Help with water profile for SMaSH Pale Ale

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Brownyard

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I'm working up a 3 gallon BIAB SMaSH Marris Otter/Citra recipe and will be using distilled or bottled RO Water and am considering Calcium Chloride (1.5 g) and Gypsum (4 g) additions. I'm using Brewer's Friends "Light Colored hoppy" water profile. These additions give me a predicted mash pH of 5.43.

Anything look glaringly wrong with these adjustments? Should I worry about the sodium and magnesium?
 

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BeerAndTele

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"Light colored and hoppy" is a good profile for a hop-forward American Pale Ale. "Balanced profile" is good as well, imo.

I wouldn't worry about magnesium; concensus is that the malt will provide all the mg you need.

Sodium is personal preference. You'll make a good beer without it. I've been experimenting with sodium and I'm finding I like a little in my pale ales and IPAs ... I'll add about 25 ppm and I've liked the results. Remember that non-iodized table salt adds cl as well.

Only other thing I noticed: the common form of calcium chloride sold at homebrew shops is dihydrate, but you entered anhydrous. Did you mean to do that?

Cheers.
 
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Brownyard

Brownyard

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I was going by LD Carlson Calcium Chloride, which seems to have been confirmed to be anhydrous in this post: A Brewing Water Chemistry Primer

However, I'll be ordering from Atlantic Brew Supply, and I'm not sure about their product.

The Brewing Water Chemistry Primer post also states that a teaspoon of calcium chloride and a teaspoon of gypsum for a 5 gallon batch may be a good start. I've read gypsum accentuates hop flavor and adds dryness, but I kind of prefer a bit of sweetness myself.
 
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BeerAndTele

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I've read gypsum accentuates hop flavor and adds dryness, but I kind of prefer a bit of sweetness myself.

True. I've made a few beers with high sulfate values and felt they were too dry for my palate, which is why I mentioned the Balanced Profile. But many people have been quite happy with the "Light Colored and Hoppy" profile. To be honest, if you made me 2 identicsl beers, one with balanced profile water and one with a light colored and hoppy water profile, would I be able to tell the difference? Hard to be confident answering that one.
 
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Brownyard

Brownyard

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I've toyed with the Balanced Profile, and found that an adjustment of 3g of Gypsum, 2g of Calcium Chloride and .08g of Baking soda get me pretty close. However, it raised my predicted Mash PH to 5.67.
 

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Miraculix

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I've toyed with the Balanced Profile, and found that an adjustment of 3g of Gypsum, 2g of Calcium Chloride and .08g of Baking soda get me pretty close. However, it raised my predicted Mash PH to 5.67.
Why do you add baking soda? You want to add it if you want to raise the alkalinity, this might happen in very dark beers. Otherwise, no baking soda!
 
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Brownyard

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Oh, ok. The balanced profile called for more hco3, so I guess that threw me off. Thanks!
 
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Brownyard

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Think I'll just try these additions, but ignore the hco3. Thanks for the input again!
 

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Brownyard

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Should I base addition amts on final volume, or total beginning brew water level for biab?
 

VikeMan

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Oh, ok. The balanced profile called for more hco3, so I guess that threw me off. Thanks!

IMO there should never be an HCO3 "target" in any water recipe. Alkalinty is something to be overcome by acid additions (when necessary), but not targeted. Sometimes you need to add alkalinty, but only to increase a too-low mash pH, not because there's something special about an HCO3 number.
 

jerrylotto

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HCO3 can also offer some buffering capacity preventing wide swings in pH. You probably also need to add acid in order to counter the alkalinity increase.
 

VikeMan

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HCO3 can also offer some buffering capacity preventing wide swings in pH. You probably also need to add acid in order to counter the alkalinity increase.

Mashes are pretty well buffered against "wide" pH swings. Adding HCO3 to add buffering and then acid to the same mash to counter the pH impact is IMO totally unnecessary. I wouldn't do it. I don't know any commercial brewers who do it. And I've never seen a textbook, paper, or article recommending it. So I have to ask, where did you get this idea?
 

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I try to buffer my strike water so I can set the pH prior to dough-in then adjust afterwards. What I found is that if I don't I find the resulting mash pH much less predictable.
 

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I like tailoring my water profiles to eliminate having to add acid additions to reach my target mash pH. As @VikeMan pointed out, increasing HCO3 only to reduce it with acid is self-defeating. Another thing to keep an eye on when designing a water profile is the cation and anion counts, they must be equal, or at least within ~0.1 mEql of each other.
 

jerrylotto

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I like tailoring my water profiles to eliminate having to add acid additions to reach my target mash pH. As @VikeMan pointed out, increasing HCO3 only to reduce it with acid is self-defeating. Another thing to keep an eye on when designing a water profile is the cation and anion counts, they must be equal, or at least within ~0.1 mEql of each other.
How would you ever get it off kilter adding non-charged salts?
 

VikeMan

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Another thing to keep an eye on when designing a water profile is the cation and anion counts, they must be equal, or at least within ~0.1 mEql of each other.

The charges have to balance perfectly. But they won't necessarily look perfectly balanced on a water report, because some less common ions aren't reported (or aren't inputs in water models).
 

ScrewyBrewer

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The charges have to balance perfectly. But they won't necessarily look perfectly balanced on a water report, because some less common ions aren't reported (or aren't inputs in water models).
Right. I use RO water to build my profiles; it has been a long time since I messed with water reports.
 

VikeMan

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I try to buffer my strike water so I can set the pH prior to dough-in then adjust afterwards. What I found is that if I don't I find the resulting mash pH much less predictable.

What do you mean by "set the pH prior to dough-in?" Do you mean set it to 5.4 (or 5.2, or 5.6 or whatever your ultimate mash target is), then dough-in, then measure the pH and add more stuff to correct it? If so, you're chasing your tail, because although it's important to know alkalinity in order to know how to target a mash pH, very few mashes (like maybe 1%) are going to settle at the strike water's pH, even if "well buffered." If it ever happens, it's because the distilled water pH of the grain bill (driven in part by dark and/or crystal malts) happens to be the same as the strike water's pH. IOW, knowing the strike water's alkalinity matters. Knowing its pH does not.

I'd recommend finding some software that generally agrees with your mash pH measurements and using it.

All of the above is really more for the OP's benefit than yours. You can and should do whatever works for you, but if I understand what you're advocating, it's not considered a general best practice.
 

VikeMan

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I decided to go more towards a balanced adj without hco3. Close enough?

View attachment 773321

I'm not a user of Brewer's Friend. But if that "Overall Water Report" at the bottom of your snapshot is what your water will look like, that should be fine, assuming your mash pH will also be in range.
 

jerrylotto

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What do you mean by "set the pH prior to dough-in?" Do you mean set it to 5.4 (or 5.2, or 5.6 or whatever your ultimate mash target is), then dough-in, then measure the pH and add more stuff to correct it? If so, you're chasing your tail, because although it's important to know alkalinity in order to know how to target a mash pH, very few mashes (like maybe 1%) are going to settle at the strike water's pH, even if "well buffered." If it ever happens, it's because the distilled water pH of the grain bill (driven in part by dark and/or crystal malts) happens to be the same as the strike water's pH. IOW, knowing the strike water's alkalinity matters. Knowing its pH does not.

I'd recommend finding some software that generally agrees with your mash pH measurements and using it.

All of the above is really more for the OP's benefit than yours. You can and should do whatever works for you, but if I understand what you're advocating, it's not considered a general best practice.
The other reason that I acidify my strike order is to get all of the salt into solution. I have trouble dissolving even small quantity use of chalk or gypsum in basic or neutral water.
 

VikeMan

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The other reason that I acidify my strike order is to get all of the salt into solution. I have trouble dissolving even small quantity use of chalk or gypsum in basic or neutral water.

Well, sure. Any additions of salts and/or acids intended to influence the mash pH should be added to the strike water before mashing with it. But the idea is that the salts and/or acids are intended to, in conjunction with the base water and the grain bill, hit the intended mash pH, not an irrelevant strike water pH.
 
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Brownyard

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I'm not a user of Brewer's Friend. But if that "Overall Water Report" at the bottom of your snapshot is what your water will look like, that should be fine, assuming your mash pH will also be in range.
Yep, that's it. Predicted pH is 5.4. Thanks!
 

mabrungard

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The bicarbonate content in ANY water profile is only a starting point. It’s NOT a target. I’m not sure how other resources handle bicarbonate, but the content that’s quoted in Bru’n Water is only a placeholder that “balances” the profile. A Bru’n Water user should plan on adjusting their mashing and sparging as necessary to meet mashing pH requirements and forget what the profile states for bicarbonate.
 

Miraculix

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The bicarbonate content in ANY water profile is only a starting point. It’s NOT a target. I’m not sure how other resources handle bicarbonate, but the content that’s quoted in Bru’n Water is only a placeholder that “balances” the profile. A Bru’n Water user should plan on adjusting their mashing and sparging as necessary to meet mashing pH requirements and forget what the profile states for bicarbonate.
Wouldn't it make more sense to use 0 as the starting point as most beers need 0?
 

jerrylotto

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Bicarbonate is mostly in the form of dissolved CO2 anyway at mash pH. I've always wondered if I could acidify my mash water just by bubbling carbon dioxide through it.
 

mabrungard

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Wouldn't it make more sense to use 0 as the starting point as most beers need 0?
Well, in many cases zero isn't correct either. For pale styles, the bicarbonate content actually needs to be less than zero (that means no bicarb and some excess acidity is present). For dark styles, its likely that the bicarb content needs to be well above zero.

With respect to brewing water profiles, it would actually be more appropriate to show no bicarbonate information and state that the brewer needs to adjust the bicarb/acidity content to produce an acceptable mashing pH.
 
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