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A Metallic Aftertaste?

Hi Fellow Brewers,

I’m Larry from CT, and I’m looking for a little help from those more experienced than i am on a strange aftertaste I’ve gotten over my last several batches. I have been brewing a couple of years now with extract kits, trying new styles frequently, and have always gotten good results.

Recently, I have had to toss entire batches because of a metallic aftertaste. The metallic taste varies in intensity from batch to batch. Some batches I notice the aftertaste, but it is subtle and can be tolerated. Other batches it is so strong that you can’t drink it. The beer starts exactly as the style would dictate, making you think you got a winner, and then the finish is a horrible metallic taste. The taste is similar to when someone with braces puts a penny in their mouth, if that ever happened to you when you were young.

I thought that maybe I had been too aggressive in cleaning my stainless steel brew kettle so I attempted to re-passivate the kettle with a 10% concentration of citric acid. It seemed to work as some marks and scoring disappeared. My kettle is clean and shiny with no signs of rust, but the flavor remains. I always have used the same brand of spring water to brew with so I don’t think its the water. I have also used many different yeasts to go with the style (both dry and liquid, starters and direct pitch), and the taste is the same. I am a bit perplexed and really don’t know what else to try, and I’m certainly tired of dumping my hard work down the drain!

Has anyone experienced this before?

So it seems that this re-occurs no matter what yeast you use? and temps constant? Same fermenter? There could be a suspect. I’m not a fan of the extra scrubbing, and using a citric acid… I would very seldom scrub my keggles THAT clean, a 3m scotch brite just kinda ran around the keggles to remove chunks at best… You have a fellow brewer with a fermenter you could borrow fer one brew? Eliminate contamination? Sneezles61

Have you tasted the spring water your using for brew day?

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Tell us who crushes your grain. Tell us about your steeping process. Are you very careful to avoid O2 uptake after fermentation?

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^^^^ heavy mineral water… good possibility… Sneezles61

Great thoughts - The water tastes perfect going in. Northern Brewer pre-crushes the grain provided in the kit. And I use a siphonless big mouth bubbler for a fermenter, and rack into a PVC bottling bucket. The only O2 exposure would be in the headspace of the bottling bucket and the bottles. The temperature during fermentation is as constant as I can keep it - like 68 +/- 1 degree F. This last batch, I tasted it prior to bottling and it had the aftertaste. So it is something in the brew or fermentation process.

For steeping - I heat the water to 165 F, turn off the flame and steep for 20 minutes. I pull the muslin bag out and let it drain, but I do not squeeze it. I definitely will try another kettle for the next batch.

What cleaners and sanitizers are you using for your bottles and brewing equipment? Do you do any soaking of plastic buckets or tubing?

It sounds like the only thing you are consistent with every time you brew is
1: Your water
2: Your cleaning chemicals
I’ve never used citric acid before, but sounds pretty harsh for a boil pot and equipment that is used pre boil and during the boil. I am a huge fan of scrubbing and cleaning, but without seeing your water report, your cleaning products are the first thing I think of.

What i think the water suply could be the issue but on the other hand. The citrus cleaning solution. More the problem. Reason i do clean scuba. Gear. Final soak. Some kind of natural cleaning product. This does have bit metallic flav

To sanitize I use Sani-Star, and to clean I use PBW. Also, I only used the Citric Acid wash once in order to re-passivate the kettle. I did this after the first time I got the taste as a potential solution, but it didn’t work.

I just use pwb and starsan. A cloth to clean. Works perfect

Metallic is often a sign of oxidation. Do you use dry or liquid extract? If liquid it’s possible that you’ve gotten into an old batch.

Could be the taste has always been there but your taste has refined. Try cutting the spring water 50/50 with distilled. Try biab to eliminate the extract twang.

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@denny is probably on to something with oxidation.

I was thinking it’s the water. Since you’re doing extract try doing a batch with distilled water and see how it works out.

Definitely go distilled.

Can you go straight distilled with extract? I know that’s a no no with all grain

Extract brewers should chime in on this but I’ve heard that you really should use distilled because the mash would have been dialed in to proper pH when the extract was created. So a clean slate is your best bet.

When you say it’s a “no no with all grain” I assume you mean without adjusting it for the style? I use distilled for lighter color beers quite often. Saves me using so much acid to lower my pH and alkilinity.

edited to add:

"Malt extract is condensed wort and it contains everything that wort contains, including dissolved minerals. Any minerals in your dilution water are added to the (unknown) amount of minerals in the extract. Unless you have a good reason not to, always use soft water (or even distilled water) for extract brewing. "

From the Brew Your Own article linked below.

Of course you can used distilled for all grain if you build it up. You are correct I meant using it straight up would be a problem

OK. I brew DME batches, mainly with distilled water. I have also brewed a couple of batches with spring water. Feedback from my peeps (and a couple of BJCP competitions :slight_smile: ) has been positive. If I was troubleshooting this, I wouldn’t change from spring water to distilled water for my next batch.

Back to the original poster:

I’d start with either the kettle or the age of the DME/LME. Are you able to brew a (smaller) batch with a different kettle? As you’re brewing, can you pay “extra” attention to what @denny was asking?

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