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Jun 08, 2022 View:

Acid Type to Adjust pH

All this talk of enzymes lately has got me wondering how everyone adjusts their mash pH.

We use powdered citric acid, but I'm not sure it is the best or most economical approach.

Have other people had good success using phosphoric or lactic acid? What about sulfuric or hydrochloric?



I like to use backset when I'm around emptying to the farmer. scoop just the liquid right off the top. Mainly phosphoric acid tho


I have used citric and lactic and in general still prefer citric. The latic is good to a point, but too much results in off spirit in my experience (probably depends what pH you are shooting for). You could always us some of each. I have do this, but I would have to open some barrels to see how the results compare. I have never used anything beyond those two types. Backset is free, but you need to be mashing frequently whereas I only do 1 or 2 a week on average.


Hi, I was just about to make a topic on this exact issue as I am looking at optimizing our mash pH (it's currently around 6.2). I tried 5.2 buffer from a chemical supplier but it doesn't seem to do the trick. I even tried it on a small scale, adding 1x dose at a time until I gave up at 10x their recommended dosage and my pH was only 5.5.

I am planning on doing a small scale assessment of citric and hydrochloric acid with our brewing water to see which works better/is more economical. Agporte, I'd love to know what you have concluded/ended up doing. And NEPA and Jeffw, if you use backset, doesn't that turn your whiskey into a sour mash whiskey? I've thought about doing that as well but that may have to be a separate product.



Ive always had a little confusion on weather backset was added prior to, during or after mashing. When I use backset I add it in the very beginning on my mash to adjust pH for my enzymes, also hopeful that it will kill off any "bad bugs" with the cooking, leaving behind the desired lactic esters. Its been months since I've done one, but I dont recall a noticeable difference in the new make. I only used about 12 gallons backset to a 170 gallon mash


We adjust the pH with either malic acid or backset, depending on the product & production cycle. The MSU distillation guide ( says this about citric acid

"The bacterial decomposition of citric acid leads to formation of lactic acid, acetic acid, formic acid, and acetaldehyde which can be detrimental to the mash and can appear in the resulting distillate."

so it doesn't seem like citric is a great option. Malic is easier/safer for us to handle than more powerful options like sulfuric or phosphoric.

We adjust the pH inbetween the liquidification step and saccrification, as the enzyemes we use have different pH requirements. When using backset its about 10-15% by volume, but needs to be added in stages and measured with pH meter as it can be variable (for us, because we make ~8 different mash bills irregularly).