Help w/ Off Flavor in multiple beers, across multiple batches

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smirdok

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Hello to all! I thought after many trial and error, frustration, and many "sentence enhancer" words, I would finally post my problem to see if anyone could help Dx my off flavor.
First, I've been brewing for a number of years now from extract, partial, to all grain. I use a 16 gal pot with a mash tun, custom biab filter bag, to brew 5-12 gallon batches.
My problem has shown itself in a number of batches here lately and I'm not sure if I'm moving in the right direction, but here goes. Since its summer and hot, I've been brewing lighter beer (light lagers, lagers, cream ale, kolsch) and I keep getting this grainy, silage-like, husk-like flavor and cannot for the life of me figure it out. Here is my process thus far.
- I filter my house water through a house filter w/ a charcoal chlorine filter through food grade silicone hose. I filter the water hours before slowly to try and remove as much chlorine as possible.
- I tend to mash slightly on the lower side (around 148-152F) (I use the kettle thermometer AND a thermopen to confirm temps.
- I BIAB (of course) and do not sparge.
- I use beersmith for all of my batches, calculations, etc
- I use a Hach ph meter to check ph approximately 12-15 min into each mash. (all batches brewed were between 5.2-5.6)
- I control fermentation temps with fridges (there are 2) hotwired w/ Inkbird controllers, with the temp probe going into the beer through a thermowell (not taped to the outside).
- I pitch at temps specifically for whatever yeast I am using for that batch.
- Use corny kegs for carbonation and serving through a keezer.
- To experiment with different yeasts I've been brewing a 10-12 gal batch, splitting into 2 different 5 gal fermenters, then placing each into their own temp controlled fridge.
-In the end, all batches seem to carry this flavor, regardless of yeast, ferment temp, lagering time, style, etc.
-After 3 batches poured down the drain, I decided to take a step back, and brew AG batches of AIH's "Classic American Pilsner" & Beirmuncher's "Centennial Blonde" kits. Followed the same processes and both, while young, seem to be fine.
-I use PBW and star san for cleaning and sanitizing. I use bubblers, chapman stainless, & fermonster fermentation vessels.
- My first thought was my process, trying to isolate a single variable to alter/change, but no luck thus far. It seems this grain-like flavor comes through no matter what I change. Then I thought maybe it was my grain d/t using some older Rahr 6-row that I've had for a while, and while it is old, (greater than a year) its kept unmilled in a temp controlled, humidity controlled basement. Thoughts? Suggestions? At this point I'm open to anything!!! Thanks to any and all!
 

Amadeo38

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When you say you took a step back and brewed two AG batches that seem to be fine, does this mean you didn’t do BIAB with those batches and that they don’t have the off-flavor?

Are you double-crushing in addition to using, at times, old malts? What’s your crush gap? How long do you mash? The off-flavor you have described is commonly caused by isobutyraldehyde, which can emerge from excessive length mashing of very finely crushed grains. Maybe something there?
 

Dgallo

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You said it’s been a lot of lite beers lately; Are you using Pilsner malt as your base in them all? Is there anyway the flavor could be described as corny? If so it’s possible it’s DMS.
 
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smirdok

smirdok

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When you say you took a step back and brewed two AG batches that seem to be fine, does this mean you didn’t do BIAB with those batches and that they don’t have the off-flavor?

Are you double-crushing in addition to using, at times, old malts? What’s your crush gap? How long do you mash? The off-flavor you have described is commonly caused by isobutyraldehyde, which can emerge from excessive length mashing of very finely crushed grains. Maybe something there?
Those batches were also BIAB and they did not have that flavor. I am not double crushing. Not sure what my crush gap is, its the standard setting for my barley crusher purchased from AIH.
 
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smirdok

smirdok

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You said it’s been a lot of lite beers lately; Are you using Pilsner malt as your base in them all? Is there anyway the flavor could be described as corny? If so it’s possible it’s DMS.
One batch did have some pilsner malt. It's not corny, and depending on the batch I boil for 75-90 min.
 
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smirdok

smirdok

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Did you use the old grain in all of those? First step I would take would be to use fresh grain.
Batches were various combinations of older/newer grain, Rahr 6-row, Briess Brewers malt, Rahr pilsen, Malteuroup 2-row. In some, there were higher percentages of older malt, others inversed.
 

shetc

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Are you a member of a homebrew club? Absolutely, the best way to get feedback especially from BJCP certified judges.
 
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smirdok

smirdok

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Are you a member of a homebrew club? Absolutely, the best way to get feedback especially from BJCP certified judges.
Not much in my area without going at least one hour in any direction, but thank you for the suggestion.
 
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smirdok

smirdok

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If old 6-row is a common factor in all of the bad batches, I'd start by cutting that out.
That's my next plan. Repeat one the batches exactly, minus 6-row. Thanks!
 

Gnomebrewer

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You said it’s been a lot of lite beers lately; Are you using Pilsner malt as your base in them all? Is there anyway the flavor could be described as corny? If so it’s possible it’s DMS.
This is my first thought as well. DMS tastes to me like slightly off cooked feed grain (not corn or cabbage). Boil issues combined with old 6-row could be the problem.

One batch did have some pilsner malt. It's not corny, and depending on the batch I boil for 75-90 min.
How vigorous is your boil? How much boil-off in a 90 minute boil?
Maybe try a SMaSH beer using ale malt.
 

Bilsch

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What you describe, after moving to lighter beers, sounds like oxidation to me. Could come from your process and or the force carbonation. Some people are more sensitive to these off flavors but in light beers the first signs is an odd bitterness or harshness known as herbstoff. These first signs of oxidation are usually covered up in higher gravity, stronger flavored higher hopped beers and so less known especially round these parts where IPA’s are the norm.
 

Gnomebrewer

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What you describe, after moving to lighter beers, sounds like oxidation to me. Could come from your process and or the force carbonation. Some people are more sensitive to these off flavors but in light beers the first signs is an odd bitterness or harshness known as herbstoff. These first signs of oxidation are usually covered up in higher gravity, stronger flavored higher hopped beers and so less known especially round these parts where IPA’s are the norm.
Do you mean harnstoff?
There are a lot of flaws with oxygenated brews (acetaldehyde, unpleasant bitter harshness, cardboard, grassiness), but 'grainy silage-like' isn't one that I've experienced or heard of.
 
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smirdok

smirdok

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Planning to re-brew these recipes minus the 6-row. Will post results. These batches have really thrown me for a loop. Thanks to everyone for all the help!
 

Bilsch

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Do you mean harnstoff?
There are a lot of flaws with oxygenated brews (acetaldehyde, unpleasant bitter harshness, cardboard, grassiness), but 'grainy silage-like' isn't one that I've experienced or heard of.
No I meant herbstoff aka malt bitterness. Those off flavors you speak of are more prevalent in later stage oxidation. In light lagers you first lose the light malty fresh grain flavors and then the malt bitterness starts to kick in. Again you cannot tell any of that is happening in higher gravity and or higher hopped beers. And that is exactly why most craft and home brewed beers are stronger flavored hoppier beers.
 

Gnomebrewer

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I know exactly what you're talking about with malt bitterness (although I've never heard the term 'herbstoff' - do you know where it came from or have some more info on it?) - I am quite sensitive to it in lighter beers and do everything I can to avoid post-ferment oxygenation because of it. I personally wouldn't relate that to the off flavours the OP is talking about though.
 

Bilsch

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Yes it’s the German word for malt bitterness and you will find references to it in German brewing texts. I also am particularly sensitive, it’s like my kryptonite. Especially in light all malt beers like Koelsch. Remember oxidation can happen anytime in the brewing process hot side and cold side. The more delicate your beer is the better your process has to be. Otherwise just add a lot of hops and call it good.

As far as the OP descriptions go, everyone’s perception is different and beyond that one has to describe in terms maybe not familiar to other people’s experiences. Before I understood early stage oxidation, I struggled to describe it. All I’m saying it it’s a good candidate for what he is describing.
 
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owmatooth

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just a thought. since you're having more trouble in warmer months, and using hose water (as i do in florida), the local water supplies tend to up the chloramides (similar to chlorine, but not quite) in the summer. do you add two campden tablets at filling, prior to heating? I did everything but that to eliminate an off flavor, and that was the answer, even when i let the water sit overnight before. mine was a metallic off flavor, and it went away with the simple toss of two tablets. turns out chlorine dissapates, but chloramides dont. or so i've been told..
 

owmatooth

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I react to sulfites, so that's not an option for me (and others). I can tolerate the normal dose for a 5gal batch, but 2 tablets, no way.
since they are added preboil, is there noticeable sulfite content left. I was under the impression that it completely dissipated in the boil, thus the reason that it does not have an affect on the yeast. otherwise any significant residual sulfites would kill the yeast, no?
 

blackbeer

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When you say you took a step back and brewed two AG batches that seem to be fine, does this mean you didn’t do BIAB with those batches and that they don’t have the off-flavor?

Are you double-crushing in addition to using, at times, old malts? What’s your crush gap? How long do you mash? The off-flavor you have described is commonly caused by isobutyraldehyde, which can emerge from excessive length mashing of very finely crushed grains. Maybe something there?
i noticed my beers this year getting a similiar grainy, husky flavor. heres my system

maris otter malt finely crushed, almost flour
well water, no idea of makeup
biab no sparge mash low 150's for an hour
boil uncovered for 90 minutes
keg and bottle

ipa's and pa's seem to exhibit the most. porter and stouts not so much. this year is my most disappointing year.

some of my beers were hop bombs with lots of hops added at FO, 170, etc that were unbelievable delicious at 2 weeks old that lost all hop character after a month leaving lingering bitterness.

i am ready to bag the biab method and go back to cooler mash with a less finely crushed malt and a 30 min mash and 60 min boil. that and i know i need to get a handle on my water composition, ph, etc

any thoughts would be appreciated and sorry for the hijack but this thread is very relevant to my situation minus the 6 row which i never use
 

kh54s10

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i noticed my beers this year getting a similiar grainy, husky flavor. heres my system

maris otter malt finely crushed, almost flour
well water, no idea of makeup
biab no sparge mash low 150's for an hour
boil uncovered for 90 minutes
keg and bottle

ipa's and pa's seem to exhibit the most. porter and stouts not so much. this year is my most disappointing year.

some of my beers were hop bombs with lots of hops added at FO, 170, etc that were unbelievable delicious at 2 weeks old that lost all hop character after a month leaving lingering bitterness.

i am ready to bag the biab method and go back to cooler mash with a less finely crushed malt and a 30 min mash and 60 min boil. that and i know i need to get a handle on my water composition, ph, etc

any thoughts would be appreciated and sorry for the hijack but this thread is very relevant to my situation minus the 6 row which i never use
Have you changed the crush? It might make a difference. Try a less fine crush.
Have you always boiled 90 minutes. 60 minutes, even less is plenty, if you calculate for hop additions/boil time.
IPAs and other hoppy beers will degrade in hop flavor rather quickly. Especially compared to porters and stouts.
Were all the cooler mash done 30 min mash and 60 minute boils, then all the BIAB at 60 minute mash and 90 minute boil. If so use the cooler times for a BIAB. There should be no reason to change the timing.
 

LittleRiver

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since they are added preboil, is there noticeable sulfite content left....
That's the thing, I'm not set up to test for any amount that might might it through. I know I can tolerate dosing a 5gal batch with the standard recommendation of 1/4 tablet, so I stick with that. Since I know I'm sensitive to the stuff I'm not going to experiment with putting 8 times that amount in a batch.
 

blackbeer

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Have you changed the crush? It might make a difference. Try a less fine crush.
Have you always boiled 90 minutes. 60 minutes, even less is plenty, if you calculate for hop additions/boil time.
IPAs and other hoppy beers will degrade in hop flavor rather quickly. Especially compared to porters and stouts.
Were all the cooler mash done 30 min mash and 60 minute boils, then all the BIAB at 60 minute mash and 90 minute boil. If so use the cooler times for a BIAB. There should be no reason to change the timing.
yes i have been finely grinding the grain since i went biab a year or 2 ago. i have always mashed for 60 min but lately the mash sometimes goes 90 min because i am multitasking. as for the boil, i have been doing 90 for the above reason as well. i think i need to just not do anything but brew when i am brewing. 30 min mash with iodine test and a 60 min boil. i am going to go back to the less floury grind as well even if it affects my attentuation.

on a side note, i think this winter i am getting a countertop RO system and working on my water profile. i only brew jan-apr due to other commitments.
 

Bilsch

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That's the thing, I'm not set up to test for any amount that might might it through. I know I can tolerate dosing a 5gal batch with the standard recommendation of 1/4 tablet, so I stick with that. Since I know I'm sensitive to the stuff I'm not going to experiment with putting 8 times that amount in a batch.
I'm quite sensitive to the stuff as well but that amount of silfite wont even make it to the boil. First it will scavenge the chlorine then the dissolved oxygen in your brewing water will convert the remainder to sulfate. And if by some infinitesimally small chance any made it past the boil, it would get spent when you oxygenate the wort. You have nothing to worry about.
 

LittleRiver

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...You have nothing to worry about.
Thanks for the info, good stuff. I have researched it, and found the same as what you are saying. But to date I've approached it with an abundance of caution since I know I'm sensitive to it, and I know I'm getting it in small doses daily from other sources.

Being sensitive to sulfites sucks, because I enjoy a good wine, but finding one that is not sulfited to a level that hurts me is difficult. A glass or two of wine can give me some significant joint pain (immediately).

On the bright side, I do not have severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis) to sulfite, so it's not a life threatening issue for me.
 
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