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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Beginners Beer Brewing Forum > Question about bitterness
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Old 12-23-2011, 05:15 PM   #1
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Default Question about bitterness

Hey all. I'm on my 2nd brew. My first brew was Midwest's Irish Stout and the one currently fermenting is their Liberty Cream Ale. The Irish Stout turned out ok, but has this weird bitterness to it.

I just cracked the fermenter to get a gravity reading on the Cream Ale, and it has the same exact weird bitterness to it! I don't get it! Here's exactly what I did with the Cream Ale:

Steeped the grains at 155 for 30 minutes. Added the LME, brought to a boil. Added .75 oz Cascade hops beginning of boil. Added 1 oz of Cascade hops for last 2 minutes of boil. Cooled wort to 65 degrees. Stirred vigorously and and poured hard into the bucket to aerate. Topped off wort to a little over 5 gallons. After top off, wort was 68 degrees. Pitched one vial of WLP001, no starter.

According to Fermometer, fermenting wort never got above 66 degrees once fermentation began. Took the gravity reading today (6 days after fermentation began) and we're at 1.009.

Any ideas on the bitterness? It's bugging the crap out of me and ruining my beer.

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Old 12-23-2011, 05:34 PM   #2
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Not to sound unhelpful and all, but "weird bitterness" is too vague a description to use for off-flavor diagnosis. But the good news is your process looks solid. Only thing I would do differently is make a starter, but the lack of one in this case is most likely not the cause - if the strange taste truly is a bitterness.

I'm making large assumptions here, but I would even calculate your BU as a little low for the style? (OG of ~1050, boiling 3 gallons with cascades at 6% AA would be in the 11-12 BU range roughly).

Could you take another taste and give more descriptive adjectives?

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Old 12-23-2011, 05:57 PM   #3
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I get some "weird bitterness" from my tap water, particularly with lighter colored beers. What kind of water did you use, and is there chlorine in it?

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Old 12-23-2011, 06:13 PM   #4
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Sorry for the vagueness of my description. I call it "weird bitterness" because I've never experienced it in any other beer I've ever had. The bitterness doesn't hit until you swallow and then it lingers on your tongue. It's unpleasant to say the least.

Yooper, I'm on a city well, so I'm sure it has some chlorine in it. I've not had my water tested yet, but it doesn't smell overly chlorinated. It is, however, the only thing ingredients wise that both my beers have in common.

Edit: If I had to describe the bitterness...it'd be like the bitterness you get when you lick an envelope shut.

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Old 12-23-2011, 06:28 PM   #5
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band aid?

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Old 12-23-2011, 06:35 PM   #6
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Yea, sounds like either that phenolic bandaidy solventy flavor that comes from high fermentation temps, or maybe some tannins (that taste that dries out the back of your tongue and makes you smack your lips when drinking big, young red wines).

Based on your description, though it sounds like your process should have prevented those. I would guess it's water- even a small amount of chlorine or chloramines will give you some weird flavors- they're happy to join up with all sorts of compounds and give you weird tastes. Using some campden (metabisulfite) in your water next time will get rid of any chlorine or chloramines. That's what I would suggest.

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Old 12-23-2011, 10:12 PM   #7
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Ok...let's assume that my water is causing a problem. Will the bitterness caused by the chloramines eventually go away or am I stuck with yuck beer? I know time can heal wounds, but if it's not going to get any better, I'd rather free up the fermenter and dump what's there.

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Old 12-23-2011, 10:22 PM   #8
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They're pretty much there, but the aging of the beer may cover them up a bit and they may fade a little, but it probably won't ever go away. I'd package it up and store the packaged beer to see how it progresses.

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Old 12-23-2011, 10:24 PM   #9
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Gotta ask because I know some new brewers that have done it. Are you boiling with your specialty grains still in the boil kettle?

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Old 12-23-2011, 10:25 PM   #10
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I think I'll bottle this cream ale over the weekend and brew another batch next week using bottled water. Thanks for the help!

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