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Ascorbic acid to decrease pH

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  • Ascorbic acid to decrease pH


    I am preparing 2000L brewhouse in bogota, Colombia.
    Very soft water here.

    Alkalinity 67
    Calcuim 9
    Chlorine 0.1
    Chloride 17
    Total Hardness 26
    Phosphate 0.01
    Metal 0.063
    Magnesium 1
    Nitrite 0.03
    pH 7.32
    Sulfate 20

    I think I need to add some ion to brew for amber ale.

    By the way,
    I use ascorbic acid to down pH in mash and sparging water for test batches.
    It’s very effective for me.
    But I coundn’t see any article in the brewing books that mention about ascorbic acid to down pH.
    They only mention about phosphate acid, lactic acid, citric acid, etc.
    Ascorbic acid is mentioned only for an oxygen scavenger.

    Is there any negative point to use ascorbic acid to down pH in brewing?

    Lino Kim
    Representante Legal
    Lino brewing Company
    Last edited by; 02-21-2019, 07:35 PM.

  • #2
    I have never heard of it being used, mainly because (in the UK at least) other acids are much cheaper, and mineral salts cheaper still when appropriate to use. Don't forget that use of lactic acid as a "pure" product is as a substitute for lactic fermentations which were the only way that brewers could get round the Reinheitsgebot at one time. They were not even permitted to use mineral salts even when the use of mineral salts additions was in common use elsewhere, such as in the UK. People liked the flavour it (lactic acid fermentations) produced, it did the job well under many circumstances - so why not carry on and use lactic acid as a pure (manufactured externally) additive? I guess that the purists interpretation of the Reinheitsgebot still wouldn't allow use of "factory manufactured" lactic acid, rather than cultivating a lactic acid fermentation.

    For what it is worth, I have only ever used ascorbic acid in bright beer as an oxygen scavenger, but I am told (but have never experienced the effects myself) that in presence of high oxygen levels, ascorbic acid actually makes a rather unpleasant flavour in beer - but I have no idea what that flavour is, and we were only filtering / packaging at less than 250 ppb - which was OK. I also have no idea what that oxygen threshold is.

    On that basis, I suppose that you might get some adverse flavour changes during mashing and sparging, but if you are happy with the costs of ascorbic acid, and it produces the quality of beer you are looking for, then carry on using it.


    • #3
      Thank you, Dick.

      I am afraid that lactic acid can affect beer flavor.
      I need to study on the price comparison between pure lactic acid and ascorbic acid in Colombia.
      If there is not any report that ascorbic acid in mash and kettle occurs negative reaction,
      I would test batches of lactic acid and ascorbic acid, then make a decision.

      Thank you again, Mr. Dick Murton.


      • #4
        The softness or hardness of water has only minor influence on the need for acid in brewing. Alkalinity is the main influence on acid demand.

        For the alkalinity that you're dealing with, Lactic acid will NEVER produce perceptible off flavor in beer. I'd be amazed if a dose greater than 0.25 ml/L is required for mashing water. Sparging water treatment will require even less acidification.

        While I can't comment on the applicability and effect of ascorbic acid use for brewing acidification, there is no reason that other acids can't serve well.
        Engineering Consultant