Sunday, July 27, 2008

Ph - revisited; using Acid Blend

Almost a year ago, I wrote about mash Ph as a response to a question from Travis. I was re-reading it, and took note on how my approach to Ph in mashing all-grain recipes has changed. Back then I was more interested in the effects of the counterparts of the two common calcium compounds...Sulfates in Gypsum, and Chlorides in Calcium-Chloride. Since then, I have been able to achieve target Ph levels, while maintaining other salt additions for taste differences in various styles.

Here in Chicago, we have fairly soft tap water with a fair level of alkalinity, and in order to get a low Ph, we must add something to the water. This applies to most every style light to dark. Calcium additions can and will help with darker styles, but more needs to be done as the roasted grains are taken out of a recipe.

I've been playing around with a crystal/powder acid blend (tartaric, malic & citric), put out by LD Carlson. Overall, it performs very well, and has great power in little amounts. Though I've never tried it without Gypsum/CaCl, it has become the main determinant for acid adjustment in mashing.

For a 5-6 gallon batch of beer, I usually add about .75 teaspoon acid blend. At this level, the saccharification Ph settles at about 5.3-5.4, which is solid for most recipes. This addition is only added to the Strike water. Without this acid blend addition in the Mash-out and 2nd-Sparge water, the Ph readings remained in the target range.

If super fermentability is what I want (Belgian Tripel, or very dry beer), and the temperature of the mash is much lower (140°F's), then a full teaspoon or more will help get it even lower (near 5.0) for a better conversion. On the other extreme, hold back with a little less if a dextrinous wort is desired (thick & rich Scottish Ale), and the mash temp set at the highest end of Alpha Amylase conversion (160+°F).

Also, I've found a much better/accurate Ph strip. It's a white plastic strip with a very small square piece of litmus paper attached to one end. It's available at our LHBS (Brew & Grow).

I've been using this mash Ph strategy for most of my beer this year, and the overall efficiency has been quite good. Also, the quality of taste has also gone up. I would attribute this to being more specific with levels of other brewing salts, while the acidity is supported by the acid blend.

Check out the first post on Ph here.
On a somewhat related topic, see some tips for better infusion mashing.

Thanks for visiting!

1 comment:

Kevin LaVoy said...

Did you work off of any specific water report to figure out your base line for salt/calcium etc? I recently got the water report from Mayor Daley, and it seemed more interested in talking about contamanints than anything else.

I guess it would be moot for me anyway, as I'm using filtered water, which I'm sure has some sort of effect.

As far as my own water treatment, I've basically been using 5.2 buffer from 5 Star. It says to use 1 tablespoon per five gallons of water. Most of what I've done recently brew wise would be aimed at a more dextrinous wort, so the lower ph has been pretty nice as far as efficiency is concerned.