Dang. AJ, when is your spreadsheet coming out? If it never is, could you point me to a "brewing water chemistry for dummies" book? Too stupid here.
I do have a spreadsheet but don't usually tell people about it because it is likely to make their heads spin. It started out as something I put together for a water class I did a couple of years back but I kept adding to is so it gets pretty far down into the nitty gritty of water chemistry but it does not attempt to predict mash pH except in the crudest way i.e. it does apply Kohlbach's pH shift with RA but does this only for base malt. It is available at www.wetnewf.org
if you want it but be sure to download the manual. I really don't think it's of much use to guys starting out thinking about water chemistry but you are certainly welcome to it.
Brewing Water Chemistry for Dummies: I've been working at trying to come up with this for over 20 years and either it just can't be simplified or my pedagogical skills are limited (most likely the latter). After all the time and effort they asked me to put together a primer for the stickies section of another forum and that's at http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f128/brewin ... er-198460/
. What's there certainly bypasses a lot of heavy stuff but, according to the feedback I get, seems to work most of the time. In addition to that I find that I am making much better beers (or lagers at least - that's what I like) essentially following the guidelines in that Primer. It hardly lends much understanding of the very complicated processes but it does seem to work in many cases.