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Old 08-24-2009, 10:36 PM   #31
jescholler
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Originally Posted by thesanch View Post
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.
Awesome! You don't know how good that makes me feel. Thanks for letting us know.
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Harsh Bitterness Experiment

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Old 08-24-2009, 11:28 PM   #32
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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.
Let us know how it tastes after a few weeks in the bottle. It sounds promising. In my experience with the harsh bitter aftertaste it didn't show up until after it was carbonated. I could not detect it at all at bottling.
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Old 08-24-2009, 11:42 PM   #33
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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.
That sounds like a pretty good idea most likely. However, this experiment is showing me that using distilled water might not be the answer either in some situations. At bottling, the distilled water batch tasted slightly tart, indicating that the pH was too low. This was probably due to a mineral imbalance. I think the best way to go when using extract is to actually get the mineral profile for the water that the extract was produced in. You can see if it has a certain mineral that is too high or too low. If so, you probably want to make sure that the water you supply makes up for it.

For example, I recently learned that for the batch that inspired this experiment, I used a particular extract that I later found out was high in sodium content. When I used my water (which is high in both sodium and sulfate), it put the bitterness over the edge and made it harsh. If I would have known that ahead of time, I might have made sure that my overall sodium and sulfate concentration were as low as I could get them.

To make a long story short, in order to be sure your beer doesn't have a surprising astringency, you need to consider the total mineral content. In order to do that, you need to know the contribution of the minerals from both the extract and the water you supply. Sounds much harder than I thought it needed to be for the extract brewer!
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Old 08-25-2009, 08:39 AM   #34
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Thanks for the warning. I have a feeling it's not very easy to track down what minerals are in my DME. I'll probably try brewing with whatever local spring water they sell at the supermarket around here before I jump all the way to distilled water. Maybe it'll lower the mineral content enough to not have that aftertaste.

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Old 08-25-2009, 03:26 PM   #35
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Maybe it'll lower the mineral content enough to not have that aftertaste.
I wouldn't assume that. Many spring waters pride themselves on high mineral content... I'd see if you can find the brand online and look for a water report - many of them publish the info from their source water.
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Old 08-25-2009, 07:12 PM   #36
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Well I bought about 6 gallons of distilled water and I guess I'm just gonna give it a try. The spring water available locally doesn't seem ideal and I had no idea where to find the store brand water online. At least I'll know if the taste is water related. Wish me luck! I'm brewing a recipe from Papazian's book "Whitey's Gone Fishin' Pale Ale".

6lbs light DME
1oz Amarillo hops (boiling)
3/4oz French Strisselspalt (flavor)
1/2oz Sterling (aroma)
White Labs English Ale Yeast WL002

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Old 08-25-2009, 10:34 PM   #37
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Let us know how it tastes after a few weeks in the bottle. It sounds promising. In my experience with the harsh bitter aftertaste it didn't show up until after it was carbonated. I could not detect it at all at bottling.

I am glad you posted that, because that is the exact same problem I am having. Before I recap my situation, according to the water chemistry calculator at brewersfriend.com my water profile is pale and very bitter. Now, for the summary of my agony:

Batch 1: Used bottled store brand spring water. Water tasted good. Irish Red Ale extract kit from morebeer.com, and English Ale yeast (substitution). Full boil. Two weeks in fermenter, then kegged and force carbonated. Don't remember taste out of fermenter, but tasted very bitter after carbonation. Even up to at least six months later, still very bitter. Had a very ugly lacing and foam on top of the beer. Dumped after six months.

Batch 2: Used carbon filtered tap water. Water tastes good. Scottish Ale extract kit from morebeer.com, and English Ale yeast (substitution). Full boil. Six weeks in fermenter, then kegged and forced carbonated. Tasted very sweet out of the fermenter, but after carbonating tasted very bitter. Months later, still very bitter. Very, very, very similar in taste and flavor to Irish Red beer from Batch #1 (almost indistinguishable). Had a very ugly lacing and foam on top of the beer. Dumped.

Batch 3: Used carbon filtered tap water. Water tastes good. All grain BM's SWMBO Slayer recipe, ingredients from Brewer's Warehouse. Added gypsum and table salt to correct chloride:sulphate ratio to malty, but at least some of it precipitated out since I added it to the strike kettle for mash and sparge, and there was definitely a white crusty residue left in the kettle after dumping the water into the mash tun. Four weeks in the fermenter, then crash cooled in a keg for a week, then transferred to another keg and carbonated. Tasted sweet out of the fermenter, but after a week of carbonation has same bitter flavor as Bath #1 and Batch #2.

Batch 4: Used carbon filtered tap water. Water tastes good. All grain Bavarian Hefeweizen recipe. Added gypsum and table salt to correct chloride:sulphate ratio to malty. This time I made the salt additions into the mash, and into the wort, so none of it precipitated out. Three weeks in the fermeter then kegged and force carbonated. Tasted very sweet out of the fermenter. I haven't tasted it after carbonation yet.

I just realized this post will have a certain level of suspense since everything is hinging on me tasting Batch #4. Although I was severely disappointed to find the bitter taste in Batch #3 I am hoping it is because I did the salt additions incorrectly. Since each batch had used different methods and timing, I am hoping the water is the only common theme (and although the first batch was bottled water, I am wondering/hoping that it has a similar mineral profile to my tap). Since Batch #4 was the only one where I correctly adjusted to water, I am really hoping that it comes out tasting great. I will taste it later tonight and report back with my findings.

Is anyone else finding that the bitterness comes only after carbonating?
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Old 08-25-2009, 10:42 PM   #38
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Actually, if possible, it would be useful if people could enter their waters mineral profile into the calculator here Brewing Water Chemistry Calculator | Brewer's Friend and report back what the Sulphate : Chloride ratio, Alkalinity and SRM, and Estimated pH results are at the bottom.

It would also be useful to have this information for both non adjusted and adjusted water, and for water used in beers with and without the bitterness.

I would have to look up my adjusted water profiles at home, but I can give the results of my water out of the tap:

Sulphate : Chloride ratio highly bitter
Alkalinity and SRM pale beer (0-50 ppm Alkalinity)
Estimated pH pH = 5.84, residual alkalinity = 25.37

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Old 08-25-2009, 10:43 PM   #39
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I am also wondering if carbon filtration effects the mineral profile...

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Old 08-25-2009, 10:49 PM   #40
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Is anyone else finding that the bitterness comes only after carbonating?
I find that it's definitely more noticeable, but I did detect it in the tap water batch of this experiment at bottling.

I noticed you are using table salt and gypsum. I would be very careful to only add a very small amount of one or the other. Table salt is sodium chloride and gypsum is calcium sulfate. If you add both of those in normal amounts, you could end up with high concentrations of both sodium and sulfate. That will give the harsh bitterness that you've been having.

I would recommend using calcium chloride to adjust the chloride to sulfate ratio if you are also using gypsum. As Palmer says "The combination of sodium with a high concentration of sulfate ions will generate a very harsh bitterness. Therefore keep at least one or the other as low as possible, preferably the sodium".
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Harsh Bitterness Experiment

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Bottle: English Barleywine
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Last edited by jescholler; 08-25-2009 at 11:04 PM.
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