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Old 08-15-2009, 02:06 PM   #21
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Interesting thread. I have also found that the bitterness can decrease significantly with more time in the fermenter or more time aging in the bottle. In fact, I pulled some bottles of a "bad" beer ( a beer that had an unpleasant bitterness) out to boil some brats and thought I'd have a drink. The beer had totally mellowed and is actually really good.

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Old 08-17-2009, 12:29 AM   #22
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if it taste good to drink- its good to brew- RDWHAHB

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Old 08-17-2009, 01:56 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by steve57765 View Post
if it taste good to drink- its good to brew- RDWHAHB
It's hard to relax, not worry, and have a homebrew when I'm drinking a homebrew with a flaw like excessive astringency. This thread is intended to understand why it happened to two of my batches, and hopefully educate some extract brewers so they don't make the same mistake as me.

You are mostly correct though, for the most part if your water is good to drink, it is good to brew with. That's not true for me because I have high levels of both sodium and sulfate in my water. My water tastes good, but when combined with the wrong extract, it makes astringent beer. You just need to know what your dealing with in terms of minerals in both your water and extract you are using.
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Old 08-17-2009, 11:58 AM   #24
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My well water tastes good, but it has a high iron/sulfur content. I have tried boiling my tap water & also tried filtered. My first batches were astringent?/medicinal?. I thought it was due to too high of fermentation temps. I have since gone to all RO water for my extract brews & am able to keep fermentation below 70 deg. The off flavors are not present in these batches. Now that I am able to maintain proper ferment temps, I think I will try one more filtered tap water batch.

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Old 08-17-2009, 12:37 PM   #25
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I think you are on to something here jescholler. When I first started almost a year ago every batch I did had a harsh off flavor that I originally thought was chlorophenols. I tried to fix that and batch after batch had no success. Finally a couple HBT'ers offered to sample my beers, and both of them didn't think I had chlorophenols but instead they detected harsh astrinency. One of them, Saccharomyces, asked me for a copy of my water report so I sent it to him. This was his response:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Saccharomyces
I was right, your water is alkaline... Your water is fine for an AG brew (using 5.2 stabilizer), but for extract I would skip your water and go with 100% RO water; that will give you a less harsh hop bitterness, and will get rid of the pronounced mineral aftertaste I'm getting. For a hoppy beer you can add a tsp. of gypsum to the kettle with the RO water which will help up the sulfates and give you a crisper bitterness, but that is optional... For malty/balanced brews straight RO and extract will yield superior results every time!

I was talking with Chris Colby (BYO editor) a few months back about his method for extract/steeping grains. We were discussing your very problem which is very common -- 99% of brewers will get to the level where you are now with extract/steeping grains and think they have to go to AG to make better beer. Fact is you don't, Chris only does AG batches with a brew buddy. He has been doing extract for 20 years and he makes some GREAT beers. Here's the Colby method:

- Start with 1 gallon of Campden treated RO water and 1 tsp of 5.2 pH stabilizer in the kettle. Stir in 1 lb of dry extract while heating to 165*F. At 165*F remove from heat. Drop in the steeping grain bag, tea bag it to get the grains wet and let it sit 30 minutes. Steeping in a small volume with pH stabilizer and extract keeps the pH around 5.2 which will prevent extracting tannins from the grain husks, which is the most common off flavor in extract beers.
- Drop a strainer over the pot and move the grain bag to the strainer. Run your top-off water slowly over the grains to rinse them until you get to your desired boil volume. Stir in 1/3 of the remaining extract for a partial boil, or 2/3 if doing a full volume boil, and bring to a boil. Add your bittering hops.
- With 15 minutes left in the boil, add a whirlfloc tablet, yeast nutrient, and the rest of your extract (do this off the heat so you don't scorch of course!).
- Stir continuously while chilling until the wort drops below 140*F. Chris uses an immersion chiller in his sink and then moves to an ice bath until he gets down to pitching temp. I already gave you my method, while more hands-on it works too.

Give his method a try and I think you'll be amazed at the results.

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Old 08-20-2009, 02:41 AM   #26
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Today I bottled the beers for this experiment. See my notes below.



I was not surprised that the tap water beer was slightly astringent. It wasn't horrible, but it really took away from the experience of drinking a beer. I was very surprised to find that the distilled water was slightly tart/sour. I'm nearly 100% positive that it's not infected and that the sourness is due to a low pH. With extract beers, you most likely don't know what your water profile is like, so I think that both of these beers missed the mark in terms of water chemistry.

I hope everyone finds my results to date useful. I'm certainly learning a lot. The next step is to let these guys carbinate for four weeks and do a blind tasting with some others.

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Old 08-20-2009, 12:17 PM   #27
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Just for the record, what does "RO" stand for?

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Old 08-20-2009, 12:27 PM   #28
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Quote:
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Just for the record, what does "RO" stand for?
Reverse Osmosis.
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Old 08-24-2009, 06:01 AM   #29
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I suspect that the harsh, bitter after-taste in all my batches is being caused by the water as well. I tried one bottle that I found from my first batch (around 4 months ago) and the taste was very prevalent, so I'm pretty sure it's something that won't go away with time. When I brew my next batch with distilled or RO water I'll let you guys know how it turns out.

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Old 08-24-2009, 03:18 PM   #30
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I've been following this thread for a while. I brewed a best extract kit from morebeer.com several weeks ago and just got around to bottling it last night. I had previously used bottled spring water but ended up with that harsh bitterness. I used RO water in this batch. I took some samples last night while bottling, and it tasted amazing... no harsh bitterness to be found. The water I was using definitely caused the bitterness in my last batches since my process didn't change.

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