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Old 04-15-2013, 03:03 PM   #1
Big_Belgian
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Default Astringent/Chemical off-flavor - is it my water?

I've noticed a chemically, astringent kind of off flavor in most of my beers, especially noticeable in my pale ale and other lighter beers (but it is present in the darker beers as well). At first I thought it was the dreaded "extract twang", but I went all grain last year and its still there. Its a harsh, very bitter astringency that is strong in the aroma and in the taste. Others don't notice it as much as I do, but that's typical I guess - I am my harshest critic.

Some research has led to the idea that it could be caused by chlorine or pH levels of my water. I use City of Milwaukee tap water, which I've always heard is fine "as-is" for homebrewing. The city indicates that Chlorine has a median level of 1.10 mg/L and pH is 7.68. I can post other parameters if helpful. Thanks for thoughts as to things I could try to identify and fix this issue.

Thanks.

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Old 04-15-2013, 04:53 PM   #2
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'As-is' is never correct if the water comes from a municipal water supply. They are required by law (at least in the US) to provide a disinfection residual in the water lines. Its that disinfection residual that will produce chlorophenols in your beer. That must be removed or neutralized prior to brewing. But otherwise, MKE water is generally fine 'as-is' for most brewing use.

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Old 04-15-2013, 05:35 PM   #3
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Drop half a campden tablet into your mash water and sparge water and see if that helps.

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Old 04-15-2013, 05:45 PM   #4
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Any way you would brew a batch with bottled spring water just to make sure it is indeed the water and not some other part of the process?

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Old 04-15-2013, 06:37 PM   #5
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Are you using an aerator on your faucet? I can smell the chlorine when I fill my kettles with an aerator, which tells me it off gases well enough, and heating the water should remove any residual gas. But I'm no expert on water. I've been brewing with Lake Michigan for years with no issues. From what I've seen, water analysis for Two Rivers, Milwaukee and Chicago are pretty much identical. The only other cause(s) would be process or ingredients. If you give more info, someone should be able to help.

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Old 04-15-2013, 06:39 PM   #6
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Old 04-16-2013, 12:09 AM   #7
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Similar problem here in Chicago and got worse once I moved from extract to all grain (BIAB). Stouts were fine, but pale beers had a weird twang or grainy taste. Once I started treating my water the off flavors went away.

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Old 04-16-2013, 01:33 AM   #8
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Add a campden tablet and make sure your acidifying your sparge water. It should be around 5.6-5.7 range or it will extract the aromatics your tasting.

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Old 04-16-2013, 01:41 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tmoney645 View Post
Drop half a campden tablet into your mash water and sparge water and see if that helps.
This is the way to go, your off flavor is most likely chlorine, or some derivative added by your water plant. Campden tabs will remove all of them. Also a very cheap way to solve the problem, $3.95 for a bag of them, and 1 tablet treats 20 gallons
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Old 04-16-2013, 02:00 AM   #10
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Your water contains chloramine. You have to either filter with an activated carbon filter or use Campden tablets. My fridge has a little activated charcoal filter that will remove most of the atrazine, rocket fuel, and chloramine. Otherwise just use bottled water or campden. Try that on your next batch. Also you mentioned a difference in light vs dark beers. Your mash ph may be off.

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