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Old 10-03-2012, 09:53 PM   #1
Vladens
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Default Unpleasant hoppy/bitter aftertaste... help please.

Hello!

I've done a good bit of searching on this forums, and have found threads that touch similar subject, but don't answer the questions I have...

Problem:
Few of my recent batches had unpleasant bitter aftertaste. The best comparison I could think of is the smell of yeast sediment in the bucket after primary fermentation of a hoppy beer (hops ad diretly to wort, no bag). Somewhat yeasty & kinda bitter. That taste comes very soon after swallowed and I feel on the back of the tongue.
I first noticed it in one batch of saison which I had dry-hopped just slightly. It was my first experience dry-hopping, and I attributed this problem to my inexperience. Recently I made another saison and rye-beer; no dry-hopping. Same issue with saison as before, and rye - same issue except multiply the unpleasant factor by 5.
First taste is ok, doesn't feel as if it was contaminated, not sour, but unpleasant after swallowed.

Question:
I see a lot of you were addressing question about water, fermentation temperatures, mashing etc. I still have to work on my water adjustments, temperature control for fermentation and on my mashing techniques.
# mashing - I'm new to all-grain, and mash in a cooler adjusting temperatures by adding increasingly warmer water (infusion method I guess?)
# fermentation - keep them in basement at around 65F (+/-5), still need to build a temp controlled chamber. As far as length of time - most of the beers that are not particularly high gravity I do total of 3 weeks before kegging (either 1 week primary/ 2 secondary or 2 weeks primary / 1 secondary)
# water - use tap water, and have not researched yet how, when and why should I adjust

I've brewed easily easily over 20 batches since I started a year ago (all-grain only this summer, maybe 5-7 batches). Most of these processes/variables that are mentioned above have not changed. Yet 3 batches had this problem.

OK, real question now
Can it be my equipment that spoils the taste? I haven't replaced my plastic buckets yet. I remember hearing somewhere that they should be replaced after a while, just don't know how long....
I usually clean my buckets, carboys and kegs well with dish soap and sanitize with Star San. Could it be because I dry-hopped my IPA in the plastic bucket? (BTW - it was Two Hearted Ale clone, and turned out awesome!).

Also kind of important detail I think - I tried my rye beer (first personal recipe) before kegging it, and I'm pretty sure it did not have this problem. Now it's almost undrinkable.


Let me know if I need to provide some other detail about my process, but I'm really leaning more towards a problem with equipment at this point. I wish I would've kept track of of what bucket I used for what beer; maybe I could've pointed right away if bad beer comes from same bucket?!
I have 2 plastic buckets, 2 glass & 2 plastic carboys, and 5 kegs.

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Old 10-03-2012, 10:14 PM   #2
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Your problem sounds like astringency. This is can be caused by many different factors... such as oversparging, crushing grains too fine, too hot of sparge water, over hopping, bacterial infection, and even poor water quality. They way you are describing it, it kinda sounds like an acetobacter problem. I would also start by cleaning with PBW rather than dish soap. Also, try to eliminate the serving end of things. Use a new picnic tap on the same keg to see if the flavor is there.

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Old 10-03-2012, 11:07 PM   #3
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Your problem sounds like astringency. This is can be caused by many different factors... such as oversparging, crushing grains too fine, too hot of sparge water, over hopping, bacterial infection, and even poor water quality. They way you are describing it, it kinda sounds like an acetobacter problem. I would also start by cleaning with PBW rather than dish soap. Also, try to eliminate the serving end of things. Use a new picnic tap on the same keg to see if the flavor is there.
I had no idea it's possible to oversparge, I need to learn more about all this...
Grains are crushed at the store, I can only assume they know what they're doing.
Over hopping? These were relatively low IBU beers, especially the last 2 I made.
I usually sparge with close to 170F... Is that too much? Or it depends on the recipe?
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Old 10-03-2012, 11:51 PM   #4
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You want to keep the grains below 170. If you are batch sparging, 170 is fine as the grains will cool it down enough. Oversparging is usually only experienced by fly spargers who try to get to much out of the grain. Once the SG of the wort gets too low the sparging can extract tannins... which lead to astringency.

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Old 10-03-2012, 11:56 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vladens View Post
# mashing - I'm new to all-grain, and mash in a cooler adjusting temperatures by adding increasingly warmer water (infusion method I guess?)
# fermentation - keep them in basement at around 65F (+/-5),
# water - use tap water, and have not researched yet how, when and why should I adjust
These are the first three things I thought of. First, what do you mean "adding increasingly warmer water?" That doesn't seem right.

Next, water chemistry is HUGE. I'm leaning towards this astringency being related to alkalinity in the brewing water.

Third, 65 +/- F is too warm, if it's closer to 70. The active fermentation creates heat, and I've seen an active fermentation be 10 degrees higher than the ambient temperature when it was really chugging. That means you may be closer to 80 degrees during fermentation! About 15 degrees too hot.

But I think the water chemistry issue is more likely the cause of astringency. You could get some "meaty" or "fruity" or "hot" flavors from a too-high fermentation temperature, but astringency is almost always related to the water.

Can you try one batch with purchased distilled water? It would mean hauling water from the store, but if it fixes the problem you know that was it.
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Old 10-04-2012, 12:14 AM   #6
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Are you doing anything to filter chlorine or chloramine from your water? I am battling what sounds like a similar off flavor, and a beer judge has suggested that it might be due to my failure to get the chlorine or chloramine out of my water. This can apparently cause a bitter aftertaste that is sometimes described as astringency. I have not bottled one of my beers made with distilled water yet, so I cannot tell you if that made a huge difference, but that jumped out at me when I read about your issue.

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Old 10-04-2012, 01:53 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HerbieHowells View Post
Are you doing anything to filter chlorine or chloramine from your water? I am battling what sounds like a similar off flavor, and a beer judge has suggested that it might be due to my failure to get the chlorine or chloramine out of my water. This can apparently cause a bitter aftertaste that is sometimes described as astringency. I have not bottled one of my beers made with distilled water yet, so I cannot tell you if that made a huge difference, but that jumped out at me when I read about your issue.
+1. It seems as though it is just as simple as this. If you are not removing chlorine you cannot make good beer, no matter what. Start with removing chlorine(and chloramines depending where you are) and then move up the ladder of other beer issues.
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Old 10-04-2012, 03:20 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BigB View Post
You want to keep the grains below 170. If you are batch sparging, 170 is fine as the grains will cool it down enough. Oversparging is usually only experienced by fly spargers who try to get to much out of the grain. Once the SG of the wort gets too low the sparging can extract tannins... which lead to astringency.
I do fly-sparge, and I guess I could be oversparging....


Quote:
Originally Posted by Yooper View Post
These are the first three things I thought of. First, what do you mean "adding increasingly warmer water?" That doesn't seem right.
What I meant was 1) rest at 122, then add hot water to get to 154, and at the end sparge with 170. Sometimes if I can't get my mash to 154 I would drain part of it , heat it up and return to the cooler.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Yooper View Post
Can you try one batch with purchased distilled water? It would mean hauling water from the store, but if it fixes the problem you know that was it.
I could certainly try that. Bottled water was all I used when I started brewing with extract...
Or should just try adjust my own tap water instead?
Is Gypsum and pH stabilizer all I really nee, or is there more?

Quote:
Originally Posted by HerbieHowells View Post
Are you doing anything to filter chlorine or chloramine from your water? I am battling what sounds like a similar off flavor, and a beer judge has suggested that it might be due to my failure to get the chlorine or chloramine out of my water. This can apparently cause a bitter aftertaste that is sometimes described as astringency. I have not bottled one of my beers made with distilled water yet, so I cannot tell you if that made a huge difference, but that jumped out at me when I read about your issue.
What can I do to treat my water for chloramine instead of buying distilled water? Filter or additives?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Xpertskir View Post
+1. It seems as though it is just as simple as this. If you are not removing chlorine you cannot make good beer, no matter what. Start with removing chlorine(and chloramines depending where you are) and then move up the ladder of other beer issues.


Thanks everyone for replies so far!

Oh and, BigB, I tried using different picnic tap last night - didn't help.
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Old 10-04-2012, 05:25 PM   #9
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Re: Chloramine, go to the wine additive section of your LHBS and buy a package of campden tabs. You can usually get 100 for under $3. Wine makers use them to stop fermentation, but they will also pull the chloramine out of water (you can tell by that last phrase that I did poorly in chemistry- I don't know the exact bond that they make, but they are supposed to do the trick). One tab (about the size of an aspirin tablet) is good for 20 gallons of water, so you can break them up and toss half of one in your water before heating.

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Old 10-04-2012, 05:35 PM   #10
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As Herbie said, some campden tablets (or the potassium metabisulfite powder it's made of) work wonders for dropping out chlorine. I've been using them with great success.

I think that alkalinity is also a likely culprit since I'm assuming your saisons are on the light side -- It depends on your water (get the report from your municipality!), but if you don't offset the natural alkalinity with calcium additions or lactic acid (which I've gone to recently) you can get too high of a pH and nab those tannins.
In short, you'd be looking for alkalinity, comparing levels of calcium, sulfate, chloride, and magnesium, and figuring out what salts to add to get those ions in the right range and bring the pH down. This lovely spreadsheet takes you through it and can be customized for each grain bill: http://www.ezwatercalculator.com/

Best wishes!

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