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Old 04-17-2013, 11:00 PM   #1
PorterGlenn
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Default LME making beers taste the same?

I have brewed 5 different batches of beer from box kits, all from the same company, which happened to be my local brew store. I also bought the LME (it came seperatly from the box kit) from them which I believe they make on site?

The different beers were:
Double Bock
DunkelWeiss
Steam Beer
IPA
one other I forget what it was...

Anyways they clearly taste like the different beers but they all have the same funny during/after taste? Not like soap but something soapy/staleish...

I sanatize with StarSan and my kit is only a year or year and a half old but I am thinking of getting a new tube for transfering/racking. Could either of these be causing this? I deffinetly clean and sanatize very well and dont think its this, but clearly I dont know or I wouldnt be asking?

Is it the LME? Maybe they dont make it there and just repackage it from larger containers, however I think they make it there, and I trust they are not selling stale product. They are a very reputable/large company that I dont want to name because Im not trying to pull them through the mud. The reason I think they make it on site is because they are attached to their brewery, its a pretty large operation.

Also I have been putting an extra 3-4 #'s of LME in the wort to make more sugar for my yeast to eat and make a stronger beer. Could this be it? Also is this even a good idea or not really?

I bottle the beer in reused bottles, again I clean and sanatize them.

I always use water strait out of the tap (city water) put it in my 5 gal boil bucket and when it gets to 170 steep the grains, then when it boils add the LME. Should I boil and cool before I actually start making the beer? This seems like it would take forever, if I were going to do this I would just buy a 5 gal jug of water from the grocery store from a natural spring or something.

To cool the beer I have a copper coil that I push cold hose water through, this I never really clean rather than just rinse off. I put it in the wort for the last 5-10 min of boiling and figure that should kill anything on it, then afterwards just rinse it clean and it is in boiling wort for 5-10 min before it is used to cool again on the next batch?

Any suggestions as to where this off flavoring is coming from, its not bad and the beer is still drinkable, but it has a clearly this beer is all kinda the same taste to it...?

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Old 04-17-2013, 11:05 PM   #2
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Throwing in an extra 3-4 lbs of extract will definitely alter the taste of the beer and if you're using the same extract to do that each time, then it's going to alter them all the same way. It's going to reduce the impact of the hops, lower the bitterness and increase whatever flavor that extract is.

Try brewing up a batch as the recipe calls for and see how it comes out.

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Old 04-17-2013, 11:23 PM   #3
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^ that and I wouldn't go above 160°F for steeping grains, or you may extract more tannins. Actually I prefer steeping specialty grains at 154-156°F, for 45 minutes, followed by a "sparge" or rinse at the same temperature.

Also if you're using the same LME tapped from bulk containers, it all tends to have that specific "LME" flavor, that lies underneath your beer. I can taste it too.

Another important thing.
How and when do you add the LME? All at the beginning of the boil or do you split 50/50 between beginning/end, the last being the preferred method?
You need to stir the LME into the wort very well while you're adding it, and before any of it hits the bottom of your pot and scorches there. Turning your heat off while adding will help to prevent scorching, but the syrup needs to be mixed into the wort thoroughly before you resume the boil.

I mix hot wort and the LME syrup in a separate pot and when all is dissolved, I add that thinner mix back into the boil. That totally prevents scorching.

Maybe you're also tasting scorched LME.

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Old 04-17-2013, 11:45 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PorterGlenn View Post

I always use water strait out of the tap (city water) put it in my 5 gal boil bucket and when it gets to 170 steep the grains, then when it boils add the LME. Should I boil and cool before I actually start making the beer? This seems like it would take forever, if I were going to do this I would just buy a 5 gal jug of water from the grocery store from a natural spring or something.
Depending on your water, that could also be an issue. If there's chlorine in it, it can cause off flavors.

Also... I'm assuming you aren't boiling the grains. You don't say anything between steeping the grains and bring it to a boil, but I'll assume there's an unmentioned step there.
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Old 04-18-2013, 02:34 AM   #5
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I am taking the grains out after 45 min or so, the temp I steep at is whatever the directions say I kinda guessed at 170 but will be aware of this next time I brew a batch.

When I add the LME I do turn off the burner and stir for awhile, however it is possible I am not stirring quite enough before turning the burner back on. There seem to be little flakes of LME still in the wort (kinda looks like the Goldschlagger flakes)

I do believe that they all used light LME so I am thinking adding the extra couple of pounds is a bad idea. I have a batch of Pliney the Elder in my fermenter now and I followed the directions with out adding anything extra. My first non kit beer I am hoping it will turn out fine and then I know it isnt my equipment or process...

There is chlorine in the water, however it seems that most people mention they dont seem to taste that in their homebrews? And I dont have a super palate or anything? I wanted to do the batch I am currently fermenting in jug water to side step all that but forgot to get it and already had too many brews to go out to the store and get some...

Ill keep you guys posted

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Old 04-18-2013, 03:01 AM   #6
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Yeah, don't boil those grains...
I think 170 is too high for steeping. The steeping water has likely a pH of 6.5-7.5 depending on your water source, and could have enough alkalinity that strips tannins from the husks. I know it is only a few pounds of crystal/specialty but still could be an issue. All things add up.

I'm starting to use a tiny bit of potassium metabisulphite ("Campden tablet") to get rid of chlorine and choramines in my (carbon filtered) water. In the summer those levels are very high here.
You may want to do that just in case. I think they even sell them in the Walmart (outdoors/camping dept.), but not sure if it is the same substance. The sodium variety would be fine too. Such a small pinch. 1/4 Campden tablet will treat 5 gallons.

You should split your LME into 2 additions, 1/3 at the beginning of the boil and the rest 5-10 minutes before flame out. Less caramelization and somewhat better hop utilization. Have you noticed that your extract beers are darker than they should be?

The extra 3-4# malt load makes a much stronger beer and changes the beer balance significantly. How much LME goes into a batch totally (6.6 kit + 3 extra)? That is almost 50% more fermentables. What are your typical FGs?

Those little flakes you see are probably just hot break.

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Old 04-18-2013, 03:18 AM   #7
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Depending on the quantity of grain, 170 isn't a bad strike temp. The grain will bring it down to mash temperature. If you start with 155F water, the grain will take it down into the 140's.

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Old 04-18-2013, 01:29 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IslandLizard View Post
You should split your LME into 2 additions, 1/3 at the beginning of the boil and the rest 5-10 minutes before flame out. Less caramelization and somewhat better hop utilization. Have you noticed that your extract beers are darker than they should be?

The extra 3-4# malt load makes a much stronger beer and changes the beer balance significantly. How much LME goes into a batch totally (6.6 kit + 3 extra)? That is almost 50% more fermentables. What are your typical FGs?
My beers may be a little to dark but not enough the bother me personally. As far as doing 2 additions of LME put 1/3 in at begining of boil, throw in hops at appropriate times, then in last 5 - 10 min of boil throw the rest in?

If they are too dark does this do anything to the taste or just not look right to the eye for the style of beer that it is?

I am assuming the LME must not be like hops then where it needs to be in a certian amount of time, just as long as its in there and boils for a bit to sanatize it?

The kits call for 7-8# LME I have been adding an additional 3# bucket, making my 5 gal batches total 10-11# LME. I believe it was mentioned but I did not step up hop additions or anything else to compensate for this. Seems like a silly idea now that were talking about, but I thought it was genius when I did it.

OG's never took them, I read somewhere that if you put all the ingrediants in its hard to miss your OG. (I guess this is clearly thrown out the window if you are adding more ingrediants, like 3# LME) FG's never took those either, I was making a box beer not mad scientisting an entirely new style of beer!

Like I mentioned earlier I have a non kit batch that I did last weekend, and after speaking with the guys at my local brew store, I took an OG and will take FG readings. They mentioned not taking these readings makes it really hard to identify problems, and/or to recreate good batchs, kinda the same thing you guys are saying. Ill deffinetly be taking them in the future.

ChshreCat,

I do see my temps go down whenever I add anything in Hops/Grains/LME and clearly this is to be expected. Again I might be steeping at 155ish I honestly dont remember, however 170 does seems to be a number I remember.

Does the phrase "steep small and boil big" mean anything to you guys? I am boiling big (5 gal pot) however I gennerally steep in the same pot, this last time I steeped inside in a 1 gal pot because the recipe called for it but am wondering why this makes a difference? I understand the boil big part, but the steep small I dont quite get?
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Old 04-18-2013, 03:01 PM   #9
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There is lots of talk here on extracts and when and how to add them. One school of thought is that the shorter you boil the extracts the cleaner (fresher) the taste. A 5-10 minute boil is enough to effectively sanitize it and kill any germs, if there were any.

Although some people may add cold water from the tap, pour in DME or LME straight from the container or bag, I prefer to sanitize everything that goes into the wort.

Adding only 1/3 of the extract at the beginning of the boil will keep your gravity down which raises your hops utilization. Now apparently some malt is needed during the major part of the boil to create a good beer. Hence the 1/3 early addition and 2/3 late is a good compromise.

Don't know about seeing "steep small and boil big" before, but it makes sense.
The larger the boil volume, the better the hop extraction and alpha acid isomerization. The lower gravity of large boil volumes also helps in many ways, and is easier to control with extracts than with AG.

Here is my guess on "steep small." It may be better because your steeping water's pH will drop a bit, preventing tannin extraction. You're extracting flavor and sugars, and while most are unfermentable, and there will be little or no starch conversion (lack of enzymes) the smaller volume mimics a (mini)mash better.

I've steeped 2 lbs of grains in a 2 gallon pot using about 4 qts of water. After straining (through a grain bag placed in a colander if you didn't use a bag in the first place), I give them a 5-10 minute soak (dip and dunk "sparge") with another gallon. I also give the bag a gentle squeeze at the end.

The effects of squeezing bags is another topic that gets visited here often. Apparently squeezing does not extract tannins. Temperature, high alkalinity, and high pH (above 6) do.

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Old 04-18-2013, 03:05 PM   #10
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Were all the beers brewed with the same yeast? Don't underestimate the importance of yeast derived flavors in making the beer seem distinct. Base malt is base malt. All beers have it - yet you can clearly taste the difference in an pilsner v. saison - the principal difference being the yeast.

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