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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Beginners Beer Brewing Forum > Still plagued by "THT"... "The Homebrew Taste"
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Old 09-19-2012, 09:44 PM   #1
Stein
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Default Still plagued by "THT"... "The Homebrew Taste"

I'm still trying to figure out where my beers are going wrong... I've been all over the place, and it seems to follow me. I started off as an extract + steeping grains brewer, went to all grain after my 2nd batch, went back to extract, and now I'm a partial mash brewer. The one thing that has followed my beers since the very beginning has been the dreaded "homebrew taste". It's not always there, but I've had extract batches that have had it, as well as all grain batches that have had it. I'm still trying to pin it down...

It's really hard to describe the flavor I'm getting, but I'm guessing that many people will know exactly what it is I'm talking about. My first two extract batches had it, so I assumed it was either "extract twang" or an unwanted flavor from the dry yeast I was using. I then went to all grain and my first all grain batch had it. I stopped using dry yeast at this point. I also started controlling my fermentation temperatures by putting it in my keezer with a stainless steel thermowell + temperature probe. The flavor went away for the most part, but every once in a while it would return.

The last batch I did was an extract + steeping grains + dry yeast recipe that my friend recently did with GREAT results. My version came out with the "homebrew taste" and beared very little similarity to his version. Since we both used the same recipe, I'm beginning to think I'm doing something else wrong.

I'm thinking this might be a fermentation problem. I used dry yeast in this one (rehydrated), and pitched it at about 68 degrees. To my horror, I awoke the next morning to no fermentation due to the temperature dropping to 60 degrees overnight. It had to warm up before fermentation occurred, and I think I might have stressed out the yeast.

Any suggestions? What should I change? I think I need to go back to doing yeast starters.... anything else?

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Old 09-19-2012, 09:47 PM   #2
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Start with water.

With extract you can use 100% RO water. That is the easy (and more expensive) way to eliminate water issues as the root cause. Do you know if you have chloramine in your tap water?

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Old 09-19-2012, 09:49 PM   #3
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Water? Personally I use bottled water.

Yeast count? Maybe you're under pitching.

Ingredients? Are they maybe old?

Also I don't know too many people that use a thermowell on a ferm chamber. But that could be my inexperience in that department.

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Old 09-19-2012, 09:50 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rhamilton View Post
Start with water.

With extract you can use 100% RO water. That is the easy (and more expensive) way to eliminate water issues as the root cause. Do you know if you have chloramine in your tap water?
A cheaper way and along the same lines, get some water from your buddy that is not having any problems and see if that makes a difference.
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Old 09-19-2012, 09:52 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rhamilton View Post
Start with water.

With extract you can use 100% RO water. That is the easy (and more expensive) way to eliminate water issues as the root cause. Do you know if you have chloramine in your tap water?
I've been buying Crystal Geyser and/or Arrowhead water at the store for my beers, generally. I use Arrowhead when I want to do a style that requires a harder water profile, Crystal Geyser for the lighter ones. The taste seems to follow the Crystal Geyser batches the most.

I have fairly soft tap water, but yes it does have Chloramine. I can probably buy a filter to remove it, or I can just go down and get some RO water for 25 cents a gallon at the store.
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Old 09-19-2012, 09:54 PM   #6
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You could try sending a beer to a judge, and ask them to critique it. It sounds like it could be only a couple of things to me- one, water.

Have you used RO water or tap water? Any additions at all?

How about boiling the wort? Do you get a nice hard rolling boil, with a good hot break? Do you hit your volumes, or have to top up (or go over)?

For your last brew, can you go, step by step, through everything? Even if it's not important sounding, like "I crush my grains with my own mill at .037" gap...."etc. We may pick up something. Make sure you tell us boil size if you're not doing a full boil with the partial mash, or extract. The brand of extract, type, etc, would help.

Since you have the same flavor with AG, I'm leaning towards water. But technique is crucial, and I wonder if there is something that is just a small thing that is being missed.

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Old 09-19-2012, 09:59 PM   #7
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Another thing to think about is when was the last time you changed out all of your tubing? I like to change mine out at least every six months, more if I'm doing more batches. They get hot and cold and expand and contract and after a while, the Starsan just doesn't work on them like they used to and you end up with something wrong with your beer and you just can't quite nail it down. I'd change my tubing and brew another batch and see what happens.

Also, use RO/Distilled water instead of spring water and if you're steeping grains, don't go above 2 gallons of steeping water, depending on how many lbs of steeping grains you have.. don't want a PH spike from not enough grains. Once you add your LME/DME then you can top up to 5 gallons and start your boil. I apologize if any of this is terribly obvious to you. Just trying to help out.

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Old 09-19-2012, 09:59 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stein View Post
I stopped using dry yeast at this point. I also started controlling my fermentation temperatures by putting it in my keezer with a stainless steel thermowell + temperature probe. The flavor went away for the most part, but every once in a while it would return.

I'm thinking this might be a fermentation problem. I used dry yeast in this one (rehydrated), and pitched it at about 68 degrees. To my horror, I awoke the next morning to no fermentation due to the temperature dropping to 60 degrees overnight. It had to warm up before fermentation occurred, and I think I might have stressed out the yeast.
Sounds like you have a good start here, but keep those ferm temps low and stable. Also check your pitch rate and aeration.

And +1 for water.
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Old 09-19-2012, 10:01 PM   #9
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Im not privy to your entire process etc... but I would go right to bottled water and try out a batch and see how you like the results. Its far worth the $5 you need to spend for 5 gallons of water to have a kickass batch of beer.

Im about to start tinkering with taking out carbon and adding gypsum in my water

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Old 09-19-2012, 10:02 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yooper View Post
You could try sending a beer to a judge, and ask them to critique it. It sounds like it could be only a couple of to me- one, water.

Have you used RO water or tap water? Any additions at all?

How about boiling the wort? Do you get a nice hard rolling boil, with a good hot break? Do you hit your volumes, or have to top up (or go over)?

For your last brew, can you go, step by step, through everything? Even if it's not important sounding, like "I crush my grains with my own mill at .037" gap...."etc. We may pick up something. Make sure you tell us boil size if you're not doing a full boil with the partial mash, or extract. The brand of extract, type, etc, would help.

Since you have the same flavor with AG, I'm leaning towards water. But technique is crucial, and I wonder if there is something that is just a small thing that is being missed.
I'm really thinking it might be yeast problems because it always seems to correlate with long lag times.

That reminds me, I seem to always have a long lag time in my batches, no matter if I'm using liquid yeast or rehydrated dry yeast. Even when I do a yeast starter, I don't get the 3-4 hour start times like some of you guys get. Usually 12 hours is standard, though the last one took 24 hours. I've used pure O2 in my beers as well, but it didn't seem to do much in terms of me getting a faster start in the fermentation.

I think I'll use dry malt next time, see if that helps anything.

As far as my process is concerned, I steep the grains in 1 gallon of water at 155 degrees for 30 minutes. I boil 2 gallons in another pot, turn off the heat, stir in the LME, sparge and then add the runnings from the grain and bring it back to a boil. I follow the standard hop additions, turn off the heat, cool the wort down as much as I can, and if I can't get it all the way down, I put it in my chest freezer and wait til it's around 68 degrees before I pitch.

One thing I forgot to mention.... when I take sample tastes of the beer while it's still in the primary, it tastes good. The mysterious taste always seems to come along after I add the corn sugar and bottle it. Maybe not all of the corn sugar is being eaten by the yeast?
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