My beer sucks

Has anyone had issues with basic extract kits tasting horribly bad? I am consistently getting a medicinal / chemical taste in my brew. Is this fermented PBW? I have now brewed 8 batches of NB extract kits; 6 have ranged from bad to horrible, one is drinkable, the other was good / decent. Any suggestions for a new brewer?

I have been bypassing the standard NB instructions with my partial mash kits and have been cold steeping the grains and doing a full 5 gallon boil. Would this process create any off flavors?

Thanks for any suggestions. I’m getting discouraged with this new hobby…

That off-flavor typically comes from chlorine/chloramine in your tap water. Are you using your tap water? If so, I’d recommend buying distilled water from the store for your extract brews. Or, you can buy campden tablets to treat your tap water.

3 things to consider:

  1. Water treatment
  2. Make sure you are pitching enough yeast
  3. Temperature control throughout fermentation
    If you haven’t already, pick up a copy of John Palmer’s ‘How to Brew’ and study it.
    Extract kits should(and do) make very good beer.

been brewing a very long time and never had any bad flavors other than maybe 5-6 bottles of cap taint.

Have you just been soaking the partial mash grains in cold water then going right to boiling?

deleting double post. Dang mouse keeps double clicking…

I hope you are rinsing very thouroughly with clean water after using PBW to clean your equipment. I can’t imaging cleaning chemicals will enhance the flavor in a positive way. But baring contamination like that, I agree with the above comments that chloramine in the water is likely the problem. Try bottled distilled or spring water to fix that.

[quote=“Beermageddon”]I have been bypassing the standard NB instructions with my partial mash kits and have been cold steeping the grains and doing a full 5 gallon boil. Would this process create any off flavors?

Thanks for any suggestions. I’m getting discouraged with this new hobby…[/quote]

The instructions may not be the very best way to make beer, but until you get more experience and know why it might be better to modify things it would be safer to simply follow the instructions. If you do, you are pretty much guaranteed to make decent beer.

2 things

first, invest 30 bux on a water filer, get the chemical / solids element, (blue)
Mine is set up dedicated to our brew station

second, NB instructions leave a bit to be desired, I finally figured out that the first sentence in every step is the overview of the next step, not the step itself…

I do extract, my son all grain. never an off taste…

[quote=“Beermageddon”]Has anyone had issues with basic extract kits tasting horribly bad? I am consistently getting a medicinal / chemical taste in my brew. Is this fermented PBW? I have now brewed 8 batches of NB extract kits; 6 have ranged from bad to horrible, one is drinkable, the other was good / decent. Any suggestions for a new brewer?

I have been bypassing the standard NB instructions with my partial mash kits and have been cold steeping the grains and doing a full 5 gallon boil. Would this process create any off flavors?

Thanks for any suggestions. I’m getting discouraged with this new hobby…[/quote]

  1. help me understand… are they extract with grain kits or actual partial mash kits. They are not the same thing.

Most likely it is your water. However if you are not steeping or mashing/sparging your grains correctly it can cause similar off flavors. Can I ask why you decided to ignore the instructions and cold steep the grains?

^---- This. Exactly.

Buy some distilled water; it’s like a buck per gallon.
Make a batch 100% by the book. Once you fix the off flavor, then let’s talk about mods to the instructions one by one.

Thanks for the feedback. I’m doing extract kids with steeping grains…always NB kids. Too answer some of the comments above.

I had previously considered that water might be the issue, but the former residence at my home used tap water to home brew and turned out some really good beer.

I switched to cold steeping as I began trouble shooting these of flavors and have yet to attempt a normal steep since.

I do have Palmer’s book and reference it constantly.

Another thought is that I may not have the best quality of boil while starting with 6 gallons of water inn an 8 gallon kettle?

What was the good/decent batch? What are the bad batches? Can you describe your entire process. What are you doing for temp control?

All you need is a strong boil. So as long as you can boil it that’s not the issue. What are you using to boil? Stoves do struggle bringing up to and boiling 6gal.

My advice is similar to others. Use 100% distilled water. Bring the water up to 150° and steep your grains for 30 mins. Get a strong boil and go from there.

[quote=“Beermageddon”]Thanks for the feedback. I’m doing extract kids with steeping grains…always NB kids. Too answer some of the comments above.

I had previously considered that water might be the issue, but the former residence at my home used tap water to home brew and turned out some really good beer.

I switched to cold steeping as I began trouble shooting these of flavors and have yet to attempt a normal steep since.

I do have Palmer’s book and reference it constantly.

Another thought is that I may not have the best quality of boil while starting with 6 gallons of water inn an 8 gallon kettle?[/quote]

It’s helpful to know the previous resident brewed with the tap water, but did he TREAT the tap water before brewing? Even by letting it sit overnight? There was a previous mention of campden in this thread, but I’ll stick with the reco to use distilled water as the best first diagnostic step before trying anything else off the kit’s instructions. Medicine flavor sounds like chlorinated tap water to me, not steeping grain, or boil quality. (I associate creamed corn with bad boils.)

but about that boil quality; all the extract kits instruct high-gravity boils. So again, go back to the basics. Use the amount of water you CAN get to a nice boil, then top-off to 5-gallons in the fermenter.

Things like full-volume boils, and late extract additions are tips for taking decent beer up a notch or two not solutions to glaring problems.

The one more thing that the instructions are a bit weak on. Are you keeping the fermenter out of the light? …but again your description does not sound like it’s lightstruck; I’m just checking another datapoint.

17 NB extract kits.

All have been excellent, but I followed the instructions to the letter…except…I have added some dry hopping to a few and tweaked the hop schedule on a couple as well.

I’ve also brewed from 2 different sources (kits) and had great results as well.

I brew per their instructions and have had no issues.

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+1 to the above mention of chlorine/ chloramine. Although well meaning friends and my wife’s posse all gushed over my beers I believe they were lying to me until I got rid of the damned chlorine/ chloramine. NOW the accolades are real.

I’m using a Darkstar Burner for the boil. I think I’m going to use distilled water for next batch and follow instructions closer for a high gravity boll, then dilute to the appropriate gravity. Thanks again for the feedback!

I honestly think you’ll see a huge improvement with the distilled water. Your former resident may have been treating the tap water before brewing with it.

Steep the grains at about 150 or so for 30 mins as mentioned, then get a good boil going and add your extract. Get it going and do your hop additions and top off with distilled water in the fermenter to hit 5 gal. I followed the instructions perfectly for my first couple. First was so-so but I used tap water. Second was MUCH BETTER with bottled water.

Most of the experienced brewers here suggest you may have some sort of water issue. Just do an experiment and try with distilled water from the store with your next batch. If you end up with off flavors after that, you can eliminate that as a possible source of your problem.

I had a similar problem. My first 5 beers had an bit of a taste issue. All but one was drinkable… had to pour out my first attempt a stout. I switched to RO water and things have definitely improved. I had 2 five gallon jugs that get filled at a local grocery store for $0.39 a gallon=10 gallons for less than 4 dollars. I can live with that for good beer.

Still no luck. For the latest batch, I did the NB Nut Brown Ale. I heated 2.5 gallons of distilled water to 150 and steeped for 20 minutes. Followed all instructions during the boil, added 2.5 gallons of water, then dropped temp to 76 degrees before aerating and pitching yeast starter. Fermentation was great ; saw bubbles for nearly two days - let sit for nearly one month total. I did not take gravity readings during fermentation - OG was 1.044 / FG 1.008. Initial taste is an unpleasant band aid / alcohol taste. I’m at a loss…fermentation temp too high? I never paid too close attention to the temperature, but just sat the bucket in the basement. Is it possible that fermentation is so vigorous that it raises the temperature above appropriate levels? I’m at a loss and beyond frustrated :? .