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Muted/"muddy" hop presence

So I am tweaking my pale ale recipe. The last two versions I have noticed that the hop flavor is kind of muted/“muddy”, meaning not nearly as clean or as potentially strong as I guess I am expecting it to be. Tastes good just not…clean. Both versions have also been hazy like crazy, whether it be protein or chill haze I’m not entirely sure. I’m looking for ideas on how to clean it up and make those hops pop. Irish Moss or whirlifloc are on my list of things to try (used to use, haven’t in a while). Have also thought about buying and using spring water. Here is my latest version with notes:

9 lbs Pale Malt, Maris Otter (3.0 SRM) Grain 1 90.0 %
1 lbs Caramel/Crystal Malt - 20L (20.0 SRM) Grain 2 10.0 %
0.50 oz Falconer’s Flight 7c’s [9.90 %] - Boil 60.0 min Hop 3 17.9 IBUs
0.75 oz Cascade [5.50 %] - Boil 15.0 min Hop 4 7.4 IBUs
0.75 oz Willamette [5.50 %] - Boil 15.0 min Hop 5 7.4 IBUs
0.75 oz Cascade [5.50 %] - Boil 5.0 min Hop 6 3.0 IBUs
0.75 oz Willamette [5.50 %] - Boil 5.0 min Hop 7 3.0 IBUs
1.0 pkg Safale American (DCL/Fermentis #US-05) [50.28ml]
0.50 oz Cascade [5.50 %] - Dry Hop 7.0 Days Hop 9 0.0 IBUs
0.50 oz Willamette [5.50 %] - Dry Hop 7.0 Days Hop 10 0.0 IBUs

Est Original Gravity: 1.054 SG Measured Original Gravity: 1.049 SG
Est Final Gravity: 1.010 SG Measured Final Gravity: 1.008 SG
Estimated Alcohol by Vol: 5.8 % Actual Alcohol by Vol: 5.4 %
Bitterness: 38.7 IBUs Calories: 160.8 kcal/12oz
Est Color: 6.5 SRM

Mashed with 4 gallons sparged with 5 gallons. Mashed at 150 for 60 min. Boiled down to 5.25
gallons.
Chilled down to 88 with the IC. Placed fermenter in fridge overnight to drop temp down to yeast
pitching temp.

Hate to do it but I’m going to ask… what water are you using and are you treating. IME water composition has a much bigger part in PA and IPAs.

Some things I would do to help “clean” up the beer and make the hops the star of the show:

  • Double or triple the late kettle hops
  • Do a 30 minute hop stand
  • Triple the dry hops
  • Reduce the crystal malt to a maximum of 5% (I would go even lower personally)

Sine you’re using MO as your base grain, I don’t think you need to do anything else to the grain bill.

I second the question above about your water profile.

I was kind of figuring water was going to be the big answer. That’s why I planned on trying bottled spring water next time. I use water straight from the tap with no treatment (always have and with good results on most brews). I’ve used both the stuff that comes through the softener and the stuff that bypasses it with pretty much no difference. I tried doing water chemistry once and damn near threw my computer out the window and put all my homebrew gear on Craigslist. Way too confusing for me.

Two scoops (or whatever measurement is called for on the bottle) of Gypsum helps in my hop forward beers.

I find water chemistry to be of very little personal interest to me, beyond the fact that it makes an incredible difference in the finished beer.

I do not try to understand it, because I would just rather not, at this point. I just follow the guru’s advice from Bru’n Water and do whatever the spreadsheet says.

It really is the single biggest improvement that I have ever made to brewing techinque. And someday I may work up the courage to actually understand it. Maybe…

[quote=“Steeler D”]I find water chemistry to be of very little personal interest to me, beyond the fact that it makes an incredible difference in the finished beer.

I do not try to understand it, because I would just rather not, at this point. I just follow the guru’s advice from Bru’n Water and do whatever the spreadsheet says.

It really is the single biggest improvement that I have ever made to brewing techinque. And someday I may work up the courage to actually understand it. Maybe…[/quote]

I totally agree and once you play with it for awhile you get a feel of what needs to be added. The Pale Ale is exactly what you want for a PA. Unfortunately water has a big impact and even more so on PA/IPA.

Bash me all you want:

Willamette is a horrible hop for pale,IPA beers. Use it in English style ales only.
Kick it to the curb and you will eliminate the problem.

[quote=“candleman”]Bash me all you want:

Willamette is a horrible hop for pale,IPA beers. Use it in English style ales only.
Kick it to the curb and you will eliminate the problem.[/quote]

I agree, but I think the bigger issue here is water.

play with your hops, depending if your making an american or english pale ale. You dont need to triple or doubel your hops if you rmaking a nice pale ale just get a good balance of what you are using
Water is the main answer here…along with your hops

[quote=“grainbelt”]play with your hops, depending if your making an american or english pale ale. You dont need to triple or doubel your hops if you rmaking a nice pale ale just get a good balance of what you are using
Water is the main answer here…along with your hops[/quote]
Oops. For some reason I was thinking IPA when I wrote my the advice above. I agree with grainbelt. The quantity of kettle hops in your recipe is fine, although I would still increase the dry hop to two ounces given the hops you’re using.

You could bump them up a little but no need to triple or double. Just play with a better hop combo. And adjust water for hoppy profile.
Hop extract is great to use to

I think you’ll get a long way toward understanding water chemistry if you just read the “Introduction” page for Bru’n Water. It gives a pretty good background on the topic.

And I agree that your Willamette hops could be part of the problem. I’d read that Willamette can act as a “booster” for the C-hops, so I brewed something like your hop schedule a couple years ago. The beer was much like you described, kind of muddy and muted. Of course, that was back when I was using 5.2 Mash Stabilizer instead of building my water. So that was probably my main problem. Once I ditched the 5.2 and started building water, there was a HUGE improvement in my beer.

5.2 is a crutch, and a bad one at that. It gave my beers a weird, cloying sweetness that was just nasty.

:cheers: to Martin Brungard for making water chemistry so easy!

agree with all the above points, esp about increasing the dry hoppage.

so are you using leaf or pellets? are you straining? there could be a lot of sludge around if you don’t strain the pellets.

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