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Brewing Salts To Lower Ph For Pilsner

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whitegoose

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Okay so after a few average pilsners I'm trying to work on my mash pH using salts, and it just doesn't seem feasible... but this is the first time I've ever really dabbled in this area so not sure if I'm doing something wrong.

My local water profile is as follows:
Alkalinity as CaCO3: 84-104
Calcium: 25-35
Magnesium: 6.5-8.9
Sulphate: 16-30

Using John Palmer's guide I figure I need to add about 168ppm of Calcium to get my mash pH right for a pilsner.

I'm doing a small 12L test batch (like I said, I haven't enjoyed the last few pilsners I've brewed), and I'm brewing BIAB with a 2 hour boil, so my mash volume will be 25.8L (or 6.82 gallons)

Again, using Palmer's methodology I figure my additions of Calcium Sulphate will be as follows:
Calcium per gram per gallon = 61.5ppm increase
Sulphate per gram per gallon = 147.4ppm increase

I want an increase of 168ppm.
168/61.5 = 2.73 grams per gallon
6.82 gallon mash volume * 2.73 grams per gallon = 18.62 grams will give me approximate desired pH

BUT

Adding 18.62g will put my Sulphate levels too high...
(18.62 * 147.4ppm increase) / 6.82 gallons = 402ppm

402ppm + 25ppm (approx) already in the water = 427ppm sulphates in my mash - that;s too high right? Palmer says up to 150ppm in normal beers or up to 350ppm in very bitter beers.

I did similar calculations for using CaCl2 to lower the pH, but I end up with a total Cloride content of about 430ppm! Which is definitely too high.

SO

I tried different combinations of both CaSO4 and CaCl2, but I can't find any cobination that gives me Sulphate and Chloride in the normal brewing ranges, while getting my mash pH down.

Can anybody help me at all?? Do I just need to bite the bullet and reduce my salt additions, to hopefully improve my mash pH whithout getting it "perfect"? Or are some of my calculations wrong? Or is there another way!!

Any help appreciated!
 

eamonnfoley

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You need to use acid to lower your mash pH. You cant rely on salts alone, unless you are starting with RO water. You wont get classic pilsner water starting with Perth water, just not possible without screwing up the water completely - which you would do with the figures you have presented.

Buy some acidulated malt and use that to reduce mash pH. Leave the salt additions for now. Maybe a teaspoon of gypsum to get your calcium levels up (50ppm is recommended as a minimum)

I assume your measuring your mash pH. Tip: Cool the sample down and if your getting 5.4-5.7 at room temp, your doing fine.
 

manticle

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Add enough to get calcium levels right. I'd go cal chloride only if you're after bo-pils type but either way, get your sulphate:chloride ratio roughly where you want it by alternating between cal sulphate and cal chloride.

Then use acidualted malt or acid to get your pH to where you want it. Phosphoric or lactic acid would be my recommendations.
 

whitegoose

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Cool that's kinda what I thought - I'm not really trying use the salts to get Plzen water, just to get the right mash pH, but it definitely sounds like I need to get onto the acids...

I see craftbrewer have citric acid "for lowering the mash pH" - anyone ever used that before? Is there a calculation I can do to figure out a rough quantity to add? And Grain and Grape has lactic acid and phosphoric acid... again, any calculations I can do here?

With acidulated malt - someone else has just started a thread about that just now which I will watch - but is there any advantage in using this instead of the citric acid?
 

ashley_leask

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Cool that's kinda what I thought - I'm not really trying use the salts to get Plzen water, just to get the right mash pH, but it definitely sounds like I need to get onto the acids...

I see craftbrewer have citric acid "for lowering the mash pH" - anyone ever used that before? Is there a calculation I can do to figure out a rough quantity to add? And Grain and Grape has lactic acid and phosphoric acid... again, any calculations I can do here?

With acidulated malt - someone else has just started a thread about that just now which I will watch - but is there any advantage in using this instead of the citric acid?
I use acid malt in combination with salts and that's the way I'd recommend going over the citric acid. There's plenty of calculators out there (I use the EZwater one) you can use to get a pretty accurate estimate of your mash pH using acid malt or lactic / phosphoric acid. I've never seen anything with even a guide for using citric and I imagine there's different concentrations depending on the source.

It's great for cleaning the kettle though.
 

Tex083

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I have been reading up on adjusting the mash pH too. As stated earlier its mainly the malts that change the pH of the mash, calcium and bicarb can help but thets why Pilsen brews great pilsners and dubblin brews great stouts. And why XXXX gold is shit :)
Have you read http://www.howtobrew.com/section3/chapter15.html its what helped me.
There is a great spreadsheet @ howtobrew.com/section3/Palmers_Metric_RA_ver3ptO.xls
With this you just bang in the yellow boxes and the blue ones are calculated for you!

Good luck with it mate

p.s Italics came on half way through the post and I cant turn them off, sorry!!!

TEX
 

manticle

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Cool that's kinda what I thought - I'm not really trying use the salts to get Plzen water, just to get the right mash pH, but it definitely sounds like I need to get onto the acids...

I see craftbrewer have citric acid "for lowering the mash pH" - anyone ever used that before? Is there a calculation I can do to figure out a rough quantity to add? And Grain and Grape has lactic acid and phosphoric acid... again, any calculations I can do here?

With acidulated malt - someone else has just started a thread about that just now which I will watch - but is there any advantage in using this instead of the citric acid?
Citric will work too. Firstly you need to be able to measure your pH. Then use one or another type of acid and see if you think it makes a difference to flavour. I have used citric in very simple form (eg squeeze a lemon in**) and not noticed a flavour impact but my water is pretty neutral and me not noticing is different to you not noticing.

I recommend phosphoric or lactic mainly because it's what I've used when being a little more serious about pH and noticed pH levels where I want and no noticeable flavour impact (which I've read* can happen with too much acidulated or citric).

Then again - avoiding too much of anything is always recommended.

Calculate estimated levels using brewing software or ez water calculator, then measure at home to verify your software estimations.

*Read, not experienced, can't swear too it, won't swear to it.

** Majorly half arsed approach to water chem - not recommending as best practice
 

Mardoo

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I just had great luck as a newbie to AG using acidulated malt to adjust pH and got a bang-on 5.2. Give it a go.

From the Weyermann website (the guideline I used):
Weyermann Acidulated Malt is perfect to adjust the pH level in mash or wort. There is a simple formula to calculate the dosage of Acidulated Malt: You have to use 1% of Acidulated malt to reduce the pH by 0.1. (Example: 3% Acidulated malt reduce the pH leve in mash by 0.3).

Here's the link. It's towards the bottom of the page under the Berliner Weisse heading.
http://www.weyermann.de/cz/faq.asp?umenue=...2&sprache=2
 

QldKev

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In addition to all the good info above, didn't a few years after designing it, Palmer say his nomograph was actually incorrect?

I use EZ water calc spreadsheet and it seems to hit the correct pH. I've got some notes on my website qldkev.net.

QldKev
 

Thirsty Boy

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I suspect that the pH is less of an issue than is the water profile - first thing I'd do is get some rain water or RO water and cut your water say 50/50 with that.

Bit of cal chloride to give you some calcium and then a few percent acid malt and you'll have not only the right pH, but a much more appropriate dissolved solids profile for a pilsner.
 

Nick JD

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More I read about these water chem threads the more I'm grateful for the water here. It's pretty bloody similar to Plzen's.
 

Bizier

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I shudder every time I see people adding more chlorides to Perth water.
 

Thirsty Boy

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I shudder every time I see people adding more chlorides to Perth water.
Salty already is it?

Op didn't mention sodium or chloride levels.... all the more reason to start with a water with much less dissolved solids. stuff 50/50 if its that bad. Just use rain or RO and start from scratch.

Poor bastards - I agree with Nick JD, I'm extremely glad I only have to deal with soft as butter Melbourne water.
 

whitegoose

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Salty already is it?

Op didn't mention sodium or chloride levels.... all the more reason to start with a water with much less dissolved solids. stuff 50/50 if its that bad. Just use rain or RO and start from scratch.

Poor bastards - I agree with Nick JD, I'm extremely glad I only have to deal with soft as butter Melbourne water.
Chloride: 105-175
Sodium: 61-105

So the logic behind using RO water is that it has bugger all in it so I have more feedom to add whatever I need without ending up with too much of something? Interesting...
 

manticle

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Good point, sorry I didn't pick it up.

I too am blessed with a fairly clean slate from which to work
 

Thefatdoghead

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I suspect that the pH is less of an issue than is the water profile - first thing I'd do is get some rain water or RO water and cut your water say 50/50 with that.

Bit of cal chloride to give you some calcium and then a few percent acid malt and you'll have not only the right pH, but a much more appropriate dissolved solids profile for a pilsner.
But rain water is acidic from 5.4 PH and below. RO water will be 7 PH. If you add calcium chloride to rain water your PH is going to be in the mid 4's.

I would suggest (although have not tried it myself) using RO water and copy one of Gordon strongs recipes. Can't remember if he does a pilsner in brewing classic styles but it's a good place to start. You will end up with award winning beer as well.
If you don't want to do that spend some money on a ph meter and see if your beers are actually fermenting and mashing at the right ph. Looks like you need more magesium and calcium which helps fermentation but if you can get enough calcium in there and have a ph of 5.2-5.6 your laughing. Making a perfect pil's is years ahead of me but i'll get there and I hope you do as well!
 

Thirsty Boy

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But rain water is acidic from 5.4 PH and below. RO water will be 7 PH. If you add calcium chloride to rain water your PH is going to be in the mid 4's.

I would suggest (although have not tried it myself) using RO water and copy one of Gordon strongs recipes. Can't remember if he does a pilsner in brewing classic styles but it's a good place to start. You will end up with award winning beer as well.
If you don't want to do that spend some money on a ph meter and see if your beers are actually fermenting and mashing at the right ph. Looks like you need more magesium and calcium which helps fermentation but if you can get enough calcium in there and have a ph of 5.2-5.6 your laughing. Making a perfect pil's is years ahead of me but i'll get there and I hope you do as well!
It doesn't work that way - the pH of the actual water has a minimal impact on the pH of the mash. Its the dissolved salts in the water which interact with minerals and enzymes in the mash, which is what determines final mash pH.
Rainwater will have very low total dissolved solids and basically f'all buffering power - the pH will end up in essentially the same place as RO water will once you have mashed it - which, with all pilsner malt, will most likely be too high. You'll need, for best results to add calcium salts to your rain or your RO water so there is enough calcium, then you'll probably still need to use acid malt or acid additions to get your pH optimal.
 

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