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Old 04-12-2012, 08:11 PM   #1
brewit2it
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Default Help with astringency

I was going to post this as a reply in the "how important is water" thread but since that is 4 pages long and falling down the list I decided to post it in it's own thread to get folks ideas. I'm not really so much a beginner but find this is a good place to get lots of sound advice.


I've found that although I still definitely like my beer I cant help but feel it isn't as good as it used to be. I used to use store bought water mixed with water filtered with my britta filter at home, but after a couple of batches going full boil all grain or partial mash I got tired of buying, carrying, filtering in a pitcher, etc and have exclusively been using tap water treated with metabisulfite. Most of my beers recently have been more bitter and mildly astringent, especially the first few sips. I keg and wonder if it is possibly over-carbed which could be adding to the tongue burning sensation I get but really dont think so since I don't have a foam issue at all.

But like I'm sure some others can relate, there are so many variables it is hard to pin down what you think might be the next step to take to try to continually improve (and especially prevent taking steps back in quality) as you step forward in technique. I have been thinking possible culprits of the increased bitterness/burned tongue feel could be:

-My water. It's LA area city water and the report actually suggests it should make good ales but to me it tastes bad. In fact I never drink it unfiltered from the tap and even filtered it tastes much worse than average bottled "purified drinking water"

-Water pH, but since all of my stuff I make is partial mashes BIAB and or all grain no-sparge, that seems less likely.

-The age of my Hops. Damn things last forever when you buy in bulk and many of them are 2 years old. I don't use too much per batch and still have at least a Lb left. I also have always stored them in the fridge rather than the freezer which is probably a mistake. They still smell good but maybe are oxidized imparting some "hop astingency"

-My fine grind on my grain. Since I have been doing BIAB I have followed the recommendation of a fine grind and I also have been squeezing the bajebus out of the grain at the end of the mash. I can't help worry that this could be adding more bitter compounds even though I know most BIAB'ers grind fine and squeeze with no apparent ill effects.

So what do you think? I thought I would start by simply adding one of the RV filters and using that still with a small amount of sodium metabisulfite to see if that makes a difference. It does seem like I had less of thos effect when I used store bought water so seems like a reasonable place to start.

Thanks for any replies.

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Old 04-12-2012, 09:15 PM   #2
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http://www.howtobrew.com/section4/chapter21-2.html
http://www.winning-homebrew.com/astringency.html

Here are two articles pertaining to astringency. Personally IMO I think it is an often misunderstood off flavor and a lot of people, beer judges included, have a difficult time pinning it down.
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Old 04-12-2012, 09:42 PM   #3
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May be Phenolic flavors that are being caused by too much chlorine?

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Old 04-12-2012, 10:01 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by azmark View Post
May be Phenolic flavors that are being caused by too much chlorine?
Thanks for the replies guys and the link.

It cant be chlorine since the sodium metabisulfite is very effective in removing it. Basically just a pinch pretty much removes it all instantly.
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Old 04-12-2012, 10:17 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by duboman View Post
http://www.howtobrew.com/section4/chapter21-2.html
http://www.winning-homebrew.com/astringency.html

Here are two articles pertaining to astringency. Personally IMO I think it is an often misunderstood off flavor and a lot of people, beer judges included, have a difficult time pinning it down.
Thanks for these links. I've read them before. It's definitely an astringent flavor (almost more of a mouth feel along with a bitter/sour flavor actually), not excessive, but more than I used to get. The question is where it is coming from. I guess I'll start with the water. Just like in the links, all of the things I listed are possible contributors from water pH, hops, grain grinding/squeezing, even krausen and trub. I do skim the foam at hot break and if anyone hasn't tried it, you should taste that stuff and you will surely know what an astringent flavor is.
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Old 04-12-2012, 10:30 PM   #6
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Another question is how long are you in primary and do you secondary? Perhaps leaving the beer in the primary for a longer period Of time will help clean things up? Just a thought...

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Old 04-12-2012, 11:15 PM   #7
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I only have the East and West LA water data in BeerToolsPro to look at, but if you have either of them, yikes!

The sodium level is the killer. It's 3-4x the amount I would consider useable.
They both have a chloride level of 0 (you would want 20-40 ppm depending on style), East LA carbonate levels are good for dark beers and West carbonate levels are good for light beers. West calcium is low enough you could work with it by adding gypsum to get your chloride levels up, East has as much calcium as you would ever want.

If I were in your position, I'd buy an RO system sooner rather than later.

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Old 04-13-2012, 12:41 AM   #8
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"Squeezing the grain bag will give you tannins" is a myth. Tannins come from mashing grain at high temps (170 degrees F and above).

I remember the guy a couple of months ago that used a fruit press to squeeze every. single. drop. of wort out of his grain bag - no ill effects.

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Old 04-13-2012, 12:54 AM   #9
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Sounds potentially like a mash pH issue. If your pH is too high you'll extract more tannins. You mention that you don't think your water pH is an issue, but have you measured your mash pH?

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Old 04-13-2012, 05:22 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JLem View Post
Sounds potentially like a mash pH issue. If your pH is too high you'll extract more tannins. You mention that you don't think your water pH is an issue, but have you measured your mash pH?
I was under the impression that the chance of having a pH issue with my sparge water when I'm doing no sparge is nearly zero. I'm definitely going to change my water though. The one thing I can pin down is my beer tasted better to me (actually my friends and family still seem to love it) before I started using pure tap water.

I might try mashing at a little lower temps too, and I recently got a new thermometer I haven't tried for brewing yet, but seems pretty accurate when I tested it. I think my old one I think reads low so I might have been mashing too high.

If anyone in my area wants to come by and try my brews that would be cool. I'm in the SGV in SoCal.

Thanks again for replies.
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