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Consistent (Abnormal?) Taste

Hello all

I have had quite a weird taste in the last couple batches of beer I have made: Smashing Pumpkin and Winter Warmer. I followed Brew day, fermentation (primary and secondary), and bottling instructions packaged with the kits to a ‘T’. However, when I taste the beer after being chilled for 24hours in the fridge. I taste this weird, but tolerable taste sort of astringent-y taste. I know its not hops. Here are a couple of things I am questioning about my brew day procedures:

  1. Steeping the grains: I usually pour the water into the brew pot, put it on the burner (propane), and steep them until the water gets to 170 degrees (which usually takes about 20 minutes). Im questioning this… should I get the water to 170 then steep for 20 monitoring the temp to make sure it doesn’t go over.

  2. After the wort is cooled to 100 degrees as stated in the instructions, I will just dump it all (trub and all) into the fermentation bucket, put my hydrometer in there and add water until it reaches the OG stated on the instructions. Then I will pitch the yeast (which happened to be a yeast starter for my most recent batch). Im questioning this… should I siphon it into the bucket instead will that mess with the O.G.?

As I said, both the last batches have had this strange but tolerable taste to it. Im not sure how to really describe it.

If you would like more information, please let me know, because I want to start brewing ‘perfect’ batches of beer.

Cheers,

epunch.

Are you using chlorinated tap water? Taste like hospital disinfectant? That would be chlorophenol. This is easily avoided by pretreating your brewing water with 1/4 Campden tablet before you brew. Or better yet… use distilled water.

Your off flavor might be something else but that is the first question I always have to ask and it is an easy fix for future batches.

I usually use 1 gallon jugs of store bought drinking water, I will try distilled next time. Any other thoughts? Should my two concerns be concerns at all?

I am not concerned about either one of your two concerns. I don’t think those are the issue.

Hmm… must not be a chlorine problem after all. Might be hard water. Often times the store-bought water is quite hard. In extract brewing, you want your water to be as soft as possible (like distilled!) because extract contains a lot of brewing salts in it from the manufacturing process. So distilled water should still be helpful.

Might also be a stale extract issue. Dry extract is better than liquid extract, and light extract is better than dark. However, above all else, freshness is key. You want to make sure you are buying fresh stuff from a shop with a good turnaround of product. Make sure it hasn’t been sitting around for a year or two or three by the time you use it. What sort of extract are you using? Any idea how old it was?

I’ve bought kits exclusively from northern brewer. I’m assuming their kit ingredients are quite fresh… I will try distilled on the next batch and compare tastes

Astringency most often result from over sparging the mash. It is caused by leaching tannins out of the grain husk. This is accelerated at higher temps, 170F is right about the cut off. You might try removing the steeped grains around 165F.

pH has a larger role in tannin extraction. I don’t think pH would have a large role in your case because the water to grain ratio is so high while steeping grains.

It is also tempting to squeeze all the residual liquid out of the steeped grains, this would encourage tannin extraction.
Cheers
joe

[quote=“jcw0220”]Astringency most often result from over sparging the mash. It is caused by leaching tannins out of the grain husk. This is accelerated at higher temps, 170F is right about the cut off. You might try removing the steeped grains around 165F.

pH has a larger role in tannin extraction. I don’t think pH would have a large role in your case because the water to grain ratio is so high while steeping grains.

It is also tempting to squeeze all the residual liquid out of the steeped grains, this would encourage tannin extraction.
Cheers
joe[/quote]
Tannin extraction was the first thing to come to my mind also; that’s what the books warn against. But I suspect it is more difficult to do that than you would think based on what’s written in the literature. Sort of like sanitation and infections, it is a lot less likely to happen than most people realize. Though that doesn’t mean you can safely ignore the issue.

Do you know if your thermometer is accurate? If it is off by 5 degrees and you are actually steeping at 175, that might be enough to get some tannins out. Of equal concern, how cool do you get your wort before pitching the yeast? Pitching while too warm can also give off flavors.

[quote=“rebuiltcellars”]Tannin extraction was the first thing to come to my mind also; that’s what the books warn against. But I suspect it is more difficult to do that than you would think based on what’s written in the literature. Sort of like sanitation and infections, it is a lot less likely to happen than most people realize. Though that doesn’t mean you can safely ignore the issue.

Do you know if your thermometer is accurate? If it is off by 5 degrees and you are actually steeping at 175, that might be enough to get some tannins out. Of equal concern, how cool do you get your wort before pitching the yeast? Pitching while too warm can also give off flavors.[/quote]

It could be tannins, but unlikely for an extract brewer unless he’s crushing the steeping grains too hard into flour. If NB crushes the grains, then this is extremely doubtful. But the thermometer thing might be a possibility…

Check your thermometer in boiling water. Does it read 212 F or is it way off? This is a very simple test that can tell you a lot.

[quote=“elephantpunch”]Hello all

I have had quite a weird taste in the last couple batches of beer I have made: Smashing Pumpkin and Winter Warmer. I followed Brew day, fermentation (primary and secondary), and bottling instructions packaged with the kits to a ‘T’. However, when I taste the beer after being chilled for 24hours in the fridge. I taste this weird, but tolerable taste sort of astringent-y taste. I know its not hops. Here are a couple of things I am questioning about my brew day procedures:

  1. Steeping the grains: I usually pour the water into the brew pot, put it on the burner (propane), and steep them until the water gets to 170 degrees (which usually takes about 20 minutes). Im questioning this… should I get the water to 170 then steep for 20 monitoring the temp to make sure it doesn’t go over.
    Your thermometer could be off and some of the steeping time is at over 170°. If you are not peiodically swirling the grain bag in the steep water the temperature under the bag can be well over 170°.

  2. After the wort is cooled to 100 degrees as stated in the instructions, I will just dump it all (trub and all) into the fermentation bucket, put my hydrometer in there and add water until it reaches the OG stated on the instructions. Then I will pitch the yeast (which happened to be a yeast starter for my most recent batch). Im questioning this… should I siphon it into the bucket instead will that mess with the O.G.?
    [color=#0000BF]Try to get your wort cooler. Less stress on the yeast by pitching into wort that is cooler than the fermentation temperature. Are you doing full volume boils or partial volume? If you are doing a partial boil of 2.5 gallons, add 2.5 gallons of cold water to the fermentor then dump the boiled wort. You can strain through a bag to remove most of the hop debris. Top off to a total of 5 gallons in the fermentor. (Have the 5 gallon level measured.) The specified OG for a kit will be the OG in the fermentor if the volume is 5 gallons. Don’t try to adjust with hydrometer readings. It is difficult to get a good mix of boiled wort and top off water to make a hydrometer reading at this point meaningful.
    Are you using a good yeast calculator for the proper pitch rate. Under pitching can stress the yeaast and cause off flavors.
    [/color]http://www.brewersfriend.com/yeast-pitch-rate-and-starter-calculator/

As I said, both the last batches have had this strange but tolerable taste to it. Im not sure how to really describe it.

If you would like more information, please let me know, because I want to start brewing ‘perfect’ batches of beer.

Cheers,

epunch.[/quote]
Are you controlling the fermentation temperature for the first few days of active fermentation. Check the yeast producers site for the ideal fermentation temperature range. Hot fermentation will produce fusel alcohols. Fusels will bite the back of the throat.
What yeast did you use and how much did you pitch?
What was the wort temperature during fermentation?
How long did you primary?

I’m not sure if this is the problem, but I don’t see this mentioned above. How much time passed between bottling and putting into the fridge/tasting?

Hey everyone Thanks for the tips sorry its taken a while for me to reply, I have a 6 week old at home and she is a handful. I bought a 1 gal NB cream ale kit, so I can have a little more control on the brewing process for now. I will use Distilled water, and I will make sure to get a digital thermometer to record the temperature. I am brewing it this saturday.

I also forgot to mention that the bottom of my brew pot was black on my last batch from the flames, would this produce an off flavor? I also did kind of squeeze the grain bag, I will avoid that this weekend too. Ill let you know how brew day goes after the fact.

Thanks again everyone

:cheers:

I think the scorching on the bottom of your kettle is the likely culprit. When you add the extract either remove the kettle from the burner, or turn the burner off until you get it thoroughly mixed.
Cheers
joe

I should reiterate that its black on bottom of the OUTSIDE not the inside of the pot. Do you still think that could be causing problems?

If the blackness was only on the outside, then no, it’s not a problem at all.

ok. Thanks

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