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Old 03-25-2009, 01:57 PM   #1
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Default The taste of tannins

I brewed a Vienna Lager on 1/31/09 and did a decoction. The recipe was mostly Vienna malt, some Pils malt, and a little Crystal. The beer is still young by lager standards but it has a weird astringency to it that it has had at every taste along the way. It may be tannins but I don't really know.

This off-flavor is sort of bitter but not anything like hop bitterness. It's less bitter than it is astringent (I wish I could come up with a different word besides 'astringent'). The off-flavor does linger for a bit.

If it is tannins then I would assume they are either from the decoction or the sparge...maybe a little of both. The decoction was def not burned or scorched...it never smelled burnt in any way (it did smell caramel-sweet though)...and the bottom of the decoction pot showed no signs of scorching whatsoever. I cooked for many years so I know what scorching would be like.

Mash pH was ~5.3 and the sparge water was 180 F but the mash never got anywhere near that hot while sparging.

Does this sound like tannins? Any ideas?

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Old 03-25-2009, 02:03 PM   #2
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I would say sparge lower around 170 to eliminate that being the problem.

Are you crushing your own grain or do you get someone to crush it for you? If you have your own crusher I would HIGHLY recommend conditioning your grain before you crush, you'll end up with more intact husks and can crank the crusher down for a finer crush.

Malt Conditioning - Home Brewing Wiki

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Old 03-25-2009, 02:15 PM   #3
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Thanks huk. I now always condition my malt before running it through the Barley Crusher but I didn't back in January. But this batch was back when I had a much looser crush than I do now...and ales from both the old loose crush and the new tighter crush taste fine. Neither crush had much shredded husks. The brew just before this one and just after this one are both ales and taste great...but neither had a decoction. Same lautering process though.

I now measure the grain bed temp during the sparge and it's almost always between 155-165 F (using 180 F sparge water)...but I didn't measure that back then either. And the mash pH was good.

But something ain't right so I'll revisit all this again.

EDIT: I just rechecked my notes and I sparged with only 16 qt. of water...I often sparge with more without the off-flavor. Weird.

Can somebody decribe the taste of tannins?

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Old 03-25-2009, 02:20 PM   #4
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Yeah definitely I thought I had them in my most recent APA I did with Simcoe but that taste has subsided and the beer has turned out extremely good. It almost seems like a dry red wine finish on your palate, dries your mouth out and somewhat makes you pucker a bit. Give the beer some more time.

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Old 03-25-2009, 03:38 PM   #5
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tannins = over-brewed black tea

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Old 03-25-2009, 03:41 PM   #6
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Tannins taste like you left a tea packet in hot water for WAY too long, it dries out your tongue and has a bitter taste.

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Old 03-25-2009, 03:49 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by david_42 View Post
tannins = over-brewed black tea
agree

also very young very dark red wine.

also chewing on a piece of oak (Why would you chew on a piece of oak )
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Old 03-25-2009, 03:50 PM   #8
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Yea that's a decent decription. This is probably tannins then...I'd rather have not learned the hard way what they taste like.

Will gelatin or isinglass drop some of this out? I'll prob try it anyway...it's not like using some gelatin is gonna wreck it.

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Old 03-25-2009, 09:50 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SpanishCastleAle View Post
Yea that's a decent decription. This is probably tannins then...I'd rather have not learned the hard way what they taste like.

Will gelatin or isinglass drop some of this out? I'll prob try it anyway...it's not like using some gelatin is gonna wreck it.
Tannins are more of a sensation than a taste. My first thought is that it's way too early in the process of a lager to worry much about it. It would also be helpful if you would post the recipe and give a more thorough description of your process specifically including the decoction. I've done many, many decoction mashes over the years and never encountered a tannin problem from the technique. When I have run across excess tannins in beer it is almost always from oversparging. It also seems to occur most often in brewpubs trying to make 8 BBL of beer out of 7 BBL of ingredients.
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Old 03-25-2009, 09:54 PM   #10
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Wow, I'd never even heard of malt conditioning. Thanks!

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