Straining Hops, Dry Hopping and Off Flavors

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New Member
Mar 10, 2009
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Suffern, NY
I have been homebrewing for about 3 years now and with the exception of a few batches, I have almost always had a similar outcome in terms of an off flavor. The beer tastes great on the front and always to character, but the finish has a very earthy taste to it. Although this may sound weird, it almost reminds me of sucking on an icicle. I think that I have evaluated every variable and isolated the cause. I have used bottled, filtered, and tap water from 2 different locations/states. I have used chlorine based cleaners and sanitizers and now use non-chlorine-- OxyClean and Idophore. I also thought that it was off flavor from trube, so I eventually started using a secondary. Now for a while, I was so hell bent on sanitation that I wanted my wort to touch as little as possible so I never strained out my hops. With my last few batches, I did start straining out my hops before pitching yeast, and I didn't taste this off flavor in the final prodcut. The latest batch that I brewed was a Double Red Ale and I dry hopped with an ounce of whole leaf Cascades (in the secondary). Now, truth be told, 2 days ago I was throwing back a few Kolsch's while I was kegging, and in retrospect, I think I made an error, solidifying my assuptions-- the off flavors came from the hops. I always use my glass carboy as my secondary, so of course I had to use a sanitized coat hanger to snag the nylon bag of hops. I then pulled about half of the bag up and out of the hole while I siphoned into my barrel. When I did this, obviously, the hops were squeezed and the hops didn't just drain naturally. Some of the liquid was forced out. I took a taste before sealing and adding pressure and thought that I tasted this same icicle flavor. I force carbonated last night, took another sample to evaluate again today, and the earthy flavor is totally there.

Has anyone else encountered this and are my assumptions right?
Strange you mention this. I am a beginning brewer and have always used pellet hops tossed straight into the kettle. I transfer into a 6.5 gallon bucket lined with a nylon mesh paint strainer bag. I then slowly removed the bag letting every last ounce of wort drain out, even squeezing the bag a little at the end to get every last drop. As you have, I always had a great, grainy taste up front followed by an overly bitter taste on the back of the tounge. Not a sharp bitterness but an earthy, dirty, grassy kind of taste. I have pretty much narrowed it down to that squezzing of the hop bag process. From now on I am using a hop bag in the boil and that puppy is coming out right before cooling.
I think you are right on the dry hops being responsible for an earthy grassy taste. This is why a lot of us do not dry hop unless we have the bitterness high so as to mask the grassy taste. Different hops give other tastes and so you must experiment and come to your own conclusions. I have found that I can get really good hop flavor without dry hops but again it is up to your desires. Lots of hops in the final minutes of the boil work well for me. I do not secondary or filter out hops but rather transfer the entire contents of the boiler to the fermenter. I ferment at 62F in a temperature controlled freezer 2 weeks or more and then keg and condition a week at 70F before aging 2 weeks at 65F. The last week of aging I put 10 LBS CO2 on it and can drink it a week later. Lagers are a much longer process. I have no flavor off tastes and have to limit how much I share because I do want to have beer on hand because I do enjoy it once and a while. Aging is very important to good beer.
First off, thank you both for your replies. Not sure why I haven't reached out sooner, but hey, it is what it is. I guess your... bell... and I are on the same page, and WBC, you pointed somthing out that I would have never realized. For pretty much all of my brews, I have used the standard 3 oz of hops and, if I dry hopped, 1 oz more. I will certainly try beefing up the finaly hop drop a whirl. Still, I have only dry hopped with 2 batches, but I also have not considered the fact that I have used relatively low amounts of hops during the boil to justify dry hopping.

As a new user, I can say, you guys rule!


You may be dryhopping for too long. If you are, that will totally contribute to a grassy/green off-flavour.

Dryhopping per se, should not contribute to any flavor or taste, only aroma (this can lead to a perception of flavor though).
"The beer tastes great on the front and always to character, but the finish has a very earthy taste to it. Although this may sound weird, it almost reminds me of sucking on an icicle."

This is probably the best description of the off flavor I have on a "True Brew Amber ale" I made. I couldn't tell you what Hops was used in the kit and they don't list it on their website. Can anyone else chime in as to whether or not Hops is the culprit of this off taste?
Describing something as tasting like an icicle makes me think of metal... iron, specifically. Are you using any strange equipment there?

My wife always puckers her mouth after drinking a really hoppy beer and says, "Too metallic!", referring to the bitterness. Could it be that you just don't like bitter, resiny beers?
Its not a Hops taste I have ever experienced with any beer before. I would call it earthy or as stated above like an icicle or dirty snow (not yellow snow :) I am also wondering if it fermented too warm 72-74F. I tryed some of my Scottish ale which is not fully carbed yet and the taste isn't there. I don't ever intend to buy another True Brew kit so unless I experience the taste again, I'm going to attribute it to something contained in it. Thanks for the reply though :mug:
Gosh... I had this exact same thing happen to me just a couple of weeks ago. My imperial IPA definitely has this problem. It's great up front and the aroma is awesome but shortly after the middle a pronounced earthy/grassy flavor emerges. I think it has something to do with the dry hopping as I dry hopped 4 oz I think:D and then let it sit for almost 10..maybe 12 days. I'll try the recipe again and be a little less rockstar with my hops:D as far as dry hopping is concerned.
When I think of what an icicle would taste like, my first reaction is 'staleness' Are you using fresh hops, having you tried sourcing from different places? If you dry hop, having fresher hops is everything. Also, squeezing the bag can result in off flavors being squeezed from the hops themselves. All we're interested in is having the oils and some flavors infuse into the alcohol. To that end, I usually rack my beer off of the dry hopping bag, then remove the bag from the empty carboy. That way I am not squeezing the bag into the beer when I remove it.

Hope you find the problem--good luck!

PS--FWIW. if you're dry hopping it helps to have a higher IBU beer as a base, I've dry hopped some lower IBU beers that were more malty in profile and it just didn't seem to taste very good. Almost as if the dry hopping opens up your palate to any off flavors.