Harsh taste

HomeBrewTalk.com - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Community.

Help Support Homebrew Talk:

Scandixbrewer

Active Member
Joined
Feb 22, 2020
Messages
26
Reaction score
3
I'm getting a bit frustrated with my homebrews.I've been brewing a bit over a year (BIAB and some extracts) and I'm still waiting for that enjoyable beer. My extract brews have been fairly okay, mostly, but I'm struggling with my all grain brews and somewhat also when steeping grains on extract brews.
What I usually end up with is a beer with a harsh and grainy taste, sometimes more sometimes less but more or less always present.

I've read that milling grain too fine might be a cause of harsh/astringent taste in beer, but at the same time I also read that a lot of people mill the grain to almost flour, with no problem. My gap setting on my mill is now about 1mm, maybe a bit less.

pH can also be a problem according to my reading so I bought a pH meter some time ago and it shows usually a decent pH of 5.3 - 5.4.

I've tried brewing with several water sources, from my well, different city water and bottled spring water. RO water isn't an option unless I buy a RO system myself.

As I mentioned I use BIAB when brewing. I used to squeeze the bag quite a bit in the beginning but now I'm really cautious doing that, just a gentle squeeze to get some of the liquid out.

At bottling time the beer sometimes actually can taste quite nice and promises a lot, but after carbonation and conditioning it for 3-4 weeks it have changed pretty much to this grainy tasting beer.

Can anyone help me out here? What am I missing or what am I doing wrong?
 

Alan Reginato

Active Member
Joined
Jan 11, 2021
Messages
31
Reaction score
14
What kind of beer you usually brew? I've heard people complain about their homebrew, but sometimes they are just comparing it with comercial beers.
 
OP
S

Scandixbrewer

Active Member
Joined
Feb 22, 2020
Messages
26
Reaction score
3
All kinds of ales (pale/amber/browns) and also have a Vienna lager conditioning right now.
 
OP
S

Scandixbrewer

Active Member
Joined
Feb 22, 2020
Messages
26
Reaction score
3
What kind of beer you usually brew? I've heard people complain about their homebrew, but sometimes they are just comparing it with comercial beers.
I wouldn't say I'm comparing with commercial beers, I might use them for reference but this is not about that... my beers are too often on the verge of being dumpers.
 

seatazzz

Well-Known Bloviator & Pontificator
HBT Supporter
Joined
Feb 4, 2016
Messages
2,638
Reaction score
3,461
Location
Seattle
I think astringency may be what you are tasting. I have this issue as well in a few of my beers, most notably right now in an IPA I just kegged last week. It comes off as a bitter flavor not related to hops, that kind of gives a puckery flavor. It can be caused by several things, such as overheating the mash, or too-hot sparging. Watch your mash and mashout temperatures. Scorching on the bottom of your BK can also contribute to it.
 
OP
S

Scandixbrewer

Active Member
Joined
Feb 22, 2020
Messages
26
Reaction score
3
I'm using 2 thermometers to check my mash temperature and I'm usually at 67 degrees Celsius at start (153 F) and I always turn my stove off once the water reaches mash temp. Not turning on again until mash completed and grain bag is out of the kettle. I don't mash out or sparge.

Thanks for the reply!
 

Alan Reginato

Active Member
Joined
Jan 11, 2021
Messages
31
Reaction score
14
Brew a "clean" beer cloud be more difficult than a heavier one. Because off flavours won't be masked by others characteristics. Roasted and crystal malt, used in moderation, for 15 to 30 SRM. Don't let it waiting for too long after mill it. Check if they aren't expired. Hops for bittering, with low cohumulune, targeting near 50 IBUs. ABV around 7%, using sacarose or another carbohydrate (high maltose is better). Filtered water. Maybe a neutral yeast, just don't let the temperature scale too high, like + 30 C. 10 days in primary, only. 2-4 days cold crash. Bottling with priming to 3-3.5 vols of co2. 1 month is ok to start drinking. 2 is better. Is the kind of beer I usually do. And there isn't too much secret involved.
 
OP
S

Scandixbrewer

Active Member
Joined
Feb 22, 2020
Messages
26
Reaction score
3
Thank you for the reply, appreciated. However it's missing the point a bit, what I want is finding out WHY my beer tastes like this and, most of all, the cause of it and how to fix it. The recipes I'm using are mostly tried and true ones so I'm pretty sure they aren't supposed to taste like this.
 

RM-MN

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Nov 26, 2010
Messages
14,533
Reaction score
5,301
Location
Solway
How much time do you allow the beer after you pitch the yeast? It takes time for the yeast to finish and more yet for the beer to settle out the fine particles of grain, hops, and the yeast itself. Until this happens your beer will be harsh.

I leave my beer in the fermenter at least 2 weeks, more often 3 weeks or longer. Once bottled I again leave the beer to carbonate and any particles that made it into the bottles time to settle out. 3 weeks from bottling day, I might put a couple bottles in the refrigerator and leave them a couple days for more to settle out. That way I get a compacted trub that will stay in the bottle when I pour and I don't pour that last little bit of beer as I can see sediment and know that it doesn't taste really good.
 

seatazzz

Well-Known Bloviator & Pontificator
HBT Supporter
Joined
Feb 4, 2016
Messages
2,638
Reaction score
3,461
Location
Seattle
Here's a verbatim quote from Palmer's How to Brew:

"Astringency differs from bitterness by having a puckering quality, like sucking on a wet tea bag. It is dry, kind of powdery, and is most often due from excess tannins from steeping grains too long or when the mash pH exceeds 6 due to alkaline water. It can also be a problem for hoppy pale beers brewed with alkaline (carbonate) water. Oversparging the mash or using water that is too hot will also cause tannin extraction. Tannins can also come from overhopping with low-alpha hops. Bacterial infections can also cause astringency, i.e. vinegar tones from Acetobacter."
 

Alan Reginato

Active Member
Joined
Jan 11, 2021
Messages
31
Reaction score
14
It's hard to know why a beer became harsh. Maybe tannins, like seatazzz wrote above. Also can be others problems.
You said grainy taste. Could be DMS? How long you boil the wort? Is vigorous boil? Open or with a lid?
 
OP
S

Scandixbrewer

Active Member
Joined
Feb 22, 2020
Messages
26
Reaction score
3
Here's a verbatim quote from Palmer's How to Brew:

"Astringency differs from bitterness by having a puckering quality, like sucking on a wet tea bag. It is dry, kind of powdery, and is most often due from excess tannins from steeping grains too long or when the mash pH exceeds 6 due to alkaline water. It can also be a problem for hoppy pale beers brewed with alkaline (carbonate) water. Oversparging the mash or using water that is too hot will also cause tannin extraction. Tannins can also come from overhopping with low-alpha hops. Bacterial infections can also cause astringency, i.e. vinegar tones from Acetobacter."
I can't be sure of course, but I'm thinking astringency as well. However, as I mentioned in my first post, I can't understand why I get it. I'm not milling my grain too fine, I'm checking my pH, I don't sparge, I'm not squeezing the bag, and I'm checking my temp. with two thermometers. Overhopping? I havent considered that but I'm no hop head and usually use it in moderation.

How much time do you allow the beer after you pitch the yeast? It takes time for the yeast to finish and more yet for the beer to settle out the fine particles of grain, hops, and the yeast itself. Until this happens your beer will be harsh.

I leave my beer in the fermenter at least 2 weeks, more often 3 weeks or longer. Once bottled I again leave the beer to carbonate and any particles that made it into the bottles time to settle out. 3 weeks from bottling day, I might put a couple bottles in the refrigerator and leave them a couple days for more to settle out. That way I get a compacted trub that will stay in the bottle when I pour and I don't pour that last little bit of beer as I can see sediment and know that it doesn't taste really good.
I've invested in a TILT to easier monitor the gravity. I'd say I wait about 5-7 days after the TILT stopped showing change in gravity. That makes it usually something like 10 - 14 days in the fermenter, I don't think I've ever bottled earlier than 10 days after fermentation start. After bottling I let it sit to carbonate and condition for about 3 weeks until I take the first sample. I might try after 2 weeks if I'm impatient.

It's hard to know why a beer became harsh. Maybe tannins, like seatazzz wrote above. Also can be others problems.
You said grainy taste. Could be DMS? How long you boil the wort? Is vigorous boil? Open or with a lid?
I've never tasted DMS so I don't really know what it would be like, but I don't think what I'm experiencing fits the description of it. My all grain batches I usually boil for 60 minutes, I won't say it's a vigorous boil, but it's not a simmer either. I boil with lid off; after mash, once I'm about to reach boilin temp I take the lid off and never put the lid back on, not when chilling either.
 

Mad Hornet

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 3, 2020
Messages
51
Reaction score
15
Have you tried aging for much longer periods than 3-4 weeks? 8-12 weeks? 6 months? Seems to make a noticeable difference to me.
 
OP
S

Scandixbrewer

Active Member
Joined
Feb 22, 2020
Messages
26
Reaction score
3
Have you tried aging for much longer periods than 3-4 weeks? 8-12 weeks? 6 months? Seems to make a noticeable difference to me.
I get something like 20-30 bottles out of my brews (usually 10 liter) and I guess some will last 3-4 months, probably a bit longer, but can't say I've seen much difference between the first and the last. It's true I might rush things, not getting the best out of the beer, but at the same time I know people are making award winning beers in "short" time, with just 2-3 weeks aging. I can't imagine their beers tastes like this, not even after that short time.
 

Mad Hornet

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 3, 2020
Messages
51
Reaction score
15
I don't know the secret to those award winning beers. My personal experience suggests that it takes 6 weeks in the bottle to really mature. I made this stout back in November. After bottling and then 3 weeks at room temp 3 days in the fridge i opened one and it had this burnt toast aftertaste. Very unpleasant. That was back in December. Kept sampling them and seemed like each week it got a little better. Last month I took a 12 pack of it and set in my garage where it's been right around 37 degrees and just left it there. Been drinking them one here, one there really slow. Had one yesterday and it was so so good. Best head retention of the batch too.
 
OP
S

Scandixbrewer

Active Member
Joined
Feb 22, 2020
Messages
26
Reaction score
3
I can give an example, an english bitter I made from a recipe I got from somewhere online... I can't seem to find the source now unfortunally. I made this December 12th.

1 can of Maris Otter LME (1.5 kg)
250 gram of Muntons light DME
Steeping grains:
100 gram of Crystal Light (88 EBC)
25 gram of Low colour chocolate (500 EBC)

Let steeping grains be in the water until it got to about 67-70 degrees C. Added half of the LME and the DME and boiled for 45 minutes, added the other half of LME when 10 minutes left of boil.

- bittering hops at 45 min First Gold and Challenger (16 gram)
- at 15 min left, 10 grams of East Kent Goldings
- at 5 min left, 10 grams each of East Kent Goldings and First Gold

This is about 10 weeks old now and the harsh grainy taste remains.
 

jrgtr42

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 4, 2013
Messages
1,486
Reaction score
721
Location
Metrowest, Massachusets.
Can you provide us a recipe and your exact procedures and temps / gravities?
That might help diagnose what is going on a bit better than general ideas.
Edit - just seeing that now...
 

couchsending

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Jun 21, 2016
Messages
2,836
Reaction score
1,795
Willing to bet this is water related. Almost all harshness tends to be water related. Where do you live?

what pH meter do you have? Is it calibrated? Calibrated often?

You say you’re hitting 5.3-5.4 pH. For pale beers and brown beers? Are you adding any acid to your pale beers? I’ve never brewed extract so I don’t know a ton about pH with extract brews.

you can often find an average mineral content from your city water online. Don’t ever use “spring water” as it’s often rather high in alkalinity and really can be all across the board.

Next time you brew buy distilled water instead of “spring”.
 
OP
S

Scandixbrewer

Active Member
Joined
Feb 22, 2020
Messages
26
Reaction score
3
I live in Sweden and I've been trying several water sources, mainly city water which is pretty good here, not much chlorine or chloramine. The one I usually use is also used by a commercial brewery in same city as me, and I know he brew with the water untreated, no additions or treatment whatsoever.

The pH meter I use I think is from kegland, and I have been calibrating it a couple of times. I don't use it when I make extract brews, only all grain. I've added lactic acid a couple of times, mostly for pale beers, to get to a pH of 5.3 - 5.4 and it usually get pretty close to it.

I'm not sure how to think when I steep grains, I put a question here some time ago about that but I got the feeling it wasn't something I should care much about.

Destilled water or RO water isn't so easy to get a hold on here I think, RO water I have neer seen and the only destilled water you can get hold of is for car batteries and for steam irons... not sure if that's food safe.
 

DHOMD

Member
Joined
Feb 21, 2021
Messages
20
Reaction score
4
Location
Earth
I believe husky/grainy beers often blamed on sparging. Too much proteins and junk making their way from the mash to the pot.

Often with a clear wheat beer you can see a miasma hovering in the bottle half of the beer.
Usually cold conditioning for 2 months will cause the nasty stuff to layer. Carefully opening and decanting will confirm this and you get an okay beer.

Don't pulverize the grain (crush, not shred)
If toasting your own grain, it needs to settle for ~ 3-4 weeks before you can mill and use it.
Re-circulation will give you a MUCH clearer/cleaner beer.
Try a whirlfloc tab or moss

Re-circulation is probably the best way to fix this, but can cause other headaches.

Taste the mash and beer at each step. Best way to trace off flavors.
Can even do mini fermentations in a small grower with a loose cap from each step to look help determine at which stage the flavor is coming from.
 

wsmith1625

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 14, 2014
Messages
429
Reaction score
277
Location
Manchester, NJ
When you say your beer taste harsh and grainy, most posters have interpreted this as astringency which are all grain issues.
Off-Flavor of the Week: Astringency | Craft Beer & Brewing (beerandbrewing.com)

But when you say the beer taste grainy, I don't know exactly what you are describing. Grain does not tastes astringent to me, but can introduce astringency if not handled properly. Also, the astringency would be noticeable at bottling time, but you say the beer taste quite nice.

I'm going out on a limb here, but I think your problem is oxidation. Oxidized beer would taste fine at bottling time, but would quickly start to pick up a stale cardboard taste after bottling. The longer the beer sits in the bottle, the more you're going to notice it.
Off-Flavor: Oxidized | Craft Beer & Brewing (beerandbrewing.com)
 
Last edited:

cmac62

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Feb 8, 2017
Messages
1,794
Reaction score
589
Location
Menifee, CA
^^ this is what I was thinking also. I know oxidation can also add a harshness with the other flavors. I hope this helps. :mug:
 

VirginiaHops1

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 25, 2018
Messages
982
Reaction score
575
Location
Vienna, Va
Could be notable oxidation as previously stated, which never helps flavors. Although you didn't go into depth on your cold side practices. I would bet the majority of your issue is water though. It's not your crush, because I do BIAB and demolish my grains into practically dust and I rarely get astringency anymore. The few times I have within the past year or two are from mega hopped beers where there is some early hop burn. I generally brew with pretty soft water though.

It sounds like you really don't have any idea what's in your water. Monitoring ph is good but you have to calibrate pretty much every brew, especially if it's one of the cheaper ones. I just upgraded mine to a nicer one but I still calibrate every brew session. My tap water is pretty good for brewing(I have a water report) but I still cut it with about 50% RO to further reduce the alkalinity so I can drop my ph easier. And even if you don't think there's much chlorine in it you should be using a campden tablet as insurance for any municipal water.

If you have no access whatsoever to RO or distilled I believe there are ways to boil the water to reduce the alkalinity? There is tons of good reading on water on this forum and I'd somehow obtain some soft water and brew a batch with that and see if your issue improves before troubleshooting anything else.
 
OP
S

Scandixbrewer

Active Member
Joined
Feb 22, 2020
Messages
26
Reaction score
3
Thank you for all the helpfull comments. I will rethink once more my brew- and bottling days to see if there could be possible areas where I can do big improvments. Water and oxidation is two things I will consider for sure.
 

hout17

It's BREW 30!
HBT Supporter
Joined
Jun 16, 2013
Messages
190
Reaction score
479
Location
North of Denver
You probably already do this but just in case I would recommend adding half a campden tablet to your water on brew day this will ensure that any chlorine or chloramine are removed from your water. This can cause your beer to taste not so great.
 

foles

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 24, 2010
Messages
53
Reaction score
5
Location
Perth, AU
Thank you for all the helpfull comments. I will rethink once more my brew- and bottling days to see if there could be possible areas where I can do big improvments. Water and oxidation is two things I will consider for sure.
Bump - did you ever get to the bottom of this issue? What is your mash thickness for all-grain?
 
OP
S

Scandixbrewer

Active Member
Joined
Feb 22, 2020
Messages
26
Reaction score
3
Bump - did you ever get to the bottom of this issue? What is your mash thickness for all-grain?
I think I know the issue to this now and it seems like the problem is me rather than how I brew. I sent a couple of bottles to two certified beer judges and their description was "some very nice roastiness" (together with "a bit thin" and "maybe slightly phenolic"). They couldn'd find anything of what I described as "grainy" and "harsh" and their conclusion was that it's probably a case of me not appreciating some flavours that some malt brings to the table, in this case roastiness. I've used some darker malts, chocolate and darker caramel malts, which I suppose adds flavours I don't care for, at least not in those amounts I've been using.
I know that I've never cared much for porters and stouts etc but I didn't know I was this "sensitive" to these kind of flavours.
 

madscientist451

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 10, 2014
Messages
4,801
Reaction score
2,468
Location
Bedford
II sent a couple of bottles to two certified beer judges and their description was "some very nice roastiness" (together with "a bit thin" and "maybe slightly phenolic"). They couldn'd find anything of what I described as "grainy" and "harsh" and their conclusion was that it's probably a case of me not appreciating some flavours that some malt brings to the table, in this case roastiness. I've used some darker malts, chocolate and darker caramel malts, which I suppose adds flavours I don't care for, at least not in those amounts I've been using.
Perhaps try brewing a blonde ale with very little hops? Keep the ABV down, and no dark malts. Just base malt pilsner/2row 10% light crystal?
Here's a recipe that may work for you, you can even reduce the bittering (Magnum) hops if you want:
 

CascadesBrewer

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Mar 24, 2013
Messages
1,322
Reaction score
902
Location
VA, USA
I think I know the issue to this now and it seems like the problem is me rather than how I brew. I sent a couple of bottles to two certified beer judges and their description was "some very nice roastiness" (together with "a bit thin" and "maybe slightly phenolic").
Hopefully these judges were being honest and not trying to be polite. Sometimes it can be hard to get honest feedback from people. I can understand if you are just brewing styles that you don't enjoy (say you don't like roasty stouts or bitter IPAs) but it sounded like that was not really the case. I would strongly advocate tasting your beer side by side with quality commercial examples of the styles, even better yet if you can mix up the beers so you don't know which is your homebrew. This may better help you hone in on the characters that you don't like, or determine if they are expected for the style.

The "slightly phenolic" feedback may also be a clue. Assuming a style and yeast where phenolics are not expected, this would point at an issue with yeast health, fermentation and/or infection. Infections can introduce a wide variety of characters, including "harsh/astringent" character.
 

hotbeer

Opinionated Newb
Joined
Mar 10, 2021
Messages
151
Reaction score
70
I've just been reading about what fusel alcohols are and some other yeast related things.

Curious what specific yeast have you been using?

Maybe the harsh (to you) taste may be solved by using yeasts varieties that show as forming less fusel alcohols or "superior alcohols" as SafAle calls them in their data sheets.
 

mattsearle

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 23, 2014
Messages
150
Reaction score
24
I had a harsh/ bitter "bite" on 4 or 5 beers in a row several years ago and couldn't pin it down to anything no matter what I brewed.

Eventually a professional brewer tried a bottle and suggested a possible minor infection, so I changed out my plastic fermenters and any plastic hoses etc for new (basically anything that wasn't stainless was thrown away) and I never had it come up again, so this appeared to be the issue in my case.
 

Tobor_8thMan

Well-Known Member
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Feb 15, 2013
Messages
3,284
Reaction score
1,792
Location
Go 97 miles and take a right...
From My first infected batch

I ask as a few years ago I purchased a Blichmann 14 gallon conical from another brewer. The brewer was honest in admitting his last several batches were infected. Arriving home I disassemble everything and I mean everything. The nylon barb on the ball valve is green/black with mold! Clean everything thoroughly and replace the da*n nylon barb with stainless. I've since fermented several batches in the Blichmann without issues (or souring or infection).
 

Latest posts

Top