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Old 07-08-2013, 01:10 AM   #1
Feb 2012
Wilmington, NC, North Carolina
Posts: 208
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I have been AG brewing for a year and a half and have never run into off flavors until recent. I have tasted a few bottles recently of two separate batches of two separate beers and am getting a similar aftertaste from both.

The sips are fine off the bat, decent body and malty goodness but after swallowing, I get this tonic water like bitterness. I hate tonic water!!! It coats the back of my throat and sides of my tongue and lingers for too long. I also get this slight artificial sweetness; the kind I get from splenda or sweet n low, though both were carbed with cane sugar.

Both are Belgian ales. One is a Dubbel style (Bottled in May), the other a Blonde (Bottled a month ago). The base grain is Pilsen with similar Belgian specialty malts. Both are lightly hopped I believe with Styrian and Kent Goldings, maybe Saaz.

I use a fly sparge method and I can't rule out that I over sparged or sparged with water that was too hot. My volumes recently have come up short, so I have been tipping my mash tun to get out all that I can. (I know, not good.) Also, I usually get my sparge water in the 190 range. My reasoning is that once the sparge water reaches this temp and my propane is shut off, it will dip down quite a bit in the time it takes to gently trickle over my grains. The grains, as a whole, probably aren't getting anywhere near the 180-190 mark. I know the described above, including my mash pH (which could be a tad high at 5.5) could cause astringent tastes. To me though, the taste doesn't seem astringent, rather a funky bitterness. Not the pleasant bitterness from hops.The beers seemed fine young once carbed. It seems whatever it is appears to be getting more pronounced over time. The bottles are not showing any signs of infection, nor am I getting excess carbonation. The taste is not plastic like either. I use high temp silicone hose for the transfer of hot sparge water and wort instead of vinyl hose. I treat my water with campden the night before brewing to drive off chlorine but don't really treat my water with anything else.

Any ideas on what the culprit of this taste could be? Thanks.

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Old 07-08-2013, 01:27 AM   #2
Ale's What Cures You!
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Jun 2006
UP of Michigan, Winter Texan
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Believe it or not, I've never once had tonic water- so I'm not sure what it tastes like.

Is it "minerally"? I'm thinking it's a water chemistry issue. Tipping the MLT to get out the runnings is just fine, and wouldn't cause this.

Do you know what your water consists of?
Broken Leg Brewery
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Old 07-08-2013, 04:53 PM   #3
Dec 2010
Concord, MA
Posts: 636
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Originally Posted by Rugrad02 View Post
The grains, as a whole, probably aren't getting anywhere near the 180-190 mark. I know the described above, including my mash pH (which could be a tad high at 5.5) could cause astringent tastes.
My understanding is that 170 F and pH > 6.0 are the magic numbers for tannins. It sounds like your temperature could be high if you are only sure you aren't hitting 180. Although your mash pH is low enough, you might be getting a higher pH with your sparge unless you are treating the sparge water.

That said, if you haven't changed your process from what you've done before, then maybe look to ingredients? If you are using tap water, has the water changed? (My town brings on additional water sources in the summer because of increased demand, which change the alkalinity at my tap.)

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Old 07-08-2013, 05:00 PM   #4
Jul 2010
Albany, NY
Posts: 2,250
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Was it the same yeast in both batches. Have you used belgian yeasts before? To me they seem like off flavors.

190 seems high to me, I can't comment much on that though because I have struggled with astringency for the past 2 years mainly due to Ph.

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