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Dreaded extract twang

Hey all. It’s been a while. I’ve made several brews from kits. The first three were full LME’s and the quality of the beer improved with each one. However, I’m trying to pinpoint the flavor issues I’ve had with each.

The first was an amber ale that I’m sure was oxidized and had that flavor of wet cardboard. The second was Chinook IPA and was OK but still had a bit of oxidation.

The third was an Octoberfest and did not have that same oxidized flavor at all. However, all three of them had what I would consider an unnatural sweet overtone. It wasn’t necessarily unpleasant but the flavor clearly set them apart from the high quality beer I’ve had in tasting rooms.

I suspect this is considered “extract twang” and, short of going all-grain, I’d really like to eradicate this flavor. I used distilled water on my last brew and the twang was still there. My OG’s to FG’s were where the kits said they should be and I didn’t rush fermentation. My sanitation has been excellent. In my mind, that leaves the yeast (I just used the dry yeast in the kits) and the boil (I did half boils because I currently don’t have the facilities).

I’m open to any suggestions. Overall I’m mildly disappointed that I haven’t been able to fix this issue. Thanks in advance for any insight you guys might have.

I used to copy the recipes, but sub out the LME for DME. It seemed to make a world of difference.

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What are you using for sanitation…? Controlled fermentation too? There are all these little details that may help you find that culprit… I had that too when I was extract, and it seemed linger into my all grain for a bit… I know a few peeps that extract and have very good brews… Don’t give up and throw in the towel… Sneezles61

Did the kits have you do a full boil or a partial boil? What were the timings for the DME/LME additions?

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The sweet flavor can also be indicative of oxidation. Sweet flavor can also be initiated by esters produced due to low aeration of the wort prior to pitching the yeast.

We would need some details of your process for one of the beers with this off taste.

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LME/DME recipe kits don’t finish as low of an FG as all grain as the extract is less fermentable. This could simply be what you are seeing. Remember flavor is subjective and one might have a different threshold to certain flavors than others. What you might find sweet I might find sickly sweet.

Half boils can hurt you.

I’ll just leave this here:



I always got a weird, sweet homebrewy taste using us-05. Tasting beers from other brewers, I can pick out us05 often times. I would try a different yeast, maybe add a bit of table sugar to dry things out.

What yeast was used for each beer with this off favor?

I used US-05 for my first red ale and it was not good so maybe that was part of it.

Thanks. I aerated the dickens out of the last two that I brewed and they were both progressively better. I’m currently making an English Ale and it’s 2/3 DME vs LME. All things considered, I’ll be interested to see if the “twang” is less pronounced with the higher percentage of DME. All three of my prior brews were 100% LME with the exception of the steeping grains.

It seems to be a process of elimination, which can be frustrating given the amount of time each batch takes.

All three prior brews were 100% LME. I’m excited to be working on a 2/3 DME vs 1/3 LME and I will be interested to see if the LME has been part of the issue.

As for timing, I just followed the directions on each kit. I steeped the specialty grains for 20 minutes, never over 165F. I added the liquid extract at the start of the boil and ran the boil for the full 60 minutes. The only timing variations were for hop additions, which depended on the style (add’l dry hopped one of them which was an IPA).

thanks for the reply and encouragement. i’m using starsan and I have been religious about it and keep everything sanitized. Other than the Oktoberfest, which I lagered in the garage, I ferment in a cool, dark place in the basement and I doubt it ever gets above 65F and stays very consistent. Also, I’ve never used a yeast starter but, like I mentioned, my OG/FG’s have always been where the instructions say they should be.

With the extra sweetness, I still wonder if it’s not fermenting completely. That said, I know there’s a decent alcohol content after having had 2-3 of them.

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thanks for the reply. I’m going to try a full DME the next time around. My current English Ale is 2/3 DME so we’ll see what happens.

In my experience, using mostly (or all) DME for a recipe can often reduce (if it doesn’t totally eliminate) that “unnatural sweet overtone”. That’s just one of the numerous ideas that’s on the “excellent extract beers” graphic that @dmtaylo2 posted.

I’ve also found that shorter (15 - 20 minute) boils in normal OG (44 - 55) styles don’t have that extract sweetness. However, I recently brewed a double red clone recipe (all DME, ~ 66 OG, 45 minute boil) which came out disappointing - as that extract sweetness was there as a base “supporting” the darker crystal malts :frowning: . I will be brewing this again in about a month with a very different set of brew day steps.

My extract brews didn’t get good until I started following daves rules.


Thanks. That’s the route I’m going to go.

Dave, the list you provided was reassuring on a lot off points. One clarification if I may. It says do a full boil for 60 minutes, which I thought meant boil a full 5 gallons of water with the full compliment of extract. The line below that says to boil a fourth of the extract and boil the remaing 75 percent of the extract for only 10 minutes.

Those seem contradictory unless I’m misunderstanding. Thanks for your insight.

The two pointers there are not contradictory. However either or both are in fact optional. If you want the lightest possible beer, then it is wise to both reserve most of the extract for the end of the boil AND do a full boil rather than a partial boil. A partial boil of say 2.5 gallons will serve to darken the wort. Adding all the extract at the beginning of a 5-gallon boil will also darken the wort. If you want a very light beer, then use both. But if you’re making a deep amber, copper, brown, or black color beer, then these things don’t matter quite so much.

Both things will also ensure proper hop utilization. In a more concentrated boil, the bitterness could in theory be reduced. Personally I’m not 100% certain whether I would be able to taste a difference, but science says there should be a noticeable difference.


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