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Old 12-31-2011, 09:01 PM   #1
HoppilyEverAfter
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Default Bitter Taste

I have brewed 5 batches, various styles (IPA, Black IPA, Stout, Amber Ale, IBA), and all 5 have had a bitter aftertaste. I brew extract, boiling 4 gallons of water, and cooling my beer to 68* before pitching yeast. When using specialty grains I mash at 155, so I don't believe it would be the tannins. I have used both tap water and distilled water and this aftertaste is still present. It does mellow some the longer I let the beer sit in the secondary or bottles, but is still present regardless. I have not been able to remedy this problem. I hope someone can help. Thanks!

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Old 12-31-2011, 10:00 PM   #2
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Some people have a heightened sensation to "bitterness". The most easy way to tell if you are is if you find diet soda to be as sweet or sweeter than regular soda, or if it has an off flavor.

Personally, I can only drink diet dr. pepper, and find other diet drinks unbearable. In the classroom "experiment" where they have each person taste a strip of paper penetrated with some substance, I find it very bitter (while some don't taste it at all).

I am very conscious of bitterness on the back of my tongue. I have learned to recognize this and embrace it. With that said, I cannot handle the very bitter IPA's. This bitterness is very different from hop "aroma".

The fact that it fades may indicate that it is the bitterness of your early addition hops. (I have also seen some talk about having extract additions during the full boil rather than late in the boil increasing bitterness).

I will let others talk about the intricacies of causes of increased bitterness of beers but just wanted to toss my experiences out there.

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Old 01-01-2012, 12:39 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HoppilyEverAfter
I have brewed 5 batches, various styles (IPA, Black IPA, Stout, Amber Ale, IBA), and all 5 have had a bitter aftertaste. I brew extract, boiling 4 gallons of water, and cooling my beer to 68* before pitching yeast. When using specialty grains I mash at 155, so I don't believe it would be the tannins. I have used both tap water and distilled water and this aftertaste is still present. It does mellow some the longer I let the beer sit in the secondary or bottles, but is still present regardless. I have not been able to remedy this problem. I hope someone can help. Thanks!
Maybe I am not understanding the problem, but all of those styles would have a bitter taste to some degree. Certainly the IPA, Black IPA, and IBA would all have a pronounced bitter taste by design. Are you saying that they are more bitter than you expected, or perhaps you mean astringent rather than bitter? You mentioned that you don't think the taste is due to tannins, which are normally described as astringent rather than bitter, so perhaps that is the taste you are trying to remedy?
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Old 01-01-2012, 02:16 AM   #4
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I am a bit confused as well. There is a big difference between hop aroma and hop bitterness which is why we add selected quantities of hops at certain intervals of the boil. There is also a huge difference between the unsweetened coco or coffee flavor of astringency and hop bitterness. If you don't like bitter beers it seems that you would brew another style or change the hop schedule to give you more of shop aroma over hop bitterness. I pride myself on my west coast IPA ringing in at 97 IBUs, but malty cloying beers are not my cup of brew.

Perhaps try brewing a low IBU beer such as an ESB, Scottish ale, or Belgian style ale and see if you get the same "bitterness."

You said the bitterness faded with a little age which is right on target with hop bitterness. Hoppy beers degrade in hop bitterness and begin to create a very complex flavor profile with age. That is why for a pale or IPA I brew for competition I make sure it's about a month and a half old by the time it will be judged or it might be knocked for low IBUs and not being balanced.

You may also want to buy a couple commercial examples of these hop monsters you are brewing and see if the same flavor exists with those as well. It may be that the style is just not something you are fond of.

Keep us posted, I'm curious to see how this turns out.

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Old 01-01-2012, 02:56 AM   #5
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Tannins are not just extracted with high mash/sparge temps, but also with high pHs. It is possible your water is too alkaline and you are extracting more tannins than you think.

Though as others have said, is this a hop-derived bitterness? What sort of bittering additions did you do on these beers?

(and what is an IBA?)

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Old 01-01-2012, 04:59 PM   #6
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It is certainly not that I am not fond of the hop bitterness of these styles. I have been drinking them for many years. I have also tasted the commercial versions of these beers and they do not have the taste I am trying to explain. I have around 5 bottles of the Black IPA that I brewed so I will let them sit and see if that helps. IBA=India Brown Ale. Cross between Scotch ale and IPA.

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Old 01-01-2012, 05:10 PM   #7
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I'm leaning towards your water being an issue. As was mentioned, alkaline water can really cause a harsh bitterness.

What kind of water are you using? Any additions?

I saw a recipe one time that had gypsum in the recipe, and if someone added that without knowing their water chemistry, that could cause some of that harshness, too. That's why I ask.

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Old 01-01-2012, 08:07 PM   #8
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I have used both City water and Distilled water and have had the aftertaste present in both.

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Old 01-01-2012, 08:28 PM   #9
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How much water do you steep with?

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Old 01-01-2012, 09:12 PM   #10
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4 Gallons for a 5 Gallon batch.

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