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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Recipes/Ingredients > Help with Taste Troubleshooting
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Old 07-10-2009, 12:22 AM   #1
jescholler
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Default Help with Taste Troubleshooting

Hi,

I brewed an American Amber Ale on May 9. It's been in the bottle for about 5 weeks now (3 carbonating plus 2 refrigerated). For the most part, I'm really happy about the beer, but there's one thing I'm not too happy about. About 2 seconds after I swallow, I get an unpleasant bitterness.

I know to troubleshoot this, you'll need a lot of details on my recipe. You can find it on Recipator:
Black Dog Amber

I used all cascade hops, and the IBUs are on the low end for the style. Does anyone have any ideas where that might be coming from?

My thoughts are:
*That's what cascade is supposed do
*Too much flavor hops (1 oz.)
*Water profile may be bad. My water has ~200ppm sodium and ~160ppm sulfate. I only diluted my 2 gallons of steeping water, but used about 4 gallons of the unadjusted water. It's possible that the high concentrations of sodium and sulfate are creating the harsh bitterness, as Palmer calls it. I didn't notice this in my 2 other beers that I brewed without adjusting the water, but they were slightly lower in bitterness (15-20 IBUs).

Thoughts anyone?

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Reason: Information about previous batches not having this problem
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Old 07-10-2009, 12:49 AM   #2
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It is possible that the water is causing this. You are extract brewing right?

Someone had a similar problem in the following thread. http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f14/8-ba...41/index9.html

Hope that helps.

Also, I find bitterness hits the tounge differently sometimes. Sometimes I like it better than others.

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Old 07-10-2009, 01:04 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by noeldundas View Post
It is possible that the water is causing this. You are extract brewing right?
Yeah. This was DME with about 1 lb. of crystal.

Quote:
Originally Posted by noeldundas View Post
Also, I find bitterness hits the tounge differently sometimes. Sometimes I like it better than others.
I'd believe that. I've probably had about 12 of these, and I really picked it up today.
Edit: I just gave it another taste, and I would say it is astringent if that helps. It does stick around for a while too.

That being said, I understand this beer is really young (sad that there's only about a case left).
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Old 07-10-2009, 02:39 AM   #4
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Yes sounds very similar to mine. Read this post (#81): http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f14/8-ba...ml#post1385363

its the only solution I can offer other than going AG - which I did and am VERY pleased with the results. I probably won't go back to extract even though I want to try the method in the above link. I just don't know if I can handle one more failure though if it didn't work.

Best of luck...

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Old 07-10-2009, 03:47 AM   #5
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TH,
I just posted a reply in that thread. Do you have any new information on batches 10, 11, or 12? Last update was on 6/24.

I've been thinking about my issue for a while, and in about an hour I'm going to try my newest carbonated beer that was similar in ingredients to my AAA, but with less bitterness and malt (similar ratio). I'm going to check to see if that has the same problem.

For some more additional information, here is my water report:


Also, the IBU calculation I used for the recipe was Tinseth at 26 IBUs. If I use Rager, that becomes 33. The range for the style is 20-40, so using the Rager formula it would be close to the high end. OG was 53, which would give a BU to OG ratio of 0.49 or 0.62 depending on what method you use.

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Old 07-10-2009, 04:12 AM   #6
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#10 and 11 are better, but still some astringency. Batch #12 is my AG batch and has no hint of it whatsoever. It is quite good as a matter of fact. Most of my beers have been American Amber as well, and I think part of my problem was too much hops utilization. Not sure why or how although I did tend to make my recipes on the higher end of IBU's for that style. I used Qbrew for calcs up until #10, now I use ProMash.

I don't know if you read that specific post I gave, but the advice that Sacc. gave me there seemed interesting - in terms of using 100% RO water, and putting extract in your steeping water to prevent tannin extraction and therefore reduce astringency. But like I said, I don't know if I have the patience to give that a try now that my AG turned out so well and I'm set up for it.

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Old 07-10-2009, 04:40 AM   #7
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The more I think about it, the more I'm convinced that it's the sodium and sulfate contents in the water. My water is at the upper limit of how much sodium you want to brew with (and a high sulfate concentration as well). Considering I used DME and did not dilute my water (aside from the steeping water), I got the sodium and sulfate from both my water and the water used to make the extract. The two of those together probably put the beer over some sort of threshold for my tastes. Add that to a fairly bitter beer, and the bitterness becomes unpleasant.

Anyone with more than 4 batches under their belt buy this?

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Old 07-10-2009, 05:00 AM   #8
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The sodium definitely does look really high. Is that your city water or a well? Are you using a water softener? The pH seems high too, but I'm not sure what that would do to an extract batch.

If you have some time (about 4 hours), I learned a ton about water chemistry from the Brew Strong podcast water shows (1-4). It probably makes a bigger difference for all grain, but you could still learn some things that you can apply to extract brewing.

The Brewing Network - Brew Strong

You could also try a batch with spring water from the Store and see if that resolves the issue.

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Old 07-10-2009, 05:41 AM   #9
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Thanks for the input. I listened to that series on water on Brew Strong. It was pretty much the same stuff that Palmer has on his site, but I got a few nuggets.

My water is town water that comes from 1 of 2 wells. It is treated somewhere along the line, but I didn't get the details. I assumed the numbers the town gave me were what comes out of my tap. No water softener.

I think I'm going to do an experiment when I get time. I'll do 2 small batches. One batch will be with all distilled (bottled) water, and the other will be with my tap water. I'll make sure that they're heavily hopped so I can detect the harshness.

I do detect the harshness in my less bitter beer, but it's very very faint. I wouldn't even notice it if I hadn't seen it in my amber.

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Old 07-10-2009, 07:38 PM   #10
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The experiment is good idea. I think Distilled water will help.

Also, take care not to 'sparge' or rinse your steeping grains above 170. That can add astringecy also.

It is very likely that you are just getting a very lingering hop bitterness due to your water chemistry though. I think it's tough to produce a very astringent beer with extract.

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