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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Brew Science > Adding Bicarbonate - Munich Helles
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Old 06-11-2014, 04:27 PM   #1
Clint04
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Default Adding Bicarbonate - Munich Helles

I use distilled water for every beer I brew (mostly light-colored beers). I will use some combination of gypsum, CaCl, and acid malt to dial in the (estimated) mash pH.

I have had decent success with this, but I want to start venturing into other water profiles to see the differences in the finished product. I made a Helles last year that I enjoyed, using a soft water profile. Just gypsum and CaCl were added. Now, I want to brew a Helles again, and this time add a little bicarbonate to the water, since water in Munich has traditionally been a little hard.

I don't want to go overboard, so I was thinking about using this profile (ppm):
Calcium - 65
Sodium - 7
Sulfate - 37
Chloride - 51
Bicarbonate - 85

Judging by some online calculators, I will need ~5oz of acid malt to keep the mash pH in range.

What are your thoughts on using pickling lime to add bicarbonate? What changes could I expect to see in the finished product, and do you think it is worth the extra effort (finding pickling lime, adding more acid malt)?

Interested to hear any feedback!

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Old 06-11-2014, 05:28 PM   #2
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There should be absolutely no need to add bicarbonate or other alkaline addition.

You will most likely need acid - as you suggested there, a few ounces of acid malt. The MOST important thing is hitting a good mash pH, around 5.4.

The alkalinity of the Munich water will be treated in the brewery, and depending on the process, some of the calcium will come out as well. Personally, I would lower the sulfate and chloride. Stick to your plan, but do not add anything alkaline.

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Old 06-12-2014, 05:28 AM   #3
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Adding lime does not add bicarbonate. It adds alkalinity which, unfortunately, at least one spreadsheet reports as bicarbonate so you can't be blamed for being confused on this.

There is absolutely no reason to add both alkali and acid as they have opposite effects. If you add sodium bicarbonate and lactic acid both you are effectively adding sodium lactate. So actually I guess if you want lactic flavor in your beer you could use both as that's probably easier than trying to find sodium lactate in food grade.


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Old 06-12-2014, 05:41 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Clint04 View Post
...Now, I want to brew a Helles again, and this time add a little bicarbonate to the water, since water in Munich has traditionally been a little hard.
When it comes to brewing, doing something because it is "traditional" is often the worst thing you can do. Its just a marketing buzzword put on beer labels and in style descriptions to make something seem more important than it actually is.
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Old 06-12-2014, 02:41 PM   #5
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Thanks for the help, everyone. I guess I will just continue to treat my water the same way for my light-colored beers!

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