Sharpness/Astringent Bite After Kegging

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refect

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I've tried to research a bit on this, but cannot really figure out what is going on in my batches. However, I have some theories. It seems like every time I brew a batch it tastes perfect when I go to keg. Mouthful is spot on with no off flavors, or harshness. Once the beer is kegged, cold, and carbonated it develops this slight bite to it. Some beers have had it more than others, but I have noticed it goes back to being smooth like it did before kegging once the glass warmed.

My last pale ale had it real bad, but I'm chalking that one up to too much sulfate. I brewed it again with half the amount of sulfate, and the bitterness and dryness was spot on for what I wanted, and super smooth when I tasted it prior to kegging. I'm hoping it stays that way once kegged though based on what has been happening.

My most recent batch I've noticed deceloped the sharpness was a pumpkin ale. Sat in primary for two weeks, kegged and added spiced tea, let it sit in the keg at room temperature for a few more days, pulled a sample (tasted great), and then decided to move it to kegerator. Prior to kegging it was super smooth, great mouth feel, a little sweet, and no bitterness detected (18 IBU). Now that is been sitting on gas for about month (set it and forget it at 12psi) it seems to have a slight bite on the front that goes away once the glass warms.

Tap water is filtered with charcoal filters, cut with distilled water, and treated with about half campden tablet (7-8 gallons of total water treated). Water profile is adjusted accordingly with brun water. Mash PH has generally been around 5.4 - 5.5 for most of my beers.

My kegs are cleaned, rinsed, and sanitized after every batch. Lines are cleaned and rinsed regularly with line cleaner (additional acid line cleaner every 4-5 months for beer stone). Current lines have only had about 3 or 4 batches through them. Everything is sanitized prior to beer touching anything.

I also temperature control my fermentation to the desired temps. Kegs are purged with co2 and I do closed transfers with co2 to keep beer touching as little o2 as possible post fermentation.

My theory is the fact that I never have used any fining agents other than Irish moss in the boil. Mainly because I've been too lazy to deal with gelatin and all that. I typically don't mind a bit of chill haze and notice it to fade over time the more I drink the beer off the keg, so I never decided to take the extra step. I'm starting to assume the chill haze has something to do with my sharpness that develops. Possibly the harsh compound binding with the protiens that form the chill haze and then fall back out as the beer warms and the haze goes away? Should I start using gelatin to see if it drops all the harshness out of my beer?

Anyone have any thoughts or experience with this?
 
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Miraculix

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I have never had any harshness in connection with chill haze. I think you are on the wrong path. I'm not quite sure how to help, only thing I could imagine is that small hop particles might fall out of suspension over time which might have caused the harshness.
 
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refect

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Hop particles makes sense. I noticed it more so in the last few batches of IPAs and APAs that I made. I figured that the harshness I was getting was hop burn (some heavily dry hopped), hop particles (I could see some in the glass even a quarter into the keg), and then too much sulfate on the one batch that I experimented with. It all faded with time, but this same sensation was still there. I thought back about my more malt forward beers and how they had it too. Now after seeing it happen in my pumpkin it is making me question that maybe it isn't the hops?

I've stopped doing 60 min additions and mainly do first wort instead for all my bittering additions.

Whenever I dry hop I generally do it in my kegs. I put the hops in one of my fine mesh stainless containers (sanitized), drop it in the keg, purge with co2, and then rack the beer closed transfer. Once I'm done with the dry hop, I cold crash for a day or so, and then rack off the hops to a new clean/purged keg with a jumper line. After it's off the hops and in the new keg, I hook it up to carbonate. If I'm not dry hopping then I just do a closed transfer to the keg and toss it in the kegerator to carbonate.

The sharp bite just baffles me, because it was not there prior to being chilled and carbonated. Everything was just super smooth tasting. Now it is by no means so bad that it's not drinkable in any of the beers. It seems to become less apparent the more you drink in one sitting. In fact, my pumpkin is still very delicious and crushable. It's just that it is there when it originally wasn't and I think that's what is getting to me the most. Maybe I'm just sensitive to carbonation and carbonic acid, but then again I don't really notice it in any commercial beer that I drink?
 

dmtaylor

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My most recent batch I've noticed deceloped the sharpness was a pumpkin ale. Sat in primary for two weeks, kegged and added spiced tea, let it sit in the keg at room temperature for a few more days, pulled a sample (tasted great), and then decided to move it to kegerator. Prior to kegging it was super smooth, great mouth feel, a little sweet, and no bitterness detected (18 IBU). Now that is been sitting on gas for about month (set it and forget it at 12psi) it seems to have a slight bite on the front that goes away once the glass warms.
Tea definitely can add astringency. Tea leaves are well known to be astringent, and some winemakers and cidermakers use it on purpose to add this character.

So I think it's probably the tea on this batch. And previously was indeed probably your sulfate.

If you don't toy with salt or tea additions on your next batch, my bet is that your issue magically disappears.

Cheers.
 
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refect

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I'm sorry I did not clarify the type of tea added. It was not actual tea leaves, but just pumpkin pie spices steeped in hot water to create a "spiced tea" that was added to the keg.
 

Miraculix

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Also, some spices develop this bitterness only with time, I have no idea how, but initially it is not there and after some time, wooosh, magic, it is bitter.
 

Miraculix

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Is there a chance the beer is a little over carbed? Hunch about carbonic acid possible. Easy enough to check, simply decant and let it de-gas some and see if it tastes better.
Just as a side note, overcarbing can really ruin a beer. I accidently overcarbed my last AK and it was like fruity esters on steroids in a very unpleasant way.

After removing 60% of the carbonation by stirring with a teaspoon it turned into "wow this is so well balanced and flavourful". Before, the carbonation was blowing you everything right into the face,. After correction, it was really nice.

Thumbs up for lower carbonation in general!
 

DonT

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Tap water is filtered with charcoal filters, cut with distilled water, and treated with about half campden tablet (7-8 gallons of total water treated). Water profile is adjusted accordingly with brun water.
It might be your water profile. If you're filtering and diluting your tap water, do you know what the water profile is at that point? What do you use as a starting point in brun water?
You had mentioned cutting back on the sulfate on one brew and that had helped, maybe you need to define your starting point better... Good Luck!

Cheers!
 
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refect

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Thank you all for the responses!

I got my starting water profile via ward labs. I cut it with distilled water, because it is a tad bit on the hard side. Cutting it with usually 50% distilled allows me to adjust my sulfate/chloride levels where I want while keeping my calcium/magnesium levels in check.

Most of the time when I carbonate, I usually set it to 30 psi for 36ish hours, and then purge and set to 12psi for the rest of the beers life span. If I plan to let it condition for a while then I just set it to 12psi and leave it for a month or so.

The hop particles would make sense in all of the last beers I made, because they all had a decent amount of hops to a lot of hops. I never really thought about the spices adding that bitter/sharpness, but that makes sense too.

Maybe I'll buy another dip tube for my kegs and cut it a tad short. Then put that dip tube in whatever keg I'm going to dry hop/cold crash in, and hopefully keep less trub from being sucked up when i jump it to the serving keg?
 
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Beermeister32

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I’d lower your carb levels down to about 9 PSI. I think your sense of taste is picking up something from the carbonic acid as mentioned above.

A lot of beverages the taste is more prominent at warmer (say 55F temperatures) rather than the 34-42F used for beer). I think you are sensing those flavors prior to carbonating, but after a big CO2 charge that sensation is too dominant.

So roll your carbonating back a few PSI and maybe refrigerate it less (say 44F) and see if that doesn’t make it more enjoyable for you.
 
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Spivey24

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I get a similar harshness when I dry hop too long. My usual process is to dry hop loose in the fermenter for 3-4 days, cold crash, then gelatin fine for a day, then transfer. But sometimes after transferring there is a bitey harsh bitterness. It is always gone in about 3 days in the keg after pouring off a pint.
But if you are dry hopping in your serving keg without a floating dip tube, yours would probably get worse over time, not better.
Just taste some hop powder dissolved in a little beer for comparison.
 

Bobby_M

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Carbonation even on the low side is adding acidity to the beer and it gets worse as you carbonate more. You dont brew a beer to taste balanced before kegging, you take the acidity into account. You are either overcarbing, over bittering, over attenuating or a little of each.
 
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refect

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This makes sense. I'll have to take carbonation levels into account when burst carbonating like that. How can over attenuation cause harshness? I know it can dry the beer out more than desired if it happens, but I was not aware that it could impart harshness.

I seem to notice over attenuation in a lot of my beers. Typically anywhere from 5-10% over from what BeerSmith has calculated me to be at. Some yeast that typically gets 80%, may see 80-85%, and some yeast that typically gets 70%, may see upwards to 80% instead. My hydrometer and refractometer are all calibrated, so I'm sure I'm reading the correct OG. Mash temperature is almost always at my target. I use beersmith's yeast calculator to determine my yeast starter size.. Maybe the over attenuation could be the issue then?
 

JoeSpartaNJ

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This makes sense. I'll have to take carbonation levels into account when burst carbonating like that. How can over attenuation cause harshness? I know it can dry the beer out more than desired if it happens, but I was not aware that it could impart harshness.

I seem to notice over attenuation in a lot of my beers. Typically anywhere from 5-10% over from what BeerSmith has calculated me to be at. Some yeast that typically gets 80%, may see 80-85%, and some yeast that typically gets 70%, may see upwards to 80% instead. My hydrometer and refractometer are all calibrated, so I'm sure I'm reading the correct OG. Mash temperature is almost always at my target. I use beersmith's yeast calculator to determine my yeast starter size.. Maybe the over attenuation could be the issue then?
Maybe your thermometer is off?

I was having the same over attenuation issues. Turns out my thermometers (handheld digital and built in on my foundry) were off by a few degrees.

Mash high next time and see if you have the same issue.

Also, not taking into account mash efficiency, you could also be mashing too long. I have shortened mine to 30 to 45 minutes.

Slightly lower efficiency, but no more over attenuation.

I gave up chasing high efficiencies, I just go for predictability and spend an extra couple dollars on base grains.
 

Bobby_M

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This makes sense. I'll have to take carbonation levels into account when burst carbonating like that. How can over attenuation cause harshness? I know it can dry the beer out more than desired if it happens, but I was not aware that it could impart harshness.

I seem to notice over attenuation in a lot of my beers. Typically anywhere from 5-10% over from what BeerSmith has calculated me to be at. Some yeast that typically gets 80%, may see 80-85%, and some yeast that typically gets 70%, may see upwards to 80% instead. My hydrometer and refractometer are all calibrated, so I'm sure I'm reading the correct OG. Mash temperature is almost always at my target. I use beersmith's yeast calculator to determine my yeast starter size.. Maybe the over attenuation could be the issue then?
On the question of balance, it goes like this:

Sweetness (residual sweetness at FG) + Dextrines (Mouthfeel but not necessarily sweet) is greater than, less than or equal to Bitterness (IBU)+ Alcohol + Acidity (which is directly impacted by carbonation level).

If the final beer is rather harsh, it's leaning a little too hard on the right side of the equation above. You can either lower your IBU, lower your ABV, or lower your carbonation. Alternatively you can leave all those static and increase your mash temp a bit to drive more dextrines and a slightly higher FG.

Some examples...

A big Russian Imperial Stout may have a FG of 1.040 and yet it's still balanced. How can that be? The high level of roasted grains adds acidity and the higher ABV also cuts the thick mouthfeel and sweetness.

If you do a kettle sour and hit the lower range of pH, you certainly don't want to hop it to IPA level bitterness. IBUs with a high level of wort acidity make for a harsh unpleasant balance.
 
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hotbeer

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Carbonation even on the low side is adding acidity to the beer and it gets worse as you carbonate more. You dont brew a beer to taste balanced before kegging, you take the acidity into account. You are either overcarbing, over bittering, over attenuating or a little of each.
That's pretty much what I've thought since I read the OP. I've been biting my tongue ever since it was posted.

I also have trouble with "smooth" as the OP used it. I'm thinking smooth more fits Stouts and other heavy beers. Not so much ales. Though ales can be sweet.

Not to seem like I'm ganging up on the OP, but the ales I prefer have a bite when tasted which maybe I mix up with the term sharpness. And as far as astringent, I'd prefer astringent to sweet.
 
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refect

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JoeSpartaNJ - I too brew on the foundry. I use a digital thermometer and the one of the foundry. They both typically match up when I check temps, but I'll recalibrate my digital thermometer just in case. I've put in my notes to mash higher on some of the beers that over attenuated too much. I stopped caring about efficiency on the foundry as well. I stopped sparging on it, because you can not do a proper sparge very easily that would make a big enough of a difference in efficiency to take the extra step and sparge on this system. I now do full volume mashes, which seems to be working for me.

Bobby_M - this is some good information that I definitely want to put into consideration when preparing future batches.

hotbeer - Smooth may have been a poor choice of description. There are certain ales where I do want the bite/sharpness. I used it to describe my recent pumkpin ale that had a smooth like mouthful with a little residual sweetness. There was no bitterness, or harshness detected, but once chilled and carbonated it developed a bit of a bite/harshness that was not unpleasant, but I did not want in this style. Some of my other ales that I wanted to have bitterness in seemed to have ended up with more of an undesirable harsh astringentcy rather than a nice clean bitterness. The bitterness was nice a smooth/clean on the palate prior to kegging, but then turned a bit harsh/astringent once kegged and carbonated.
 
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Miraculix

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Could very well be oxidation or an infection as well... Sometimes these little fellows need some time to show their faces.
 

J.Miller

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I am curious, what is the pH of the finished beer? If you haven't tested for the pH, take a reading imediately after a pour and another after stirring to reduce the carbonation. Just my guess, could the pH of the finished beer be low?
 
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