Do you recommend one source of bicarbonates over the other? Ever since I read about how chalk doesn’t dissolve in the mash, I’ve switched exclusively to lime. I like being able to make a significant difference in the mash with a small addition.[/quote]
Through the course of writing the Water book, AJ, Colin, John and myself were able to agree that baking soda may be a more workable alternative for adding alkalinity to a mash. That recommendation is dependent upon the starting water having low sodium content. With that caveat and the fact that you only add alkalinity to mashing water and not sparging water, a brewer can boost alkalinity sufficiently for most brewing with a proper dose of baking soda. Since that dose is only added to the mash, that excess sodium content will be diluted by the sparging water addition. So this method shouldn’t be detrimental to beer flavor. The supporter’s version of Bru’n Water calculates the overall sodium content in the final wort so that brewer’s can more effectively utilize baking soda for alkalinity addition while avoiding sodium overdose.
We also found that the quality and purity of pickling lime can be marginal at times. Lime degrades to chalk if exposed to moist air. That means that sometimes a brewer may not be adding the alkalinity that they intend for the mash. So lime may not be the ‘best’ option for brewing, but its contribution of calcium to the mash is beneficial.[/quote]
Interesting stuff, and not at all what I normally do. I’ll have to order that book.
I live in KY, known for bourbon and stifling humidity. I keep the lime in my garage and have been using the same bag for a couple years now. I’m thinking that I’ve been adding chalk to the mash for a long time since there’s very little chance the lime hasn’t degraded. Beer’s been turning out fine though, so there’s that.
Thanks for the info, Martin. Appreciated as always.