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Old 03-02-2009, 07:32 AM   #1
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Default All-Grain Failures...

I have really had a pretty poor experience with All-grain brewing, so I went back to an extract recipe (kit actually) just to get back into the game. I have brewed a pale ale (too fruity, high ferm temps), an ESB from this recipe Cromwell Nutty Brit Bitter (ESB) .:. BeerRecipes.org (more of a nut brown ale than an ESB which was surprising, but really an awesome beer - ignore the rating), a Hefe from this recipe Brew Your Own: The How-To Homebrew Beer Magazine - Beer Styles - Hefe-Weizen: Mostly Cloudy (Forest Falls Hef - fermented most of the body out but ended up being a really nice refreshing hef session), and then I triend a couple of all grains that just didn't turn out right.

They both had the same soapy character. It was an unpleasant flavor in the beer, and one of them was Edwort's pale ale recipe that everyone loved! So I know it is something in my process but I am not sure where the error is... I am thinking water chemestry problems as I used unmodified tap water with no buffer, but the problem could also be in my equipment (maybe hot liquids going through the vinyl tubing?). I don't really know how to describe the flavor other than bad, possibly metallic? I know I have brewed good beer with my equipment in the past, but all of a sudden I have had 2 bad batches in a row that have sent me back to extracts.

Any ideas, suggestions? I am thinking that the next time I will start with distilled water or bottled water just to rule out the water profile here.

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Old 03-02-2009, 12:59 PM   #2
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Give some more details about your equipment and process. Also, have you gotten a water report from your local treatment plant?

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Old 03-02-2009, 04:43 PM   #3
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Did you boil your mash and sparge water for awhile before using it to get rid of chlorine?

Also, I get a lot more trub when I went to AG. I try make larger batches now with the intent of leaving a some behind in the boil kettle to try to suck up the least amount of break material so it doesn't go into the fermenter. Beer sitting on trub for awhile can give off soapy flavors also.

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Old 03-03-2009, 06:42 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by schweaty View Post
Give some more details about your equipment and process. Also, have you gotten a water report from your local treatment plant?
I have a 10 gal. boil kettle that is really a turkey frier and I supplement that with an 8 gal. aluminum kettle where I usually boil my rinse water etc. I have a 10 gal. round cooler with the toilet mesh screen manifold, and I usually had a vinyl tube that would run from that into my boil kettles. I ferment in all glass carboys and I keg (but I bottled the last AG batch and got the same result).

There is nothing fancy about my setup, very simple as I do batch sparging.

I downloaded the city water sampling results from 2007 (I am not sure why none of the water reports seem to be accessible online), but just in the last couple of days - long after the brew was done. I don't have a problem buying gallons of water for a brew if it would fix my problem though. I can't take another one of these nasty-flavored batches.
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Old 03-03-2009, 06:45 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by steelerguy View Post
Did you boil your mash and sparge water for awhile before using it to get rid of chlorine?

Also, I get a lot more trub when I went to AG. I try make larger batches now with the intent of leaving a some behind in the boil kettle to try to suck up the least amount of break material so it doesn't go into the fermenter. Beer sitting on trub for awhile can give off soapy flavors also.
No actually, I didn't boil, just brought the water to the calculated mash temperature. I don't exactly remember how long I was on the trub for those batches. I transferred the first one to the secondary, and the second one I had on the trub until I bottled.
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Old 03-03-2009, 06:56 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dragonlor20 View Post
I have a 10 gal. boil kettle that is really a turkey frier and I supplement that with an 8 gal. aluminum kettle where I usually boil my rinse water etc. I have a 10 gal. round cooler with the toilet mesh screen manifold, and I usually had a vinyl tube that would run from that into my boil kettles. I ferment in all glass carboys and I keg (but I bottled the last AG batch and got the same result).

There is nothing fancy about my setup, very simple as I do batch sparging.

I downloaded the city water sampling results from 2007 (I am not sure why none of the water reports seem to be accessible online), but just in the last couple of days - long after the brew was done. I don't have a problem buying gallons of water for a brew if it would fix my problem though. I can't take another one of these nasty-flavored batches.
So what's it say? How does your tap water taste to you?
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Old 03-03-2009, 07:07 PM   #7
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So what's it say? How does your tap water taste to you?
Actually, I will type it up for you...

Chloride - 9ppm
Sulfate - 11ppm
Calcium - 27ppm
Magnesium - 11ppm
pH - 8
Sodium - 24ppm

I am not a fan of the water for drinking, but I don't like tap water in most places.
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Old 03-03-2009, 07:11 PM   #8
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Well I would try to get a new test result from the city, and see if you detect any chlorine tastes, but why not try some bottled water from the store? All spring water sold by the gallons would be suitable for nearly all style of beer, and are handy to use.

Here's what How to Brew - By John Palmer says about soapy off-flavors:

"Soapy flavors can caused by not washing your glass very well, but they can also be produced by the fermentation conditions. If you leave the beer in the primary fermentor for a relatively long period of time after primary fermentation is over ("long" depends on the style and other fermentation factors), soapy flavors can result from the breakdown of fatty acids in the trub. Soap is, by definition, the salt of a fatty acid; so you are literally tasting soap."

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Old 03-03-2009, 07:14 PM   #9
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Could this "soapy" taste your describing be astringency? Maybe you're sparging too hot, or milling too finely, allowing grain husk material into the boil?

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Old 03-03-2009, 07:26 PM   #10
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Quote:
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Could this "soapy" taste your describing be astringency? Maybe you're sparging too hot, or milling too finely, allowing grain husk material into the boil?
It definitely could be that my temperatures are off. I only recently bought a remote oven digital thermometer to replace the analogue cooking thermometer I was using before. I don't mill, so I have to buy my grains crushed beforehand. But I always buy from Williams Brewing or MoreBeer and they have been pretty much on their A-game so far.

But to answer your question, yes, it could very well be astringency that I am tasting - what is the difference between astringency and soapy flavor-wise?
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