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Missing the nuanced IPA Flavor

I’m wrestling with water, once again. It seems that all my IPAs have been similar in flavor (surprisingly similar). I suspect it’s due to my water, but no one seems to know definitively (see also: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=107869&hilit=bicarbonate#p951935 ).

I just kegged what was supposed to be a Lagunitas Maximus clone ( http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f12/can-you … us-221391/ ), but–based on my memory–it doesn’t taste all that different from my batch of Denny’s Rye IPA, despite the different hops & grains. Unfortunately, I don’t have side-by-sides available for comparison, and I’ve also unfortunately never tasted anyone else’s rendition of Denny’s Rye IPA. I can say that my Lagunitas Maximum clone doesn’t taste right–it sure looks darker in color than the commercial version–though it doesn’t taste bad, either.

Is there anything besides my house water that could be the source of my similar-tasting IPAs? I’m at a loss, and am on the verge of building all my water from scratch like a madman.

I’ve also had this same problem with all my IPA’s tasting very similar. I brew with extract right now and thought it either has to be the extract or the water that is causing this.

Anymore, I dryhop all my IPA’s.

can you describe the taste a little? how are your dark beers?

the best way to reduce bicarbonates is too cut your water with distilled water. have you tried that?

[quote=“S.Scoggin”]can you describe the taste a little? how are your dark beers?

the best way to reduce bicarbonates is too cut your water with distilled water. have you tried that?[/quote]

I add phosphoric acid to my mash strike water which works well - all grain brewing.

I’ve got high bicarbonate water as well and in my experience my hoppier beers have turned out way better when I dillute my water with RO. Pretty simplistic solution but I just follow the profiles from Bru’n Water, since my water is over loaded with bicarbonate I change the dilution percentage until I get the bicarbonate concentration to match and then I use salts to get all the other minerals back where the profile suggests. Tough to do a fair side by side with hoppy beers since hops fade over time but I feel pretty good about how my beers are tasting now compared to before diluting with RO.

Thanks, Flip. I think I’ll do a little experiment of my own to confirm, but I’ve already been suspecting the 329ppm bicarbonates in my water is an issue for the taste, even when the mash pH is well-compensated. I like the idea of using the matching water profile in Bru’n’Water as a foundation.

[quote=“Silentknyght”]I think I’ll do a little experiment of my own to confirm, but I’ve already been suspecting the 329ppm bicarbonates in my water is an issue for the taste, even when the mash pH is well-compensated.[/quote]For light-colored hoppy beers, shoot for <50 ppm bicarbonates and you should see a marked improvement in the flavor.

Shadetree’s advice matches Bru’n water’s water profiles suggestion (Brun’n water suggest 70ppm for a light colored bitter beer). Just like me it means you are going to have to use a lot of RO water for lighter beers which will strip out a ton of minerals which in turn means it’d be a good idea to add some back. No doubt it is a pain but my beer is far better now that I’m adjusting my water though I didn’t know about the importance of mash pH when I started all grain either which certainly didn’t help anything.

Nice part is that when I follow those profiles my mash pH almost always works out right without having to do anything extra (besides the RO water and salts). Sure that isn’t an accident and has a lot to do with the preset water profile suggestions.

Didn’t see you are in the Cities, guessing you are out in the suburbs like me. Around here only St. Paul, Minneapolis and Bloomington (which uses Minneapolis water) seem to have water that isn’t loaded with bicarbonates.

i don’t know what brewsumore is talking about… thoroughly confused me… i was talking to the OP

to the OP- try it out (cutting with RO water), and let us know how it turns out. bicarbonate can defiantly affect your hoppy beers, but how are your dark beers?

[quote=“S.Scoggin”]i don’t know what brewsumore is talking about… thoroughly confused me… i was talking to the OP[/quote]His comment is that he uses phosphoric to drop his bicarbonate levels rather than cutting with RO water.

ohh, i understand now, i didnt know that worked for bicarbonate… i think the comment “anymore, i dryhop all my ipa’s” threw me off. thanks.

I’d like to stop dry hopping. Seems whenever I do, the beer doesn’t turn out right. I like late hop additions and letting them steep after the boil is finished for 10 minutes or so. Seems to give me a nice aroma and flavor profile.

I’ve been using 100% reverse osmosis water which is much better and much easier to deal with I think in terms of brewing good beer. Been adding about 1.5 grams of gypsum and calcium chloride to the strike and sparge water for hoppy beers. Less for lighter, less hoppy beers. It’s easy stuff once you find a profile that works for a given style. There isn’t much point in mimicking the profiles from around th world as they likely adjust their water also.

ohh, i understand now, i didnt know that worked for bicarbonate… i think the comment “anymore, i dryhop all my ipa’s” threw me off. thanks.[/quote]

Didn’t mean to confuse you. Phosphoric works like a dream for me if I want to get to the desired pH with the least effort. I buy 70% phosphoric acid solution from Midwest, and add just under 50% of the recommended addition calculated in Bru’n Water, and have been hitting my target pH on the button, while dropping bicarbonate level significantly, although I’m not sure if it’s dropping as far as I want since Bru’n Water isn’t calibrated correctly for my procedure. The bicarbonate is high in my tap water at 151 ppm, but I can get in range generally with the acid carefully measured and added with a syringe. For light to amber beers I might also be adding a little gypsum and calcium chloride to get the desired level of calcium (60 - 100 ppm) and desired sulfate/chloride ratio.

I think the point is more that historically certain beers derived from certain areas because the water in that area worked better for that type of beer. In that sense, that’s why you mimic that profile.

Yeah, but if the point is to make great beer rather than to get to the historic starting point from which breweries then adjusted the water profile, what’s the point in hitting the starting profile. Which is Beersk’s point. Personally I don’t get why there’s much attention to the brewing region profile, unless you have similar water. However, they like all of us brewed beer that they could brew without changing water profile to the point of a resulting bad tasting beer.

[quote=“brewsumore”]
Didn’t mean to confuse you. Phosphoric works like a dream for me if I want to get to the desired pH with the least effort. I buy 70% phosphoric acid solution from Midwest, and add just under 50% of the recommended addition calculated in Bru’n Water, and have been hitting my target pH on the button, while dropping bicarbonate level significantly, although I’m not sure if it’s dropping as far as I want since Bru’n Water isn’t calibrated correctly for my procedure. The bicarbonate is high in my tap water at 151 ppm, but I can get in range generally with the acid carefully measured and added with a syringe. For light to amber beers I might also be adding a little gypsum and calcium chloride to get the desired level of calcium (60 - 100 ppm) and desired sulfate/chloride ratio.[/quote]

its all good. i didnt mean to sound rude. Ill have to pick up some phosphoric acid and try it out, thanks for the info. (i’m still rather new to water adjustments)

:cheers:

Noonan states that water under 150 bicarb can be acidified and used for brewing water. Silent, even cutting yours 50/50 is too high but prolly doable. Seems a PITA to fool with 70/30 and 80/20 cuts… Try a 100% RO/distilled batch. I really think the spreadsheets will guide you well with this.

Mash pH is arguably the most important since it ensures starch conversion, but is only part of the pH picture. Sparge, preboil, KO pH, and finished pH are the rest. Personally I think keeping preboil pH lower is critical for ensuring you’re not extracting some of the harsher hop constituents which I think alot of hopheads are doing in their IPAs. I base this on the accepted premise that “batch sparging eliminates the need for treating sparge water”. Might work on 100% RO, I don’t know, I’ve been acidifying sparge water since the days of Dave Miller…

I learned a lot from Kai’s work on pH even though it applies largely to lager brewing.

Thanks Zwiller. As usual from you, very helpful info, especially since I too am relatively uninformed about water treatment. Very good to know I’m borderline for treating with acid, per Greg Noonan. I’m saying “under the wire” and sticking to my story. I have completed the sparge water treatment section of Bru’n Water for my water and so have a recommended acid addition for treating it, but per the “batch sparge water is already buffered” argument have never added acid to my sparge water thinking “less is more”. Maybe I will try it. I should get on AHA and question Martin Brungard about using phosphoric acid with Bru’n Water, which has been my go to water program since I found how well it works.

edit: the way I’ve been doing it I’m getting great break formation and healthy ferments.

Scoggin - no foul. Game on bro’!!!

[quote=“S.Scoggin”] its all good. i didnt mean to sound rude. Ill have to pick up some phosphoric acid and try it out, thanks for the info. (i’m still rather new to water adjustments)

:cheers: [/quote]

If you go with the high % solution like I do, since it takes a small addition and therefore a bottle lasts a long time, then promise me that if you treat your strike water (which I prefer), or treat the mash after adding grist to strike water, be sure to add no more than 50% recommended of the 70% phosphoric solution in Bru’n Water plus full recommended amount of other additives, and if your pH isn’t spot on after 6 minutes of the start of the mash, THEN add a tiny bit more of the phosphoric. At least with the batch of 70% from Midwest I learned by experience I needed to downsize by 1/2 the BW recommended dosage, and have tested over several batches.

At least that’s for 11 gallon final volume batches, but I don’t see where that would make a difference. I generally balance my mash and sparge runoff volumes to be equal.

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