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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > All Grain & Partial Mash Brewing > Off Flavors in Darker Beers
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Old 09-16-2010, 05:29 PM   #1
ahoffman565
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Default Off Flavors in Darker Beers

Hello all!

I've been brewing for a few years now and I've mainly stuck with the lighter-colored ales - blonde ales, pale ales, IPAs, etc. However, in each of the 3 darker beers that I've attempted to make (red ale, coffee stout and bock), each had what can be considered a harsh "sweetness" (perhaps even a bitterness) to it. I don't get this with the other "lighter" styles. I had assumed that this was becuase I was mashing at slightly higher temps and this was unfermentable sugar. I've always been careful not to mash higher than 153 or 154. I've even left the batches in the bottle for upwards of 6 weeks and the "flavor" doesn't go away. Has anyone else noticed this? Should anything be done differently process wise when using the darker malts? These have all been partial mash (actually close to quasi-all grain) recipes using anywhere between 5 to 12 pounds of grain. I've also tried to ensure that I ferment low to avoid off flavors from the yeast.

Thanks in advance,
Andrew

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Old 09-16-2010, 07:50 PM   #2
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What is your water profile? Water treatment (or lack of) could contribute to that.

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Old 09-16-2010, 08:32 PM   #3
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I've actually never messed with my water profile. I use either jugged drinking or spring water from the store and add a teaspoon of the 5.2 mash stabilizer.

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Old 09-16-2010, 09:23 PM   #4
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Spring water/drinking water could have a strange water profile, depending on the source. I'd say it's probably pretty low in all the ions, although it could have weird surpluses in some. The manufacturer can give you the water profile, if you have specific brands you like to use.

Check this out:
http://www.themadfermentationist.com...-has-made.html

I used to use the 5.2 until I learned a bit more about water chemistry. Mash pH is only a small function of the water profile, and not the only reason to add brewing salts.

Since water is like 99% of beer, I develop a unique water profile for every beer I brew. My water is pretty low in carbonate, sodium and chloride. When doing dark beers before I would sometimes get an overly harsh burnt flavor, or a weird kind of sweetness, or both.

Now I add flavor ions to skew it towards the profile I want. It definitely takes a light touch. My first batch, I overdid it trying to copy Burton-on-Trent and it came out really metallic-y.

Have you ever made a cake or cookies and forgot to add salt? It tastes weird and the sweetness tastes wrong. The same thing happens with ions in beer. For sweet, malty beers, I'll add at least a small amount of salt, if nothing else.

I use Brewater 3.0 to calculate my ion additions.

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Old 09-20-2010, 07:00 PM   #5
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Thanks, Nateo. I'll certainly have to try this!

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Old 01-25-2012, 01:32 PM   #6
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Zombie thread time...

I have been having the same issue. My light beers turn out fantastic where my dark beers have a goofy off taste, but not undrinkable.

OP - did you ever get a solid resolution to your problem?

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Old 01-25-2012, 02:03 PM   #7
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If light beers tend to turn out well and dark beers don't, the problem is most likely insufficient alkalinity in the brewing water. Do you know if the brewing water has low alkalinity? Low alkalinity can let the mash pH fall too low and the beer ends up sharp or overly tart.

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Old 01-25-2012, 02:06 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mabrungard View Post
Do you know if the brewing water has low alkalinity? Low alkalinity can let the mash pH fall too low and the beer ends up sharp or overly tart.
Thanks for your reply!

Never tested the PH of my water because when I started home brewing, everything was coming out fine so I never thought of it. Then I started with dark beers and thought something could be wrong with my water profile...

I think I have hard water, because when I use my tap water to mix up star san, it goes cloudy in 2 days.
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Old 01-25-2012, 02:15 PM   #9
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Its not the hardness that counts, its the alkalinity. In a way, hardness is counter-productive if there isn't enough alkalinity, it reduces the Residual Alkalinity of the water in the mash. That may not be what you want in the mash if brewing a darker beer.

The first step is to find out what your water quality parameters are and then do a little exploring with a program like Bru'n Water.

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Old 01-25-2012, 02:16 PM   #10
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Cool, thanks for the tip!

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