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Old 12-11-2008, 01:55 PM   #1
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Default Unclean finish!!

I'm new to this forum and this is my first question...I've searched the web and have not found a clear answer.

The problem is this: all the beer I brew has the same flavor in the finish. It's kind of a dirty tasting flavor; overly bitter...kind of subtle. It's a bit like earwax (don't ask, haha).

It's so hard to describe a flavor. Most people don't notice it but I definitely do and it's driving me crazy. The only time I didn't taste it is when I added some lemon zest to the secondary (to a hefeweisen that I'd brewed before). The first time I brewed the hefe, the unclean taste was there....after adding the lemon zest, it was not. The lemon zest seemed to balance it out...or at least cover it up!

A little about my experience: I've been brewing for about year now. I've probably made close to 10 batches so far. I'm really good about sanitization and I do my best not to splash the beer around when transferring to secondary or to the bottling bucket (hopefully this rules out oxidation). Also, I've only brewed extracts (have not yet tried all-grain).

I talked to the guy at my LHBS and he said I should try to stop pouring (from pot to primary fermentor) when there's about 1/2" left in the pot. His point was that the taste I'm describing might be caused by too much sediment from the boil. He also said that it might just be the taste of the malt...and that I shoudl try a different brand. I've been sticking to muntons for the most part, but I think I've experienced this taste with others...so I don't think it's the malt.

Anyway...very frustrating because I'm definitely a perfectionist. Does anyone have any suggestions?? More importantly...does anyone know what taste I'm talking about??

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Old 12-11-2008, 02:07 PM   #2
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What is the recipe ? Water conditions ( hardness , pH etc).

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Old 12-11-2008, 04:47 PM   #3
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Water - I used distilled water purchased from the grocery store.

As for the recipe, it has happened in every batch...I've made hefeweisens, pale ales, red, a pilsner...

Generally, I use steeping malts in combination with LME and/or DME. Irish moss with every batch. Sometimes I've used gypsum (for English types and a stout).

I've used a variety of yeasts...all from Wyeast (the slap packs). If you want more specifics, please let me know!

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Old 12-11-2008, 04:51 PM   #4
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Have you tried using Spring Water instead of distilled? It sounds like a Ph issue since adding an acid (lemon) removes the flavor.

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Old 12-11-2008, 05:04 PM   #5
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Yeah. Never use distilled. It doesn't have any of the minerals you need.

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Old 12-11-2008, 05:07 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rocketman768 View Post
Yeah. Never use distilled. It doesn't have any of the minerals you need.
I'm pretty sure this is only relevant for AG.
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Old 12-11-2008, 05:11 PM   #7
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Quote:
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Yeah. Never use distilled. It doesn't have any of the minerals you need.
It's okay to use with extract brewing but sounds like you've tried everything else and the only thing that hasn't changed is the water. Simple item to change.
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Old 12-11-2008, 05:12 PM   #8
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are you using bleach as a sanitizer?

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Old 12-11-2008, 05:18 PM   #9
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Use this link. It might help you nail down a good descriptor for what you are tasting.

http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f38/eval...r-wheel-19877/

Maybe then we can stop guessing.

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Old 12-11-2008, 06:26 PM   #10
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Thanks for the responses!

Here are the answers to the questions I've seen thus far:

1. sanitizer - star san (and I've made sure to use the right dilution)

2. water - I don't have a problem changing to spring water, but I've heard that it shouldn't matter because the minerals in the malt extract will replace the missing minerals in the distilled water. But again...I'm not opposed to trying this theory!

3. Flavor - Using the flavor wheel link, I've decided that it is a bitterness in the aftertaste. I can also slightly detect it on the mouth...bitter and papery maybe. I imagine it's the same as a piece of paper would taste! But again...it is really subtle on the mouhth...more noticeable in the finish.

These things seem to point to oxidation but as I mentioned earlier, I am very careful not to splash around the beer when transferring from primary to secondary (or to bottling bucket). I oxygenate my beer by sloshing it around in the brew bucket right before I pitch the yeast. The guy at my LHBS suggested I use one of those oxygenating devices (with an O2 tank, etc). Seems to make sense...it'd be cleaner oxygenation and maybe a cleaner finishing beer. But again...I don't know.

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