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Bland Beer

I have only been homebrewing for a few months and I have made 3 batches of beer. I have brewed the Nut Brown Ale, St. Paul Porter, and Caribou Slobber Brown extract kits. My beers have all turned out fine but I notice they lack the complexity I have enjoyed in so many other craft beers. My beers seem almost like watered down versions, I would like to know if it may be something I might be doing wrong, or if I should brew beers with higher alpha hops to get more flavor.

For example, the St. Paul Porter turned out well but it had almost no hop flavor and hardly any maltiness. The Caribou Slobber has the same watered down taste with a little more flavor than the Nut Brown Ale but I am looking for something better.

I wonder if it could just be the water I use but it tastes fine from the tap. Could this be a sanitation issue? I am very persistent to make sure everything is well cleaned.

Any suggestions? Perhaps I am too harsh of a beer snob.

(Sorry about the melee of questions in one post)

Easy answers first. You do not have a sanitation issue. I’ve never heard of a contamination problem that results in blandness. In fact, quite the oposite - usually in a bad way.

Water is likely the issue. I’m guessing you are brewing from extract? If yes, try using distilled or reverse osmosis water for your next brew and see if that helps. Extract contains all the minerals needed in the beer, so when added distilled will bring it back to the chemical profile the manufacturer had.

If it is water, chlorine may be what is causing your issue. Too much chlorine (and there is too much in most municipal water systems) will mute the hops, which typically allows the malt to shine through better. That is not exactly what you are describing, but it could be a piece of it.

Also, how do you measure your volume? Adding too much water to top up will also result in watery beer.

And if you are brewing all grain, then check the calibration on your thermometer. If it is off and your mash temperature is too low, that will cause the beer to be low in body, and thus watery.

I agree with rebuilt that you maybe topping off to much, 5 gallons means 5gallons fermenting on the side of that bucket. not 5 gallons finished. just saying.

Agreed with all suggestions mentioned. Check the marks on the bucket, not all buckets are marked correctly.

also try topping off to 4.5 gal and take a reading with your hydrometer. I’ve found that in almost every extract batch I have brewed, If I top off to 5gal, then my wort misses the suggested OG BIG TIME. So we sneak up on it now, and it is never 5 gal, some of them are even closer to 4.

Thanks for all of the advice!

I think it must be a water issue, I have always hit my OG spot on and had good FGs. I will try distilled or reverse osmosis water and see if that helps.I have not overfilled my glass carboys with water so I am deducing it must be my tap water.

I appreciate everyones input!

Cheers!

I do brew extract beers.

If it is a water issue, I would be best to use distilled water for my wort, correct?
Keep that tap crap away.

I’ll take the easy one. For more hop flavor, use more hops. Also, a teaspoon or two of gypsum wouldn’t hurt.

yes - distilled or R.O. water. The big thing with extract beers and water is the fact that the correct water adds the necessary minerals in the necessary amounts. When extract is made - the water/minerals are added when the grain is mashed. When the wort is dehydrated into syrup/powder - those minerals are still in there. When you brew your beer, and add tap water - if that tap water is high in certain minerals/hardness/etc. - you are actually doubling the things you need in your wort or adding excess amounts of things you don’t want like chlorine. Distilled or RO water really add nothing except water - which is fine, because the extract has what you need in it already.

I would brew your next batch with the RO or distilled water.

If it still seems like it is not quite what you want, you could look into adding some CaSO4 or brewing salts to enhance hop flavor on a batch in the future if needed.

I will try distilled water next time I brew and hopefully that will work. The beers have all turned out but I feel they taste watered down.

The St. Paul Porter tasted great after fermenting in the primary (very bitter) but it mellowed out after being in the secondary when I bottled it.

Thanks for all the suggestions!

I always found it hard to get full flavored beers when using a concentrated boil with extracts.

Try this:

http://www.baderbrewing.com/store/produ ... 396&page=1

Makes much better extract beer.

“Extract contains all the minerals needed in the beer, so when added distilled will bring it back to the chemical profile the manufacturer had.”

I never knew that, but it makes sense! I’ve used distilled all along just for convenience sake when it comes to measuring it or chilling for top-off. I’ve been meaning to get my well water analyzed just for S & G, but distilled is so cheap now I have another reason not to switch over. Here’s to learning something new every day–Thanks! :cheers:

+1. Maybe look into a full wort boil also if your pot is large enough(maybe you are already doing this). Just make sure not to steep your specialty grains in the full volume of water(one of my mistakes). :cheers:

I brewed a few batches both extract and allgrain from NB’s kits when I was getting started and always had similar complaints. I tried different types of water and even water treatment additives (gypsum, Burton salts etc) all to no avail. There was nothing wrong with the beers, they were just very mild. I am not sure what craft brew you drink but most of the ones that I have around here (San Diego) tend to be north of 6.5% ABV. I started taking the kit list, going on qbrew and increasing the grain levels preportionately and adding extra hops. I have also had luck doubling the “steeping grains” that come with the extract kits.

“Green” beers are the hardest to make well. The less grain and hops you add, the more mild (bland) the beers tend to be. If you want to make a low abv/ibu beer that is interesting, you need to have a really good grasp of hop flavor and aroma profiles and get some interesting malts into your grain bill. 8 pounds of pilsen and half an ounce of Saaz is going to taste like buttlight.

Hey Duxx,

Have you tried the method of adding the remaining portion of malt (powder and syrup) after the boil?

If this adds more hop bitterness and better flavor, I might as well try it.
I would be curious why the directions would not instruct you to do this on the recipe kits, if this makes a more flavorful beer.

Has anyone else tried adding the remainder of their malt (powder and/or syrup) after the 60 mintue boil?

Adding half the extract late in the boil (you still want to boil it some to ensure sanitation) will result in lighter colored beer and increased bitterness from the hops, but not nessasarily better flavor. The other way to get more from the hops is use BrewMU’s suggestion and just up the amount of hops used.

There are a lot of suggestions for you, and it is hard to know what will actually help the most, but I’d suggest one change at a time so you know when you hit the right one. Then let us all know what it was.

I have made extract batches by adding the extract all at the beginning and some by adding half of the extract near the 10 min mark. I have also made concentrated boils and full boils. Both resulted in good tasting beer. I am an extract brewer and I personally have never had anyone call my beer bland. In fact, I believe many extract beers can taste nearly as good as all grain if done correctly.

I currently use a partial mash method, full boil with adding half the extract at the end. I do think this gets the best taste.

I do think that my worst beer had more to do with temp control and pitching count.

Your problem may be a water thing. It may be as simple as diluting it to get to a specific volume. I wish I could tell you. I use city tap water with my extracts and I have good results. I first started with using RO and Distilled water, but it made no noticeable difference, so I just use my tap water now. However, your water may not be what your beer needs and I would try RO water.

Like Rebuiltcellars said, do one change at a time, maybe make smaller 3 gallon batches or 2.5 gallon batches to try different techniques.

Have fun!

[quote=“Shenanigans”]Hey Duxx,

Have you tried the method of adding the remaining portion of malt (powder and syrup) after the boil?

If this adds more hop bitterness and better flavor, I might as well try it.
I would be curious why the directions would not instruct you to do this on the recipe kits, if this makes a more flavorful beer.

Has anyone else tried adding the remainder of their malt (powder and/or syrup) after the 60 mintue boil?[/quote]

Adding the majority of the DME or LME after the boil is what the article link in my previous post was all about. And yes, this enables you to significantly up the bitterness with the same amount of hops. Also produces a dryer finish and lighter colored beer since the sugars are not converted by the high sugar concentration Maillard reactions. A full wort boil with DME or LME will do the same thing but since most extract brewers often do not have the ability to do a full wort boil the late extract method works well.

Disclaimer: I haven’t done any extract brewing since 2005 but when I did I always used the late extract technique. All grain exclusively now!

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