pH and beer ..part one (yes its important)

We all know about pH, we knew about it before we started brewing, at the very least through primary school science or gardening or fish tanks or swimming pools and that’s just the tip. Avid gardeners have known for years that many plant’s, hydrangea is the most quoted, flower colour will change according to the acidity or otherwise of the soil, a pH flower meter if you will.
As a brewer you will know that pH is important but how, and this (after Elliot) leads us us to an overwhelming question and well you might ask “what is it?”.

A reference to any text or indeed wikipedia will give an answer some thing like “pH is a measure of the activity of hydrogen ions” which may or more likely not explain everything, it certainly does not explain why pH is important in brewing. Is it about your mash pH, many seem to think it is and I have no argument with them but I suspect that your sparge pH is far more important especially in Canberra where our water is so good. Anyway that is really not what this is about, not at all.

It is about the overwhelming question.
In this case it is quite a simple question: “with regard to pH which is more significant, beer or the pH of beer or wort or sparge water”

It is not even a riddle despite the rather successful attempts by Benedictine monks to make make carbonated wine.
Neither is it a Catch-22 but Soren Sorensen leads us to a decision.

Beer is the answer.

Quite simply Sorensen, working at Carlsberg Labs, the very same labs in which Hansen isolated the Lager strain of yeast, the same labs that Claussen identified the so called British yeast.  It was Soren Sorenson  realising that the acidity of the wort was a major factor in the fermentability and thus the final beer introduced a scale to measure, report and compare. He called this scale pH.

Without beer, or more specifically the science of beer pH which we take granted may never have existed.

Next time you eat a peach imagine the revisions of decisions, the blind men in the alley without the compass of pH and thank your humble beer (or rejoice if you like, you really should)