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Old 04-14-2012, 10:43 PM   #11
pvtschultz
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I too use an RO/DI filter that I have remaining from my days of marine fish keeping. With our usage, you can get by changing the particulate and carbon filters every 6-12 months and then the RO membrane ever 2-3 years. I've had mine for 7 years and haven't changed the RO membrane but it is definately on the to-do very soon list. I haven't used it much over the last several years so I can probably get away with it.

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Old 04-14-2012, 11:17 PM   #12
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The 10 and 1 micron sediment filters last me 3-4 years and the RO membrane is good for 2,000 gallons which is a hell of a lot of beer! In 6 years I've never used that much for homebrewing. We have a 200 gallon reef aquarium so I have changed the RO filter because the reef consumes a lot of water.

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Old 04-16-2012, 06:52 AM   #13
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The harder your water is, the darker the beer that will be in proper pH. Seems you may live where you have rather hard water. It appears in the list that your beers get lighter, and as they do the pH goes up and the risk of tannin extraction does as well. I suggest perhaps another dark beer to test drive it, or just get some pH stabilizer.

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Old 04-16-2012, 08:33 PM   #14
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I have run into this same problem. And recently found culprit. It is tannin extraction of a sort. It came from not recirculating(vorloufing) enough. It would taste good going into boil kettle but bad taste after boil. Vorloufed until no dusty sediment in clear measuring cup(about 2 gallons worth). Then bad taste was gone.

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Old 05-28-2012, 01:38 PM   #15
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Thanks everyone for your advice. It's all been very enlightening.

I made a wheat beer this time around. I tried three things this time to try and combat the problem I've been having:

1. Added lactic acid to the mash to lower the pH. This was the first time I had ever actually taken the effort to calculate the pH and then try to adjust it. I tested the pH of the mash with strips throughout the process. It stayed at 5.6 or so once I got to the conversion rest (I find the colors on the strips don't really match the key on the bottle, so maybe I was just hoping it was 5.6)

2. Vorloufed for longer than usual, trying to make sure I got a clear wort.

3. Did a no-batch sparge. Or rather, I did a normal mash, added all of the sparge water to the mash at mash-out, let it sit for ten minutes, then lautered it all out.

Results:
A very clear beer. After two weeks in the fermenter and one week in the bottles it had a strong sort of fruity wheat beer flavor you would expect, but I felt I could taste the offending flavor in the wings still. Two weeks into the bottles and the fruity wheat flavor has diminished, as if it is "flat" or a bit watery. The first few sips tasted strongly like carbonated water, but that went away as I continued into the bottle. The horrible bitter flavor that I have had in previous batches is mostly absent, though sometimes I think I can taste it.

However, the beer overall isn't very good. There's something in the flavor I can't place my finger on. It's somewhat cloying, and perhaps a bit sweet, but despite not being in the forefront perception-wise it seems to be dragging the beer down. Overall, I'm disappointed. And I'm not entirely sure that the original unpleasant off-flavor is actually gone, but instead just hidden by the fruitiness of the wheat.

The watery flavor has me wondering if I'm not getting a good mash. The conversion started at 65C and was 62C after an hour, which I'm to understand isn't terribly bad.

One thing that has always bothered me is that my water is very low in chloride (9ppm) leading to a very lower chloride to sulfate ratio. (The obvious answer would be adding CaCl2, but alas I can't find any in my locale that doesn't have "not for consumption" printed on what they sell.)

I'm still stumped about why I can't get a decent beer out of my mashing.

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Old 05-28-2012, 02:33 PM   #16
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Does it sound like maybe the thermometer is maybe off? Wouldn't that account for all these symptoms? 20 degrees high or low would probably cause some problems. Any veterans care to comment on this? Just curious.

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Old 05-28-2012, 02:42 PM   #17
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From your description, it probably comes down to either oxidation or infection. You've almost ruled out oxidation with your careful mashing technique, but how do you get your beer from kettle to fermenter?

One way to finally rule out problems with the mash would be to do a full-volume extract batch, using exactly the same equipment and methods from the boil onwards. Problem goes away it's the mash; problem persists it's something else.

Assuming it's an infection instead of oxidation, your most expedient route is to replace every piece of tubing your beer sees between kettle and bottle. What kind of wort chiller do you have? If immersion, make sure it's not leaking water into the kettle. If counter-flow or plate, back-flush (important) multiple times with boiling water. You might also want to do a quick back-flush with dilute bleach, but rinse it out well afterwards.

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Old 05-28-2012, 02:48 PM   #18
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I've been in the same boat as you. My extract beers have been better also but even they haven't been stellar. All of my all grain efforts have resulted in a similar off flavor to what you have described and the last one resulted in a band aid flavor. After much effort and experimentation I believe I have it narrowed down to my tap water. Although I do have great tasting water here, I believe its too high a ph for starters. I also believe I have reactions going on with chlorine compounds causing some medicinal off flavors.

In an effort to combat this, I built a fermentation chamber. I wanted to take fermentation temps out of the equation. This did not solve my problem. I have experienced this both with bottling and kegging now. I feel like I'm very careful with cleaning and sanitization and I use pbw and Starsan and I've also been very thorough about rinsing out the pbw as I know it can lead to medicinal flavors if still present.

Basically, short of replacing my equipment, I've tried about everything I can think of except for addressing water chemistry. I just made a batch using bottled spring water so we'll see how that goes. I will probably be switching to RO water from here forward as it can be had from my local supermarket for .39 per gallon and it gives me a constant so using the EZ calculator becomes a breeze with any grain bill. Fingers are crossed that this resolves my woes.

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Old 05-28-2012, 04:39 PM   #19
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+1 to using RO water entirely for a batch to see if that fixes it. If it does, then it's definitely water chemistry.

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Old 05-28-2012, 06:13 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by corax View Post
From your description, it probably comes down to either oxidation or infection. You've almost ruled out oxidation with your careful mashing technique, but how do you get your beer from kettle to fermenter?

One way to finally rule out problems with the mash would be to do a full-volume extract batch, using exactly the same equipment and methods from the boil onwards. Problem goes away it's the mash; problem persists it's something else.

Assuming it's an infection instead of oxidation, your most expedient route is to replace every piece of tubing your beer sees between kettle and bottle. What kind of wort chiller do you have? If immersion, make sure it's not leaking water into the kettle. If counter-flow or plate, back-flush (important) multiple times with boiling water. You might also want to do a quick back-flush with dilute bleach, but rinse it out well afterwards.
Wait! You can oxidize your beer during the mash? How would one go about causing oxidation during the mash and what can be done to prevent it?
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