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-   -   Super high Bicarbonate to get to my RA (http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f128/super-high-bicarbonate-get-my-ra-384302/)

ajdelange 01-24-2013 11:36 PM

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Originally Posted by Tall_Yotie View Post
New to water science, went through the "how to brew", got the spreadsheet, figured out what profile(s) I want. I am looking to brew a big dark RIS, and my RA should be 250 minimum.
No, it shouldn't. I have attached a chart showing the RA of many of the well known brewing cities reported water profiles. As you can see, no city has an RA near 250. I hope this is enough to convince you that you do not need an RA of 250. In fact there is no such thing as a 'required' RA. You need as much acid or base as is necessary to get your mash pH into the correct range. This is pretty easy to do with light beers but when you start using a lot of dark malt things get tricky because the dark malts contain a lot of acid - even enough to over come the alkalinity of your water which is fairly high at about 158 - and it's hard to tell how much.

The best way to proceed here is to make a test mash with a small portion of the grist you will be using and measure the pH of that with a properly calibrated meter. If you do not have a meter then there are spreadsheets which will attempt to calculate the amounts of acid or base you will need to add based on the color of the malts - not the beer. This is iffy and a mash test is much more reliable as if, indeed, you do require base the clear choice is calcium hydroxide (not bicarbonate) and it takes a fine hand to not overshoot with this stuff.

Given the alkalinity of your water I'd try the beer without supplementing. You might go under on pH but then you might not. You can get a rough idea with test strips - add 0.3 to the reading you get from them. If you read something in the 4's then add a pinch of pickling lime, stir and measure again repeating until you get to a reading a bit over 5. Do this with the test mash first to see if you are going to need lime at all. Best to get a pH meter, learn how to use it and, from experience, know how much lime you can be expected to have to add.

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