 69
Bicarbonate (HCO3 ppm) 58

I use EZ Water Calculator 2.0 to test my pH and see if I need to add salts.

I batch sparge, I add all my salts (typically 2 g of CaCl) to the mash to get it in the “balanced” range. I collect 6.25 gals of water.

When I put all of these numbers into the calculator, I get around a 4.85 pH. Should I be concerned that’s too low? Should I just mash lower, say around 152 vs 154 for the porter to try to get some more fermentables to make up for the low pH?

Thoughts?

The desired PH is between 5.2 to 5.8. I have never used ez water but use bru n water. Seems to work well. Chalk is sometimes used to raise ph in dark beers. I tried inputting your numbers into bru n water but I don’t see your alk or water ph listed. I see it is if you go to the trouble of getting a water report and inputting your numbers into a brew software I would try and put your ph in your desired range also.

I wouldn’t use the word “worry” but you should at least consider it. Adding some calcium carbonate will help with the pH as well as add some Ca+ which at 32ppm seems a little low. I’d bump it up to ~75ppm.

What works well for me with mash pH and salt additions is to figure out the minimum needed to hit the correct pH in the mash and then adjust for flavor in the kettle. I keep an eye on what I want in the finished beer when making choices for the mash, too. Recently I’ve been experimenting with mashing the non-roasted grains first, then adding them towards the end of the mash, which allows me to use less salt.

What works well for me with mash pH and salt additions is to figure out the minimum needed to hit the correct pH in the mash and then adjust for flavor in the kettle. I keep an eye on what I want in the finished beer when making choices for the mash, too. Recently I’ve been experimenting with mashing the non-roasted grains first, then adding them towards the end of the mash, which allows me to use less salt.[/quote]

Can’t you elaborate more on the “adjust for flavors in the kettle”?

I thought about separating the grains, but unfortunately I got them milled at the LHBS shop and they are all blended together.

Would 4.25 g of Baking Soda (NaHCO3) be too much to add? I can add a small amount of Calcium Chloride (< 1g) to get the Ca up where I want it, and then use the baking soda to raise the pH. I see that Chalk will also raise the pH, but you’d need to use a lot more of it to get it into a good range. So I am debating using the lesser amout of my Baking Soda. Not thrilled about the Na addition, but 4.5 g really isn’t all that much in 5 gals of liquid.

Thoughts?

Edit: The more I think about this, the more I think I’m just going to to wing it. I’m definitely going to add some Calcium Chloride to get my Ca up. However, the pH, I’m just going to test as I go. With it being a porter, i’ll mash high 156. Some extra body not an issue with this style. I’ll test a few times during the mash and add baking soda as needed to raise the pH. if I lose some temperature and fall toward 152ish that really won’t be an issue and may even help squeeze out some sugars that the low pH may inhibit. I think this makes sense, but I could be off.

if I add all the salts at the beginning, there is no going back and that’s all based on assumptions anyway.

Lesson learned…from now on, I’m going to have them separate out my crystal malts and I’ll add them later like Shadetree suggested.

All I’m doing in the mash is to get the pH correct with an eye on carbonates, but in the kettle I want to adjust the sulfate:chloride ratio.

Kinda bizarre how close my situation was to yours. I’m up in Sandusky so my water is similar to yours, maybe a bit more alkaline. I used to fuss with water calculators but my experience is that I still had to make ph adjustments so I am no longer using them. That said I have a pretty good understanding how to treat water for brewing.

I brewed a porter last night (Edmund Fitz clone) Very close to your recipe except roasted barley instead of the black patent. First dark beer in a while for me… 1.6 qts/lb mash in pH was low, 5.2 room temp. Was shooting for 5.5. I added 4.3g (1g per gallon) baking soda and pH was over 6! 2g should get you in the zone. However for me, I then added 4.3g CaCl and got down to 5.6 and let it be. Curve ball: I acidified my sparge liquor to 6. Double batch sparge. Both sparges my pH went down further. Final preboil was 5.4 added 4.3g Ca SO4 for flavor.

I actually prefer the additional Na in darker beers. Improves the roasted grain flavor
to me…

For a grist with that much roasted malt, I’d target an RA of at least 150 ppm CaCO3. Your tap water is ~20. 1 g/gal NaHCO3 would do it, but it would also bring the Na over 100 ppm. If you don’t want to go that high you could substitute some chalk, or add the roasted grains late like Shadetree suggested. I don’t have any experience with that technique, so I’m not sure if you’d need to make recipe adjustments to compensate.

[quote=“zwiller”]Kinda bizarre how close my situation was to yours. I’m up in Sandusky so my water is similar to yours, maybe a bit more alkaline. I used to fuss with water calculators but my experience is that I still had to make ph adjustments so I am no longer using them. That said I have a pretty good understanding how to treat water for brewing.

I brewed a porter last night (Edmund Fitz clone) Very close to your recipe except roasted barley instead of the black patent. First dark beer in a while for me… 1.6 qts/lb mash in pH was low, 5.2 room temp. Was shooting for 5.5. I added 4.3g (1g per gallon) baking soda and pH was over 6! 2g should get you in the zone. However for me, I then added 4.3g CaCl and got down to 5.6 and let it be. Curve ball: I acidified my sparge liquor to 6. Double batch sparge. Both sparges my pH went down further. Final preboil was 5.4 added 4.3g Ca SO4 for flavor.

I actually prefer the additional Na in darker beers. Improves the roasted grain flavor
to me…[/quote]

Thanks zwiller, it gives me some more stuff to think about and also some magnitude to the amount of the aditions.

hey a10t2, like i said, all my grain got milled together, so no way to separate it. So this teaches me for the future to have them seperate out base, crystal and dark malts.

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