Sparge pH

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You do treat your sparge water to a specific pH?

Total votes : 4

Sparge pH

Postby Dr Strangebrew » Sun Aug 01, 2004 11:49 am

Does anyone out there treat their sparge water to achieve a specific pH? If so, do you believe that this leaves a DETECTABLE difference in astringency or other flavors? Also, what pH do you treat your sparge water to?

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pH: Adjustment is preferred!

Postby Mesa Maltworks » Sun Aug 01, 2004 6:55 pm

With my water chemistry and buffering ability, I find it necessary to adjust the sparge water to pH 6 to preclude tannin leaching and to ensure that the resultant boil pH lands in the 5.3~5.4 pH range. I also adjust my dough-in water to pH 6 to hit a 5.3 pH mash.

In the boil it is preferred to land in this range to optimize protein break and to ensure that the minimum level of kettle finings can be used (I use Allfloc, an enhanced carrageenan extract of a seaweed similar to "Irish Moss", but is more effective and at lower dosage). In the mash, this pH range is preferred to optimize conversion of starch in the shortest time possible (~20-30 min.) and to minimize tannin leaching.

In both cases, if the mash contains roasted malts, I adjust the pH slightly higher to avoid an undershoot of mash (<5.3) and boil pH (<5.2) which otherwise will interfere with starch degredation in the mash and in the boil would otherwise require a substantial increase in the amount of kettle finings.

The proper contol of these variables will produce a smoother beer that is quicker to condition and will minimize harsh flavor contributions from grain and hops. You will have to experiment with your water chemistry to determine the optimum adjustments that will work for you to achieve results in the target range. Water chemistry also changes by source and season, so you have to monitor the un-adjusted water pH before every brewing session to ascertain whether a change in adjustment levels is required.

Using an accurate digital pH meter and logging starting pH and the amount of acid or acidulated malt required to reduce the pH to your target range for every batch, you can amass enough emprical data to come up with an equation that will closely approximate how much pH reducing agent will be required simply from the starting pH of the water.

These practices have been taught for years in traditional and current brewing education programs and are practiced by virtually every commercial brewer worldwide. All of this info, of course, assumes that your water source is on the alkaline side of the scale which is what most brewers (but not all) face. Upward pH adjustment is a different topic.

Other than media and carbon filtration, this is all that I do with my water.
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Postby just-cj » Fri Aug 13, 2004 6:49 pm

I used to treat my sparge water with phosphoric acid, and it worked well for me. But the last three or four batches, I tried Five Star's pH 5.2 Stabilizer in the mash with no sparge water treatment, and the results have been very good. 8)
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