Quantcast

That "home brew flavor"

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

Help Support Homebrew Talk:

cscade

Well-Known Member
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Feb 22, 2009
Messages
450
Reaction score
19
Location
Wooster
I have a lot of friends who home brew, and I don't want to ask them this for fear of them taking it the wrong way;

What part of the process gives beer that distinct "home brewed" taste? I'd describe it as a "soft sweetness", as in a malty sweet flavor that blankets the tongue. Is this incomplete fermentation? Live yeast in solution?

I have recently started home brewing as well, and I am a very detail oriented person. I don't expect to approach commercial beer "quality" if you measure quality as repeatability, but it is very important to me to reach commercial beer quality in terms of taste and mouth feel.

The taste I am describing, I find to be a serious detraction from the final beer. It is not at all present in production beers, seemingly regardless of scale. What am I tasting here?

:mug:
 

StoutFan

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 6, 2009
Messages
921
Reaction score
7
Location
Wyoming
What is your FG on these brews? Is it esters from the yeast? What fermentables are you using? These could help answer your question.
 

blackwaterbrewer

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 26, 2008
Messages
704
Reaction score
7
Location
virginia beach
i know exactly what you are talking about. i have not had taste that since switching to all grain. i also have not noticed it when using the syrup extract as opposed to DME. It may be a result of incorrect ferment temp/time or unclean practices. if you are maticulous with the details (as you mentioned ) it shouldn't be a problem. that is an annoying flavor if it is what i am thinking of.

also, check your water source. may need to be adjusted.
 

Yooper

Ale's What Cures You!
Staff member
Admin
Mod
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Jun 4, 2006
Messages
74,335
Reaction score
11,962
Location
UP/Snowbird in Florida
I wonder if you're tasting the "extract twang" that others describe. I think it's most common among those who use canned ingredients, and do smaller sized boils and top up with water.

Some extract just doesn't ferment as fully as partial mash or all-grain beers do. I've had some extract beers that just won't go below 1.020, for example. That leaves quite a bit of residual sweetness, and if you also carmelize the wort a bit, you might taste that "homebrew flavor" you're talking about.

I would suggest boiling the largest amount of wort you can, buy the freshest ingredients possible, and using fresh grains for steeping. Also, no Munton's yeast, but a clean well-attenuating ale yeast (like SO5 or Nottingham, if using dry) will help. Another important factor is the temperature during fermentation. check the yeast manufacturer's website for optimal temperatures and follow them. A too-warm fermenation can cause some off-flavors, and a too-cool fermentation can cause incomplete fermentation. I think temperature control is underrated among newer brewers.
 

BigEd

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 5, 2004
Messages
2,883
Reaction score
378
It's hard to pin it down exactly without knowing precisely what is being brewed and how. However, what you describe as "soft sweetness" is more than likely an excess of crystal malt, unfermentables in malt extract and/or low attenuation. Other common "homebrew" flavors are often phenolics, fusels and excess esters generally caused by less than ideal sanitation and lack of control during fermentation. Homebrewed beer doesn't have to have that "homebrew" taste. It can taste as good or better than commercial beer so don't let those beers discourage you. :mug:
 

Revvy

Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Dec 11, 2007
Messages
41,308
Reaction score
3,668
Location
"Detroitish" Michigan
I have no clue what you are reffering to except maybe that the beer you are drinking is green...My beers taste no different .or ant least have no distinctive characteristic that is different from, commercial beers....some of my clone recipes taste dead on if not better than the originals...And many of the clone recipes are made with extract....many argue that extract twang is a myth anyway...that it is an excuse people use for bad brewing processes....not letting beer condition, poorly designed recipes, etc....
 

Runyanka

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 31, 2008
Messages
1,544
Reaction score
20
Location
Frisco
Sometimes it's best if you don't taste like commercially brewed beers. I got to say, now that I've been brewing at home, the store bought run of the mill beers just don't cut if for me anymore!!! :rockin:
 
OP
cscade

cscade

Well-Known Member
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Feb 22, 2009
Messages
450
Reaction score
19
Location
Wooster
Glad to see that some of you know what i am referring to! I have only just bottled my first batch yesterday, so I am not talking about my own beers here, but those of my friends (hence, my concern they would take the question the wrong way...).

I simply want to avoid whatever aspect of their process is causing this. My first batch was of course an extract, and I'm not taking the flavor at bottling to be at all meaningful, so right now I'm clueless how my own beer will turn out.

Chris300s describes it well; it is a cloying sweetness. Not overpowering at all, but it's there and annoying. Anyone who more than swallows their beer would taste it if paying attention. I've heard others talk of it as if it's normal but I know that can't be right. Brewing is brewing if done correctly, regardless of setting. So I'm hunting for the specific element!

Perhaps it is the caramelization from a too-small boil? An interesting thing to try to hunt down!

EDIT: In response as well; I am very over the top about sanitation. In fact, I think I'm probably using much more starsan than I need to... I need to find a happy medium. My friends are telling me I need to relax, and not worry so much, some even tell me not to worry about using a hydrometer ever... I try to explain I'm not worried, I just want to know what I'm doing! ;)
 

ChickenSoop

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 18, 2008
Messages
190
Reaction score
2
Location
Winnipeg
Like I read elsewhere, somewhere - open your beer, pour it into a glass, throw in a hop pellet for 5 minutes, fish it out and drink the beer - how does it compare? More balanced, or still sweet?
 

cheeseshark

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 2, 2008
Messages
163
Reaction score
3
Location
Westland, MI
I have noticed that sweetness in some homebrewed beer as well. I think it is from poor quality yeast / incomplete fermentation. Use good quality fresh dry yeast, like Safale US-05, and I think you'll get rid of the sweet taste. As a few others pointed out, try a large of a boil as possible.
 

smizak

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 4, 2007
Messages
1,831
Reaction score
118
Location
Buffalo, NY
I'm convinced that the "homebrew" flavor is a product of extracts, call it the "twang" or whatever. I think the big problem is the extracts are commercially made with precise sugar levels, mash temps, etc....bottom line is that if you have tasted a bunch of extract homebrews, they're all going to have a similar flavor characteristic because they're basically all made from the same ingredient. That flavor disappeared in my beers after I went all-grain.
 
OP
cscade

cscade

Well-Known Member
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Feb 22, 2009
Messages
450
Reaction score
19
Location
Wooster
I'd like to move to full boils... I did my first batch with what I had, meaning a 2.5 gallon boil. Suspecting I'll have that nasty sweetness in my brew as well.

Looks like decent large SS kettles are VERY expensive. I don't want to go the keggle route, but I do already have a large outdoor propane burner. Where would you all recommend looking for the best price on an SS kettle?
 

smizak

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 4, 2007
Messages
1,831
Reaction score
118
Location
Buffalo, NY
Don't mean to start a flame war but.....have you considered using aluminum?

I have a 10 gal. aluminum kettle I bought on ebay for $40, and it works beautifully. I boiled water in it first after scrubbing the crap out of it, as the peeps on this site have suggested, and it's got a nice passive oxide layer on it.

Stainless is pretty, but I'd rather have a nice thick, sturdy aluminum kettle, than a comparatively priced thin, flimsy stainless one.
 

cheeseshark

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 2, 2008
Messages
163
Reaction score
3
Location
Westland, MI
I'd like to move to full boils... I did my first batch with what I had, meaning a 2.5 gallon boil. Suspecting I'll have that nasty sweetness in my brew as well.

Looks like decent large SS kettles are VERY expensive. I don't want to go the keggle route, but I do already have a large outdoor propane burner. Where would you all recommend looking for the best price on an SS kettle?
1. Try Goodwill or Salvation Army
2. Check Home Depot, etc. for deals on turkey friers. They usually come with a pot large enough to do full boils. I got my burner/pot for $30.
 

mew

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 7, 2006
Messages
851
Reaction score
10
I've heard several experts say that homebrew generally finishes at a higher specific gravity than commercial beer. That would explain the taste you describe. This does not have to be the case. Mashing at a lower temperature or the addition of simple sugar will lower the FG just fine.

There is no inherent difference between homebrew and commercial beer.
 

mciaio

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 13, 2009
Messages
110
Reaction score
0
Location
Philly
1. Try Goodwill or Salvation Army
2. Check Home Depot, etc. for deals on turkey friers. They usually come with a pot large enough to do full boils. I got my burner/pot for $30.
Check craigslist too. I found 5-6 used turkey fryers for 30-50 bucks each.
 
OP
cscade

cscade

Well-Known Member
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Feb 22, 2009
Messages
450
Reaction score
19
Location
Wooster
I would like to know what temp you are fermenting at. Even while I was still doing extract, I stabilized and lowered my ferment temps and it made a huge improvement in my beers.
I fermented my first batch (a Kolsch kit, dry yeast, rehydrated) at ~64f average. When I say average, the temp ranged from 60f at night to 71f at most during the day. It was the best I could do in a wood heated house without a specific means of regulating the fermenter.
 

PintOfBitter

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 10, 2007
Messages
1,150
Reaction score
12
Location
USA
I understand your question - I had an unmistakable flaw in my extract brews. It could be described as a kind of sweetness. I was able to all but eliminate the flaw by increasing my pitching rates. None of my friends could detect the flavor in my later brews, so maybe it got to where I just expected it, so I could taste it. Essentially, my beers just didn't taste as clean as I wanted them to.

Try pitching a big, healthy starter, and work on aeration. My $.02.
 

Chris300s

Active Member
Joined
Feb 11, 2009
Messages
43
Reaction score
0
Location
Mount Clemens, MI
I think that it's a function of multiple issues with noob brewers. Too small (concentrated) a boil, LME, abreviated or low temp boil, poor aeration = overly sweet, metallic(a), under-hopped beer.
The upside is that it will get better, you will get better. Each step you take brings you a little closer to Nirvana. If people were more critical of my beer early on (instead of saying "gee, this is great, and you made it yourself?...") I would have improved faster, sooner.
It took me 2+ years to get to a point where I wasn't making excuses for my beer; "It's supposed to be that way, it's the style. It's young. It's not Budweiser...". If I had to prioritize upgrades it would be in this order: Dump the liquid exxtract ( I can taste it each and every time), aerate the **** out your wort, get a bigger brew pot, keg. Then go all grain.
 

woollybugger2

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 14, 2009
Messages
534
Reaction score
3
Upon reading this post I had to pop a home brew and check for that "homebrew" taste. I choose the Hefeweizen, 10 days in the primary, 10 days in the secondary and 16 days in the bottle and I have to say that is is absolutely fantastic!

This was a mini-mash brew with DME, and although it lacks a spice punch form the coriander and orange peel like New Belgian's Mothership Wit it is BETTER than any BMC.
 

bluehouse

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 20, 2009
Messages
345
Reaction score
4
I dunno guys, I am not nearly as experianced with beer as yall are & all the scientific stuff you talk about goes right over my head because I don't want to have to learn all that new stuff. The only brew I ever did that turned out with an over sweet taste was not finished developing when I bottled. I bottled in PET bottles which forgave my mistake & did not explode but made a sweeter beer than I expected. Not bad just with a hint of sweetness. Right now I am drinking an ale that I brewed and I don't taste any hint of sweetness.
 

beersydoesit

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 27, 2008
Messages
330
Reaction score
6
Location
Madison, Wi
Hmmm. I am still an extract brewer, and sometimes my beer is sweeter than I expect even though the FG is where it should be, but not always. I think some of it has to do with the recipe.

The kits you use or recipe may be prone to sweetness.

The best beer I ever made was a recipe not a kit. I think the kits I have been using tend toward the sweet. You might try another kit maker or a recipe.

I have brewed beers with LME and partial boils that were completely satisfactory.

Regards
 

joety

Well-Known Member
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Oct 28, 2008
Messages
1,402
Reaction score
20
Location
Germantown Wisconsin
EDIT: In response as well; I am very over the top about sanitation. In fact, I think I'm probably using much more starsan than I need to... I need to find a happy medium. My friends are telling me I need to relax, and not worry so much, some even tell me not to worry about using a hydrometer ever... I try to explain I'm not worried, I just want to know what I'm doing! ;)
You mean you are mixing up more than you need or you are using it on things you shouldn't?

Anything that touches the beer after flameout should be sanitized. I create a "clean zone" where I place the equipment on fresh paper towel after sanitizing. I generally mix up 2-3 gallons on brew day and keep a spray bottle handy as well. As far as I know, I've never had an infection. I also try not to sanitize anything too far in advance of it's usage.
 

farmbrewernw

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 12, 2008
Messages
1,574
Reaction score
6
Location
Richland, WA
There are a couple of things that are probably going on, first of all is that you can't control how fermentable extract is. I heard this on the Jamile show once he talked about how extract can have too many long chain dextrins making the wort hard ferment. The partial solution to this is to make sure your pitching enough yeast cells, try making a starter next time. The other thing is fermenting temps, fluctuations and wrong fermenting temperatures plays a huge factor in flavor profiles, at the very least you should be doing a water bath for your carboy to regulate temp.
 

mjn12

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 8, 2008
Messages
57
Reaction score
2
With regard to the "homebrew taste" - I've only been brewing for about 4 months but I've recognized it in some of my beers too. It seems a lot of it has to do with the freshness of the malt as well as how the malt is handled during the boil. I have never been terribly happy with most of my beers that were made with all DME. They all seemed to have a common flavor that I really did not like.

In terms of LME, the one beer I made from canned LME was definitely not impressive. However, any beer I've made from fresh LME (bought from reputable suppliers and not more than a few weeks from the malting plant) has turned out excellent.

In addition to fresh ingredients there are a few more things you can do that seem to have helped my beer (sorry if these are repeats of something mentioned earlier).

Late malt addition - Decreases darkening and off flavors due to the Maillard reaction that occurs when heating malt, remember DME and LME were already boiled once so boiling them for the full 60 minutes means that the Maillard reaction has much more time to occur than if you were doing the extracting yourself (all grain).

Only use light/ultralight extracts - I didn't hear about this until I went minimash, but there is only really one extract and the darker versions are essentially light extracts with character grains already included. Use steeping or minimash to add the character to the light extract.

Large yeast starters - I started with 1 liter starters and I have a 2L flask on the way and just made a stir plate for it. Jamil Zainasheff is fanatic about proper pitch rates. I noticed a huge difference when I began making starters. You reduce lag time and reduce stress on the yeast. Stress causes them to produce all kinds of wacky stuff and can easily result in them giving up way to soon leaving you with unfinished fermentation.

Proper Aearation - Either 60 minutes of aeration with an aquarium pump, sanitary air filter and stainless steel diffuser stone or 30 seconds with a pure 02 bottle from home depot through a stainless steel diffuser stone. This provides plenty of oxygen for the yeast which they need for the aerobic phase. This lets them multiply as much as possible, reduces stress, etc. Aerating your starters is also helpful in getting a good viable pitch rate.

Yeast Nutrition - Use some white labs or wyeast nutrient in your boil (NOT IN YOUR STARTER). Man those yeast are important.

Consider going minimash - I touched on this before, but it has made a big difference in my beer. I live in a small apartment and can not yet afford to go all grain. Minimash works with your existing equipment and all you need is a grain bag. Don't do this until you're comfortable brewing extract as it adds more variables and complexity and time to the brew day.

Sorry to be long winded but its taken me 4 months to gather that information. I figure its worth sharing with someone.
 
OP
cscade

cscade

Well-Known Member
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Feb 22, 2009
Messages
450
Reaction score
19
Location
Wooster
You mean you are mixing up more than you need or you are using it on things you shouldn't?
Mixing more than I need. Even at 2.5 gallons, I still feel like I'm wasting it.

I sanitize everything, so I know what you mean about a "clean zone". I wouldn't even use a clean paper towel as you suggest, in my mind there could be cooties on there too... like I said, I'm detail oriented :)

After watching Yuri_Rage's videos on All Grain and seeing how he uses starsan in a garden sprayer, I can see that I have been "misusing" starsan. I have actually been immersing my bottles and then letting them drip dry, seems that that's actually totally overkill. I will likely go the sprayer route now as well.
 
OP
cscade

cscade

Well-Known Member
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Feb 22, 2009
Messages
450
Reaction score
19
Location
Wooster
Large yeast starters - I started with 1 liter starters and I have a 2L flask on the way and just made a stir plate for it. Jamil Zainasheff is fanatic about proper pitch rates. I noticed a huge difference when I began making starters. You reduce lag time and reduce stress on the yeast. Stress causes them to produce all kinds of wacky stuff and can easily result in them giving up way to soon leaving you with unfinished fermentation.

Proper Aearation - Either 60 minutes of aeration with an aquarium pump, sanitary air filter and stainless steel diffuser stone or 30 seconds with a pure 02 bottle from home depot through a stainless steel diffuser stone. This provides plenty of oxygen for the yeast which they need for the aerobic phase. This lets them multiply as much as possible, reduces stress, etc. Aerating your starters is also helpful in getting a good viable pitch rate.
I will definitely explore these two things in more detail. I didn't know it was so easy to get oxygen. Sounds like the best way to go.

How did you make a stir plate?
 

Boerderij_Kabouter

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 21, 2007
Messages
7,763
Reaction score
172
Location
Oconomowoc, Wisconsin
I know exactly what you are talking about, and most homebrews in my experience do have it. The cause, IMHO, has to do with misinformed noob brewing. Old extract, low quality extract, non-vigorous boil, under hopped (due to concentrated boil), over carmelization (again due to concentrated boil), bad recipes, slow cooling times, under aerated, improper yeast pitching temperature, pitching to little viable yeast, fermenting to hot, and drinking beer to young. These are the main problems I have seen and can all be easily remedied.

I suggest reading "How to Brew" it is basic and give good sound principals.

Now to stick my foot in the fire... I know many people say that they brew great beer with extract and everyone raves about it, and on and on, and they win awards and all this. I do believe that some people do this, with proper extract sourcing, special recipes that properly use what the extract offers, and other processes to make it work. However, I have never had a HB made from extract that was very good. Don't get me wrong, most HB AG or not are not very good. Brewing a truly good beer is a very difficult thing to do, and it may be that most brewers switch to AG once they have a good enough handle on things to start making great beers. I am just saying that the strange "homebrewed" taste is what I associate with extract brews, for the many reasons listed above, and a deep seeded suspicion of extracts potential.
 

farmbrewernw

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 12, 2008
Messages
1,574
Reaction score
6
Location
Richland, WA
I think it almost takes more skill to make a good extract brew than it does to make a good AG brew. I as well don't want to start a flame war because I know you can make good extract brew, I have done it myself, but you have to use fresh ingredients and you have to know all of the tricks associated with extract brewing to make a good beer. I know Revvy hates it when we say extract brewing is bad, I'm not saying that, I'm just saying you better have your process down, I've had many extract brews that have had that HB flavor, I think a lot of people over look it, but to me it's the first thing I taste when it's there and I can't forget it the whole time I'm drinking. So if your going to do extract use fresh ingredients, do late extract additions, full boils, pitch plenty of yeast, and control fermenting temps.
 

BarleyWater

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 31, 2007
Messages
2,199
Reaction score
28
Location
Elmhurst
I fermented my first batch (a Kolsch kit, dry yeast, rehydrated) at ~64f average. When I say average, the temp ranged from 60f at night to 71f at most during the day. It was the best I could do in a wood heated house without a specific means of regulating the fermenter.
This is going to absolutely kill any chance you have of finishing with a decent FG and will give you some crazy off flavors. A three degree swing is about the max you want, and you have an 11 degree swing. The amount of stress this is putting on the yeast is enormous, and will make them put out some phenols and esters that you don't want, and it will make them go dormant before they finish the job, leaving your beer underattenuated.

The most important aspect in making a good beer aside from ingredient selection, is fermentation temps. A stable fermentation temp can make an undrinkable beer a medal winner.
 

Homercidal

Licensed Sensual Massage Therapist.
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Feb 10, 2008
Messages
33,324
Reaction score
5,803
Location
Reed City, MI
Well, the thing about extract kits is that you don't have all the control that an AG brewer has. You just get to use what they give you as far as fermentables. I've made a copule of very good (IMO) extract beers and some that were good enough. There are tricks to lessen the "problems" with some extract beers like using fresh extract, using DME over liquid, proper fermenting temps, pitching enough yeast, late extract additions,etc.

Many of the tricks can apply to AG brewing as well though. I must say that I have never experienced anything that I would call "homebrew flavor". None of my batches had anything in common across the board.
 

Grinder12000

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 1, 2008
Messages
2,996
Reaction score
49
Location
Columbus WI
You guys are missing the obvious.

occam's razor

They are drinking unfiltered ALE!!! instead of lagers.

Ales are always softer then a lager. UNLESS his friends are drinking a lot of unfiltered micro brews

Don't get me started on Extract vs. AG. Some of the worst home brews I've tasted are AG! It's all about the person making the beer - not the process.

From my experience it's how good you are at making beer. A good extract brewer (mini mash at least) can make GREAT beer. Same with AG. The problem is I see very few GOOD AG brewers. Too many thigns can go wrong.

In theory AG will make a better beer. BUT - that means you have to be a better brewers.

It's like poker - In THEORY you can make a LOT more money playing NL - BUT - you also have to be a lot better poker player.
 
Top