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Old 08-05-2009, 07:21 PM   #1
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Default Everything is a tad bitter

I'm still really new at brewing but so far all of my batches have a distinct bitterness in the background. So far I've done a pale ale (I would expect some pronounced bitterness there), an amber ale, a porter, and an irish red. Is there anything that could be causing this? I've been very careful with bittering hops. Could there be something off with my water? Could I be steeping grains at too high a temperature and/or for too long? Thanks, sorry if this is an obvious question.

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Old 08-05-2009, 07:24 PM   #2
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Over steeping or steeping the grains at too high of a temp can lead to astringency. If that isn't the issue, there are a few others here (myself included) who have experienced similar issues and have yet to completely track it down.

Just curious. Do you have a water softener?

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Old 08-05-2009, 07:26 PM   #3
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I had the same problem on my first beer, a smoked porter - The finish was a tad bitter - I went back through my steps, and I saw two errors - one was the temp on my steeping grains was a little high, and the other was my fermentation temps where a little high. I am assuming one of these mistakes was the culprit, but I am not sure.

I suggest go back through your steps, and be extremely nit-picky on what could have gone wrong. That might be a good place to start.

EDIT - just realized in the time I wrote this someone answered my own problem... Thanks Marubozo!
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Old 08-05-2009, 07:27 PM   #4
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Water chemistry can add a harshness to the bitter that makes it stand out more. Don't ask me what. It's just something that I read recently and still don't quite understand. Maybe it was PH... yeah, I'm a lot of help!
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Old 08-05-2009, 07:50 PM   #5
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Yes, water chemistry can play a role. Those threads given above will be helpful though.

Perhaps you can post a water report?
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Old 08-05-2009, 08:01 PM   #6
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High sodium plus high sulfate levels can be a problem. Either mineral can produce a harshness the will change your perception of the bitterness, but together the problem is worse.
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Old 08-05-2009, 08:05 PM   #7
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yeah, we need your water report. Usually a little calcium chloride will do the trick to soften that bitter edge in a lot of styles, take it more towards the malty side...but we need more info.
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Old 08-05-2009, 11:10 PM   #8
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I've posted a couple threads on this too, as I had the same issue with my first two batches. As an "experiment" I moved to AG for my latest two batches. They are still fermenting, so in a few weeks I will find out the results.

The one thing I found is this tends to occur with LME. Also, I know that my water is better suited for bitter beers instead of malty beers. This shouldn't change the flavor, but it can definitely have an effect.

If you get your water parameters you can plug them into a water chemistry calculator like the one on It will tell you what your water is best suited for in terms of color and bitterness.
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Old 08-06-2009, 05:19 AM   #9
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Could not cooling the wort fast enuff do this also? Had the same on my first batch and though this may have been the cause.
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Old 08-06-2009, 06:22 AM   #10
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I would bet that he is squeezing the muslin bag full of specialty grains to get all of the water out. Tons of astringency. Did I win?


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