There are several things I changed about my brewing process after reading Brewing Better Beer: I started brewing with reverse osmosis water, I reduced mineral additions, and I began adding dark grains during the sparge rather than mashing them.
I’ve found that, even using 100% RO water, I can hit my target mash pH without the need to add any alkalinity if I don’t mash the darker grains. However, a lot of the water adjustment spreadsheets available to homebrewers suggest that bicarbonates are necessary.
In your opinion, if the target mash pH can be achieved with a water profile that contains little or no bicarbonates, is there any reason to add them? Do they have any discernable or beneficial effect on flavor, mouthfeel, etc.?
Thanks for your time,