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Old 09-19-2011, 01:55 AM   #1
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Default Strange bitter off flavor

I've brewed a few batches and have noticed a common off flavor that has been common to them. It is not sweet or fruity, but more bitter and band-adiy and it's so strong that it masks the flavor of the beers and makes them all taste similar. After reading, it seems that a potential culprit is a high fermentation temp (which could explain the off flavor in my IPA) BUT the same off flavor is also present in an Oktoberfest that I had lagered and fermented in the high 30's/low 40s. Any other thoughts on what could be causing this flavor?

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Old 09-19-2011, 01:57 AM   #2
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The first thing that jumps out at me is "water"! What is your water source?

(The second thing was fermentation temperature- it doesn't seem right that you fermented a lager in the 30s/low 40s, as usually lager yeast will go dormant that cool. Which yeast strain did you use, and at what temperature did you pitch the yeast?)

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Old 09-19-2011, 02:02 AM   #3
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That's another wrench...the IPA was brewed at my place (NW Minneapolis suburb) with tap water, but the Oktoberfest was brewed at a buddy's place in a southern suburb, again using tap water. I suppose the water profiles could coincidentally be the same... I've also brewed a couple of other brews (Irish stout, Coffee stout) using my tap water, too, and they seemed to come out OK. Would the stout have masked it?

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Old 09-19-2011, 02:21 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Scraggybeard View Post
That's another wrench...the IPA was brewed at my place (NW Minneapolis suburb) with tap water, but the Oktoberfest was brewed at a buddy's place in a southern suburb, again using tap water. I suppose the water profiles could coincidentally be the same... I've also brewed a couple of other brews (Irish stout, Coffee stout) using my tap water, too, and they seemed to come out OK. Would the stout have masked it?
Yes, believe it or not.

I got a Ward Lab water test a few years ago ($16) and although I knew my stouts were beyond awesome and my kolsch sorta sucked, I didn't understand why until I got the report. I have highly alkaline hard water. For a stout, it was perfect and I still make my stouts with 100% tap water! But for many other beers, I have to dilute my tap water with reverse osmosis water in varying amounts. I use 100% RO water for my Bohemian Pilsner, 100% tap water for my stout, and varying amounts of both for other styles in between!

I wouldn't rule out fermentation temperatures, of course- that is also crucial. But that usually is a fruity flavor (like bananas, bubblegum) or "hot" tasting and not so much astringent, band-aid, medicinal, etc.

Another issue could be chloramines/chlorine in your brewing water. That's easy to treat, though, with campden tablets in the brewing water.
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Old 09-19-2011, 02:49 AM   #5
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+ 1 to yooper, i love apas and ipas but they all had a harsh bitter, sour kinda taste to it. my dark or malty beers didnt have that problem so i got a ward labs test and bam hard water. now i dilute my water and my beers are kick ass

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Old 09-19-2011, 03:27 AM   #6
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What's the best water to use? Filtered, bottled?

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Old 09-19-2011, 12:27 PM   #7
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What's the best water to use? Filtered, bottled?
It depends. I'd suggest reverse osmosis water from the big "drinking water machines" that I've seen at places like Wal-Mart. We have one of those RO machines in our local grocery store where it's $.78 cents per container (2 gallons at a time). If that's possible for you, that's the easiest way to do it. Then you can just add back a little calcium chloride or calcium sulfate (follow the water primer in the brewing science area). Buying spring water might be fine- but it depends what's in the water! Your own tap water might be just fine, too, but if you don't know the make up, it's hard to guess.
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Old 12-21-2011, 01:12 PM   #8
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I recently had something similar. Does anyone think it is possible to have this when using hot tap water but not when using cold tap water?
I recently changed to using hot tap water to speed my boils and got this strange off flavor in the centennial blond and a pale ale.
Second question, will dry hopping in the keg take the flavor away or will it overpower the hops?

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Old 12-21-2011, 03:55 PM   #9
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I recently had something similar. Does anyone think it is possible to have this when using hot tap water but not when using cold tap water?
I recently changed to using hot tap water to speed my boils and got this strange off flavor in the centennial blond and a pale ale.
Second question, will dry hopping in the keg take the flavor away or will it overpower the hops?
I wouldn't use the hot water. More than likely there is all sorts of build up inside the tank from the water over time. When I'm making my coffee, tea, etc. I always use cold water since it is fresh from the pipes.
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