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Old 03-22-2010, 05:27 AM   #1
atbump
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Default Getting the same flavor from batch to batch

I'm seven homebrews into my brewing life and I can't seem to shake a certain flavor. For about three brews I was using a Mr Beer kit and pretty cheap packet dry yeast. As I grew more and more frustrated (and the beers aged and maintained that same flavor) I went out and bought a carboy and started using much better White Labs yeast. I am still just steeping grains and using LME and the only brew I have really enjoyed (a cherry stout) was made with DME. The flavor could best be described as a yeasty syrupy taste that overpowers any great hop or grain flavor. I used about 6oz of hops in my last 3 gallon batch and it tastes like a syrupy pale. Totally undesirable. This flavor has lasted in my earliest of brews so it doesn't seem much attributed with conditioning time. Should I blame it on the LME and just make the switch over to all-grain? My favorite style has got to be Imperial IPA and tasting the specific hop flavors is most important to me. I can give recipes if it would help pinpoint the problem even better. I just want all of my homebrews to stop tasting the same!

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Old 03-22-2010, 05:57 AM   #2
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Oh man, a question like this is going to need all of the information of your process. Temp of mash (mini-mash in your example), pH, temp of fermentation, and the specific yeast strains. Please dont get frustrated with us for asking so many details but its the best way we can help because we were not present for your brewing process.

Your question is equivalent to going to a doctor and telling him "I feel bad, doc...whats wrong?"

I doubt it has anything to do with using extract, because plenty of brewers on the forum use extract all the time with great results. The problem most likely lies in your brewing process. For instance, as mentioned earlier, if your pH or temps are off you will attract off-flavors. It would be helpful if you could compare the taste to something, ie "sour apples", "band-aids", "tooth paste"

Also, the age of your LME could cause your beer to turn out less than optimal. So many factors play into the process we just cant immediately diagnose. It would be immensely helpful if you took one of your brews and wrote it out step by step for us. Using as many details as you can.

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Old 03-22-2010, 06:46 AM   #3
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The temp of the mini mash (or steeping) has been around 180F for 30 minutes or so. I have gotten this taste with my first couple of brews that were extract only. I do not have the means to do a pH test right now but I can tell you that I was using cheap Coopers/Muntons but upgraded to US-05 and California Ale yeast for the last two takes at an IPA. I ferment all of my ales between 69-70F. My LME is bought by the pound straight from my LHBS and my water is all bottled purified water sourced locally here in Oregon. I only use Star San to sanitize. For 3 gallons of IPA or pale ale I typically use 1lb grain to steep, 3 lbs of LME, 4oz of hops (1 oz at 60, 1 at 30, 1 at 15, 1 to dry hop), and irish moss at 15 minutes to the end of boil. I pitch a whole vial of yeast after the wort has cooled. I typically add quite a bit of cool water to the fermenter too if that helps with anything. I'd say 3/4 is wort with 1/4 being water to top off and change the gravity.

After I saw "band-aid", that description stuck with me for awhile. I definitely get some band aid with a little bit of fruit flavor, light plastic (even though I've been fermenting in glass), heavy syrup mouthfeel and taste, and hop bitterness. It's almost a little yeast stinky, too and quite watery, albeit with a strong bitter (almost mouth tingling) taste. I've had about 4 brews now that tasted the same and were all different recipes. All of the lighter ales that I have made I haven't enjoyed at all, however, I don't get anything like this when I make a darker beer.

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Old 03-22-2010, 11:17 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by atbump View Post
The temp of the mini mash (or steeping) has been around 180F for 30 minutes or so. I have gotten this taste with my first couple of brews that were extract only. I do not have the means to do a pH test right now but I can tell you that I was using cheap Coopers/Muntons but upgraded to US-05 and California Ale yeast for the last two takes at an IPA. I ferment all of my ales between 69-70F. My LME is bought by the pound straight from my LHBS and my water is all bottled purified water sourced locally here in Oregon. I only use Star San to sanitize. For 3 gallons of IPA or pale ale I typically use 1lb grain to steep, 3 lbs of LME, 4oz of hops (1 oz at 60, 1 at 30, 1 at 15, 1 to dry hop), and irish moss at 15 minutes to the end of boil. I pitch a whole vial of yeast after the wort has cooled. I typically add quite a bit of cool water to the fermenter too if that helps with anything. I'd say 3/4 is wort with 1/4 being water to top off and change the gravity.

After I saw "band-aid", that description stuck with me for awhile. I definitely get some band aid with a little bit of fruit flavor, light plastic (even though I've been fermenting in glass), heavy syrup mouthfeel and taste, and hop bitterness. It's almost a little yeast stinky, too and quite watery, albeit with a strong bitter (almost mouth tingling) taste. I've had about 4 brews now that tasted the same and were all different recipes. All of the lighter ales that I have made I haven't enjoyed at all, however, I don't get anything like this when I make a darker beer.
180 degrees is about 25 degrees too hot for a mini-mash. I don't think that's where this flavor is coming from, but it's important for a mini mash to maintain temperatures of 150-155 for about 45 minutes. If you're just steeping the grain, not mashing, it's less critical but you still should stay under 160.

Because your darker beers are better, I'm wondering about your water. It could be that your water is very hard (lots of bicarbonate) or alkaline. It's also possible that you are using chlorinated water, or worse, water with chloramines in it. What kind of water have you been using?
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Old 03-22-2010, 12:05 PM   #5
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Do you rinse out your carboy after sanitizing? What do you put in your airlock for the yeast starter and the carboys? DO NOT put any sanitizer in those places - use vodka.

Make sure you boil any water that is added to the wort to get the chlorine out - don't top off a cold fermenter or kettle.

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Old 03-22-2010, 12:39 PM   #6
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What water are you using, tap, RO, bottled, distilled ? Have you used the same water in all brews. It sounds as if you have very discerning taste buds and water can have a subtle effect.

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Old 03-22-2010, 01:22 PM   #7
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I question the source of his LME he said the one good brew he used DME. Have you thought about ordering some LME online from a good homebrew site and compare? Just a thought

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Old 03-22-2010, 01:33 PM   #8
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Read www.howtobrew.com

Use a hydrometer. Sounds to me like you're moving along too quickly & the beer isn't finished. What's your normal timeline ? Do you normally take OG & FG readings ?

Also, an ambient air temp of 69-70 can mean a fermenting temp of 75+. That's too high. Search here & read about "swamp coolers" for a cheap way to keep ferment temps under control.

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Old 03-22-2010, 02:32 PM   #9
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I agree on the mash/steeping temps too high. The ferment temps are probably also a bit high. I like to hit about 62 or so since the yeast will create their own heat while working. Then raise the temp after the first few days of active fermentation.

I would also recommend rehydrating your yeast or pitching two packets if you are using dry. Creating a starter for liquid.

Maybe try some spring water from the store? Purified water may not have enough of the minerals that yeast need to be healthy. Or get some minerals to add to the purified water.

I also prefer DME personally, but LME ought to work ok if it's fresh. I've heard that LME usually has a "stale" flavor when it's older, and it can turn darker.

Yooper is right about the darker beers. The pH is going to be different in that case. But the darker beer might only be masking flavor, not necessarily eliminating it.

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Old 03-22-2010, 06:42 PM   #10
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I use Earth2O Natural Spring Water in every brew. I typically do not create a starter for my liquid yeast, just pitch in full when it is time. I also just remembered that my friend's homebrew (he lives about 2 miles away) had the very same taste, it was just more subtle in his brew. The only thing we have in common with brewing is our LHBS... he uses tap water whereas I use bottled spring water. We DO use the same LME. Should I try DME or dry LME in my next homebrew to discern what the problem is a little bit better? I do agree that the taste of the steeped grains and the DME probably covered up the taste in the darker beers that I have made. I will also get a hydrometer from my LHBS next time so I have more adequate information. I am open to experiment with my next brew (well, all of my brews so far have been experiments trying to shake the taste) so if you all have some variants of ingredients I should pick up, let me know!

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