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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > General Techniques > Front end bitterness in all of my beers.
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Old 01-12-2010, 10:55 PM   #1
Suthrncomfrt1884
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Default Front end bitterness in all of my beers.

When I first started brewing, I always noticed a front end bitterness in my beers that I assumed was coming from using extract. I had thought it was the "twang" everyone talks about.

This was one of my main reasons for switching to all-grain.

Since moving to AG, I'm still noticing this front end bitterness on all of my beers. It's subtle in most, so my beers still turn out great, but it's annoying. I only get it when the beers are right out of the keg/bottle (38-45F), but once they warm up (or maybe once my taste buds get used to it) it goes away.

I've brewed dozens of different styles, used a few different methods of brewing, and even adjusted my water chemistry a little bit. The only thing that I never changed was the tap water temps. Until recently, I didn't know that using hot tap water (to cut down on heating times) was a bad idea because of off flavors. I'm not sure if this is what's causing my bitterness, so maybe someone can give me some insight. My latest beer (in the fermenter) used cold water straight from the tap. I'm hoping this fixes my issues, but if not, what are some ideas as to what's causing this?

This is the one thing that's kept me from brewing a perfect beer.

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Old 01-12-2010, 11:30 PM   #2
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Is that true that using your hot water heater to pre heat water is not good for brewing?

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Old 01-12-2010, 11:53 PM   #3
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If what you are describing is the same problem I had - it was a water chemistry problem. Do a search on "water chemistry" - or just go over to the brew science forum to read up on it.

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Old 01-13-2010, 12:02 AM   #4
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I had a very sharp bitterness in all of my beers until I switched to using RO water for a portion of my brewing water. I use varying amounts of RO/tap depending on SRM. Darker beers get less RO and lighters beers get more RO. YMMV

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Old 01-13-2010, 02:12 AM   #5
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I was also leaning toward water, but the fact that I've adjusted my water in the past and it hasn't fixed it makes me think it's something else. Also, I have very good drinking water...it's just soft because of the softener.

And sjlammer...I'm not sure how much it makes a difference to use hot tap water, but here's what I've been told.

Hot water heaters have tons of sediment and materials at the bottom of the tank. Whenever you use hot water, some of this is released into it. Because of this, the only thing you should use hot water for is cleaning dishes or if you plan on boiling the water anyways.

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Old 01-14-2010, 12:08 AM   #6
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I don't always buy that way of thinking about hot water. If the sediment was always released, then how does the sediment accumulate? It would be difficult to have both be true.

And good tasting water is irrelevant, unless you can taste calcium concentration, etc, haha.

I would suggest some more water experiments. Or try using distilled water and adding your salts on top of that. Unfortunately it is not really an exact science. I have have good and bad success with water adjustments. I think it really requires a lot of experimentation.

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Old 01-14-2010, 01:04 AM   #7
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Do you by any chance use pellets for your hop additions? When I starting brewing, some guy handed me some malt extract and pellet hops and told me to go make some beer. I used those pellets for a while and kept noticing some sharp bitterness. I then decided to switch to whole leaf hops and then that flavor disappeared. I did that for a while and was pleased with the results. But then I read many threads on this website that indicated that I was imagining this front bitterness so I decided to try again with pellet hops (my LHBS has more varieties of pellet hops than they have of whole leaf). BAM!!! That bitter flavor was back again. I'm probably going to be sniped for saying this, but I think pellet hops are crap. I think I'm gonna switch to exclusively using whole leaf hops and do the best I can with the available varieties. So my point is that maybe you're having the same issues I had so I would advise trying whole leaf hops if they are available for you.

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Old 01-14-2010, 01:34 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mithion View Post
Do you by any chance use pellets for your hop additions? When I starting brewing, some guy handed me some malt extract and pellet hops and told me to go make some beer. I used those pellets for a while and kept noticing some sharp bitterness. I then decided to switch to whole leaf hops and then that flavor disappeared. I did that for a while and was pleased with the results. But then I read many threads on this website that indicated that I was imagining this front bitterness so I decided to try again with pellet hops (my LHBS has more varieties of pellet hops than they have of whole leaf). BAM!!! That bitter flavor was back again. I'm probably going to be sniped for saying this, but I think pellet hops are crap. I think I'm gonna switch to exclusively using whole leaf hops and do the best I can with the available varieties. So my point is that maybe you're having the same issues I had so I would advise trying whole leaf hops if they are available for you.
Thanks for the input, but my problem has NOTHING to do with hops. I use primarily pellets, yes. But, I've also used whole leaf, plugs, and my own homegrown hops. The bitterness is always there and it's not a hop bitterness.

I haven't really played around with my water as much as I probably could, but that's because I can't get my city water dept. to give me any answers on what's in the water. I've gotten the normal flyer they send out, but that's useless for the things I need to know. I called them, nothing. So...I guess I'll have to get my water tested or start using RO water until I can start adjusting my tap water.

Thanks for the help everybody.
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Old 01-18-2010, 07:03 PM   #9
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i get same bitter bite i have always done ,tap water and extract brewing i think it has to do with water also im going to go with bottled water...

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Old 01-18-2010, 10:22 PM   #10
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I suspect a sulfate to chloride ratio problem in your water.

As an experiment, try using this spreadsheet to design a water with a 'balanced' chloride/sulfate ratio and see if that makes a difference.

I had a similar problem until I adjusted my brewing water.

*Edited to correct link*

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