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Old 10-16-2012, 01:45 AM   #41
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"So you're saying you may have an acidic residue that is being partially removed with each batch you brew?'

Im hoping thats it...I soaked my entire rig in PBW (ph 11.5) and then rinsed it heavily, filled with tap water and left overnight. It tests at 8.0, and a control sample (tap water in a clean glass) tests at 8.0 too...so its fair to say there is nothing acidic in my pot anymore. I am going to brew again tonight to see if I cant nut this out. If this doesnt fix it, im pretty sure its my sparging procedure thats causing me grief.

I considered the possibility that its my elec burners scorching wort but dismissed that. There is no evidence at all of scorching on the elements after a boil and no burnt flavours in the beer - even in pale, light lagers that I have made with this kit.

Brewzombie - your issue could be due to the ferment. Do you temp control your beers when fermenting or just pitch yeast and hope?

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Old 10-16-2012, 02:55 AM   #42
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"Brewzombie - your issue could be due to the ferment. Do you temp control your beers when fermenting or just pitch yeast and hope?
I do control fermentation temps, using a water-filled cooler, ice bottles and an electric thermometer. I've kept the temps at 19-21 C throughout primary, secondary and bottle conditioning. I've been wondering lately if I should start measuring the temp inside the primary (plastic), in case the inside temp was higher, but had always thought with a water bath that the temps would transfer efficiently to the inside of the bucket...but I'll definitely do this next time. I have a thermowell so this should be easy. Not sure why I never bothered before. I'll also aim for a slightly cooler target temp, maybe 17-19 C, to ensure I'm avoiding any hot fermentation flavours, although Wyeast 1056 should be fine up to 22 C.

YZ250: What's your sparging protocol: Fly or batch? What's your water alkalinity, pH and temp?
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Old 10-17-2012, 12:08 AM   #43
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I batch sparge and have never been measuring my sparge water ph which I think may be whats causing the issue....as its over 8.0 at my house.

Went to a mates last night and we measured these 5 crap beers I have. They came in at 4.8-5.5 (most around the 4.8 mark). This is way higher than what beer is meant to be (3.9 -4.2). Gordon Strongs book says you can adjust beer down with food grade acid to improve its flavour, so we gave that a try. I was skeptical before doing this, but boy...what a difference. The adjusted beer was rounded, almost clean and drinkable. The fault mellowed out significantly once treated. We did it to two beers and it was more obvious in one beer but the acid treatment definitely improved both.

We also agreed that the taste was tannins...it was pretty easy to pick up when we sat down and thoroughly tasted these beers.

So im almost certain (at the risk of putting the kiss of death on things) that my problem has been sparging with water thats way out of range (8.0 plus versus 5.5). Grab a ph meter of ebay and make sure your phs are correct - they can be had for as little as $10 and its evidently a very important thing to keep an eye on in your brewery.

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Old 10-23-2012, 12:55 AM   #44
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Tasted my first beer made with adjusted sparge water (ph 5.5). There isnt any hint of the bitter, tonic water or astringent taste. Pretty sure that was my problem.

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Old 10-23-2012, 01:08 AM   #45
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YZ250
Glad you’re having better beer and thanks for writing back to let us know!

Very interesting that acidulation helps already brewed beer.

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Old 10-23-2012, 04:22 AM   #46
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Tasted my first beer made with adjusted sparge water (ph 5.5). There isnt any hint of the bitter, tonic water or astringent taste. Pretty sure that was my problem.
Congrats YZ250! I'm still waiting to crack one of my own, made after my many adjustments (including bleaching my plastic, improved sanitation, CaCl2 & CaSO4 additions to boil, and more accurate measurement of water volumes and priming sugar). Here's hoping we both solved our problems.
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Old 10-23-2012, 10:31 PM   #47
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"Very interesting that acidulation helps already brewed beer."

I couldnt believe it either. I was extremely dubious when my mate rang me up suggesting we try this.

Good luck brew zombie - I have my fingers crossed for you. Report back when you have a taste.

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Old 11-28-2012, 08:08 PM   #48
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So, I`ve tasted my beer after my many modifications (have been tasting it for several weeks, actually). The situation has indeed improved, but I still notice an undesirable lingering bitter flavour; it`s just not intense and is now more of a bad after taste. Here`s a list of some of my changes based on feedback from this post.

1. I paid close attention to volumes during all steps of the process. I still had more headroom in the secondary than I would have liked, but carbonation is now spot on thanks to adding graduations to the secondary to see exactly how much sugar to add at bottling. I was definitely overcarbonating before.

2. Clarity of the final chilled beer is much improved, probably thanks to adding CaCl2 and CaSO4 to the boil kettle. I used to get crazy chill haze.

3. I`m pretty confident that there`s no significant infection (wild yeast or bacteria) following my soaking of plastics in bleach+vinegar and replacing the siphon hose. There was no geyser bottles or overcarbing noticed. I`ve increased the care I take with sanitation, rinsing and exposure to contaminants. For example, I now chill the hot wort inside at the kitchen sink instead of in the back yard and cover the immersion chiller and kettle with foil while it cools. EVERYTHING gets soaked or scrubbed in PBW and rinsed (instead of just rinsing out my plastics and relying on starsan next time to sanitise - I still sanitise with starsan before use of course).

4. I`ve not used a pH meter yet (I`ll get around to buying one), but the local homebrew club told me not to bother for a pale ale and I used several of the available spreadsheets to predict mash pH and I was well within normal predicted pH ranges (for what that`s worth). I batch sparge with Vancouver tap water (essentially RO - pH 7) and don`t expect it to be alkaline.

5. I monitored my fermentation temp (as usual) using my water bath setup to keep temps below 22 C (usually 19-20C), but will next time monitor the temp inside the bucket instead of the water bath...it could be spiking during initial fermentation. I also monitored my bottle conditioning temps just to be sure and kept temps in a similar range. I used the 1-2-3 week fermentation method. Next time I may also aim for a lower temp range of 17-19C.

VERDICT: I`m not there yet, but I`m encouraged to try again. The bitterness used to be so overpowering it was impossible to finish a bottle. Perhaps some comments on my recipe would help. It was based on Yooper`s pale ale, but ended up being a little lower in gravity. I think I`ll aim to up the gravity more to the original recipe OG of 1.058 or maybe I`ll try a Mirror Pond clone (love that beer) since it has a simpler malt profile.

6 GAL BATCH

GRAINS (Total: 12.64 lbs)
5.75 lb Gambrinus ESB (3.0 SRM)
3.45 lb Vienna Malt (3.5 SRM)
2.30 lb Munich Malt - 10L (10.0 SRM)
0.57 lb Carastan Malt - 30-37L (30.0 SRM)
0.57 lb Crystal Malt - 60L (60.0 SRM)

HOPS (Total: 5 oz)
1.0 oz Centennial (pellet/leaf) [10%] (FWH)
2.0 oz Cascade (pellet/leaf) [6-9%] (20 min)
2.0 oz Cascade (pellet) (Dry Hop 14 days - in secondary)

YEAST
1 Pkgs American Ale (Wyeast Labs #1056)

Est Original Gravity: 1.050 SG (65% efficiency 6 gal) - Forgot to measure actual
Est Final Gravity: 1.012 SG -measured 1.012 after 3.5 and 4.5 days b/f secondary
Est Bitterness: 40-50 IBU

Thoughts? This forum post has been transformational so far. Thanks to everyone who's offered their advice. It's much appreciated.

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Old 01-18-2013, 07:52 PM   #49
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I have had an off flavor that I think you are describing as well. It only comes out in my highly hopped beers with no dark grains. ie, IPA and a Black IPA that I mashed the dark grains too late and didn't get anything but color. I think I've read the dark grains can affect pH?

I've been getting better and better with my mash temps, sanitization, and water adjustments and have subsequently been making better beers, but my hoppy beers never come out well which is a shame because they are my favorite being a West Coaster, LOL. They have the bitter tonic aftertaste.

Thank you for posting all of your updates, I think I need to start checking my pH and making the appropriate adjustments.

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Old 01-19-2013, 07:04 PM   #50
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I have had an off flavor that I think you are describing as well. It only comes out in my highly hopped beers with no dark grains. ie, IPA and a Black IPA that I mashed the dark grains too late and didn't get anything but color. I think I've read the dark grains can affect pH?

I've been getting better and better with my mash temps, sanitization, and water adjustments and have subsequently been making better beers, but my hoppy beers never come out well which is a shame because they are my favorite being a West Coaster, LOL. They have the bitter tonic aftertaste.

Thank you for posting all of your updates, I think I need to start checking my pH and making the appropriate adjustments.
Hi thetmaxx,

Thanks for your post. I'm a westcoast hop-lover as well. I don't have any updates to report, but will do so when I do. I have a few new diagnostic toys to try out thanks to Santa, including a pH meter and refractometer, so I'm hoping to ferret out any flaws in my process. Cheers!
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