Extract Twang? How to Combat It

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TrubDude

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Hello. I'm a beginner and have been noticing a distinct syrup taste in my finished beer. All of them have a malty/molasses taste but are otherwise pretty good beers. Here is my current method:

- 3 gal partial boil. Starting off with ~1 gal for wort then topping off to 3 gal at the end before pitching.
- Ale pail for primary fermenter. Ferment for 3-5 days
- Secondary glass fermenter for 7-10 days
- LME added early in boil (after 15 mins of grain steeping)
- Total boil is about an hour, sometimes less (45 min)


What I'm suspecting is I'm adding the LME too early, it's getting scorched/caramelized and leading to unfermentable sugars. This is probably contributing to the off taste. Does it sound like I'm on the right path for trouble shooting?

Some quick googling brings up ways to combat the taste. I could do a full boil and add the LME during the last 10 minutes. What size pot should I use for a 3 gal batch? How much water should I add initially for the wort? I heard keeping the LME away from direct heat could help prevent scorching along with stirring in enough.
 

Rob2010SS

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Welcome! I did 3 extract brews before switching to all grain and I can say that I noticed the extract twang in 2 of them pretty heavily but not as much on the third one. The difference between my first 2 and then my 3rd was that I did a full boil on the third and only added 1/3 of the extract at the beginning. I saved all the rest of the extract and added it at 10 minutes left in the boil.

I think you're on the right track with your research you've done. If you're doing a 3 gallon batch and want to do a full boil, you'd need at least 6 gallons of space in the kettle. You want to finish at 3 so you might start boiling at 4.5 and then need some room on top of that for foam and the boil. I don't know if 6 gallon pots are even made but that's what I would think you would need as a minimum. Might be best going with an 8 gallon pot to allow yourself the ability to go to 5 gallon batches if you ever wish to do so.

Just my 2 cents.
 
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TrubDude

TrubDude

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I think you're on the right track with your research you've done.
Thanks, looks like ET is a common thing.

You want to finish at 3 so you might start boiling at 4.5 and then need some room on top of that for foam and the boil. I don't know if 6 gallon pots are even made but that's what I would think you would need as a minimum.
Start at 4.5 allow for boil off and LME volume? I have a 5.75 gal pressure cooker pot I've used before. Maybe I could start with 4 gal of water then top off a little if needed. Lucky for me here in New England we just got a bunch of snow dumped so I can cool the bucket on the deck with lots of snow!
 

Rob2010SS

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I was unsure how to account for LME volume, so the 4.5 starting volume doesn't take that into account. I simply used my own numbers - I know for an hour boil, I boil off 1.5 gallons of water. You could do the top off for sure and see how that goes.
 
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TrubDude

TrubDude

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Sounds good. I'll get creative and see what happens. I may shoot a little lower and top off a bit. I'm just looking to get rid of that caramel after taste, whatever I try will hopefully help. Thanks for your suggestions!
 

LostHopper

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I'm probably wrong but I see LME as the culprit no matter when it enters a boiling wort. I've made some small 2 gallon batches with only DME and did not have the twang. The boil was 15 minutes but some I don't boil at all, go to 180.

I typically brew BIAB but like doing small stove top extract batches to test hop varieties and timing of hop additions when I'm lazy. I've eliminated all LME from these brews. Unfortunately there is a greater variety of liquid extracts.
 
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TrubDude

TrubDude

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If you add the LME at flameout (not boiling it), it makes a better beer.
Just add to hot wort at the end and stir in?
Would you still do a full boil or can partial suffice because you're not boiling the LME?
 

2trout

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Ive always wondered about the water used in the process of making Liquid Malt Extract and Dry Malt Extract.

We don't know the hardness or softness of the the water may be that used in production of LME and DME. If the production water and your brewing water are both somewhat hard, and during production of LME and DME, production water is evaporated away further concentrating minerals from the production water, have you brewed a beer with effectively VERY hard water?

Should extract beers be brewed with Reverse Osmosis or Distilled Water?
 

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Yes. Turn off the flame, and take the pot off of the burner so the extract doesn’t fall right to the bottom and burn. Then, pour it in, and stir, and then chill as usual. The wort is still hot enough to sanitize the LME, but doing this will avoid excess Maillard reactions from boiling LME (similar to caramelization).

Buying the freshest extract possible will also help, since extract gets darker and “twangier” with age.
 
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TrubDude

TrubDude

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have you brewed a beer with effectively VERY hard water?
I would say yes. My water is hard, lots of minerals and by boiling it concentrates the minerals. That's a good point.

My water leaves residues everywhere. Maybe a softener would help?
 

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Ive always wondered about the water used in the process of making Liquid Malt Extract and Dry Malt Extract.

We don't know the hardness or softness of the the water may be that used in production of LME and DME. If the production water and your brewing water are both somewhat hard, and during production of LME and DME, production water is evaporated away further concentrating minerals from the production water, have you brewed a beer with effectively VERY hard water?

Should extract beers be brewed with Reverse Osmosis or Distilled Water?
Yes, RO or distilled water is perfect for brewing, especially with extract. Hard water may be ok, depending on what the hardness consists of (calcium, and not magnesium for example) but without a water report it’s hard to guess.
 
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TrubDude

TrubDude

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I'm probably wrong but I see LME as the culprit no matter when it enters a boiling wort. I've made some small 2 gallon batches with only DME and did not have the twang. The boil was 15 minutes but some I don't boil at all, go to 180.

I typically brew BIAB but like doing small stove top extract batches to test hop varieties and timing of hop additions when I'm lazy. I've eliminated all LME from these brews. Unfortunately there is a greater variety of liquid extracts.
I can ask my local home brew store if he has any straight DME kits. I'm sure an easy substitution will help the twang.
 

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I would say yes. My water is hard, lots of minerals and by boiling it concentrates the minerals. That's a good point.

My water leaves residues everywhere. Maybe a softener would help?
Using softened water is even worse. BUT since you’re getting precipitate out of the water when you boil it, that’s a sign that your water is not likely suited for brewing.

You can try preboiling the water and decanting or siphoning the water off of the precipitate and that may help. See if your water provider will give you a water report with calcium, chloride, sodium, magnesium, sulfate and alkalinity amounts, and then we can know for sure.

Also, make sure to use non-chlorinated water. Chlorine will boil off or degas on its own, but many water suppliers use a more stable form of chlorine called chloramine, which does not boil off or degas on its own and needs pretreatment before brewing.
 

bradleypariah

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All of them have a malty/molasses taste but are otherwise pretty good beers. Here is my current method:

- 3 gal partial boil. Starting off with ~1 gal for wort then topping off to 3 gal at the end before pitching.
There's a possible other problem there as well. You didn't mention hops in your recipe, but I assume you used them? If you boil your hops in one gallon of water, then add two gallons of top-off, you will lose isomerization efficiency.
Water can only dilute a specific number of other molecules before becoming "full."
One ounce of centennial boiled in one gallon of water, then topped off with two gallons of cooling water will yield 25 IBUs.
One ounce of centennial boiled in 3.5 gallons of water (allowing for evaporation), with once ounce of centennial, 63 IBUs.

So, while everyone else's advice is is great, you may also be experiencing overly sweet beer because you're not getting the bittering that your recipe anticipated from the amount of hops that were called for.
 
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One ounce of centennial boiled in one gallon of water, then topped off with two gallons of cooling water will yield 25 IBUs.
One ounce of centennial boiled in 3.5 gallons of water (allowing for evaporation), with once ounce of centennial, 63 IBUs.
That's something else I didn't think of. My IPAs and Ales haven't been very bitter. I'm just diluting out the IBUs! Wow, this thread has changed my whole approach. It's funny how this is the complete opposite of everything I tried so far.

Full vs partial boil, add LME at end instead of beginning, Try DME instead of LME. Why would a kit tell someone to brew the wrong way?
 

Rob2010SS

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It's not necessarily the WRONG way. The instructions get you beer that will most likely be decent and drinkable and it introduces you to the hobby gently. When you're comfortable and want to make BETTER beer, that's when you start taking all of these other things into consideration.
 

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Are you checking the specific gravity in the primary to confirm the fermentation is complete? I would suggest leaving the beer in the primary for 10 to 14 days. The beer will clear in the primary and you can also dry hop in the primary.

edit: That doesn't really apply to your original problem of extract tang. Can you boil three gallons on the stove? Not a rip roaring spitting boil but just to reach boiling temperature for your altitude above sea level. I use a 5.5 gallon clad bottom kettle for my boils. The clad bottom will eliminate scorching if the DME and LME is stirred well while adding.
 
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BrewInspector

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Oh...off topic but referencing how you do things.

Don't try to cool your boiled wort in snow. FAIL. The snow melts directly adjacent to the kettle and the rest becomes an insulator.

The rest you picked up so far should help with the twang. I found DME kits superior to LME and with less twang in general.
 

Bamos6928

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I have recently started adding my LME to the full volume of cold water and stir the crap out of it to make sure it is all dissolved before I even start heating. I then steep my grains in the wort instead of just plain water. I haven't had any extract twang since using this method (though I didn't have that problem before either). If I do a partial boil on the stove I add half of the LME into cold water and stir in and add the 2nd half at flame out. As long as you keep it stirred up really good it works out great.
 
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TrubDude

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It's not necessarily the WRONG way. The instructions get you beer that will most likely be decent and drinkable and it introduces you to the hobby gently. When you're comfortable and want to make BETTER beer, that's when you start taking all of these other things into consideration.
That's true. The kits and instructions allowed me to brew pretty good beer. It was a good way of getting my feet wet and now I want to try new things. I shouldn't forget it was the easiest way to get into it and I enjoyed myself. My friends liked the beer too, so I won't be too critical.
 
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TrubDude

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Are you checking the specific gravity in the primary to confirm the fermentation is complete? I would suggest leaving the beer in the primary for 10 to 14 days. The beer will clear in the primary and you can also dry hop in the primary.

edit: That doesn't really apply to your original problem of extract tang. Can you boil three gallons on the stove? Not a rip roaring spitting boil but just to reach boiling temperature for your altitude above sea level. I use a 5.5 gallon clad bottom kettle for my boils. The clad bottom will eliminate scorching if the DME and LME is stirred well while adding.
No secondary? I always fermented in primary for 3-5 days, sometimes 7 then transferred to secondary. The specific gravity at that point was mostly my target. I thought the beer was conditioning in the secondary, or maybe fermenting a little bit more. That's also where I added hops, bitter orange peel, or coriander.

I have a pressure cooker pot I've used before. It can hold ~ 5.75 gallons. I could boil 3 gallons. I've always just did 1 gallon then topped off to 3 before pitching, but then I would get the twang. Actually for the black IPA I started with more than 2 gallons. I'll have to check, but I recall for that one there wasn't much of the twang.
 

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I boil 2.5 to 3.5 gallons. The higher the sugar content the greater the volume. Secondary fermentor is really a misnomer. The secondary vessel was used as a clearing vessel when it was thought that leaving the beer on the yeast cake would create off flavors. Might have been true early on, especially if the beer was brewed with bread yeast but modern yeasts are quite different. Sometimes there may be a secondary fermentation if a large amount of fruit puree is added to the secondary vessel.

There are still some recipe instructions to rack to the secondary before the fermentation is finished. Thinking was the CO2 produced would provide a protective blanket once when the beer was removed from the yeast cake. Some CO2 may have been produced but it doesn't remain as a blanket. Molecules seek equilibrium. Doesn't take long before the protective blanket has the same composition as the air outside the fermentor. The air lock can keep fruit flies out but molecules will pass through.
 

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You only need a secondary if you're going to condition for a long time...like months. Otherwise, general consenus is that you don't need to.

Partial boils are somewhat problematic as noted: poor hop utilization and excess maillard reactions. You can overcome the maillard reaction issue by using the same proportion of extract as you are water. i.e. for a 5 gallon batch you'd normally boil about 6 to 6.5 gallons. If you're boiling 3, then only add half the extract (or a bit less even).

I honestly don't know how to overcome the hops utilization...well add more hops, but calculating how much more I don't know. Do the usual suspects of recipe tools have a way to account for that?

Bottom line, from my perspective, is do full boils, skip the LME and use DME and life is simple and good. That being said, if you're doing full boils, it's a very small step to do all grain BIAB.
 

bradleypariah

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I honestly don't know how to overcome the hops utilization...well add more hops, but calculating how much more I don't know. Do the usual suspects of recipe tools have a way to account for that?
Yes. I only use the free version of Brewer's Friend, and there are fields for batch size and boil size. If your boil size is smaller than your batch size, you'll see the IBU scale drop. Every time you update any field, all the beer properties change right away.

https://www.brewersfriend.com/homebrew/recipe/calculator
 

Hwk-I-St8

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Yes. I only use the free version of Brewer's Friend, and there are fields for batch size and boil size. If your boil size is smaller than your batch size, you'll see the IBU scale drop. Every time you update any field, all the beer properties change right away.

https://www.brewersfriend.com/homebrew/recipe/calculator
Nice, I have a BF subscription and that's my main tool. I also purchased Beersmith, which I think is probably more full featured, but I find it a bit...counter-intuitive. BF...I pretty much hit the ground running and understood it. BS...I bought that in January with the plan being to move my recipes there as I think it's probably a better tool, but I really struggled with it and, after a couple hours playing around, abandoned it.

I've never messed with partial boil stuff as I've been doing all grain full boils since I got back into brewing. When I brewed partial boil extract recipes in the 90's, the web barely existed, much less tools like BF. Back then I just got recipes from books or the monthly flyer at the LHBS that the owner printed on his dot matrix printer.
 
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It's brew day and I went with a full boil, still using LME but added it 30 mins in, DME was added for the full 60 mins. My local home brew store guy advised against adding LME at flame out. He seemed to think it needs to boil. For my 3 gallon batch I started with 3.5 gallons and lost ~ 1 gallon over 60 mins. I topped off to 3.25 gallons.

I have it cooling in an ice water bath for over two hours now. It's taking awhile but close to pitching temp.

I'm feeling hopeful about this.
 

bradleypariah

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I have a BF subscription
I am adamantly against the increasing Adobe-like trend of users being expected to "rent" software. There's a $200 option to outright own Brewer's Friend, but it's still all online, so if their service ever shuts down, you lose everything? Sorry, Charlie? No thanks. I might buy BeerSmith someday. $28 for a lifetime license is quite reasonable. For the time being, I just download my recipes from Brewer's Friend after brew day, then delete them online and re-use one of my free slots. I like Brewer's Friend a lot, but their business model prevents them from receiving any money from me. Shame.
The fact that I can have five free recipes on BF is the sole reason I haven't bothered to buy or learn BeerSmith.

I'm feeling hopeful about this.
Awesome! Sounds like you're on the right track.
 
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I took a reading after 5 days because I transferred and dry hopped into secondary and lo and behold...no twang! It might be too early to tell but the initial tasting was free of any after taste. It was about 2% ABV and sweet, as fermentation was still early.

So far it seemed like full boil and adding LME 30 mins in helped greatly. Also bittering was not diluted. So far so good. Lets just hope I don't contaminate with all these transfers.
 
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After two weeks I checked gravity and tasted it, now I have a whole new host of problems (well, one of them is the same). I still have the twang, just as much as when I did partials. After talking to my brew partner he mentioned using distilled water. This might be worth investigating because I just use tap.

Also my OG was 1.050 when it should have been closer to 1.060. After 14 days my gravity was 1.020. Not sure where I went wrong. I'm pretty sure the beer is done, but my ABV is not even 4% when the recipe should be 6%.

I did a full boil of 3.5 gallons, LME and DME.
 

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After two weeks I checked gravity and tasted it, now I have a whole new host of problems (well, one of them is the same). I still have the twang, just as much as when I did partials. After talking to my brew partner he mentioned using distilled water. This might be worth investigating because I just use tap.

Also my OG was 1.050 when it should have been closer to 1.060. After 14 days my gravity was 1.020. Not sure where I went wrong. I'm pretty sure the beer is done, but my ABV is not even 4% when the recipe should be 6%.

I did a full boil of 3.5 gallons, LME and DME.
RO (reverse osmosis) is cheaper than distilled, and is a great choice. It's in those big "water machines" at many grocery stores and you can fill a 5 gallon jug there.

The OG can't be missed if you used the ingredients in the recipe- it could be that you were missing a pound of DME, or maybe the recipe was off.

The other thing to note is that you still boiled the extract for quite a long time, and even though the guy in the brew shop said to, he wasn't correct that it needs to boil. It's been boiled, and condensed. It doesn't need more processing, and when the condensed extract is boiled, it gets "twangy", as you've found. The very lengthy chilling compounds this problem, as well as messing up the hops schedule since lengthy chilling allows continued isomerization of hops oils.

Use 1 pound of DME in the boil for every gallon of water in the boil (more or less, doesn't have to be exact), and add the rest of the extract at flame out. It will make better beer, I promise.

Chill more rapidly, by stirring both the ice bath and then the wort with a sanitized spoon to avoid "hot spots" as you chill. Add more ice to the ice bath as needed to keep it cold. Or invest in a wort chiller.

Try to use more water in the beginning, to avoid topping up with water if at all possible- that will also help. Remember you don't have to boil the **** out of the wort- just so it constantly breaks the surface of the wort as it boils.

You can do it- you're already almost there!
 

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After two weeks I checked gravity and tasted it, now I have a whole new host of problems (well, one of them is the same). I still have the twang, just as much as when I did partials. After talking to my brew partner he mentioned using distilled water. This might be worth investigating because I just use tap.

Also my OG was 1.050 when it should have been closer to 1.060. After 14 days my gravity was 1.020. Not sure where I went wrong. I'm pretty sure the beer is done, but my ABV is not even 4% when the recipe should be 6%.

I did a full boil of 3.5 gallons, LME and DME.
My son was doing extract brews. He had twang. I suggested using RO (reverse osmosis, essentially the same as distilled) water, he did, his beer improved greatly. I'd move that direction if I were in your shoes.

**********

Here are a few other things you might consider: at what temperature are you fermenting? Are you just letting the fermenter sit in a room and that's that? Most experienced homebrewers will tell you that when they were able to control their fermentation temps, their beer took a leap. If you're fermenting too warm--and yeast is exothermic so the wort may be 5-10 degrees F higher than your ambient temperature--you can get off flavors of various kinds.

I tend to ferment at 64 degrees; I have an Amber I do at 67.

An inexpensive way to help control ferm temp is to use a swamp cooler. Get a turkey pan from the dollar store, put fermenter in it, add cold water, drape a t-shirt over the fermenter so it extends into the water and can wick up the water. As the water evaporates it cools what's inside.

*****************

I'm also wondering about the yeast. A drop from 1.050 to 1.020 after 14 days is not much. What yeast were you using? Probably a dried yeast in a packet. How did you introduce it to the wort? Sprinkle it in? Rehydrate? Or something else?

I believe there's a process issue here somewhere. We just need to nail it down. Start w/ RO water instead of tap water, and figure out how to control fermentation temp.

A swamp cooler:

swampcooler.jpg
 

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Ive always wondered about the water used in the process of making Liquid Malt Extract and Dry Malt Extract.

[...]

Should extract beers be brewed with Reverse Osmosis or Distilled Water?
There have been a number of topics (2012-ish to current) in the AHA forums that that about the mineral content of DME/LME (PM me if you're interesting in a link or two). Summary: using tap water may "double mineral-ize" the wort.

Many people have tap water that works well with DME/LME. If you get off flavors with DME/LME, brew a batch with distilled water (aka change one thing).
 

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Hello. I'm a beginner and have been noticing a distinct syrup taste in my finished beer. All of them have a malty/molasses taste but are otherwise pretty good beers. Here is my current method:

- 3 gal partial boil. Starting off with ~1 gal for wort then topping off to 3 gal at the end before pitching.
- Ale pail for primary fermenter. Ferment for 3-5 days
- Secondary glass fermenter for 7-10 days
- LME added early in boil (after 15 mins of grain steeping)
- Total boil is about an hour, sometimes less (45 min)


What I'm suspecting is I'm adding the LME too early, it's getting scorched/caramelized and leading to unfermentable sugars. This is probably contributing to the off taste. Does it sound like I'm on the right path for trouble shooting?

Some quick googling brings up ways to combat the taste. I could do a full boil and add the LME during the last 10 minutes. What size pot should I use for a 3 gal batch? How much water should I add initially for the wort? I heard keeping the LME away from direct heat could help prevent scorching along with stirring in enough.
If you can do a full boil, that would be the best option. I started adding my extract about 20 minutes in and always tend my flame to keep a nice boil (not large bubbles). Stir often and make sure you heat those extract containers in some hot water to thin them out. Makes things a lot easier. If doing multiple extract additions, add the lighter first and keep the dark for your 30 minute mark. Boil extract for at least 20 minutes to really break it down and release those flavors. IMO, partial boils produce more chances for off flavors than full and just add additional steps. I use a 10 gallon pot for my brew and it works well. I start with 7.5 gallons and get about 6 gal in the conical. After trub deductions I’m right at 5.5 gallons between keg and a few liter bottles (I like to keep those for aging). Oh, and if your steeping grains, do them separate with the appropriate water level (1:1) and add to your boil when done.
 
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TrubDude

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If you get off flavors with DME/LME, brew a batch with distilled water (aka change one thing).
I would like to try this with RO water to problem solve. The idea about changing one thing will help determine what the exact problem is without introducing a whole bunch of variables.

Soon I'll have a ton of beer from all the experimenting. There could be worse products from experimentation! Beer is good.
 

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Ya'll have been on the right track. I'd avoid LME if possible, and use distilled water. Here's my generic guidance developed 5 or 6 years ago:

Excellent guide. If I may, let me offer a couple of extensions:

"Use 100% RO water or very soft water." I know you mean water with few minerals, but household water softened with a water softener is not the same thing. Water that has naturally few minerals is the key.

"Top off with clean soft water." Same thing. Softened household tap water should not be used.

"> 170 degrees, tannins may be extracted". This will happen if the pH of the water is high, and the temps exceed 170 degrees. I get the "may" part of it, which is of course correct. Might be worth a note at the bottom in the Q&A.

"1/4 Campden tablet." Crush the tablet w/ a spoon on a piece of foil on a hard surface.


But these are quibbles. Nicely done.
 

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