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Bitter aftertaste

I’ve noticed a bitter aftertaste in the extract milk stout I just brewed and in a couple previous batches. The beer tastes good up front then leaves a dry bitter aftertaste on the tongue. I used bottle water (Deer Park). Steeped 1 pound of specialty grains in 1 gallon of water. Added grains at 150 degrees. Brought temp between 160-165 for 30 min. I did not squeeze the bag. I let it drain briefly then removed it. Any ideas?

Unless your tap water is really really horrible (certain parts of the Breadbasket and most of FL!), I wouldn’t recommend using bottled water for brewing, even extract. Not sure, but I think most parts of OH have decent water, especially for brewing.

As for your issue, sounds like you are getting some tannins off the grain husks from the specialty steep to me (its not really a bitterness, more of that grapeskin/tannic puckering sensation on your tongue, like a really young cabernet, correct?). If so, that does not come from squeezing the bag (squeezing the bag is ok), it comes from the water having too high of a pH (ie too basic).

If you really aren’t comfortable using your tap water, maybe try purchased reverse-osmosis water, though I’ve heard a lot of the grocery store RO systems aren’t very effective b/c they aren’t maintained properly.

Are you doing a full boil or topping off to 5 gallons? If you are doing a full boil and working from a kit, you will get a much higher hop utilization which could result in a higher BU/GU ratio than intended for the style.

And I agree with Pietro, if your water isn’t ideal for brewing, go with RO or distilled.

Check the calibration of your thermometer, may be reading low. Your water could be closer to, or even over 170°. High water pH combined with temperatures near or over 170°can extract tannins from the grain husks.
Grains can be steeped in larger volumes of water than are used for the mashing of grains. Steeping is only for extraction of color and flavor, unlike mashing which is for conversion of starches to fermentable sugars.
I begin the steeping process in 2.5 gallons of cold water, with the grains in a bag. Once, as the kettle was heating, I heard the bubbling sound of boiling water. I lifted the grain bag, and put the probe of an instant read thermometer into the bottom of the grains. Temp of the grains was 172°. The grain bag resting on the bottom of the kettle trapped the heat and became much warmer than the surrounding water which another thermometer rested in. I now use the stir spoon to move the grain bag during the heating.

All of my extract brews had a bitter aftertaste that eventually aged out after between 6 - 8 weeks of bottle conditioning, even when I used distilled water (vs. tap water).

My tap water doesn’t taste all that great and sometimes has a strong smell of chlorine. My first batch (American Wheat) I used GV Spring water and I noted a bitter aftertaste as well. It did not have any steeping grains.

The second batch (American Amber) I used GV Distilled water and steeped 1 lb of grains in 1 gallon of water. Although in my notes I added the grains in early at about 80-90 degrees and steeped for 20 min the water temp reached 160 degrees by the time I removed them. This was my first time steeping grains. I made note that there was no astringent aftertaste but slighty bitter. Can’t remember for sure but I think I was talking about hop bitterness which wasn’t a bad thing.

The next batch (Chinook IPA) I steeped grains at 150-165 degrees for 20 mins. I used Deer Park Spring water. I didn’t note anything but I’m not sure I could separate it from hop bitterness anyways.

My fourth batch (Bavarian Hefe) I also used Deer Park Spring water. I didn’t like how the beer turned out carbonation was good for the style but it didn’t have much banana flavor more of a spicy clove flavor possible due to the fact I used a danstar munich yeast and not a liquid yeast, and didn’t stress yeast enough (over pitched, over aerated, too low ferm temp). From what I’ve read to help yeast produce hefe style esters.

All of the batches were partial boils topping off to 5 gallons. Most of them starting with 2.5 gallon boils. The second batch I boiled 2.75 gallons. I didn’t noticed any other off flavors at least any that were over powering. I don’t have much experience tasting off flavors. Other than the description of them I’ve read in How to Brew. The milk stout was my 5th batch which has been 6 weeks 1 day. In the bottle for 3 weeks. I brewed a BB coffee porter on Dec 8th that I bottled NYE after 3 week 2 day primary. A little overpowering so far which I hope mellows out.

The problem could be in the spring water, if positively ruling out tannin extraction. The spring water may have high levels of sodium or a combination of high sodium and high sulfates. Try all distilled water for one of the lightly hopped beers you had brewed before which had a pronounced bitter after taste.

Could be the water I guess.

Back in the beginning of my brewing experience, I switched to bottled water in the summer because of the chloramine in Cleveland city water, and eventually went all bottled water when doing extract brews. There was something always off with the extract though. The discussion back then was that many of the minerals and salts evaporated with the malt was retained in the extract. So using tap water introduced additional minerals and salts, etc. in your final brew. This was back in the time when we were all troubleshooting what is called “extract twang”. No evidence or proof, just a lot of discussion on the board here…

But it was not just a dryness like tannins, and it wasn’t really bitter either. Just off, and many, many people detect it in extract brews.

But it seems that we’re troubleshooting an overtemped steeping and not looking at ingredients at all. People describe things so differently than others do.

@mhall2013: is it a dry tongue feeling, or a bitter taste? Could it be a bitter/sour taste? If you’re using Nottingham yeast, that could also be it. Which would be common with a kitted stout.

I don’t have any issue with people using bottled water, other than its cost. The recommendation for using dead water is intimidating to some because then you’re practically building the water profile. Great for an AG’er and surely another advancement in the beer making process, but I’m not sure I agree with the extra effort for an extract brew - at least based on my experience. Heck I’ve brewed an extract pale ale with nothing but distilled water and got the same thing. In time it dissipated, but the young beers all had it.

just my $0.02 for discussion purposes only!

I swear I read somewhere that Cleveland city water doesn’t use chloramine.

[quote=“moose”]Could be the water I guess.

Back in the beginning of my brewing experience, I switched to bottled water in the summer because of the chloramine in Cleveland city water, and eventually went all bottled water when doing extract brews. There was something always off with the extract though. The discussion back then was that many of the minerals and salts evaporated with the malt was retained in the extract. So using tap water introduced additional minerals and salts, etc. in your final brew. This was back in the time when we were all troubleshooting what is called “extract twang”. No evidence or proof, just a lot of discussion on the board here…

But it was not just a dryness like tannins, and it wasn’t really bitter either. Just off, and many, many people detect it in extract brews.

But it seems that we’re troubleshooting an overtemped steeping and not looking at ingredients at all. People describe things so differently than others do.

@mhall2013: is it a dry tongue feeling, or a bitter taste? Could it be a bitter/sour taste? If you’re using Nottingham yeast, that could also be it. Which would be common with a kitted stout.

I don’t have any issue with people using bottled water, other than its cost. The recommendation for using dead water is intimidating to some because then you’re practically building the water profile. Great for an AG’er and surely another advancement in the beer making process, but I’m not sure I agree with the extra effort for an extract brew - at least based on my experience. Heck I’ve brewed an extract pale ale with nothing but distilled water and got the same thing. In time it dissipated, but the young beers all had it.

just my $0.02 for discussion purposes only![/quote]

It isn’t a sour taste. I would say it has a dry finish which I perceive as bitter. If that makes sense. I used Safale S-04

All I have is my own, anecdotal experience (and luckily I kept detailed notes,) but when I switched to all grain and re-brewed several of the beers I made using extract I didn’t have the same bitterness in the finish when the beer was young; the all grain versions were good to go as soon as they were fully carbonated. I also luckily saved a couple of bottles from each of my early extract brews so that when the new all grain versions were ready I could compare the two. After many months (up to six) of bottle aging, the flavor comparison between extract and all grain was similar, but subtly different. The color of each extract brew was darker than the corresponding all grain equivalent (as expected), but the all grain versions of the lighter beers like cream ale tasted superior, while the taste difference between really hoppy beers was harder to discern.

any good clubs in your area where you could take a bottle, or know any experienced BJCP’s (preferable) or Cicerone’s who could taste it? Sounds like positively ID’ing the flavor would benefit your question. This should inspire you to start judging!

Also a +1 to Moose’s response, but I’ll spare quoting the whole thing!

Two words: Distilled water. The end.

I would add patience to that…

This is a great way to test if what you are tasting is a problem with the water. And if you are buying water anyway, buy distilled, not bottled. Why couldn’t Dave have posted this before the litany of more wordy, less effective strategies (including mine)?!

I just ordered the American Amber Ale kit w/ specialty grains that I’m going to use distilled water and use the same steeping process that I’ve been doing. Hopefully I find that water was the issue. If not I can suspect my steeping process or something else. Could oxidation cause the issue I’m having? My last batch was the first batch I didn’t rack to a secondary. Maybe I will wait to see how it tastes before I brew this one. I don’t want to change too much so I can pinpoint the issue but I might also just skip the secondary.

I’ll bet that the D-water will take care of your problem. You just really never know what is in bottled/purified/spring/insert witty pun-water. I used to use my city water, and all my beers had a sameness to them, super bitter on the finish and watery. Got my water test back and found out why. I’m all grain now, but still do the occasional extract batch and the D-water fixed them.

:cheers:

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