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Old 04-20-2009, 11:46 PM   #1
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Default Question about sweetness and gravity

I've been messing around with mash temps lately to change the final gravity on my beers, and thus the amount of unfermented sugars in the final product. The odd thing is, I've brewed several beers where the taste seems to contradict the hydrometer readings.

For instance, I just brewed a double IPA and it started at 1.070 and finished at 1.010. My target mash temp was 150, but I ended up hitting 151 which I held for 75 minutes. The gravity came out as expected, but the brew tastes decidedly sweet. I used Nottingham dry yeast, no starter, for this batch as well.

I've also had the opposite happen; I ended up with a 1.018 stout, but it actually tastes fairly dry. Not like a guiness or anything, but more along the lines of a blonde ale or Ed's Haus Pale. Any thoughts?

I've always assumed ending gravity to be a good indicator of the sweetness of the final product, but this has not held true for each beer. Anyone else notice this?

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Old 04-20-2009, 11:57 PM   #2
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I have found that certain grains add a sweetness to the beer even though the final gravity tells me it is dry. Along with that, certain hops tend to taste sweeter than others, in particular the 'c' varieties. I made a IIPA recently also and it has in the range of 165 ibu's and finished at 1.012 and yet has a sweetness under the big hops bitterness and flavor. Just my experience.
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Old 04-21-2009, 12:55 AM   #3
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Come to think of it, I did use centennials on at least one of those brews and did a first wort hop. Might that be the key?

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Old 04-21-2009, 03:24 PM   #4
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I would definately consider the Centenial hops as a possible source of the 'sweetness' you are experiencing. Did you use any caramel malts? They may also provide some suggestion of a sweet experience.
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Old 04-21-2009, 04:00 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by mbird View Post
I would definately consider the Centenial hops as a possible source of the 'sweetness' you are experiencing. Did you use any caramel malts? They may also provide some suggestion of a sweet experience.
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Yes, I use some crystal 60L in all of my brews. The only beer I really go over the top with it is in my brown ale...which last time turned out pretty dry. Aside from that, I stick with mostly 2-row and Pale Ale malt with a bit of specialty grains here and there.
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Old 04-21-2009, 04:09 PM   #6
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Sometimes a flowery or fruity aroma can be interpreted by your nose as sweetness on your tongue. For example, a lot of wines come off as "sweet" when in fact there is no sugar left in them, it's just the aroma off of the nose that tricks the brain into thinking the liquid has sugar in it. One test: plug your nose and take a sip. Is your tongue telling you it's sweet, or is it your nose?

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Old 04-21-2009, 04:53 PM   #7
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Is it possible you are producing alot of unfermentable sugars? I don't know the effect these have on hydrometer readings, but you can get a complete fermentation of the fermentables and still have unfermenatable sugars remaining thus giving you the residual sweetness.

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Old 04-21-2009, 05:08 PM   #8
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Is it possible you are producing alot of unfermentable sugars? I don't know the effect these have on hydrometer readings, but you can get a complete fermentation of the fermentables and still have unfermenatable sugars remaining thus giving you the residual sweetness.
I was wondering about that. But I always assumed hydrometers measured sugars in general, and didn't differentiate between ferementable and non-fermentable. Anyone know?
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Old 04-21-2009, 05:12 PM   #9
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I always assumed hydrometers measured sugars in general, and didn't differentiate between ferementable and non-fermentable.
this is true. hydrometers basically measure the density of a liquid; anything dissolved in that liquid will increase its density (sugars of any kind, salts, etc)
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Old 04-21-2009, 05:33 PM   #10
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And in addition to that...the fermentable sugars are decidedly sweeter tasting than the unfermentable ones.

Also, some dark grains like chocolate malt and roasted barley have their own bitterness which counters the sweetness.

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