Off flavor

The last two batches I’ve brewed have had a harshness to them that is very unpleasant. They have both been IPAs. Prior to that I had brewed a stout that turned out really well. I don’t know exactly what it is coming from. Any ideas?

I batch sparge in a cooler mash tun. Could it be oversparging related to to large a volume of sparge water? I mash 1.25 quarts/gallon, but I just sparge with a large enough volume reach the total volume I want after I get my run off.

I’m mashing around 152 and then heating my strike water to 170 to sparge. I don’t think I’m sparging too hot, but I guess that is a possibility. I’m thinking of doing my next batch without a sparge to see if there is any difference.

I have been using rahr 2row malt mostly. Could it be related to using cheap grain?

I lack temperature control. I currently ferment in a closet that gets into the high 70s. Both batches have been with 1056. Could this be an off flavor produced by the yeast related to too hot of a fermentation?

The “Harshness” is most likely due to the high fermentation temp. You are likely getting fuesal alcohol due the temp. Try using a swamp cooler. they are cheap and easy means of controlling temps.

+1 to the above. As some of the veteran brewers on this forum have hammered into us "beginners and yearlings ", temperature control is one of the single most important ways to improve your beer :cheers:

With the provided info 2 things come to mind:

  1. Temp of fermentation. High 70°s is way too high.
  2. Water composition. What water are you using? Are you treating it?
    FWIW I predominantly use Rahr and have been very happy with it, as have many others on this forum,

Thanks for the replies. I suspected temperature was the case. I will hold off my next brew until I have adequate temperature control or the weather cools down a bit. My dad has offered to give me his deep freezer when he moves soon, and I will invest in a temp controller for it. I had planned to make this a keezer and start kegging, but I would probably be better served by making a fermentation chamber.

As for my water, I’m just using tap water. I need to have a sample analyzed, but haven’t done so yet.

Harshness in an IPA can be caused by high kettle pH. Try getting a water report and make sure you’re mashing at the lower end of the recommended range, like 5.1 to 5.2. The fact that your stout turned out well points to pH being the problem, as the darker malts will drop pH more than lighter ones and you probably were in the right range without adjustment. You likely have some bicarbonate in your water that you could treat with lactic or phosphoric acid.