I moved house, now my great tasting homebrew isn't so great anymore

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greebo

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Hello,

I'm hoping you guys might be able to point me in the right direction. I recently moved from Portland OR to New Zealand, I have brewed three or four batches and they have all turned out pretty lackluster with various off flavours which I've never had before.

- Same fermenter fridge, same BIAB technique and mostly the same recipes
- Same 2 spidel fermenters that I have been rotating between batches
- Same cleaning and sanitization process (actually a bit better if I am being completely honest)

- Most of the other equipment is the same, except I went from bottling to kegging, and bought an electric brew pot instead of gas.
- Grains are different, but the new ones are of great quality and I'm grinding my own now.


While trying to pinpoint this myself, I have wondered if it may have been either different water or yeast being older from the transit time. I have tried good dried yeast, as well as fresh yeast.

Could the water really have such a large impact, and create what seems like off flavours?

I would really appreciate any tips where I should look in my setup and brewing process.
 
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greebo

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Also, have you had COVID recently? I've heard that it can affect you taste and smell for 6 months to a year after a covid infection.
No I haven't had it yet fortunately. My wife has noticed the same issue with the taste as well, so there is definitely something going on.
 
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greebo

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Ok thanks guys, it sounds like I am on the right track with the water. I was able to find water reports in Portland, and was pretty confident in the water additives, but it's been more of a guess here.

Sounds like a brew day is coming up next weekend with RO!
 

GoodTruble

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Ok thanks guys, it sounds like I am on the right track with the water. I was able to find water reports in Portland, and was pretty confident in the water additives, but it's been more of a guess here.

Sounds like a brew day is coming up next weekend with RO!

Assuming you all grain, some minerals in the water is helpful. But in your situation, I would consider just brewing with straight RO for one batch just to confirm the new/weird flavors go away. Then you will know it was water and can adjust from there.
 

MajorJC

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Lots of cows!
Can you smell manure or other barnyard odors? That would definitely cause a perceived off flavor in your beer.

Taste perception not set in stone

To test how an individual’s surroundings can alter their perception of taste, the researchers asked about 50 people to participate in a virtual reality experiment.
http://Taste perception not set in ... of analysis in the field of sensory science.
Through virtual reality headsets, each participant experienced, by turns, three different environments: a sensory booth, a park bench, and a cow barn.
http://Taste perception not set in ... of analysis in the field of sensory science.
In each of these visual contexts, the participants ate a sample of blue cheese — all identical. Then, the researchers asked them to rate how much they enjoyed their cheese sample in each context, and to assess its saltiness and pungency in each case.
http://Taste perception not set in ... of analysis in the field of sensory science.
Sure enough, the virtual reality setting influenced the participants’ taste perceptions. When they ate the cheese sample while they were “in the cow barn,” they rated the food as more pungent than in the other settings.
http://Taste perception not set in ... of analysis in the field of sensory science.
“We consume foods in surroundings that can spill over into our perceptions of the food,” Dando says.
http://Taste perception not set in ... of analysis in the field of sensory science.
This study also provides another useful finding, namely that scientists can easily and inexpensively adapt virtual reality technology for use in food sensory evaluation, which is a top method of analysis in the field of sensory science.
 
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greebo

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Assuming you all grain, some minerals in the water is helpful. But in your situation, I would consider just brewing with straight RO for one batch just to confirm the new/weird flavors go away. Then you will know it was water and can adjust from there.
Great suggestion, thanks.
 
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greebo

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On your next brew, perhaps try bottling a few in addition to kegging, just to rule out that change in your procedure as a cause of the difference.
Yeah that will be an easy thing to rule out the kegging setup. The kegging system was all brand new, but my procedure with it might have an issue I guess.
 

D the Catastrophist

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One potential- you said you went from gas to electric. I have found electric burners retain the heat more even when turned down or off versus gas, so you may be overheating your mash.
Especially as you are using different grains that might be more sensitive to heat.

Or, are you potentially overgrinding the grains to a level were you are picking up more flavors you don't want?(Especially if the water has a different ph than what you are used to).
 
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CascadesBrewer

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I'm hoping you guys might be able to point me in the right direction. I recently moved from Portland OR to New Zealand, I have brewed three or four batches and they have all turned out pretty lackluster with various off flavours which I've never had before.

What types of off flavors?

I agree that water is a possibility, but since you also made a few major equipment/process changes (bottling to kegging, gas to electric, new supplier of grains, etc.) it is hard to say for sure. How much different is your current electric system from your prior gas system?
 

FloppyKnockers

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Some of the best water for beers I've had was in Portland. Water from the Bull Run reservoir was great. It went slightly downhill after they started chlorinating some years ago, but still good. I now live with harder north Texas water, so I just brew for the environment. At the end of the day, My money is on the water profile.
 

bwible

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I had a similar situation. Moved in 2019 from one house to another and not nearly as far as you. Brews were good at my first house, never even felt the need to have anything tested.

After I moved, I found that I could make ok lager beers but anything at all with any amount of hops was not tasting right. After a few bad brews I had my water tested by Ward Labs.

I never had the water tested at my other house so I don’t know what was in it or how it relates. The water for this house came back with a whole lot of chloride and very low sulfate. Something like 85 for chloride and 15 for sulfate (5 on Wards report, so 15 is after multiplying by 3 like it tells you to do.) So basically about 5.5:1 Chloride to Sulfate. I had the water tested in March 2020 and again in June of this year as a sanity check. Both results are very similar.

This is where I started down the water chemistry rabbit hole. But the short of it is that chloride to sulfate balance is important, sulfate affects our perception, and I’m finding I have to add gypsum to almost everything I brew. For some beers I am diluting with distilled water to reduce chloride.
 
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Deadalus

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Did you adjust your grain mill to account for the fact that it is operating in the southern hemisphere and now working upside down??




Kidding--it is most likely the water.
Yeah and you might be fighting against the Coriolis effect when whirlpooling.


Also kidding and leaning towards it being the water.
 
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greebo

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One potential- you said you went from gas to electric. I have found electric burners retain the heat more even when turned down or off versus gas, so you may be overheating your mash.
Especially as you are using different grains that might be more sensitive to heat.

Or, are you potentially overgrinding the grains to a level were you are picking up more flavors you don't want?(Especially if the water has a different ph than what you are used to).
Good thoughts. I moved to a brewzilla, which has temp control, but I will check manually a bit carefully to make sure that about that.

ph here is 7.7, and Portland I think is 8.1. The grinding may be different, I was using the grinder at the shop in Portland (grinding twice), and I bought my own grinder here. I have changed the grind amount over the last few batches, and I am only grinding once currently. I could go for a coarser grind as my efficiency was decent (80%ish).
 
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greebo

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Some of the best water for beers I've had was in Portland. Water from the Bull Run reservoir was great. It went slightly downhill after they started chlorinating some years ago, but still good. I now live with harder north Texas water, so I just brew for the environment. At the end of the day, My money is on the water profile.
Well it's been a good learning experience at least seeing the huge difference.
 

DuncB

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Hi @greebo

What part of NZ are you in? Are you on mains water?
Can pm me if you are trying to keep your location secret!
I'm just outside Wellington.

Would be useful to see your Portland water report as well so that you could build back to that if you wanted to.
The Gladfield malts and Malteurop locally produced are good malts.

Lots of Cows sounds Waikato.

I assume you treated the water to get rid of the Chlorine prior to brewing.
 
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greebo

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I had a similar situation. Moved in 2019 from one house to another and not nearly as far as you. Brews were good at my first house, never even felt the need to have anything tested.

After I moved, I found that I could make ok lager beers but anything at all with any amount of hops was not tasting right. After a few bad brews I had my water tested by Ward Labs.

I never had the water tested at my other house so I don’t know what was in it or how it relates. The water for this house came back with a whole lot of chloride and very low sulfate. Something like 85 for chloride and 15 for sulfate (5 on Wards report, so 15 is after multiplying by 3 like it tells you to do.) So basically about 5.5:1 Chloride to Sulfate. I had the water tested in March 2020 and again in June of this year as a sanity check. Both results are very similar.

This is where I started down the water chemistry rabbit hole. But the short of it is that chloride to sulfate balance is important, sulfate affects our perception, and I’m finding I have to add gypsum to almost everything I brew. For some beers I am diluting with distilled water to reduce chloride.
Cheers, I'm guessing I'll be going down this rabbit hole now too.
 
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greebo

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Hi @greebo

What part of NZ are you in? Are you on mains water?
Can pm me if you are trying to keep your location secret!
I'm just outside Wellington.

Would be useful to see your Portland water report as well so that you could build back to that if you wanted to.
The Gladfield malts and Malteurop locally produced are good malts.

Lots of Cows sounds Waikato.
North Canterbury, Rangiora! I am on mains water, yes.
Probably not as many cows as Waikato, but you can still see the rivers are suffering from it.

For the Portland water, I used this awesome thread Water chemistry for Portland, OR water made easy.
and 2022 Drinking Water Quality Report.

Unfortunately the council's water report in Rangiora is pretty limited.

I am using Gladfield malt, and it is amazing. I took a trip down there to get some directly from them, it was worth the hour drive or so.
I assume you treated the water to get rid of the Chlorine prior to brewing.
Yes, using campden tablets.
 

DuncB

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@greebo
Canterbury should be providing something like Auckland do.

Wellington produces a more limited report but does have the essentials.
I have emailed canterbury water to see if they can provide the info ( I think they are meant to).
Let's see what comes back. The water here in Wellington is really neutral so I do always add salts to my brew water except when making a lager.
 

Brewbuzzard

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Water is about 90% or more of any beer and it is the most over looked ingredient. If nothing else, get a charcoal filter and some 5.2 ph buffer. I brewed with that for years and made excellent beers. I how have an RO system and build the water profile I want. The best brewer I've ever known when asked how he brewed such wonderful beer so consistently said "It's in the water stupid". That was good advice
 
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greebo

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Canterbury are looking at my request, re rangiora water details.
Thanks for helping with this -- I contacted the council here, I was able to get this data so far:
Chloride: 5.97 – 7.43
Sulfate/Sulphate: 1.82 – 1.97

For reference, Portland OR is:
Chloride: 2.6 – 3.6
Sulfate/Sulphate: 0.35 – 0.43
 
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greebo

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Water is about 90% or more of any beer and it is the most over looked ingredient. If nothing else, get a charcoal filter and some 5.2 ph buffer. I brewed with that for years and made excellent beers. I how have an RO system and build the water profile I want. The best brewer I've ever known when asked how he brewed such wonderful beer so consistently said "It's in the water stupid". That was good advice
Thanks, if it turns out being the water, which is definitely seeming like the consensus, I will hopefully be brewing better beer by the end of this! :D
 

DuncB

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Thanks for helping with this -- I contacted the council here, I was able to get this data so far:
Chloride: 5.97 – 7.43
Sulfate/Sulphate: 1.82 – 1.97

For reference, Portland OR is:
Chloride: 2.6 – 3.6
Sulfate/Sulphate: 0.35 – 0.43
I think they should be able to provide more info than that. Interestingly Wellington has a fairly basic report but all the bits I'm interested in for brewing except Sodium.

I suppose on the info you've got so far it's what they are not telling you that could be the issue.

One other thing is that I have noticed a difference between NZ grown hops and their US equivalent ie NZ cascade is not the same as US cascade. Same with NZ Goldings.
 

DuncB

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Canterbury got back to me and said contact your local council waimakariki.

Found this on their website, a bit more info than they had provided you so far.

 

CharlaineC

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Waimakariri water is off best I used bottled or distilled. or mix bottled with the local water. I had this issue for a long time till I got it down. If you can drop a well tat solved my issue after a while
 
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