I'm going to brew a best bitter and while I don't care, too much, about the Burton water profile I have to admit that they make damn drinkable, crisp hoppy, bitters.
Typically I belong to the "don't mess with it too much" camp when it comes to water adjustment. (I use both kai&martin calcs - double check my predicted mash ph and that's about it.) Usually, I increase my calcium ppm a bit, hoppy beers get a little more sulfate, malty beers get enough calcium chloride to flip-flop my S04/Cl ratio and if brewing a dark beer I add enough bicarbonate to offset my acidic grains. Now that you know my basic stance, here are a few thoughts/questions I've been pondering for about a week.
Ray Daniels states that the presence of bicarbonate at significant levels in Bitter Ale brewing water can undermine the crisp, clean bitterness ...if carbonate levels exceed 50 ppm you should dilute the water.
Ray Daniels Burton Water Profile
SO4 801 ppm, HCO3 0 ppm, SO4/Cl ratio 22/1 (i.e. distilled water with gypsum and a touch of calcium chloride)
Typical (google found) Burton Water Profile
SO4 610 ppm, HCO3 300 ppm, SO4/Cl ratio 17/1
I could use acid to get down to 50 ppm bicarbonate, but that results in a low predicted mash ph. If I used 55% distilled water with 45% house water I could get down to 50 ppm bicarbonate, have an acceptable predicted mash ph (with a RA of -23). If I, do nothing, use straight house water I'd have 68 ppm bicarbonate. Ok - Acid vs dilution vs do nothing? Would 50 vs 68 ppm HCO3 be noticeably different? Would 68 vs 300 ppm be noticeably different? Let's say I added gypsum to get to 200 ppm sulfate (chloride still at 9 ppm); which HCO3 level would provide the best Bitter Ale; 50, 68
or 300 ppm? What benefit/harm would there be in striving for the burton profile with 300 ppm HCO3 in this bitter ale? Give me your thoughts. Cheers, j
edited to simplify