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Old 12-06-2010, 10:42 PM   #1
ChemicalFlask
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Default Unexpected bitterness: what's the deal?

Brewers,

My first post to celebrate my first solo homebrew (done it with friends before). I just had a drink (still flat...didn't want to wait another week for the bottle to fully condition), and while its nice, it's got a rather pronounced bitter aftertaste. This isn't a problem per se, but I didn't expect the beer to come out this bitter and I'm wondering if I contaminated something.

Some info to help with the diagnosis:
- When I bottled the stuff last night, it smelled like regular stale beer, no sour odors or other nasally detectable hints of contamination. The beer is mostly clear too, after adding Irish Moss (in other words, I think the haze in the beer is acceptable, not really turbid like contaminated chicken broth)
- The bittering hops were 1/2 oz Chinook and 1 oz Willamette for flavor in 5 gallons of a rather malt-intensive recipe
- I didn't remove the layer of yeast and sediment at the bottom of the primary fermenter before transferring into secondary fermentation container, although I didn't siphon that out into the bottles (I've been told that leaving the sediment can produce off flavors)

Any ideas?
CF

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Old 12-06-2010, 10:48 PM   #2
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The bitterness will mellow significantly with age. You will notice some difference in a week and there will be a huge difference in 3-4.

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Old 12-06-2010, 11:00 PM   #3
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That is kind of like asking why an unbaked cake does not taste like a baked cake. Let it carbonate and it will taste differently.

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Old 12-06-2010, 11:06 PM   #4
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Yep, carbonation and conditioning will change it quick a bit!

That said, chinook is one of the "harsher" hops, and I love it. It may not be your cup of tea, er, beer, though so for your next recipe you might want to try a "smoother" bittering hop to see if that is more to your taste. A low co-humulone hop variety might be better for you. More info on hops bitterness: http://www.homebrewtalk.com/wiki/ind...one#Adlupulone

What's the whole recipe of the beer you did?

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Old 12-06-2010, 11:56 PM   #5
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Thanks for the replies everyone! I didn't expect it to taste "like a beer" when I cracked it open - lacking as it was in carbonation - but I was hoping to get a sense of "worst case scenario" given that I am doing in-bottle carbonation and conditioning. I was a little disappointed/worried up to now, but I'm pleased to hear that I've got a lot to look forward to.

My recipe:
6 lbs. Gold liquid malt extract, 1 lb. Light DME, 8 oz. Munich, 2 oz. Roasted Barley, 6 oz. Caramel 80L specialty grains, 1/2 oz. Chinook, 1 oz. Willamette hops.

If anyone else has something to add, I'm glad to hear it, otherwise thanks for the info!

CF

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Old 12-07-2010, 12:08 AM   #6
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I was going to say that sometimes a low efficiency can result in excessive bitterness, but efficiency doesn't matter as much with steeping + extract.

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Old 12-07-2010, 12:22 AM   #7
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I had an "off", kind of bitter, flavor in a batch once and I spent a while trying to track it down. After reading in How To Brew about Maillard reactions leading to an inky phenolic flavor, I started using the late extract addition method. Haven't had that flavor since. Was it definitely due to Maillard reactions? I'll probably never know. But I will probably use the late-extract method from here on out anyway.

If you want to try late extract addition, just remember to adjust your hops accordingly.

I'll also second what the other folks are saying. I had some fairly marginal tasting beers at three weeks end up tasting really good after a couple of months or more. Even the beer I was talking about above eventually mellowed out.

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Old 12-07-2010, 12:31 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChemicalFlask View Post
... but I was hoping to get a sense of "worst case scenario" ...
And you should also compare it to the "wort case scenario" of how it tasted when you took your hydrometer reading after you brewed. I'm always amazed at how bitter the wort tastes and how good the resulting beer is. After a while, you can train yourself to have a reasonable notion of how the beer will turn out from the taste of the wort.
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