I wan’t to get people’s input on extract twang. I have heard that it is a odd sweetness that is persistent in LME beers. I believe that it can be tasted in DME beers but I don’t really know. Do you believe it to be true and how do you describe the taste?
Extract twang is a very real phenomenon. It can come from either dry or liquid extract, but seems more prevalent with LME. To me it tastes like a combination of caramel, banana, and slight cardboard, and also has a certain tartness to it. Once you learn to recognize it, it is a pretty obvious flavor – there are instances where someone with an experienced palate can say, “this is an extract beer”, and 95% of the time, they will be correct, because they know what the twang tastes like.
If you can obtain fresh extract, the twang will not be present, and a fine and award winning extract beer can indeed be produced. Conversely, if the extract is a couple of years old, you are almost guaranteed some level of the twang flavor, and the beer will probably not be enjoyed by experienced beer geeks. The trouble is, you can never really be 100% certain of how long your extract has been sitting on the seller’s shelf, as I do not believe they use “born on” dates or the like, so freshness is difficult to ascertain.
In my experience, stale grain doesn’t produce this twang, but it does result in malt flavors that are less “bright” and exciting. So freshness is always important whether you are using extract or grains.
If you are concerned about extract twang, my advice is twofold:
Always buy your extract within a couple of weeks of when you plan to brew; do not keep a 30-pound stockpile of it in your basement or whatever, lest it grow stale on you in your own home. Buy it fresh, and use it fresh.
Use 100% distilled water for all your extract brewing needs. Why? Well, extract is produced just like any other all-grain wort – malt is crushed and mashed with WATER at 150-ish degrees for an hour or so, and then cooled. Then the water is evaporated off. But what sort of water did the manufacturer use to mash the grains? Most likely they used their regular local water source, which CONTAINS SALTS. When the water is evaporated off during the manufacturing process, the salts do NOT evaporate with it – rather, the salts end up IN THE EXTRACT. So then if you use your own local tap water or even spring water with your extract when you brew at home, you are in essence DOUBLING THE AMOUNT OF SALTS in your beer compared to all the commercial and all-grain brewers on the planet. Maybe this doesn’t hurt anything, but maybe it does. Try brewing both ways and find out for yourself if there is an impact. I believe this extra salt might play a role in the extract twang phenomenon.
Hope this helps.
Dave is right on. My extract beers do taste better when I use distilled water although my LHB store says to never use distilled water. Also one method I use to detect any off / twang flavors in my beer is to pour a pint and let it warm up to room temperature then taste it. At a warmer temp any off flavors will stand out clearly.
Dave, thanks for the thorough response. I believe this has been a huge issue in my last few beers, primarily because I was doing my masters and my good intention to brew always ended up in my kit sitting for months. I believe my last two kits satfor atleast four months, which as you said can be a reason for the twang. FWIW, I did notice that the recipe that came from Austin HB had a much more prevalent twang to it. Have you noticed that by aging the beer a little longer that the twang kinda ages away. I think i have noticed that but it could be just wishful thinking.
I don’t think the twang will go away with age. If anything, it will get worse.
There are some LHBS’s that are actually making their own extract these days, such as Annapolis Homebrew in Maryland. If you’re not lucky enough to have one of those, just start brewing in a bag :mrgreen:
I have been working on going all grain, just been low on money these days (thank you Ford for the transmission!) and it is also my fault as I decided that it would be fun to build a brew stand. I probably could do brew in a bag, but isn’t it ideal to do a full boil? My glass top won’t support a full boil.
You can top up an all-grain batch with clean water just like an extract kit. Your efficiency might be low around 50-60%, and the concentrated boil will make the beer a little darker than normal, but neither of these “issues” is a real big deal if you want to get into all-grain. It’s so easy, especially if you brew in a bag, you won’t believe how easy it is.
I’ve never had issues with mine. I suspect having good water helps.