HCO3 in water profile

Discussion in 'General Brewing Discussions' started by Todd Macom, Apr 4, 2020.

  1. Todd Macom

    Todd Macom New Member

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    I am still trying to get a grasp on salt additions to my RO water and this is only my fourth batch of all grain. I have been playing with suggested additions from the brewersfriend Balanced II water profile for an IIPA I would like to brew. The profile is suggesting 220ppm of HCO3 yet my calculated mash PH is 5.71 without any addition. Adding baking soda to the calculator pushes NA high and of course raises PH to 6.3. From all the searches I have done, pretty much all I can find about adding baking soda is to raise PH. What other benefits does adding HCO3 have to the mash? What am I missing here?
     
  2. Megary

    Megary Well-Known Member

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    #2 Megary, Apr 4, 2020
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2020
    I can't imagine any water profile suggesting 220ppm HCO3, unless you were chasing your tail trying to recreate some imaginary historic water profile of a famous brewing city. Sometimes you need bicarbonate to balance the mash acidity created by dark grains in say a porter or a stout, but I can't see why you would need anything even close to that for an IIPA.



    *edit for typo*
     
  3. Yooper

    Yooper Administrator
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    Right- to hit a "profile" means hitting the water that was from that area.

    however, that is a very high level of bicarbonate, and you'd have to add a ton of acid to drop the alkalinity enough to have a good mash pH so you'd be adding alkalinity and acid to counteract each other.

    In other words, don't aim for a profile that includes any level of HCO3. Ignore that and use what you need to hit a mash pH of 5.3-5.5 or so.
     
  4. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    Bicarbonate and carbonate interchange in water with the amount of each dependent on pH. IPAs generally benefit from higher pH than most beers of their color because the bitterness and tartness don't play well together. You still want the mash pH to be in the 5.4 range for conversion and you can add the bicarbonate to the kettle. At that pH it will convert to carbonate and soften the bitterness. Remember you can adjust pH at packaging if you need either tartness or softness.
     
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  5. Mark Farrall

    Mark Farrall Well-Known Member

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    A Nosy said, err on the side of higher pH for IPAs. Then use gypsum to drive the perceived bitterness up or Calcium Chloride to lower it if you're doing the hazy stuff.
     
  6. Todd Macom

    Todd Macom New Member

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    Thanks so much for the replies. I am not trying to mimic a specific area water, what I am using for a base is the Brewersfriend "mash chemistry and brewing water calculator" and selected Balanced profile II to give me a baseline. I do know I have to harden up the water for an IIPA as all of you have confirmed. The profile I am using gives me the following recommendation"
    Ca+2 150, Mg+2 10, Na+ 80, Cl- 150, SO4-2 160, HCO 220 based on 11lb pale 2 row, 2lb crystal 20L and 9oz crystal 40L. Since I am just beginning I first want to find a recipe that I like then make adjustment to water etc to make it better. Right now I am just looking for a baseline to start with. So this brings another question. Nosy, you say I can adjust PH at packaging, how do you mix, say baking soda, into the beer without agitating and oxygenating it? Will it mix into solution that readily?
     
  7. Mark Farrall

    Mark Farrall Well-Known Member

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    I used to try to worry about all the readings on that calculator. These days I just see if the CaCl to CaSO4 ratio is what I want, work out what's needed for getting the pH about right and then check that there's no warning symbols in the summary. If there's no warnings then that's the treatment I'm using.

    I haven't noticed a difference since taking this simplified approach, though it's on my list to double check one of these days. And when I listen to various podcasts and read articles I'm not seeing anything to make me move it up the list of parts of the process to polish.
     
  8. Todd Macom

    Todd Macom New Member

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    Perfect, thanks for the advice Mark
     
  9. Craigerrr

    Craigerrr Well-Known Member

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    What Yooper said!
    I use RO water and add pickling salt (not table salt), epsom salt, gypsum, and calcium chloride to get desired Ca, Mg, NA,Cl,So4 levels. I have lactic on hand, but have been using acidulated malt to adjust pH lately. In dark beers I have used baking soda when needed, and in those cases there is no need to acidify. I have ignored the HC03 number which for me is always 0, except for the stouts, 4g of baking soday in a 5.5 gallon batch gave me 265.
     
  10. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    Dissolve it in distilled water and boil it for a few seconds. Baking soda dissolves at about 9g per 100g water. I'd test a small sample, say an ounce, with drops of the solution to see about how much you need, then scale it up. With bicarbonate you're pretty much stuck with sodium or potassium as the metalic ion, ammonium bicarbonate is available but smells like ammonia. You could get a food-grade sodium carbonate that's water soluble but it would react with any calcium in your water and precipitate out as chalk. Calcium carbonate is not soluble at all so I wouldn't use chalk ever.
     
  11. Yooper

    Yooper Administrator
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    The proper amount of HCO3 is whatever you need to get a mash pH of 5.3 to 5.5. Having that as a target is very confusing, and I wish we did not have that. There is never actually a target for HCO3.
     
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