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MBAA TQ http://dx.doi.org/10.1094/TQ-53-2-0526-01  |  VIEW ARTICLE
Basic Mash Water Chemistry Explained

Mark Sammartino. MBAA Technical Director.

Abstract
Mash water chemistry is a complex array of various forms of carbon dioxide, bicarbonates, minerals (most importantly calcium and magnesium), forms of phytic acid, and much more. Although many other minerals in source waters can play a role in water chemistry and flavor, these are disregarded in this discussion because of their relatively minor impact in comparison to the effects of CO2, calcium carbonate, and grain. With this review we will see how different water sources play into the pH of mash chemistry, primarily through their alkalinity and buffering capacity. With this information we will then consider the effect various forms of grain can have on the final pH in mash, when we consider the phytin release, the presence of Maillard reaction compounds, amino acids, carbonized products, and so on. The idea with this discussion is not to perfectly identify all of the reactants and the required math to adjust a mash pH, but rather this is an attempt to simplify the complexity of the issue. The goal is by doing so to help brewers make the right choice for their processes and products when they make decisions regarding mash pH.