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Thread: Raising pH of Finished Porter

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2015
    Location
    Duluth, MN, USA
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    37

    Raising pH of Finished Porter

    Howdy - I've got a porter that just finished too low in pH. Mash, Kettle, Beginning pH were fine, but this thing kept dropping down to 3.8, where it has now stopped. It has a tartness to it, which I do not like. I've heard of people boiling water and putting some baking soda in finished beer to bring the pH up to achieve a more desirable flavor profile. Anybody have any experience with this, or other methods?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2012
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    Livermore, CA
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    665
    First question, what infected your porter to get the pH that low? If you have ruled out infection, the next thing you need to look at is what is the current mineral profile? You will need to add a salt whose anion is a base, like gypsum, or baking soda. You have to remember though, adding the salt also adds the cation, generally its calcium, sodium, magnesium or potassium. Too much sodium, beer will be salty, too much of the others and you can get a minerally or metallic taste.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
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    Carmel, IN
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    At that pH, there are at least a couple options for raising pH: Baking soda and chalk. Either are suitable and can be added dry to the beer. However that introduces an infection risk, but as already mentioned, you may already have that problem. But if you started this brew using low alkalinity water such as RO and you didn't add alkalinity-producing minerals to the mashing water, then that observed low pH may be a natural result and not an infection. In any case, its not going to be a pleasant beer.

    I suggest that you experiment with a glass of the beer and add known masses of either of those alkalinity-producers and assess both the resulting pH and the beer perception. Be aware that the chalk will take a little while to dissolve, but it will dissolve in the presence of all that excess acidity in the beer. Baking soda does add sodium, but that can be flavor-positive in darker styles.

    Once the dose per glass satisfies you, you can scale it up and dose the fermenter or conditioning tank.
    WaterEng
    Engineering Consultant

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
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    Carmel, IN
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    By the way if you were brewing with low alkalinity water, it is wise to supply sufficient alkalinity to the mashing water so that the pH doesn't drop too low when brewing dark styles. In that case, chalk is not a good choice since there aren't enough acids or acidity to dissolve chalk. Either pickling lime or baking soda are good choices then. Targeting a mashing pH in the 5.4 to 5.8 range (room temperature measurement) often improves the perception of dark beers.
    WaterEng
    Engineering Consultant

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2015
    Location
    Duluth, MN, USA
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    37
    Verified, no infection. I think it's an issue with mash water alkalinity, as we see much larger pH drops in ferment on dark beers than we do on light stuff. This did have a good dose of baking soda in the mash, and my mash pH was right on, but I must need more total alkalinity.

    Going to do some bench trials with baking soda. Thanks.

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