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I can't get out of this specific flavor profile!

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colhep67

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I'm in a flunk. I am currently on my sixth batch and I love brewing beer.

I have made an American light, amber ale, English pale bitter, american pale wheat, red ale, and I'm currently working on a hazelnut brown.

I'm having issues with all my beers having around the same flavor profile. Yes I will get more hops and bitterness in certain ones but it all has the same background taste.... I don't like that. I want changes in the beers I drink. I have tried different water, different temps, and even different brand kits.

I honestly feel like its the LME I use. I always have extract brewed. Is the only way to get out of this to start all grain? I can't think of any other reason? I feel I'm ready for all grain. What do I need to start an AG brew?

Any help will be appreciated!
 

CA_Mouse

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Is your LME from the same company? It could be possible that is the issue. Are you using different hops for each beer? I would suggest that you try a different brand of LME if possible and try a different bittering hop. I tried Warrior once and couldn't stand the taste as a bittering hop and changed to CTZ for my Pale Ales and IPAs. Sometimes it can be the amount of bittering hops you use too.

If you want to get the feel of All Grain without the expense of the equipment, you can try BIAB. Only cost is the bag to put the grain in. I've never done BIAB, but I used my bottling bucket for a partial mash using a large mesh grain bag,
 
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colhep67

colhep67

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Are you using different yeast strains?
No. I almost always used the brewers best yeast provide (unfortunately I have not paid attention to the type) but on the hazelnut brown I tried a new yeast (us-05 I believe) and I just tried it and it still has that same taste in the background
 

wilconrad

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Also, are you using the same LME in all batches? There is significant variety in malt extract out there; by using a well-suited extract and steeping specialty grains, you should be able to create plenty of different malt flavor profiles.
 
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colhep67

colhep67

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Is your LME from the same company? It could be possible that is the issue. Are you using different hops for each beer? I would suggest that you try a different brand of LME if possible and try a different bittering hop. I tried Warrior once and couldn't stand the taste as a bittering hop and changed to CTZ for my Pale Ales and IPAs. Sometimes it can be the amount of bittering hops you use too.

If you want to get the feel of All Grain without the expense of the equipment, you can try BIAB. Only cost is the bag to put the grain in. I've never done BIAB, but I used my bottling bucket for a partial mash using a large mesh grain bag,
What is BIAB? Is that a brand? Should my LBS have this?
 

wilconrad

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colhep67 said:
What is BIAB? Is that a brand? Should my LBS have this?
Brew in a bag. It's a "poor mans method" for AG brewing, would be a good way for you to dip your toe in the water without investing much in equipment.
 
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colhep67

colhep67

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Also, are you using the same LME in all batches? There is significant variety in malt extract out there; by using a well-suited extract and steeping specialty grains, you should be able to create plenty of different malt flavor profiles.
In all the kits I have bought it has always been either Muntons (I think I spelt that right) light or amber extract
 
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colhep67

colhep67

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Brew in a bag. It's a "poor mans method" for AG brewing, would be a good way for you to dip your toe in the water without investing much in equipment.
Brew in a bag huh? I'm still slightly confused. Is this a shelf product or something I put together myself, like pick my own grains?
 

CA_Mouse

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No. I almost always used the brewers best yeast provide (unfortunately I have not paid attention to the type) but on the hazelnut brown I tried a new yeast (us-05 I believe) and I just tried it and it still has that same taste in the background
Brewer's Best kits usually have either S-05 or S-04. I did my first 3 kits as BB and didn't like the over all quality of the kits. I switched to MB (my LHBS) and noticed better flavors.

If your LHBS has kits of their own, I would give those a try to see if they are better tasting to you. If you get the same tastes, then I would look at your process (Cleaning, sanitizing, boiling, water). Another thing you can look at very easily is your water. Are you using tap water? Are you at least carbon filtering it? You can, also, try pre-boiling your water before your brew day to boil off any chlorine and sodium bicarbonate. If you can get a copy of your city water report (most of them are available online from the city government website), you can see if there are ways to filter and change the profile of your water. I see it here all the time, if your tap water tastes good to you it is fine, if not don't brew with it. I have hard water and don't like the taste so I filter mine and make corrections to it to get the water profile I want for my beer.
 

wilconrad

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colhep67 said:
Brew in a bag huh? I'm still slightly confused. Is this a shelf product or something I put together myself, like pick my own grains?
It's a method, a wort production process that allows you to mash grain without a "real" all-grain setup. Google it and you should find plenty of articles on it.

Personally, though, I don't think you need to go that far. I would instead just stick with extract brewing for now but branch out from the kits. You want to get comfortable extract brewing before you move into mashing, in my opinion. I'd choose an extract recipe you like from this site and brew it using the specified extract type, hops etc and then use the correct yeast (will be called out in the recipe). I'd bet you'll get a flavor more to your liking.
 

CA_Mouse

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Brew in a bag huh? I'm still slightly confused. Is this a shelf product or something I put together myself, like pick my own grains?
Basically you buy your grains like an all grain batch, have it milled, get a pint strainer bag from Lowes or Home Depot, drop the grains into the bag and heat it. Then you drain it and sparge more water over the grains in the bag to get all your wort.

If you don't have at least a 7 gallon kettle, this would be pretty tough to do. You can, also, try picking up a mesh bag and a partial mash kit. This is about a third of the grain for a full all grain batch and DME/LME to make the gravity correct. I did a partial mash from MB that was pretty good and got me hooked on all grain.
 
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colhep67

colhep67

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Brewer's Best kits usually have either S-05 or S-04. I did my first 3 kits as BB and didn't like the over all quality of the kits. I switched to MB (my LHBS) and noticed better flavors.

If your LHBS has kits of their own, I would give those a try to see if they are better tasting to you. If you get the same tastes, then I would look at your process (Cleaning, sanitizing, boiling, water). Another thing you can look at very easily is your water. Are you using tap water? Are you at least carbon filtering it? You can, also, try pre-boiling your water before your brew day to boil off any chlorine and sodium bicarbonate. If you can get a copy of your city water report (most of them are available online from the city government website), you can see if there are ways to filter and change the profile of your water. I see it here all the time, if your tap water tastes good to you it is fine, if not don't brew with it. I have hard water and don't like the taste so I filter mine and make corrections to it to get the water profile I want for my beer.
I will totally try that! The water I don't think is the problem. I have tried filtered, reverse osmosis, spring, and distilled water lol. Its gotta be the kit or something else in the brewing process.

Thank you for all the responses!
 

benj

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Personally, though, I don't think you need to go that far. I would instead just stick with extract brewing for now but branch out from the kits. You want to get comfortable extract brewing before you move into mashing, in my opinion.
I'll disagree :) BIAB is very straight forward and very rewarding. It's appealing for more reasons than the low cost; you can make great beer with less time/effort/equipment and much less background knowledge. I've even stopped sparging, why complicate things? I've also found it to also be a very forgiving method to use if I'm slightly off on a mash temp or something similar, making it an ideal method for beginners or those of us who make mistakes.

My point is this, don't be intimidated by BIAB, I'd say to go all grain using BIAB. There's plenty of tried and true recipes to try out, and some LHBS stores sell kits that include all ingredients needed to brew a BIAB batch. All you need is a bag. Most places will crush your grains for you too. AG brewing does give you a lot of freedom to mess with different base and specialty malts and change your flavor profile. Of course if you like extract brewing that's cool too, whatever floats your boat!
 

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I just started doing a steep only with my extracts, still not near ready to do all grain, I lack the space and the resources. Good thing is it allows me to modify!
 

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I will totally try that! The water I don't think is the problem. I have tried filtered, reverse osmosis, spring, and distilled water lol. Its gotta be the kit or something else in the brewing process.

Thank you for all the responses!
Instead of a brewer's best kit, why not try something different?

Two ideas are either a different brand kit (try one from Northern Brewer or Austin Homebrew), or find a recipe in our forum you like in the "recipes" area and we can help you get the ingredients ordered that you need.

Aged LME is probably the issue for your kits all tasting the same, that and the yeast.

Buying a kit from an online store that has high turnover will ensure fresh crushed grains, and a kit made to order, and highest quality.

Austinhomebrew.com has literally hundreds of good quality kits that run about $40 I believe, with flat rate shipping. So you can order two kits, and store one in a cool place and make the other right away. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised at their quality.
 
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colhep67

colhep67

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Do you think it could come down to my oxidizing my hot wort? I have heard rumors of this. I do stir my hot wort. What flavors would this provide?
 

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I doubt it is something you are doing oxidation-wise. Canned LME can sometimes (as I've recently run into) have a twang.

As other have suggested, if you don't want to go all grain, try new kits from new places. The trouble with kits that use canned LME is that sometimes they sit around for a long while. Even if the kit is relatively new, the can in the box may have some age to it- or, in the case of Muntons, that can's trip over from England may have been under less than ideal shipping conditions.

I second Austin Homebrew. Northern Brewer has good kits too. Both of them pack their kits fresh and use LME and/or DME from their store stock- and with Austin and Northern Brewer, that stock is always fresh because they turn over their inventory very quickly.

And here is one more thought- your water source might be in play. Since you are brewing extract, which already has minerals in it, you could have too much going on in your water. Try replacing at least half of your brewing water with distilled water and see what happens.
 
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colhep67

colhep67

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I doubt it is something you are doing oxidation-wise. Canned LME can sometimes (as I've recently run into) have a twang.

As other have suggested, if you don't want to go all grain, try new kits from new places. The trouble with kits that use canned LME is that sometimes they sit around for a long while. Even if the kit is relatively new, the can in the box may have some age to it- or, in the case of Muntons, that can's trip over from England may have been under less than ideal shipping conditions.

I second Austin Homebrew. Northern Brewer has good kits too. Both of them pack their kits fresh and use LME and/or DME from their store stock- and with Austin and Northern Brewer, that stock is always fresh because they turn over their inventory very quickly. With the . You can even make your own recipes with extract, steeping grains, hops, and yeast.

And here is one more thought- your water source might be in play. Since you are brewing extract, which already has minerals in it, you could have too much going on in your water. Try replacing at least half of your brewing water with distilled water and see what happens.
I actually did my whole last batch with distilled water. It still has about a week in the primary left so I'm really hoping for a difference in flavor on this one. I am definitely going to try Austin and Northern next. I hope they are way better lol
 

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Im thinking it could be your water. I have a similar issue with my hoppy beers (where water is a little more important). Without going all out and getting your water profile (which is still easy to get and correct from what ive read), you could try adding a tbsp of gypsum during the boil (mash is ideal, but if you're doing extract, the boil will suffice). Last 15 minutes or so.
 

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You can vary any or all of your 4 ingredients: water, yeast, grain, hops. You might brew beer that has some extras like candi syrup, orange peel, etc. You can vary when you add hops (long boil, short, flame out, dry or wet hop additions.) You can try different fermentation temperatures.

From what you have written, I think you should try different yeast and ferment within recommended boundaries first. If you consistently ferment at too high a temperature, then it is possible that you are consistently getting the same flavors from compounds that are above detectable thresholds (when they should be below those thresholds.) Then I would try different grains (or LMEs plus some grain.) If you want to really try something new then try a dark strong Belgian or something (like the westvleteren 12 recipe that is on a thread here) - that would definitely taste different.

Anyway, those are some ideas!
 

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I had this issue for a long time, what really helped me break out of this was getting water chemistry right, and very strict fermentation control. These two things really helped take my beer to the next level and knock out any similar off flavors in all my brews.
 

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casesensative said:
I had this issue for a long time, what really helped me break out of this was getting water chemistry right, and very strict fermentation control. These two things really helped take my beer to the next level and knock out any similar off flavors in all my brews.
These seem likely culprits to me. Straight distilled and RO water actually lack important minerals for making good beer, although using extract should make that less imp't.

Do you control your fermentation temperatures? How? At what temp are you fermenting? That is almost always the biggest flavor problem I see with new brewers (it was for me and many folks in my Homebrew club).
 

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I'd be willing to bet a pint or two that you're getting the same "background flavor" because your ingredients are basically the same: LME, hops, S-05.

If you're not ready to make the jump to all-grain or Brew in a Bag, yet, you could try varying your yeast. Pick up a kit, but don't use the yeast pack included. Instead, pick up some different dry or liquid yeasts and use those, instead. You might be pleasantly surprised with how much yeast can change the character of simple ingredients.

But, I do think you're on the right track: going BIAB or all-grain, you'll be able to introduce new tastes to your beer that you just can't get with LME. Just don't discount the yeast!
 
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colhep67

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These seem likely culprits to me. Straight distilled and RO water actually lack important minerals for making good beer, although using extract should make that less imp't.

Do you control your fermentation temperatures? How? At what temp are you fermenting? That is almost always the biggest flavor problem I see with new brewers (it was for me and many folks in my Homebrew club).
Yes I do control temps. I keep at 64 +/- 1*. I have been looking into all grain and it seems really easy. And building one of those Coleman's are a sinch. The more you guys talk about it the more I feel it may be the problem.... water... I need to play around with this one
 
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colhep67

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I'd be willing to bet a pint or two that you're getting the same "background flavor" because your ingredients are basically the same: LME, hops, S-05.
I have been trying to figure this out as well. I think I am hoping to start building my kits instead. Seems a better way to go
 

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colhep67 said:
Yes I do control temps. I keep at 64 +/- 1*. I have been looking into all grain and it seems really easy. And building one of those Coleman's are a sinch. The more you guys talk about it the more I feel it may be the problem.... water... I need to play around with this one
I like your analytical approach. And to be honest, AG is awesome! Cheers!
 
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