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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > All Grain & Partial Mash Brewing > Getting worse as a homebrewer-1st All Grain=Astringent Taste
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Old 11-27-2013, 02:41 PM   #21
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I also forgot to mention that I have used spring water since the beginning because we have really hard water where I live. I have to clean my dogs bowl/keurig/shower and shower heads with CLR fairly often.
Contrary to popular belief, really hard water is not necessarily a bad thing in brewing. Just look at some of the water profiles in Europe (ie: Burton). It's off the charts hard!

The effect of the hardness and Alkalinity on mash and sparge pH is of concern. A $22 water report on your water from Ward Labs and plugging the numbers into Bru'n water's spreadsheet will tell the tale.

I found that my well water is borderline for mashing without acid or gypsum additions and my sparge water will be above 6.0 when sparging light grain bills so I have acidify my sparge now!

Now even though everyone is pointing at your water, you didn't really tell us how you ferment. Do you use temp control? What temp do you ferment at? Notty yeast likes to be in the low 60's for the first 5 days of fermentation to avoid harsh tastes!
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Old 11-27-2013, 03:03 PM   #22
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Contrary to popular belief, really hard water is not necessarily a bad thing in brewing. Just look at some of the water profiles in Europe (ie: Burton). It's off the charts hard!

The effect of the hardness and Alkalinity on mash and sparge pH is of concern. A $22 water report on your water from Ward Labs and plugging the numbers into Bru'n water's spreadsheet will tell the tale.

I found that my well water is borderline for mashing without acid or gypsum additions and my sparge water will be above 6.0 when sparging light grain bills so I have acidify my sparge now!

Now even though everyone is pointing at your water, you didn't really tell us how you ferment. Do you use temp control? What temp do you ferment at? Notty yeast likes to be in the low 60's for the first 5 days of fermentation to avoid harsh tastes!
I mentioned earlier about my ferm process. I have a dedicated freezer with 2 stage johnson control. The initial few hours were at 58 due to a kolsch sitting in there and the freezer not warming up fast enough. However it sat at a constant 64 for the next week. I think the colder temperature caused a later fermentation start. Last time I used notty, it took off within 10 hours. This time launch wasnt active till about 30 hours later, though activity was present around 20 hours.

No starter was used since its a dry yeast, but it was activated using warm water a little while before pitching.
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Old 11-27-2013, 06:40 PM   #23
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I doubt the mill is the issue since you hit your gravity points. Try a small batch with unfiltered plain tap water, you may be surprised
Hitting the correct gravity is not an indication that the mill used to crush the grain is set correctly. In fact, the roller gap on any mill that allows a beginning all-grain brew to achieve an extraction rate of much more than 24 to 25 gravity points per pound per gallon on his/her first batch is probably set too tight. The runnings from properly crushed malt should be particulate free and clear after vorlaufing less than a gallon. If the runnings do not run clear after this volume has been vorlaufed, then the crush is too fine, the mash contains unconverted starch, or the brewer is disturbing the mash bed.
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Old 11-27-2013, 07:08 PM   #24
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Is there a reason why you are using bottled water? Most well and public water supplies can be used to make good beer. I have never used bottled water. The public water supply that fed the home in which I lived when I first started to brew over twenty ago was amazingly soft; however, like most municipal water supplies it contained chlorine. A simple portable activated charcoal filter fixed that problem. The home in which I currently live has a deep well. The water contains iron and manganese, but it still produces good tasting beer. I filter all of my brewing water with the same portable activated charcoal filter that I used at my old home. It doesn't remove the iron or the manganese, but it does remove organic matter.

One more thing: I know that it may seem quaint in the age of brewing software, but you really should consider keeping a paper-based brewing log in which you document everything, and I mean everything related to your home brewery. If you make a starter, then you notate the date, time, volume, yeast culture, and starter wort composition in your log book. If you make a batch a beer, then it goes into your log book. Any changes to your brew house should also be notated. You should also document the daily behavior of starters and fermentations. Troubleshooting any science-based problem requires one to keep good notes. One needs to adopt the mindset that anything that was not documented did not happen. I have log books going back over twenty years that I can use to troubleshoot problems.

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Old 11-27-2013, 07:39 PM   #25
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Hitting the correct gravity is not an indication that the mill used to crush the grain is set correctly. In fact, the roller gap on any mill that allows a beginning all-grain brew to achieve an extraction rate of much more than 24 to 25 gravity points per pound per gallon on his/her first batch is probably set too tight. The runnings from properly crushed malt should be particulate free and clear after vorlaufing less than a gallon. If the runnings do not run clear after this volume has been vorlaufed, then the crush is too fine, the mash contains unconverted starch, or the brewer is disturbing the mash bed.
This is one thing that has confused me on Batch vs Fly Sparging. The grain bed being disturbed. In batch sparging you (at least i did) add strike water (say 3 gallons) then stir and sit for an hour, vourlaf, drain, then add sparge water (say 4 gallons) stir and sit for 10 minutes, vourlaf, drain. The bed is being disturbed throughout this process. My sparge step was a soupy mixture (as opposed to the oatmeal type consistency of the strike) where the grains could move around freely. Why is it ok for this disturbance in Batch but not fly?

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Originally Posted by EarlyAmateurZymurgist View Post
Is there a reason why you are using bottled water? Most well and public water supplies can be used to make good beer. I have never used bottled water. The public water supply that fed the home in which I lived when I first started to brew over twenty ago was amazingly soft; however, like most municipal water supplies it contained chlorine. A simple portable activated charcoal filter fixed that problem. The home in which I currently has a deep well. The water contains iron and manganese, but it still produces good tasting beer. I filter all of my brewing water with the same portable activated charcoal filter that I used at my old home. It doesn't remove the iron or the manganese, but it does remove organic matter.

One more thing: I know that it may seem quaint in the age of brewing software, but you really should consider keeping a paper-based brewing log in which you document everything, and I mean everything related to your home brewery. If you make a starter, then you notate the date, time, volume, yeast culture, and starter wort composition in your log book. If you make a batch a beer, then it goes into your log book. Any changes to your brew house should also be notated. You should also document the daily behavior of starters and fermentations. Troubleshooting any science-based problem requires one to keep good notes. One needs to adopt the mindset that anything that was not documented did not happen. I have log books going back over twenty years that I can use to troubleshoot problems.
I used the bottled because I have hard water. I figured it made a difference in the beginning stages of extract brewing. So I kept using it thinking it was ok.
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Old 11-27-2013, 08:06 PM   #26
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I used the bottled because I have hard water. I figured it made a difference in the beginning stages of extract brewing. So I kept using it thinking it was ok.
The term "bottled water" means nothing as to mineral content. It is just a fancy bottled up filtered water that will taste good. They are bottled all over the world using the source water available. Some are soft, some are hard with a good amount of alkalinity. They have quite a range.

There have been so many suggestions here... I would just GO SIMPLE and eliminate the water variable next time by using the Water Primer thread in the Brewing Science section. RO water with a tsp of CaCl2 and 2% acid malt. Brew a simple pale ale and focus on eliminating complexity until you can repeatably brew a good, simple beer.
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Old 11-27-2013, 08:21 PM   #27
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Do all your beers have an astringent taste?
If so, I'd suggest that #3 in your list is a big contributor. After you vorlauf & drain your sparge water into your BK that should be it. Collecting the "extra" wort will add extracted tannins.
Also, your sparge water temp does seem a bit low. You want it to be 168-170.

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Old 11-28-2013, 01:50 AM   #28
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This is one thing that has confused me on Batch vs Fly Sparging. The grain bed being disturbed. In batch sparging you (at least i did) add strike water (say 3 gallons) then stir and sit for an hour, vourlaf, drain, then add sparge water (say 4 gallons) stir and sit for 10 minutes, vourlaf, drain. The bed is being disturbed throughout this process. My sparge step was a soupy mixture (as opposed to the oatmeal type consistency of the strike) where the grains could move around freely. Why is it ok for this disturbance in Batch but not fly?
That disturbance is totally normal for a batch sparge. You don't want to add your sparge water so roughly that you get a bunch of foam, but it's inevitable that the bed will get stirred up. The grain bed settles back down while you do your sparge vorlauf. It's also pretty common for your batch sparge to use more water than your mash.

Fly sparging is just very different mechanically. With a batch sparge, you're rinsing your grain in one quick go, but with a fly sparge you're slowly and continuously rinsing over a long period of time. Fly sparging doesn't use a second vorlauf because you're rinsing as you drain. If you disturb the grain bed during a fly sparge, you'll get grainy bits in your wort.
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Old 11-28-2013, 12:59 PM   #29
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Don't get discouraged. It seems like you are pretty committed to solving the problem so I'm sure you'll be making great beer in no time. Pick a simple recipe, and do some small batches with one variable change in each. Water is a good place to start.

I had similar frustration with my pale ales. I did a series of experimental batches to rule out oxidation, mash pH, etc. then I brewed a few single hop batches and identified the problem as hop variety/amount. The smaller batches helped reduce disappointment when I didn't find my answer. And the simple consistent recipe helped me be sure I was ruling out a variable each time, this making it feel productive even when it didn't result in great beer.

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