Astringent taste in my beers

Discussion in 'General Beer Brewing Discussion' started by RichHall, Aug 20, 2019.

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  1. Aug 20, 2019 #1

    RichHall

    RichHall

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    Hey folks

    I've brewed just a handful of AG batches now, and noticed that on all but one batch, I'm getting a very harsh bitterness coming through.

    I'm only hopping to around 30 IBUs, so suspect it's nothing to do with that?

    My set up is BIAB, and I've been opting for fine crush - I'm starting to think that the fine crush is leaving behind too much grain 'matter' in the boil - and it's producing this off, bitter flavour.

    I'm also full volume mashing, so I guess the other possibility is that the mash PH is way off as a result.

    Has anyone experienced similar? And, if so, how did you resolve??

    Cheers
     
  2. Aug 20, 2019 #2

    foxbat

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    What was different about the batch that was good? Was it a dark beer by any chance?

    A good plan would be to test the alkalinity of your water with a Salifert kit and use lactic or phosphoric acid to adjust it down if necessary.
     
  3. Aug 20, 2019 #3

    RichHall

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    No - it was a pale batch that was good. My note taking wasn't good enough, but I think the good batch may have had crushed, rather than fine crushed grain, hence me thinking that might be contributing to the problem...

    The bad batches have been attempts at a best bitter - including some crystal at 12% of the grain bill, and black at 0.5% of the grain bill...following a Graham Wheeler recipe...

    So reading between the lines a bit - is it possible I need to increase the alkalinity of my water, to compensate for the more acidic crystal malt additions?

    Cheers
     
  4. Aug 20, 2019 #4

    SteveH

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    To rule out the water you could try a batch using bottled water (e.g Tesco Ashbeck or similar) - I did this then realized my tap water is very high in alkalinity and ideally needs either dilution or acid additions for pale beers.

    https://www.thehomebrewforum.co.uk/threads/beginners-guide-to-water-treatment.64822/ is a good place to start figuring this out IME, I also looked at our local water report to get a rough idea of the local water profile prior to getting the test kits etc.
     
  5. Aug 20, 2019 #5

    the baron

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    I think it will be that you are doing full volume mashes and its knocking the PH out. Does it taste bitter/grainy like sucking a teabag that's generally what I would describe it as. My cure was to cut down on the tap water and add some bottled water or roughly 50% RO water and tap water. It cured my issues
     
  6. Aug 20, 2019 #6

    RichHall

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    Cheers Steve - been reading through that one over my lunch!

    When I look at the local water report - it shows Hardness (Total) as CaCO3 mg/l - 297 & Alkalinity as CaCO3 mg/l - 225

    Presume it's the alkalinity figure I'm after here? Also checked tap water at my office, only a few miles away from my home, using aquarium test strips that we have knocking around, and that shows circa 223 CaCO3.

    Going by the guide, I want 35 ppm for my best bitter receipe, which is similar in colour to an amber beer - so, if I'm understanding this right, alkalinity at the levels in the tap water will result in higher mash PH and more tannin extraction = more bitter beer?

    Thanks
     
  7. Aug 20, 2019 #7

    RichHall

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    @the baron - thanks. How did you decide how much bottled water to dilute with?

    Trial and error, or alkalinity test??
     
  8. Aug 20, 2019 #8

    peebee

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    You are doing what I see people quite often do, but you make it more obvious by actually mixing up the descriptions in the post. Bitterness is not astringency!

    I don't know why this is such a common error, but don't worry I get the impression the majority side with you! Having wrongly determined "astringency" you then get hopeless advise to prevent tannin extraction like by having too high a water pH. Too high a pH in the sparge water that is, which you can't suffer from because you practice "full-boil-volume-mashing" (no, or virtually no-sparge). I practice "full-boil-volume-mashing" too, BIAB uses such a technique although often people don't stick rigidly to the original idea and do arrange a bit of a sparge, but I use the technique as an alternative way to use a Grainfather.

    I think I trained my appreciation of the difference between bitterness and astringency (the latter is a sensation, not a flavour) by sucking too many sloes. (Or as @the baron has just suggested; suck a teabag!).
     
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  9. Aug 20, 2019 #9

    the baron

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    I just did it by guess work. I first used 1 third RO water and tap water and no water additions with the intention of it bringing down the PH which it did and worked for me. Then stopped doing full volume and mashed with about 20 litres which I use 14 litres of tap water and 6 litres of Aldi EE water @ 17p for 2 litres and then sparged with boiled tap water from a kettle instead of the full volume. You could do this and just kettle sparge over the grain bag or dunk sparge which is quite simple and does not involve intricate sparge methods
     
  10. Aug 20, 2019 #10

    the baron

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    And yes Peebee is correct astringency is not a strong bitter taste but to me gives a grainy feel in the mouth and makes your cheeks pucker like sucking a teabag which is what I had you do need to make sure it is astringency first or you are trying to cure the wrong thing
     
  11. Aug 20, 2019 #11

    RichHall

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    Thanks guys.

    So I have given the teabag test a go this evening, and appreciate I have the two mixed up.

    It’s not astringency in my beer, it is bitterness. A really unpleasant bitterness.

    Are there any common causes I could look to resolve?

    Not convinced it’s too much bittering hops, as the recipe is only 30 IBUs, with 24 of those coming from the bittering hops. The recipe has a bu/gu ratio of 0.70, which I’d anticipate resulting in middle of the road bitterness?

    I’m a bit stumped, but keen to figure it out before wasting too many more afternoons brewing unpalatable batches!

    Cheers
     
  12. Aug 20, 2019 #12

    Rodcx500z

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    Hi Rich, we are all different and taste things differently, I am just having a bitter with an ibu rating of 42 and it is really nice for me, now the other week I had a beer with a much lower ibu and as nice as it was I found it a bit carameley for my taste or should that be malty, you may just not like to much bitterness
     
  13. Aug 21, 2019 #13

    Duxuk

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    Do you no chill? If so then late hop additions often sit at a highish temperature for a considerable period of time. This isomerises alpha acids, creating bitterness. There are ways around this if it is the case.
     
  14. Aug 21, 2019 #14

    the baron

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    tell us your process of brewing as Duxuk has said leaving hops in the kettle/FV can cause high IBU issues also not calculating for the correct process of hopping is easy to get wrong or imputing the wrong AA in a brew calculator is not unknown, if all that is solid then it could be that you are just susceptible to bitterness which some people are. Many people also find high beer hopping unacceptable but many can not get enough its just that everybody is different
     
  15. Aug 22, 2019 #15

    RichHall

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    Thanks fellas

    On reflection, thinking about my process on this batch, there was an extended period of about an hour between boil finishing and me fully cooling the wort.

    My wife had come home early with the kids, so I helped out with bath and bedtime at the end of the boil, and then finished up afterwards.

    The hops had been taken out, which I thought at the time may have been ok, but would the extracted hops oils already in the wort continue to have bittered?

    I’ve just cold crashed for about 36 hours to help it clear, and whilst chilled, the bitterness has reduced to a palatable level for me. However, there doesn’t seem to be any flavour or aroma from the late boil additions.

    So I’m thinking of doing a secondary fermentation, and adding in some EKG to dry hop to help the flavour out a bit.

    Any suggestions on grams per litre for dry hopping? Appreciate best bitters may not typically have dry hopping, but would be good to add a bit of hop flavour to this batch...

    Thanks
    Rich.
     
  16. Aug 23, 2019 #16

    chthon

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  17. Aug 23, 2019 #17

    Rodcx500z

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    That's very interesting and explains a lot problems athumb..
     
  18. Aug 26, 2019 #18

    RichHall

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    Cheers guys

    Went with a (modest?) 1.5g/l EKG dry hop.

    Will leave for a week and then get it bottled and conditioned :thumba:
     

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