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Learning as i Go, but need Help

I’ll start of by saying this forum has been great wealth of info. I am relatively new to the world of brewing. Started last March with a Caribou Slobber Deluxe home brewer kit. I have now finished 3 beers(The Slobber, American Amber Ale, and Inn Keeper Ale). I bottle the first 3 last spring.

Jump to this fall, I Just bottled my 4th (Smash American Ale) a week ago and have 3 others (Nut Brown, Dry Irish Stout, and Brick warmer Red) in various states of fermentation. My question is this, my beers tend to have a strong dry, bitter after taste, that sticks in the back of the mouth. I went ahead and tried other beers to try and better my brewing practices, but don’t think I quite have it yet. I am using John Palmers book which I received with the mad brewer’s kit. I am brewing all extract so far but contemplating all grain. The two beers that have been the worst seem to be the Amber Ale and the Smash Ale and the Slobber behind that. The Inn Keeper was the best.

I had thought my problem might be the steeping grains, so I varied from the NB recipe and started steeping in a gallon to gallon and half of water(per J. Palmer) on the stove and used two different thermometers to verify my temp was not to high(tannins), then add this to my wort. Then I tried my latest beer, the Smash Ale(no steeping grains) and after a week in the bottle it is starting to develop the same characteristic. I would classify the taste as astringent or a bit green(grassy), but with more over powering taste than just bitter, it is dry and it stays with you as you drink it. I know my water is a bit on the alkaline side, closer to 9 pH but didn’t think this would matter doing extract. Wondering what could be causing this flavor to what otherwise seem like great beers. The color, aroma, clarity and carbonation of the Amber Ale seem perfect. But this one seemed to have the most off in flavor. Still drinkable for me, I have one open now and I like IPAs but not quite the same especially for a Amber Ale???


My water or procedure is extracting too much or the wrong thing from to hops from the bittering hops early in the boil. And it never smoothes out or is to overpowering to let the other flavors come through.

Question: What do I try to make better… Could it be the water, the hops, maybe chlorine in the water pulling some flavors out of the hops…Don’t Know Thought I would have this by the third or fourth beer.

Sorry to get long winded but I love beer and really want to get on top of this so I can make something that will wow and delight my friends and family not to mention the thought of having a great one of kind beer in my fridge when I get home from work and I will not give up easily. :?

We are going to need much much more info. Walk through your ENTIRE process, from the beginning to the end. What do you boil in? Who crushes the grains? How do you monitor ferm temps? Etc…

Also, can you describe the off flavors better? Think about what they taste like… hot, acidic, sucking on a tea bag, metallic, etc…

Looking at one beer may lead to the solution for all of the beers since the problem seems the same for all the beers.

What yeast did you use for the Amber Ale, and what was the wort temperature during the first five days of active fermentation?
Dry yeast used, did you rehydrate the yeast before pitching?
Liquid yeast used, did you make a starter and what size?
What was the temperature of the wort when the yeast was pitched?
What is the source of your brewing water?

Water does matter for extract beers; not in terms of conversion factors, but it certainly can affect flavor. If your water is hard, you should brew a batch using distilled or reverse osmosis water purchased from the store. Chlorine or chloramines could be having an effect also, but I’m not sure I’d start with that, and purchased jugs won’t have it.

The other place I would immediately investigate is fermentation temperatures. It doesn’t sound like high the flavors you are describing are typical of high temp fermentations, but it could be a contributing factor. And regardless, you’ll want to get your temperatures under control to make the best tasting beer anyway. What temperature do you pitch at, and what temperature do you ferment at?

All of my extract beers were like this. It eventually aged out between 6 - 8 weeks after bottling. You definitely should explore brewing with distilled or RO water, especially with extract brews. Extract contains all the salts and ions your beer will need. Using tap water only adds to that and some of these additional salts can contribute the perception of bitterness, with sodium and sulfates major contributing factors in the perception of bitterness. Here’s an example of one guy’s findings:

Use distilled or RO water to dissolve your priming sugar when you bottle. Speaking of bottling, another thing that can cause a harsh bitterness is over carbonating, so use a priming sugar calculator and accurately know the volume of the beer you are carbonating.

Ok, thanks everyone the quick response, for now all my kits are extract kits from NB, so all the grain which is just for steeping is from them. As for the American Amber Ale, going back to my notes these were my findings.

I brewed in an aluimium pot(don’t know if this has any relevance). Heated 2.5 gal water up with steeping grains and held at 160 -165 F. Then pulled the grain a took to boil and added my 2 oz. of Cascade hops and continued with boil per recipe. I Cool in and ice bath in approximately 30min. to 100 F. I then added cold filter tap water to the 5 gal mark which brought my temp to 72 F. and pitched Safale US-05 dry right out of the packet, I now rehydrate and have been using starters with wyeast when I use it. My fermentation temps where between 60-65 F once it settled to the temp of the room. Fermentation was active for about 4 days and settled down.

3 weeks in primary and 1-1/2 weeks in secondary. Then bottled. bottles sit in same room as my fermenters @ 60-65 F. Beer tasted pretty good a bottling, but seemed to get worse in the bottle. and some were stronger than others.

My original gravity was 1.047 but I somehow broke my hydrometer and didn’t get a final gravity.

After some quick research I’m thinking I might try a brew with RO or Distilled water. The taste is worse on beers with more hop bitterness in the beginning. I know my water is alkaline and from dealing with it for aquariums, but does not taste bad. Thanks for the thread about water from It did seem helpful and similar to the same tastes I have. I will definitely follow up. I have ingredients for the brews and want try another. I have a very busy week.

Your process overall looks pretty good. The only thing that jumped out at me was the moderately high pitching temperature. You should strive to pitch at fermentation temperature or a few degrees below. But I doubt that is what is causing your problem. It most likely is the chemistry of your water. It has been said that if your water tastes good, it is good for brewing. But that is not really true. Distilled water is ideal for brewing with extracts, and few people like the taste of distilled water.


More than likely the water. Try with distilled and in the mean time check into sending a sample to ward labs. This will give you the water composition and help not only with future batches but if you ever decide to go AG.

Aluminum can be a concern if it isn’t properly “seasoned.”. For that its rather simple. Boil some plain water. It will discolor, but you want that as its an oxide layer that protects the wort from leaching the aluminum.

If aluminum pots made beer taste bad I’m sure you would have a heck of a lot more people posting about it. I also would start with the water.

[quote=“Brew Cat”][quote=“flcncrst”]Aluminum
If aluminum pots made beer taste bad I’m sure you would have a heck of a lot more people posting about it. I also would start with the water.[/quote]
Sorry for being so vague, but I do recall reading something about brewing with aluminum. Maybe something to do with an oxidation layer on the surface. It had something to do with cleaning, and improper care that could cause off-flavors.

Again, sorry for being so vague, maybe it will get someone’s better memory going. I just hope I’m not recalling some debunked urban legend.

OP mentions chlorine in the water…is it treated?

I brewed a few extract batches last summer while working in FL for a couple months. Since I have well water at home it didn’t occur to me that I should treat the water for chlorine. They had the same kind of after taste you describe.

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