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Old 01-29-2011, 01:06 PM   #1
ernestmyname
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Default Extract troubleshooting (longpost)

My first batch, ever, was a paulaner hefeweizen clone. It turned out excellent. This was kegged straight out of the primary. All my attempts have used an immersion chiller which is added the last 10-15 minutes of the boil.

The second batch was a german helles bock. This was bottled after secondary fermentation in a 5 gallon carboy. It was barely drinkable. It wasn't sour and it wasn't contaminated but it had a really strange bitterness to it. I came to learn later on that I was doing full boils and not changing the hop schedule for the extra water volume. This could have attributed to the strange bitterness. It is hard to explain the flavor it had but even after a year of being bottled, I had one the other night and it was definitely not contaminated although maybe oxidized.

Third batch was an english brown. It spent a week in the primary, a week in the secondary, and was kegged. This came out very similar to the helles bock. It has this strange bitterness to it that a buddy of mine described as tasting like nickel. I think he meant it had a metallic taste. It is drinkable but still has the strong nasally bitterness/metallic taste to it. This brew was also brewed not accommodating for the hop schedule of a full boil.

I have an American ale in the secondary now. It will be bottled and I am quite eager to see how it turns out. I did accommodate for the full boil.

But in the meantime, I have another extract kit that I will be cooking Monday. I'm looking for ideas that may eliminate any issues from this next batch. I am doing full boils in a stainless turkey fryer. I am now taking the full boil into consideration and altering my hops schedule. I have been putting the specialty grains straight into the 5.5-6 gallons of water but I am going to use a smaller volume of water on the next batch since "How to Brew" says a smaller volume yields the best extraction. When steeping the grains, I am very careful to not exceed 170 F. I treat my water with campden tablets to remove chloride but don't do anything else to it. One thing I am going to change for this next batch is to add an aluminum plate to the turkey fryer. I noticed that there were burn marks on the bottom (inside) of the pot after my last cooking session.

Thanks for reading! Now that I am out of college I am eager to get back into the hobby. If I can figure out what is going on with this bitterness, I am going to full-grain after this next extract kit! Any ideas?

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Old 01-29-2011, 04:50 PM   #2
downinit
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here's an excerpt from a great web page to troubleshoot off flavors in beer:

METALLIC

CHARACTERISTICS: A harsh, metallic taste noted both on the tip of the tongue and the roof of the mouth. Can be felt throughout the tongue and mouth in large concentrations. Not desired in beer. Also described as tinny or bloodlike.

CHEMISTRY: The ferrous ion (iron) and some organic compounds formed by hydrolysis of cereal lipids in grain, and oxidization of free fatty acids.

HIGH RATE FROM PROCESS: Iron or mild steel in contact with beer; freshly-scrubbed stainless steel that has not been allowed to oxidize; improper filtering material; high iron content in water; poorly processed grain.

REDUCTION: Use of stainless steel; low-iron water; use of citric acid to re-oxidize stainless that has been abrasively cleaned; use of filtering materials that are acid-washed to remove iron; use of fresh, high-quality grain malt.

http://www.kroc.org/Links/TroubleshootingGuide.htm

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Old 01-29-2011, 10:09 PM   #3
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Wow, excellent link for the off-flavor issues. I hope not to need this too much but I had a Pale Ale go bad a while ago.

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Old 01-31-2011, 06:18 PM   #4
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I did another batch today with a thin piece of aluminum (.025") and am still getting the scorch markings on the bottom of my pot..

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Old 02-01-2011, 04:26 PM   #5
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The bottom of my SS pot has some brown marks, but this won't contribute to your bitterness. Pretty much normal.
Keep the grains bags moved around every couple min's to not allow the grain to stick to the bottom of the pot. Add you extract off of the heat and mix well before adding heat again.
But I would suspect it's probably a combination of your hop schedule, water and or the short fermentation/conditioning.

Stick with one recipe and try adjusting things till you get it right. Only then will be able to determine what the exact problem is. You want to do this before you start any new procedures. Patience is key in homebrewing.

Are you using tap water? The campden tables take care of chlorine, but you could have cloromine, flourine or other chemicals in the water contributing to the taste.
Use a carbon filter or purchase some spring water from the store. I use the later method.

Try a 3-4 week primary fermentation, then a secondary if you want for an additional 2 week before kegging.

How is you sterilization cleaning method for both the pot, bottles and or kegs? Are you tasting the cleaning chemicals?

Start with the basics first and get a few good batches under your belt before moving forward is my advise.

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Old 02-02-2011, 12:55 AM   #6
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I have been using tap water that has been treated with campden tablets only. I did rule out the scorching from the pot contributing majorly to the bitterness yesterday.. I basically brought my steeped grains up to boiling before I added any extract and tasted the mixture. There was no off flavoring at all due to the scorching. I use star-san at its recommended dilution for sanitation.

I have given a lot of thought to why the last batch was so off. I read through that webpage posted previously and I think I introduced a wild yeast strain. That batch was my first batch in over a year and I forgot when to add in the yeast nutrient. Needless to say, I didn't even remember to use it until after I had boiled the starter and cooled it. With it cool, I poured in a quarter teaspoonful of nutrient. Not to mention the nutrient was old and all clumped together.

Is this a safe assumption that it was the cause? I sipped my pale ale I bottled two days ago and it tasted great. I can't think of anything I could change as far as sanitation. I am really peculiar about everything.. Especially since I made the ridiculous mistake with the nutrient.

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Old 02-02-2011, 11:50 PM   #7
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I am traveling for work and picked up some Bell's Best Brown Ale.

I can't help but notice, at the end of the glass, that it has the exact same mouth feel previously described as a metallic taste that my beer at home does. What is this from? Mine at home is 10X the intensity of the beer I am drinking now. Perhaps it is merely from not altering the hops schedule? It is definitely a nasal taste. Much more noticeable when the carbonation level is diminished.

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