Brewed four different recipes-why do they all taste the same?

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crispybrowne

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So I've started brewing partial mash recipes from a local brewshop in Brooklyn. I've done a Christmas ale, a honey porter, a chocolate stout and now a Belgian strong ale, each with different types of grains and yeast and malt extract. They all end up tasting pretty decent, but for some reason they all taste the same to me.

Could be my palate just isn't refined enough to notice the differences, but I'm at different bars drinking different brews almost every day. If there are differences, they're extremely subtle. The only thing they really have in common is the Poland Springs water I use to brew, and possibly the Star San residue in the carboy from the sanitization process.

Has this happened to anyone? Any suggestions would be extremely welcome.
 

Proboscidea

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Sorry to ask the obvious, but have you done a side-by-side blind taste test? Maybe your memory for flavor differences is still developing. For example, I think that Budweiser, Miller and Coors all taste the same, but I bet if somebody lined them up in front of me, the subtle differences would become apparent. ("Mmmm, regular yellow water. Slightly more bitter water. Slightly less bitter water.")

Also, if you're not accustomed to hoppy or malty beers, those characteristics could be screaming so loudly to your palate that they drown out the other differences.
 

Proboscidea

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And, I've noticed [The] Brooklyn [Brew Shop]* has a "take it easy" attitude about things that hardcore brewers geek out about, like fermentation times, fermentation temperatures, yeasts used. Brooklyn takes the stress out of brewing, but sometimes it's the geeky details that distinguish one beer from another.

For example, that Belgian Strong Ale should probably have been fermented at a higher temperature than the Stout or the Porter, and it should have used a Belgian yeast (they don't specify on the site which yeast the kit comes with, but they use dry yeast, of which only a few varieties are available). If you kept the fermentation conditions the same between all the brews, the differences might not have come out as strongly. It's not your fault, because they don't tell you to do that. The laissez faire thing. And if it ends up as tasty beer you enjoy, who cares if it hits the style it's supposed to be. Plenty of time to learn & refine, should you wish to go down the various brewing rabbit holes. :)


*EDIT: I just noticed you said "a" shop in Brooklyn, not "the" Brooklyn Brew Shop of 1-gallon batch fame mentioned above. Disregard if irrelevant. I didn't mean to impugn the entire borough of Brooklyn's brewing chops.
 

travlinScott

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I've just started home brewing and have done 3 batches so far. All have been decent and drinkable, but yeah, I'm having the same experience. Very different grain bills and different yeasts but somehow, they taste too much alike to me. It's weird actually.
 

billl

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If you post the recipes, I'm sure we'll able to point out what is similar and what should be different.
 

homebrewdad

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And, I've noticed [The] Brooklyn [Brew Shop]* has a "take it easy" attitude about things that hardcore brewers geek out about, like fermentation times, fermentation temperatures, yeasts used. Brooklyn takes the stress out of brewing, but sometimes it's the geeky details that distinguish one beer from another.

For example, that Belgian Strong Ale should probably have been fermented at a higher temperature than the Stout or the Porter, and it should have used a Belgian yeast (they don't specify on the site which yeast the kit comes with, but they use dry yeast, of which only a few varieties are available). If you kept the fermentation conditions the same between all the brews, the differences might not have come out as strongly. It's not your fault, because they don't tell you to do that. The laissez faire thing. And if it ends up as tasty beer you enjoy, who cares if it hits the style it's supposed to be. Plenty of time to learn & refine, should you wish to go down the various brewing rabbit holes. :)


*EDIT: I just noticed you said "a" shop in Brooklyn, not "the" Brooklyn Brew Shop of 1-gallon batch fame mentioned above. Disregard if irrelevant. I didn't mean to impugn the entire borough of Brooklyn's brewing chops.
Gotta chime in with an agreement here. Did you use different yeasts? If not, there is a LOT of the issue right there - epecially if you don't have a sensitive palate.
 

D_Nyholm

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I too noticed that a lot of my extract batches tasted similar. Almost like a mild brown ale. I always wondered how the bottled beer I bought had so much more flavor! I have to as, ky stouts all seemed tasty though.
 

Bubba

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I cant really answer your question without seeing the recipe but your using poland spring water..... you live in brooklyn your water is one of the best there are for brewing. Water is one of the main reasons our pizza and bagels are the best in the world.
 

D_Nyholm

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I cant really answer your question without seeing the recipe but your using poland spring water..... you live in brooklyn your water is one of the best there are for brewing. Water is one of the main reasons our pizza and bagels are the best in the world.
I don't think the reason our water is great for baking means it is good for brewing. We have pretty soft water here in relation to the rest of the country and it is my understanding that the minerals in hard wstwr are what makes better beer?
 

Bubba

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Yes our water is softer than most of the country but im not so sure about hard water being better for brewing im sure there are those who will debate that, all I know is NYC water tastes very good and it makes very good beer with no reason to use store bought water.
 
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