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# Mash Residual Alkalinity Adjustment Worksheet Version 2.

4 (US Units)

## Palmer’s Residual Alkalinity Worksheet Instructions by John Palmer

Scope:
The purpose of this spreadsheet is to help the brewer calculate salt and acid additions to create brewing water with a
target amount of residual alkalinity (RA), with respect to the target color of the beer, to ensure the correct mash pH (5.4-
5.8 @ 20°C).
Note: If you want to modify the calculations in the spreadsheet for your own uses, the sheet protection password is
"modify".

Background:
Residual alkalinity is a powerful tool that every homebrewer can use whether they brew with malt extract or all-grain. It
describes the relationship between water mineral content and mash and beer pH. In my opinion, understanding residual
alkalinity is the key to being able to brew great beers in any style.

The concept of residual alkalinity was published in 1953 by Paulas Kohlbach, who determined that the pH of a distilled
water mash was about 5.75, and that calcium and magnesium in brewing water react with malt phytin to neutralize
alkalinity according to the following equation:
Alkalinity = (Calcium/3.5) + (Magnesium/7)

Alkalinity that is not neutralized by calcium and magnesium is termed “residual” alkalinity, and residual alkalinity will drive
the ph of the mash, and subsequently the beer, upwards. As mentioned above, this changes the beer’s flavor, dulling it
or even causing it to be harshly bitter.
The equation for residual alkalinity is:
RA = Total Alkalinity – ((Calcium/3.5) + (Magnesium/7))
where the values are all in the same unit, either milliequivalents/liter or ppm as CaCO3.

Residual alkalinity is not the balance of hardness to the alkalinity; it is the balance of alkalinity to the calcium and
magnesium levels and the malts. For this reason, you need to know the individual calcium and magnesium levels in the
water, not just the total hardness as CaCO3. It is the residual alkalinity and the natural acidity of the malts in the grain bil
that determines the mash pH.

For best results, for all beer styles, the mash pH should be 5.1–5.5 when measured at mash temperature, and 5.4–5.8
when measured at room temperature. (At mash temperature the pH will measure about 0.3 lower due to greater
dissociation of the hydrogen ions.) Darker malts have more natural acidity, and therefore require more residual alkalinity
to balance them to arrive at the optimum pH. However, the relationship is a general one – different malts of the same
Lovibond color value can have different amounts of acidity. You can use the calculated color of a beer recipe as a guide,
but don’t rely on it as gospel to determine the appropriate amount of residual alkalinity; it is a general relationship, like
cloud color and rain.

Instructions:
Step 1, Determining RA Target: Decide on the color of the beer you would like to brew. Look at the BJCP Style
Guidelines at www.bjcp.org or at a brewery website that lists the color of the beer you would like to brew. Enter the color
value in the Target Color box, and the spreadsheet will calculate a range of RA that should generate a mash pH that falls
in the correct range. Remember, roastier grain bills will have a higher acidity than grain bills composed of caramel and
toasted malts. Look at the range of RA present and choose a number that you feel is appropriate to the style of beer you
want to brew. For example, if the target beer color is 10 SRM (20 EBC), the RA range is 0-60. Water with an RA close to
zero will create a lower, more acidic mash pH, probably around 5.4 @ 20°C. Water with an RA closer to 60 will create a
higher, less acidic mash pH, probably around 5.8 @ 20°C. The mash pH will drive the final beer pH. Lower beer pH
translates to a sharper or brighter expression of beer flavors, while a higher beer pH softens and mellows out the flavors.
A softer character is usually desired for roastier beers to prevent them from tasting acrid.

Alternatively, many brewers find water profiles for famous brewing cities on the Internet for beers that they would like to
emulate. The brewer can input the profile into the second row of inputs in Step One on the spreadsheet. Often the listed
water profile will not have a residual alkalinity that is appropriate for the desired beer color, and this step will reveal that
to the brewer so adjustments to the profile can be made.

The chloride to sulfate ratio is known to be a strong factor for the taste of the beer. A beer with a ratio of chloride to
sulfate of 1-2 will have a maltier balance, while a beer with a chloride to sulfate ratio of 0,5-1 will have a drier, more bitter
balance.
zero will create a lower, more acidic mash pH, probably around 5.4 @ 20°C. Water with an RA closer to 60 will create a
higher, less acidic mash pH, probably around 5.8 @ 20°C. The mash pH will drive the final beer pH. Lower beer pH
translates to a sharper or brighter expression of beer flavors, while a higher beer pH softens and mellows out the flavors.
A softer character is usually desired for roastier beers to prevent them from tasting acrid.

Alternatively, many brewers find water profiles for famous brewing cities on the Internet for beers that they would like to
emulate. The brewer can input the profile into the second row of inputs in Step One on the spreadsheet. Often the listed
water profile will not have a residual alkalinity that is appropriate for the desired beer color, and this step will reveal that
to the brewer so adjustments to the profile can be made.

The chloride to sulfate ratio is known to be a strong factor for the taste of the beer. A beer with a ratio of chloride to
sulfate of 1-2 will have a maltier balance, while a beer with a chloride to sulfate ratio of 0,5-1 will have a drier, more bitter
balance.

Step 2, Source Water Profile: Enter the water profile for the source (i.e., tap) water you will be using. Get the profile from
your local water department. Water profiles can change seasonally, so you may want to call them and get the latest
report, rather than depending on the annual report, which is an average.

Step 3, Dilution of Source Water: You may want to dilute your tap water with distilled water if your water is very high in
alkalinity (>200 ppm as CaCO3). Increase the dilution percent until the alkalinity or RA is acceptable. Dilution will also
reduce your calcium and magnesium levels, and you will probably want to add salts in Step 5 to bring the at least the
calcium up to minimum levels for good fermentation and clarity (50 ppm).

Step 4, Residual Alkalinity Target: Here is where you choose the target RA for the beer you want to brew, and the total
volume of mash water that you intend to use during sacchrification. Choose an RA that is within the range calculated in
Step 1. This spreadsheet will help you achieve a final water profile and RA that is very close to the value you enter here.
It does not have to be exact – the relationship between beer color, residual alkalinity, and mash pH is a general one, so
close enough is good enough.
Calculate the water volume by the weight of malt in the grain bill and the water-to-grist ratio you intend to use during
sacchrification.

Step 5, Salt Additions: Add salts (in grams) to build the RA and flavor profile that you want for the beer. You may want to
trade off between different calcium salts to balance the anion content. For example, if the sulfate level gets too high from
adding gypsum, use some calcium chloride instead. If the alkalinity is not high enough for a dark beer, try adding a
combination of sodium bicarbonate and calcium carbonate.

Here is where the chloride to sulfate ratio is useful to help choose which salts to use in adjusting the RA. If you are
intending to brew a hoppy beer, use sulfate salts to move the balance Bitter or Very Bitter. If you are intending to brew a
malt dominated beer, then use chloride salts to move the balance to Malty or Very Malty. Alternatively, you can use a
combination of chloride and sulfate salts to keep the character Balanced.

Step 6, Acid Additions: If the mineral profile is where you want it, but the RA is still too high, you might want to add acid
to help bring it down. Hydrochloric acid will add chloride ion to the water, so watch the chloride levels. Chloride above
300 ppm is not recommended due to salty flavors. Lactic acid will not change the ion levels, but will add a touch of
sourness to the beer if large amounts are used. I do not recommend the use of Phosphoric Acid because it removes
calcium from the water as well, and changes the water profile that you are trying to adjust. The amount of calcium
removed is complex and I don’t have a feedback loop in the spreadsheet to accommodate the effect. Sulfuric acid is very
useful from a brewer’s point of view, but it is so hazardous to skin that I do not recommend it.

Step 7, Results: This section shows the final water chemistry for the mash, and the estimated range of beer color for that
water. You can adjust previous steps in the spreadsheet to home in on your target color here.

## Step 8, Sparge Water pH Adjustment:

Note: This calculation works from the Alkalinity number of the Diluted Source Water step. If you are using undiluted
source water for sparging, make sure that a value of "0%" is entered in the dilution rate cell for this calculation, even if
you had used dilution for the mash water.

Sparge water acidification is usually not necessary, but brewers in high alkalinity regions may want to adjust the pH of
their sparge water to prevent a rise in mash pH towards the end of the sparge and the tannin extraction that can occur at
that time. Salt additions typically do not dissolve into sparge water, so dilution or acid additions are a more effective way
to lower the alkalinity and reduce the risk of pH rise. If you add acid to the sparge water, do NOT acidify it to the mash
pH range. Remember that the mash pH is an equilibrium of the chemistry and the malts, and that by adding enough acid
to bring alkaline water down to a pH of 5, you are overloading the chemistry side of the equation. You should only add
enough acid to neutralize the alkalinity of the sparge water (i.e., to a pH of 7) or a little more to (pH 6), in order to prevent
a rise in mash pH as the buffering power of the wort is rinsed away from the grainbed.
Sparge water acidification is usually not necessary, but brewers in high alkalinity regions may want to adjust the pH of
their sparge water to prevent a rise in mash pH towards the end of the sparge and the tannin extraction that can occur at
that time. Salt additions typically do not dissolve into sparge water, so dilution or acid additions are a more effective way
to lower the alkalinity and reduce the risk of pH rise. If you add acid to the sparge water, do NOT acidify it to the mash
pH range. Remember that the mash pH is an equilibrium of the chemistry and the malts, and that by adding enough acid
to bring alkaline water down to a pH of 5, you are overloading the chemistry side of the equation. You should only add
enough acid to neutralize the alkalinity of the sparge water (i.e., to a pH of 7) or a little more to (pH 6), in order to prevent
a rise in mash pH as the buffering power of the wort is rinsed away from the grainbed.
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Mash Residual Alkalinity Adjustment Worksheet Version 2.4 (US Units)
Calc. Output Units are grams, gallons, and milliliters.

Step 1: Enter Target Beer Color to see range of suggested Residual Alkalinity, Or Enter a Target Water
Profile to see its calculated Residual Alkalinity value and a range of suggested Beer Color. (Choose
either "Bicarbonate" or "Total Alkalinity" in E10 and enter the appropriate value in E11.)

## Target Color Est. RA Est. RA

(SRM) (Low) (High)

12 24 83 OR

Residual
Calcium Magnesium Alkalinity as Sodium Chloride Sulfate (Effective
Target Water Alkalinity as
(ppm) (ppm) CaCO3 (ppm) (ppm) (ppm) Hardness)
CaCO3
(ppm) 100 20 120 65 40 50 83 37

## Step 2: Enter Source Water Profile. (Choose "Bicarbonate" or "Alkalinity" in E14.)

Residual
Calcium Magnesium Alkalinity as Sodium Chloride Sulfate (Effective
Source Water Water pH Alkalinity as
(ppm) (ppm) CaCO3 (ppm) (ppm) (ppm) Hardness)
CaCO3
(ppm) 21 7 46 12 25 18 8.39 19 27

Step 3: Optional: Dilute Source Water with Distilled Water (Enter Zero if not diluting.)

Residual
Calcium Magnesium Alkalinity as Sodium Chloride Sulfate (Effective
Dilution Rate Alkalinity as
(ppm) (ppm) CaCO3 (ppm) (ppm) (ppm) Hardness)
CaCO3
0% 21 7 46 12 25 18 19 27
Step 4: Enter a Target Residual Alkalinity Value, based on Step 1, and the total volume of
mash water.

Target Volume of Volume of Additional Target RA Target RA
Mash Water Eff.
Residual Source Distilled Alkalinity Est. SRM Est. SRM
Volume (gal) Hardness
Alkalinity Water (gal.) Water (gal.) Needed (Low) (High)
Needed

## 65 2.64 2.64 0.00 0 38 11 15

Step 5: Optional: Add salts to Mash Water. (Enter Zeros if not adding salt.)

## Gypsum Calcium Epsom Salt

Chalk Baking Soda
Salt Additions CaSO4 Chloride MgSO4
CaCO3 NaHCO3
*2H2O CaCl2*2H2O *7H2O

## Salt Calcium Magnesium Sodium Chloride Sulfate Contributed Contributed

HCO3 (ppm)
Contributions (ppm) (ppm) (ppm) (ppm) (ppm) Hardness Alkalinity

(ppm) 55 5 73 27 58 75 42 60

Step 6: Optional: Add Acid to Mash Water. (Enter Zero if not adding acid.)

Est. Acid-
Acid Mash Water
Bottle Conc. Only Mash

## Hydrochloric 37% 0.0 0.0

Lactic 88% 0.0 0.0

Step 7: Result: Adjusted Mash Chemistry and Final Residual Alkalinity and Beer Color Range
Residual
Calcium Magnesium Alkalinity as Sodium Chloride Sulfate (Effective
Adjusted Mash Alkalinity as
(ppm) (ppm) CaCO3 (ppm) (ppm) (ppm) Hardness)
CaCO3
(ppm) 76 11 105 39 83 93 61 44
goal -> 100 20 120 65 40 50

## Step 8: Optional: Sparge Water pH Adjustment

Target
Measure Sparge
Sparge
Sparge Water Water
Water pH @
pH @ 20C Volume (gal)
20C

## 8.0 6.0 5.00

Est. Sparge
Acid
Bottle Conc. Water

## Hydrochloric 37% 1.0

Lactic 88% 1.0
Ratio Balance
Chloride to
Est. SRM Est. SRM
(Low) (High)
Sulfate 0 Very Bitter
Balance
8 13 Balanced 0.5 Bitter
0.77 Balanced

1.3 Malty

## Est. SRM Est. SRM Chloride to

(Low) (High) Sulfate Ratio
2.01 Very Malty

7 12 Malty

## Est. SRM Est. SRM Chloride to

(Low) (High) Sulfate Ratio

7 12 Malty
Est. SRM Est. SRM Chloride to
(Low) (High) Sulfate Ratio

9 14 Balanced