A Nasty Taste in the Mouth...

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Redriley

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Being new to this forum, I posted this in the introductions thread, but was told it would be better off in here.

'I hate to throw a problem at you with my first real post, but the problem I am experiencing is a sporadic one which just comes up from time to time and is infuriating when it does. It is difficult to desribe flavours, but irrespective of ingredients, mash temperature, yeast used etc., the beer will sometimes end up with an intensely dry (not off) flavour and an unpleasant pungent, slightly sulphurous aroma.
In the last brew I used my normal Whitelabs English Ale yeast (apparently from Fuller's 30 miles down the road - via California!). This is one of the least attenuative yeasts on the market and from a starting figure of 1037 degrees, primary fermentation finished at about 1015; perhaps a little high but not too bad. When I got to taste it after a week or two, the flavour/aroma was as described above. I soldiered on with it for a while but drinking it just wasn't a pleasant experience. Ultimately I tested the gravity in the glass which had dropped to 1006. For an all malt mash this seems incredibly low and the barrel was venting furiously through the safety valve. The previous bitter had been a stunner and a porter brewed not three weeks before had been perfectly acceptable. The only slight ingredient concern that I have, is that the cracked malt was the last of the sack.
Incidentally, the water I used for this brew was pure distilled treated with brewing salts to a ph of 5.2, although the same problem has been encountered using the domestic supply treated with sulphuric acid (common practice round here).'

If anyone can help I would be most grateful. Please...!
 

Iordz

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I have noticed with British style ales that have low gravities carbonation is very important. If the beer is carbonated highly it will take away from the maltiness and add an astringent, carbonic bite. I made a dry stout and carbed it a little too high, I noticed it tasted astringent, so I backed off on the CO2 (force carbing in the keg) and the beer came out wonderful.
As for the low gravity, what was your mash temp and how long did you hold the mash at that temp? An important aspect of brewing low gravity ales is getting dextrins in the mash so that the beer doesn't finish too dry and taste astringent. You could try adding CaraPils, more caramel malt, lactose or other sugars that regular brewer’s yeast cannot ferment. Most brewers will mash their low gravity ales with higher temps so that the mash will not be too fermentable. Basically you want a less fermentable mash so that the beer can taste flavorful and not watery.
 

boo boo

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First, if you are using distilled water then add the correct salts additions to make the water profile you are trying to imitate. Then you worry about PH when you mash. The PH of your brewing water really don't matter much, as it is the mash PH that counts.

Second, what are you trying to do with the sulphuric acid? Are you using it to correct water PH? If so, then refer to my above statement.
You can read about salt additions and water adjustment here http://www.howtobrew.com/section3/chapter15-4.html

Cheers
 
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Redriley

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Iordz said:
I have noticed with British style ales that have low gravities carbonation is very important. If the beer is carbonated highly it will take away from the maltiness and add an astringent, carbonic bite. I made a dry stout and carbed it a little too high, I noticed it tasted astringent, so I backed off on the CO2 (force carbing in the keg) and the beer came out wonderful.
As for the low gravity, what was your mash temp and how long did you hold the mash at that temp? An important aspect of brewing low gravity ales is getting dextrins in the mash so that the beer doesn't finish too dry and taste astringent. You could try adding CaraPils, more caramel malt, lactose or other sugars that regular brewer’s yeast cannot ferment. Most brewers will mash their low gravity ales with higher temps so that the mash will not be too fermentable. Basically you want a less fermentable mash so that the beer can taste flavorful and not watery.
With low gravity brews I tend to try and keep the mash at c. 154 degrees F (I still work to the old scale I'm afraid) to try and achieve the conditions that you describe. As my equipment is somewhat basic, this can vary a little but in this case the mash was always above 152. Actually, your mentioning this has made me think that it may be worth checking my thermometer for accuracy, as it is a little long in the tooth.

As regards brewing salts, not being of a scientific bent, I tend to do what it says on the tin. In this particular case I used Burton water crystals and did actually have some correspondence with the manufacturer concerning their use. Because of the way they are added (mixed in with the grist), there is no other way of checking the Ph than during the mashing process, so sorry for misleading you, but yes I did actually mean 'mash Ph'.

I hope you don't mind me asking another question, but all the recipes I have, insist on a mash time of 1 1/2 hours and 3 gallons of mash water (for 5 gallons ultimately collected). I have never queried this situation before, but it has just dawned on me that a shorter mash time and/or a stiffer mash would both tend to increase the amount of dextrose and thus raise the finishing gravity. Do you think that following one or other of these paths would be likely to solve the problem?

Anyway, many thanks for your help so far, it has really got me thinking!
 

Iordz

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I think you should definitely check the thermometer. The make sure you always mash around 154F, you can play around with the water to grain ratio but I don't think it changes the mash considerably.
For your next brew don't use distilled water, use half tap water half bottled water; this should give your mash enough hardness without requiring any salt additions. Personally, I wouldn't play around with the water profile unless I had to, and I haven't had a reason to change it so far.
You said Fullers was 30 miles away? Well I bet they don't do anything fancy to their water, probably just run it through a chlorine filter or two. If the water works for them it should work for you. Try brewing once without any adjustments and go from there.
 
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