Tart or sour taste

HomeBrewTalk.com - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Community.

Help Support Homebrew Talk:

nate79

Member
Joined
Aug 31, 2016
Messages
17
Reaction score
1
I keep getting a recurring sour or tart taste in the last 7 or so batches I have brewed. They all were lighter beers done all grain BIAB. The first time I noticed it was in a hefe I brewed and the tartness just took over all the delicate yeast flavors and all I could taste was tart. Now fast forward to my current batch in the keg and carbed up. It was a blue moon style clone and all I taste is tart again. BTW the tart hefe was brewed for 10 days then bottled for 3 weeks. I did a batch of cream of three crops that was crashed on day 10 then fined and gased in a keg for 4 days. Tasted tart also.

1.Is it possible that a low amount of acid malt could cause this? Like 3-4%? I have used acid malt in all these batches to drive pH down.

2.Is it possible that tartness is just from the beer not aging long enough? The current one in the keg now that tastes tart was brewed exactly 2 weeks ago.

3.If it was an infection would the sour taste develop that quick ie within 2 weeks?

Any help would be great! Thanks for reading!
 

MikeCo

Well-Known Member
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Sep 21, 2019
Messages
268
Reaction score
110
Location
Minneapolis, MN
Tartness sounds like an infection, and it could develop in 2 weeks if the fermenter was not sanitary. I don't think 3 to 4% acid malt would make the beer taste tart. Some yeasts can give a tart flavor, but I don't think that's a characterization of hefe yeasts. Did you thoroughly sanitize the fermenter and all racking tubing, etc before filling?
 

rburrelli

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 6, 2019
Messages
305
Reaction score
148
Sounds like you turn around beers pretty quickly. Could it just be a “green” taste? Has it ever aged out?
 
OP
N

nate79

Member
Joined
Aug 31, 2016
Messages
17
Reaction score
1
What are you fermenting in and have all of the "sour" batches used the same fermenter?
In a fermonster and yes on all the batches have been in the same one. Just bought a new one and have a batch in there ready to keg but I pitched 1/4 of a cake from a previous batch.
 
OP
N

nate79

Member
Joined
Aug 31, 2016
Messages
17
Reaction score
1
Tartness sounds like an infection, and it could develop in 2 weeks if the fermenter was not sanitary. I don't think 3 to 4% acid malt would make the beer taste tart. Some yeasts can give a tart flavor, but I don't think that's a characterization of hefe yeasts. Did you thoroughly sanitize the fermenter and all racking tubing, etc before filling?
My beer almost never stays in the fermenter for 2 weeks. Usually around 10 days is when most are ready to crash and keg. Yes I wash and sanitize everything with star san including all tubing, gaskets, take apart clean spigots every batch.

Would there be any visual sign of an infection up 10 ten days? My beer is usually done with the primary part of fermentation in 4-5 days and usually the krausen starts to drop around day seven. By day 10 you can see it starting to clear and thats when I crash it. By that day 10 there is nothing on the surface at all and no signs of mold or anything strange.
 
OP
N

nate79

Member
Joined
Aug 31, 2016
Messages
17
Reaction score
1
Sounds like you turn around beers pretty quickly. Could it just be a “green” taste? Has it ever aged out?
I usually build large starters and oxygenate for a few minutes with pure o2 before I pitch so that speeds things up. I don't have any of the older batchs around to see if it aged out but I am going to counter pressure fill a 12 pack off the current batch to store and try over time. I have done about 20 all grain batches before these sour ones and never remember them having this taste. Only thing I never used to do was use the acid malt.
 

MikeCo

Well-Known Member
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Sep 21, 2019
Messages
268
Reaction score
110
Location
Minneapolis, MN
I sounds like you're sanitization practices are sound. You might see a pellicle if the batch has an infection. If there's no infection, it may well be that the tartness you're tasting is the acid malt. Do others taste the tartness as well? I would not think 4% acid malt would be that noticeable, but you may have a high sensitivty to that flavor.

It's difficult to tell what's causing it without tasting it, so I'm guessing. You could try using lactic acid for pH adjustment instead of acidulated malt in the next batch to see if you notice a difference. Or try acid malt from another supplier and see if it's less tart.
 
Last edited:
OP
N

nate79

Member
Joined
Aug 31, 2016
Messages
17
Reaction score
1
Others said they taste it a little but to me it masks all the other flavors that should be there. I had read that most people can't even taste acid malt with it being up to 8% of grain bill. I will grab some lactic and try that. I am mainly trying to figure out if my equipment is infected so I don't waste more time on sub par beer.

One last thing. Could I be tasting star san? I mix the reqular 1oz per 5 gallons RO water.

Thanks again everyone for the suggestions!
 

MikeCo

Well-Known Member
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Sep 21, 2019
Messages
268
Reaction score
110
Location
Minneapolis, MN
You won't taste residual Starsan at the proper dilution level in a batch of beer.
Do you have another fermenter, or can you borrow one and try it?

Other things to check:
- Beer lines. I have had bad tastes develop in old beer lines that I could not remove by cleaning. Swap them with new lines and test.
- If your boil kettle has a ball valve, take it apart and look for crud and clean it out.
 

RPh_Guy

Bringing Sour Back
HBT Supporter
Joined
Jan 26, 2017
Messages
9,115
Reaction score
7,444
Location
Cleveland
1.Is it possible that a low amount of acid malt could cause this? Like 3-4%? I have used acid malt in all these batches to drive pH down.

2.Is it possible that tartness is just from the beer not aging long enough? The current one in the keg now that tastes tart was brewed exactly 2 weeks ago.

3.If it was an infection would the sour taste develop that quick ie within 2 weeks?
Yes - We all have different taste thresholds. Some of us are very good at tasting lactic acid at low levels.
Yes - Acetaldehyde is a common culprit.
Yes - Some bacteria are very aggressive.
Would there be any visual sign of an infection up 10 ten days?
No, not necessarily. Many wild microbes do NOT form a pellicle, especially lactic acid bacteria. Therefore a lack of a pellicle does not indicate a lack of contamination.

FYI a pellicle shouldn't be confused with mold.
 
OP
N

nate79

Member
Joined
Aug 31, 2016
Messages
17
Reaction score
1
Thanks for the responses guys!

It might be acetaldehyde now that I have done a little research. Could it be that I am transferring off the yeast early?

For this last tart batch. I washed everything and star san everything that touches the chilled wort.
I pitched 1/4 of a harvested bry-97 yeast cake from a previous cream ale batch.
I hit it with about 90 seconds of pure o2 with a half micron stone before pitch.
I did a closed transfer on day 10 to a purged keg then started to crash.

This yeast pretty much craps out on day 4-5 for me on my typical 1.050ish beer. By day 7 the krausen is dropping and by day 10 its starting to clear.

Guess I will try one more batch this weekend. Have the ingredients for a hefeweizen and a pack of 3068. I will leave out the acid malt and see what happens. If no go after that I might just replace everything plastic that beer has touched.
 
OP
N

nate79

Member
Joined
Aug 31, 2016
Messages
17
Reaction score
1
You won't taste residual Starsan at the proper dilution level in a batch of beer.
Do you have another fermenter, or can you borrow one and try it?

Other things to check:
- Beer lines. I have had bad tastes develop in old beer lines that I could not remove by cleaning. Swap them with new lines and test.
- If your boil kettle has a ball valve, take it apart and look for crud and clean it out.
I don't have another femonster but I do have some food grade buckets with lids/gaskets I could use.

Not sure that beer lines would play a role in my early tart batches that were bottle conditioned.

I have a 3 piece valve that I take apart and soak in pbw after every brew. Have found crud in there to many times not to clean it every time.
 

RPh_Guy

Bringing Sour Back
HBT Supporter
Joined
Jan 26, 2017
Messages
9,115
Reaction score
7,444
Location
Cleveland
If the issue is acetaldehyde, that indicates your pitching practices could use some improvement. Instead of repitching directly from a cake, you should consider making a starter, ideally on a stir plate.
 
OP
N

nate79

Member
Joined
Aug 31, 2016
Messages
17
Reaction score
1
If the issue is acetaldehyde, that indicates your pitching practices could use some improvement. Instead of repitching directly from a cake, you should consider making a starter, ideally on a stir plate.
I usually do make a starter using brewers friend at the .75 ale pitch rate with both liquid and dry yeast. This last batch I had no yeast and cake of the bry-97 so figured why not. The tart problem has been there for the last 7 batches. Six of which I made a starter for and the one repitch.

Do you have a recommendation for a pitch rate/amount of 3068? Its going to be a hefeweizen with a gravity of about 1.050 and 5.75 into the fermenter.
 

RPh_Guy

Bringing Sour Back
HBT Supporter
Joined
Jan 26, 2017
Messages
9,115
Reaction score
7,444
Location
Cleveland
I haven't used WY3068 myself, but I generally underpitch WLP300 (0.3-0.5M/mL/P), and I've been successful avoiding that tart flavor that I taste in a lot of American "hefeweizens". I adjust mash pH to about 5.4-5.5, which usually requires no acid since I use RO water. FWIW I had to switch to RO water to avoid the lactic acid tartness I was tasting when using it to adjust tap water. YMMV.

If the tartness improves with age it's more likely acetaldehyde. If it gets worse, its more likely bacteria. If it stays the same it's more likely the acidulated malt (lactic acid).

edit: typos
 
Last edited:
OP
N

nate79

Member
Joined
Aug 31, 2016
Messages
17
Reaction score
1
I haven't used WY3068 myself, but I generally underpitch WLP300 (0.3-0.5M/mL/P), and I've been successful avoiding that tart flavor that I taste in a lot of American "hefeweizens". I adjust mash pH to about 5.4-5.5, which usually requires no acid sine I use RO water. FWIW I had to switch to RO water to avoid the lactic acid tartness I was tasting when using it to adjust tap water. YMMV.

If the tartness improves with age it's more like acetaldehyde. If it gets worse, its more likely bacteria. If it stays the same it's more likely with acidulated malt (lactic acid).
Again thank you! Much appreciated!

I use 100% RO with minor salt additions. Going to try without the acid malt. I have read and tried the underpitch with 3068 just the tart was so overpowering that if it worked I would have never tasted it.

Just a side question. No acid needed to get in that pH range with RO water? With a hefe grain bill...
 

RPh_Guy

Bringing Sour Back
HBT Supporter
Joined
Jan 26, 2017
Messages
9,115
Reaction score
7,444
Location
Cleveland
No acid needed to get in that pH range with RO water? With a hefe grain bill...
Not in my experience. Ideally you should be using a water chemistry calculator (like Mash Made Easy or Bru'n Water) to get your additions in the right ballpark, and then measuring it with a pH meter to verify.
 
OP
N

nate79

Member
Joined
Aug 31, 2016
Messages
17
Reaction score
1
I have been using ezwater for my additions. Not sure how accurate it is.

For instance ezwater says- for
100% RO water
8.15 gallons
7lbs wheat malt
4lbs pilsner
3 grams gypsum
4 grams cacl

5.86 pH

I can't currently afford a good pH meter so relying on online calculators. That is what I have been basing my acid malt additions on.
 
OP
N

nate79

Member
Joined
Aug 31, 2016
Messages
17
Reaction score
1
Thank you Mike!

Wow quite a difference. Maybe my tart problem is me adding to much acid. Can I do brunwater without microsoft apps?

I appreciate all the help!

edit* I was adding 7 ounces of acid malt on that recipe to bring the pH down.
 

MikeCo

Well-Known Member
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Sep 21, 2019
Messages
268
Reaction score
110
Location
Minneapolis, MN
I think I would try the recipe without any acid additions and see if the tart taste goes away.

The Bru'n Water site says you can use other apps, but I've only used it with Excel.

"For best results using Bru'n Water, use Excel software. However, Mac users may find that Excel for Mac does not perform as well.

The next best option to the Excel program is currently LibreOffice. It is preferred over Open Office. If working with LibreOffice, saving files as .xls files is suggested since saving as .ods files may erase the text from the pop-up comment boxes.

Bru'n Water cannot operate under the Mac Sheets program."


 
OP
N

nate79

Member
Joined
Aug 31, 2016
Messages
17
Reaction score
1
Ok I will chuck the acid malt in the can and go from there.
Yes, 4% acid malt easily can cause tartness. That's above the flavor threshold.

Also, EZ water has always been exactly .3 off for me- that's a LOT.
On a light blonde do you do add any acid additions?
 
Last edited:

RPh_Guy

Bringing Sour Back
HBT Supporter
Joined
Jan 26, 2017
Messages
9,115
Reaction score
7,444
Location
Cleveland
The amount of acid (or base) needed depends on several factors that may be different for every brewer. That's why it's good to use a reliable calculator. I can vouch for the two I mentioned, and they both work in libre office.
 

Yooper

Ale's What Cures You!
Staff member
Admin
Mod
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Jun 4, 2006
Messages
74,151
Reaction score
11,733
Location
UP/Snowbird in Florida
Ok I will chuck the acid malt in the can and go from there.

On a light blonde do you do add any acid additions?
Sometimes. I use RO water and some calcium chloride, and often (but not always) the mash pH is 5.4ish. It depends on the grainbill. On this current beer that I"m drinking now, it was almost all pilsner malt and I did need lactic acid, about 4 ml of 88%, in this 5.25 gallon batch.
 
OP
N

nate79

Member
Joined
Aug 31, 2016
Messages
17
Reaction score
1
Thank you guys for the help!

I will install libre office and learn how to use those two calculators for sure. Also going to grab some lactic acid for future use. Sounds like I may just need to get a good pH meter to know for sure whats going on.
 

MikeCo

Well-Known Member
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Sep 21, 2019
Messages
268
Reaction score
110
Location
Minneapolis, MN
Hopefully your next batch will be less tart!

Lactic acid has a tart flavor also. With your potential sensitivity to tart flavors, you may want to not use any acid on your next batch as long as the calculators show the mash pH is ok with just the salt additions.
 

Yooper

Ale's What Cures You!
Staff member
Admin
Mod
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Jun 4, 2006
Messages
74,151
Reaction score
11,733
Location
UP/Snowbird in Florida
Brewer's Friend water calc is free, and doesn't need libre/excel: Mash Chemistry and Brewing Water Calculator - Brewer's Friend

We can give you some help, too.
Also, in your spare time, these may be helpful. I call it Basic Brewing Water, so it's pretty easy to follow:
 
OP
N

nate79

Member
Joined
Aug 31, 2016
Messages
17
Reaction score
1
Hopefully your next batch will be less tart!

Lactic acid has a tart flavor also. With your potential sensitivity to tart flavors, you may want to not use any acid on your next batch as long as the calculators show the mash pH is ok with just the salt additions.
Thats the plan. No acid of any kind in the next one.
 
OP
N

nate79

Member
Joined
Aug 31, 2016
Messages
17
Reaction score
1
I have no doubt acid malt plays a role. I just feel like its a guessing game with it could be wrong. The pH meter is in my future.

I started to read the water book by palmer but got lost. I will check out those articles Yooper for sure.
 
Top