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Thread: Acidifying Finished Beer for Flavor & Stability

  1. #1
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    Dec 2012
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    Minneapoils, MN, USA
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    Acidifying Finished Beer for Flavor & Stability

    Does anyone acidify their finished beer to get it within a particular range for a particular style?

    Our fermentations usually end up in the desired pH range for our particular styles, but sometimes they are a little outside the norm. I've read a lot about ideal pH ranges in finished beer in order to maximize the perception of flavor and appearance, and to increase shelf stability. Most of our beers finish within a range of 4.2 - 4.4 (this is the range that Kunze recommends for finished beer – presumably, he's referring to lagers, which is the majority of what we brew), but our IPA has been finishing a bit higher than that lately, particularly after it's been dry hopped. The dry-hopped IPA has been ending up at between 4.6 -4.7 (starting at closer to 4.5 prior to dry hopping). Interestingly, Thomas Kraus-Weyermann has stated that the suggested pH range for "English Ales" is 4.0 - 4.2. (See http://www.weyermann.de/downloads/pd...sh-pH_2010.pdf).

    I'm wondering if we would benefit from adding some phosphoric to the finished, dry-hopped IPA in order to bring it closer to the 4.2 - 4.4 range. As I understand it, beers in this range will give the perception of better flavor (i.e., crisper, smoother bitterness), may result in better head retention and will have greater biological/colloidal stability. Finished beer pH is obviously not a one-size-fits-all range, but I feel like our dry-hopped IPA may be a bit on the high side.
    Last edited by Matt@Bauhaus; 02-17-2015 at 08:43 AM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2014
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    Germany
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    I would suggest to rather try starting at a lower pH either using acciculated Malts or lactic acid pre-boil. For a light hoppy beer that can often be a good idea as it gets stays lighter and the hop aroma is imho better

  3. #3
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    Chesterfield, UK
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    I addition to the above, check your fermentation speeds and time yeast is left settled, in contact with the beer. Slow fermentation times lead to higher pHs, faster ones, lower pH. So typically the bulk of say 5% ABV ale fermentation will have completed in about 3 - 4 days. If you leave the yeast in contact with beer at the end of fermentation, particularly at high temperatures, then the yeast can autolyse, and ale yeast tend to autolyse more readily than lagers, leading to higher pH, plus often, rather "meaty" off flavours.
    dick

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
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    Moorhead, Minnesota
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    Matt, our Hoppy beers finish higher than average as well, we ferment with an American ale strain. I used to be concerned about it and did everything to try to combat it, but whenever I added phosphoric acid the beers always ended up having a sharp edge that wasn't as natural tasting. I think my problem was being too worried about a number and not the flavor profile I was looking for. I've found with my observations that a beers finishing ph has nothing to do with fermentation vigor, or pitching rate. I have no scientific evidence to back that up... Just my personal brewing observation

    I found a thread on beer advocate where a home brewer was testing all his favorite ipa's and most of them ended up at a ph higher than 4.5 (one was even 4.78, I think Odell's ipa ends up a 4.6) he said he was trying to target a higher ph with his Homebrew because he was inspired by these beers and wanted to know the best way to do so. Just proves that there are some delicious ipa's on the market that finish high.

    After some trial and error I now have settled on leaving it up to the yeast like Martin said... our fresh hop pale ale this year ended up at a 4.82 after dry hopping and I was extremely happy with how it turned out. If your water profile is in check, your yeast are healthy and happy and your pitching enough there's nothing else you should be worried about besides maybe some pre ferment wort adjustment. If you've got all those down and it still ends up high and doesn't have the flavor profile you want I would look at changing yeast strains instead. Adding acid after fermentation will likely only give you a artificial sharp edge In my opinion.


    Quote Originally Posted by Matt@Bauhaus View Post
    Does anyone acidify their finished beer to get it within a particular range for a particular style?

    Our fermentations usually end up in the desired pH range for our particular styles, but sometimes they are a little outside the norm. I've read a lot about ideal pH ranges in finished beer in order to maximize the perception of flavor and appearance, and to increase shelf stability. Most of our beers finish within a range of 4.2 - 4.4 (this is the range that Kunze recommends for finished beer – presumably, he's referring to lagers, which is the majority of what we brew), but our IPA has been finishing a bit higher than that lately, particularly after it's been dry hopped. The dry-hopped IPA has been ending up at between 4.6 -4.7 (starting at closer to 4.5 prior to dry hopping). Interestingly, Thomas Kraus-Weyermann has stated that the suggested pH range for "English Ales" is 4.0 - 4.2. (See http://www.weyermann.de/downloads/pd...sh-pH_2010.pdf).

    I'm wondering if we would benefit from adding some phosphoric to the finished, dry-hopped IPA in order to bring it closer to the 4.2 - 4.4 range. As I understand it, beers in this range will give the perception of better flavor (i.e., crisper, smoother bitterness), may result in better head retention and will have greater biological/colloidal stability. Finished beer pH is obviously not a one-size-fits-all range, but I feel like our dry-hopped IPA may be a bit on the high side.
    Last edited by Junkyard; 02-27-2015 at 07:50 PM.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2016
    Location
    London, UK
    Posts
    3
    Thread is a bit old now, but I recently discovered my heavily late/dry hopped beers are well above what people recommend (pH 4.6). I've been told by a yeast supplier that large hop bills act as a pH buffer, so instead of a 1 ph drop over fermentation, you might see a 0.5 pH drop. The supplier recommended lowering the casting wort to 4.7 - 4.8, instead of the usual 5.1 - 5.2.

    I'll be trying this out shortly. Apparently any buttery flavours associated with lactic acid usually disappear with fermentation, whereas adding post fermentation might leave those flavours in the beer.

    I'm thinking that the hops create enough of a stable microbial environment, enough that the pH can be higher. But I could be completely wrong...

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