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Extract taste

I am just now sampling my first batch of all grain (a Saison recipe from “Brewing Classic Styles”) and even though it hasn’t carbonated enough yet, I’m DELIGHTED with the taste, particularly that I’m not tasting any what I assume to be “extract flavor.” I’ve been doing partial mashes for several batches and even that didn’t seem to help eliminate the taste I think is due to using extracts. This has been true of all my beers - I wasn’t happy with any of them because of an off flavor that I’m now attributing to the extracts I’ve used.

My question – “Is what I’m describing something that is real?” I’ve read that many beers that win in competitions are extract based, so maybe I’m off on this issue. Nonetheless, a number of people who tasted my all grain Saison side by side with some of my other beers commented (without me biasing them) that the Saison tasted cleaner, etc. I felt there was a much stronger taste of grain.

Bonus question – I used Wyeast 3711 and it attenuated from on OG of 1.060 to 1.001, yet the beer tastes rather sweet. I realize that not being carbonated adequately enough may be part of the taste equation, but where does this sweetness come from?

Thanks for any help you can send my way.

You can brew excellent beer with extract…key to this is using fresh quality extract…its that simple

For me, it is apparently not that simple – I used perhaps the freshest extracts available, through NB’s Mpls store. They go through a LOT of extract (high turnover), so I don’t think it’s an issue of freshness of the extract.

Maybe I’m a “supertaster”, but there’s a world of difference in the taste of my extract beers versus my all grain. Every one of my extract beers had it. The only difference between the all grain beer and the extract beers has been the source of the wort. Same boiling and fermentation methods, only the all grain versus the extract – it’s that simple.

If you re-read my first post, I acknowledged that many extract beers win competitions. But IN MY HANDS, extract is, so far, inferior. I’m looking for a valid explanation. And it isn’t the source of the extract, unless you want to take on NB regarding quality issues.

As you know extract is the easy way to brew beer meaning everything has been mashed and is ready to go…if you are having trouble with your beer its something going on in your process not the extract…what exactly is “extract taste”?..When do you add the extract? Could it be that the wort made with extract is carmelizing and causing this flavor? when i rarely brew extract i always use DME and i never had a problem…I would love to see someone drink my beer and say “thats and extract brew huh” cause it wont happen…that why i dont understand what you mean by “extract taste”

If I had the appropriate vocabulary to describe what I’m tasting with my extract beers, I’d certainly convey it. Lacking that, it would necessary to taste it – which is obviously not possible. I’m posting this to get some clarity on what that taste is about. I suspect it’s the extract since I don’t detect it in my all grain. Moreover, numerous people have told me that my extract beers taste just fine to them. But they don’t to me. Frankly, I’m elated that my all grain beers are giving me the results I was hoping for, not complaining about extracts.

I have a triple clad kettle and have never noted any caramelization occurring. I’ve used all-DME as well as LME, so I doubt that’s the problem.

I’m not at all interested in defending or opposing extract as a means for good beer – I will again direct you to my first post which clearly demonstrates my understanding that good beers can be made with extract. I see no reason for anyone to take offense with my post. If you have never tasted in your extract beers what I’m tasting in my extract beers, fine. I’m not interested in an extract vs all grain squabble. What I am interested in is whether what I’m tasting is something others have come across and if it’s really an issue of extract vs all grain brewing or something else. You obviously haven’t so you apparently are not going to be able to give me the feedback I’m seeking. Pat yourself on the back, have one of your beers and be happy knowing that your ability to brew good beer is not deterred by any problems with off flavors from extracts or otherwise. But most of all, stop defending against the misperception that I’m attacking extract brewing. Jeez!

WOW!! ok i was not saying you were attacking extract…was just trying to help…good luck

I brewed extract for about a year before switching to all grain. And I had the same dilemma your talking about. I had several people try my extract beers and tell me that they were great but to me everyone of them had this same taste to them that I could pick out. It wasn’t over powering and all my beers tasted like the style I was making and enjoyable to drink. When I started doing all grain this flavor went away and I’m using the same water source and same vigorous cleaning routine. I don’t think it was the extract “twang” that people talk about either because I have tried a friends beer that had that twang sweetness to it and what I was picking out it my beers was completely different.

ok, everyone play nice…

Here’s what you are going to do:

-If you don’t already have it, pick up a copy of Brewing Classic Styles. He offers extract/PM and all-grain versions of every one of his styles. Brew both on the same day.
-Pick a brew day, and make the one of Jami’ls hop-neutral/malt forward styles (lucky for you, most of his beers are malty as hell! - I’d suggest a brown porter, blonde ale, or something similar. Saison would even work). Obviously use the freshest extract you can (which it sounds like you are)
-on the cold side, do everything the same. If you have a ferment chamber, set it to an ambient temp of 64 degrees or so, use the same amount of the same yeast
-this is the important part: when the beers are done and carbed, set up a blind triangle tasting with some people who have good palettes (you can have someone else set it up for you if you believe your palette is trained, which it sounds like it is, however, you know what you are looking for, so you want to try to find people who don’t)

Triangle tasting:
-3 identical glasses/clear cups
-one marked with a triangle, one with a square, one with a circle
-two are going to be the same beer, one is different, only the ‘director’ knows which is which
-see if people (other than you) can pick the extract, and specifically WHAT is different about it
-report your results to us so we don’t have to do this :mrgreen:

I’m curious if there could be some sort of chemical or mineral in the water that’s reacting in a way that causes off-flavors during the extract brew process, but does something completely different if the water goes through a mash first.

Or another similar possibility that comes to mind is chloramine. I believe it gets driven off by boiling, but if you’re doing partial boil that would only apply to a portion of the water that’s going into the wort.

I recall when I did all extract that most of my beers, regardless of style, had a “sameness” to them. It is hard to explain, but there was just a flavor thread that went through all of them.

Stepping back and looking at it, most of those recipes probably used the same LME as a starting point?

[quote=“560sdl”]I recall when I did all extract that most of my beers, regardless of style, had a “sameness” to them. It is hard to explain, but there was just a flavor thread that went through all of them.

Stepping back and looking at it, most of those recipes probably used the same LME as a starting point?

[/quote][quote=“bunderbunder”]I’m curious if there could be some sort of chemical or mineral in the water that’s reacting in a way that causes off-flavors during the extract brew process, but does something completely different if the water goes through a mash first.

Or another similar possibility that comes to mind is chloramine. I believe it gets driven off by boiling, but if you’re doing partial boil that would only apply to a portion of the water that’s going into the wort.[/quote]

+1
Good points! Both of these could be linked to the flavor I was getting.

Thanks for the confirmation of tasting SOMETHING different in the extract-based beers. I don’t think I’ll ever really solve this problem, but it’s largely a moot point since I actually like brewing all grain better – seems more satisfying to brew something from grains rather than jugs or bags of extract.

I think the approach to see if anyone can pick out the “extract taste” is good science, but more than I’d care to do – that’s a lot of work. Since I only brew once or twice a month (depending on the season) I’ll have to set up a blind tasting test using just extract vs all grain of past beers. At a recent party, people did notice the difference between my all grain and extract without me giving any hints at what I was looking for, so there is some indication of the validity of what I was tasting. Maybe that’s all I need since I believe my extract days are over.

As for what the source is, I’m guessing I’ll probably never know. I’ve always used Camden tablets, used a variety of extracts and the same water source – same taste running through all my extract beers. Maybe it is some water component reacting differently with the extract than the mashed grain (?)

At this point, I feel that because at least some others have confirmed my findings and I can go forward feeling a bit more confident that whatever that taste was (and wherever it came from) will likely not appear again. I am VERY happy that I’ve finally found a path to brew beer that tastes good to me – and isn’t that what it’s about? I’m not at all concerned about winning competitions – my goal is to make Belgian beers that at least come close to the quality of those I can buy at the store. Next weekend I’ll be doing a Belgian Dubbel (recipe from “Brew Like A Monk”) and I can hardly wait.

IMO I think extract brews are inferior due to the lack of full wort boil. I have a buddy that does extract with full wort boils and they are excellent beers. Also, I regularly have another friend’s beers made at a BOP that are extract and they are excellent as well, but again full wort boils.

I have brewed 4 extract kits from NB and 2 all grain … the SG of the extract kits is way lower than it should be. The all grain SG is dead on the money … The extract kits have a great taste, but I feel they are weak… my opinion

Friend of mine gave me a couple of his beers to try. I thought I could taste extract in them. He said they were AG. Go figure.

I do think there is some inevitable crosslinking of sugars/proteins during the drying/concentrating process in making DME/LME. This is most likely the source of the slight sweet caramel that I equate with extract. In certain styles its not bad at all.

That is interesting because when I brewed NB extract kits, and I did about 25 my first year, every single one hit the expected OG exactly. You you mention SG which could mean the gravity at any point in the process. Are you referring to OG or FG? Also, you might be saying that the designed SG is low or your numbers were lower than their recipe states?

Also, the SG of All Grain kits is far more process driven than grain driven. All that means is that you got lucky to have the same efficiency as what they predicted, which I would give most people a 1 in 4 chance of hitting on their first few trys. Nice job.

One other possibile contributor is salt content. DME/LME is mashed with relatively hard water that has plenty of salts. Then you add your tap water and bump this up more. This extra salt can affect pH, and possibly cause more crosslinking during the boil.

Extrat makes some good beer though, and the availability of Maris Otter, Munich, rye, and others is really expanding the styles one can authentically brew.

[quote=“mattbrew83”]As you know extract is the easy way to brew beer meaning everything has been mashed and is ready to go…if you are having trouble with your beer its something going on in your process not the extract…what exactly is “extract taste”?..When do you add the extract? Could it be that the wort made with extract is carmelizing and causing this flavor? when i rarely brew extract i always use DME and i never had a problem…I would love to see someone drink my beer and say “thats and extract brew huh” cause it wont happen…that why i dont understand what you mean by “extract taste”[/quote] I agree with this. I have done both mainly AG now because Im planning on opening a brew pub within the next year or so.

[quote=“zwiller”]IMO I think extract brews are inferior due to the lack of full wort boil. I have a buddy that does extract with full wort boils and they are excellent beers. Also, I regularly have another friend’s beers made at a BOP that are extract and they are excellent as well, but again full wort boils.[/quote] I have always done full volume boils with extract . I think its apart of making quality extract brews.

I think it is more of a brewers process and learning than just extract (especially most new brewers are starting with extract). I had what I thought was extract twang in my early beers years and years ago. I go brew extract now after years of brewing and they are perfeclty fine

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