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General Category => General Homebrew Discussion => Topic started by: hossthegreat on June 24, 2011, 01:19:06 PM

Title: Need your help eliminating this off-flavor!
Post by: hossthegreat on June 24, 2011, 01:19:06 PM
First of all, I'm sorry for the long post...especially with this being my first one on this forum. However, I'm having a serious problem with what I can best describe as a raw grainy flavor in my lighter AG beers. Right now I have done just about everything I can possibly think of to eliminate this off-flavor, so I'm enlisting the expertise of this forum. Here's some background on my problem, process, and troubleshooting.

Currently I use a full volume BIAB method (although I remember having this same flavor dominant in previous lighter AG beers where I have batched sparged). I mash in the entire volume of water, normally in the mid to low 150's for an hour. I then raise the temp to 168-170 for 10 minutes for a mashout. After this time, I pull the bag out of the kettle and sit it in a colander to drain back into the kettle while bringing the wort up to a boil. I do not squeeze the bag at all. Once I reach a boil, I remove the bag and boil for 60 minutes. At the end of the boil, I use my IC to chill to 65 degrees before pitching. I then ferment around 65-67 degrees and will always leave it in the primary for at least 3 weeks. After that, I normally will rack to keg, put it on gas for about a week, and then tap it.

Now, I only pick up this flavor in all of my lighter AG beers (ie, Pale Ales, Blondes, etc). I have recently brewed an AG Mild and American brown and an extract IPA and Cal Common. I had no hint of the graininess in any of those. In my beers with this off-flavor, it is apparent enough that it really dominates the taste of the beer and it doesn't really subside over time. Last night I just tried a pale ale I brewed 3 months ago. The grainy flavor was still quite present.

To try and eliminate this problem, I have done the following:

1. I used a voile bag which has a much finder weave than the previous bag that I was using. This should eliminate any grain escaping the bag and ending up in the boil.

2. I sent a water sample off to Ward, which came back with the following:

pH 7.6
Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) Est 82
Electrical Conductivity, mmho/cm 0.14
Cations / Anions, me/L 0.7 / 0.7

ppm
Sodium, Na 4
Potassium, K 2
Calcium, Ca 7
Magnesium, Mg 1
Total Hardness, CaCO3 22
Nitrate, NO3-N 0.1 (SAFE)
Sulfate, SO4-S 4
Chloride, Cl 6
Carbonate, CO3 < 1
Bicarbonate, HCO3 15
Total Alkalinity, CaCO3 13

Per these results, I used 1 gram of Calcium Chloride per gallon of water. Since I started with 8.5 gallons of water, I used 8.5 grams. I also added 2% acidulated malt to my grain bill.

3. After flameout, I leave the lid off of the kettle until reaching below 160 degrees.

By doing these 3 things, I hoped to have eliminated any off flavors due to 1. Tannin Extraction from grain in the boil, 2. out of whack pH or low calcium, 3. DMS caused by lid on the kettle while wort is still near boiling temps.

With all of these changes in place, I recently brewed a 4% Blonde. I was really optimistic, but after the first sample I could tell that the problem was not fixed. I just racked to keg last night after 3 weeks in the primary and took another sample. The flavor was still there and had not subsided in the least.

I'm kind of at a loss as to what to do next. Should I double bag the mash in case too many grain bits are still getting through? Or invest in a pump and do some sort of recirculation through the grain bed? Not sure if this will fix it either since I used to batch sparge and vorlouf and had the problem even then. Plus, wouldn't we hear of more BIAB brewers having this same problem? Should I try 90 minute boils?

Looking forward to your input and any suggestions that you all can provide!
Title: Re: Need your help eliminating this off-flavor!
Post by: bluesman on June 24, 2011, 01:24:06 PM
The first thing that comes to mind with a grainy (tannin) flavor is mash pH. Did you measure your mash pH, it should be in the 5.2-5.7 range. Also, maintaining a mash pH of 6 or less during the sparge is ideal as it will mitigate tannin extraction from the grain.

The second consideration is your crush, you want to crush fine while maintaining the integrity of the husks as this is ideal.



Title: Re: Need your help eliminating this off-flavor!
Post by: hossthegreat on June 24, 2011, 01:30:17 PM
The first thing that comes to mind with a grainy (tannin) flavor is mash pH. Keeping the mash pH below 6 is ideal as it will mitigate tannin extraction from the grain.

The second consideration is your crush, you want to crush fine while maintaining the integrity of the husks as this is ideal.


Previously I was using 5.2 in the mash until a lot of people mentioned that it really doesn't work all that well. I then changed to filtering my water and adding the calcium and acidulated malt that I mentioned above. I've read that the ph test strips don't work all that well, and I just haven't wanted to spend the $$ on a pH meter, so I haven't taken any readings to see where exactly I am. Maybe I just need to break down and buy one.

As for the crush, I forgot to mention this in my original post. I used to use a corona style mill, and too thought it was due to husk shredding by the mill. Since then, I have switched to a crankandstein. I have it set on the default gap and run it on a very low RPM. The crush looks pretty good to me, with minimal flour.
Title: Re: Need your help eliminating this off-flavor!
Post by: Hokerer on June 24, 2011, 01:54:55 PM
The first thing that comes to mind with a grainy (tannin) flavor is mash pH.

Agreed.  That's the first thing that popped out to me also.  Especially considering that the problem occurs on the lightest of the brews.  In general, the darker the grain, the further down it is capable of pushing the pH.  The grist for the lighter brews, having no/little dark grains, is only capable of lowering the pH slightly.  The problem is also exacerbated by the fact that you're mashing with the full volume of water.  You're asking your grains to lower the pH of a much larger volume of water than if you were using the more normal 1-2 qts/lb.

First thing is to measure your mash pH.  The ColorPHast strips give a pretty reasonable measurement if you don't want to spring for a pH meter.  If you verify that your mash pH is too high, there's a couple things you can try.  One would be adding acid to the mash until the pH is correct.  The other might be to mash with a lower ratio of water to grain - you could later sparge or just top off to get your final boil volume.
Title: Re: Need your help eliminating this off-flavor!
Post by: hossthegreat on June 24, 2011, 02:05:40 PM
The first thing that comes to mind with a grainy (tannin) flavor is mash pH.

Agreed.  That's the first thing that popped out to me also.  Especially considering that the problem occurs on the lightest of the brews.  In general, the darker the grain, the further down it is capable of pushing the pH.  The grist for the lighter brews, having no/little dark grains, is only capable of lowering the pH slightly.  The problem is also exacerbated by the fact that you're mashing with the full volume of water.  You're asking your grains to lower the pH of a much larger volume of water than if you were using the more normal 1-2 qts/lb.

First thing is to measure your mash pH.  The ColorPHast strips give a pretty reasonable measurement if you don't want to spring for a pH meter.  If you verify that your mash pH is too high, there's a couple things you can try.  One would be adding acid to the mash until the pH is correct.  The other might be to mash with a lower ratio of water to grain - you could later sparge or just top off to get your final boil volume.

Thanks guys. The next thing I'll do is check mash pH.  I added 2% acidulated malt to hopefully get me in the range, I suppose it might have helped but not enough.
Title: Re: Need your help eliminating this off-flavor!
Post by: jeffy on June 24, 2011, 03:34:57 PM
You might try mashing with 1.5 quarts per pound or so instead of putting your grains in the full water kettle volume.  You can add more water after removing the grain.
Are you using domestic malts or imported?  2-row or 6-row?
Title: Re: Need your help eliminating this off-flavor!
Post by: hossthegreat on June 24, 2011, 03:44:59 PM
You might try mashing with 1.5 quarts per pound or so instead of putting your grains in the full water kettle volume.  You can add more water after removing the grain.
Are you using domestic malts or imported?  2-row or 6-row?

I've used both CMC 2-row as well as Tom Fawcett Marris Otter. The thing is though, when I batch sparged I would generally do it in 1.25 - 1.5 qt/lb and would still pick up on that grainy flavor.

Title: Re: Need your help eliminating this off-flavor!
Post by: denny on June 24, 2011, 03:52:56 PM
Another vote for pH.  If the OP is mashing with the full volume of water and not adjusting pH, it's likely that the grain isn't bringing it down far enough for light beers.  use the correct amount of water and check your pH, as mentioned.
Title: Re: Need your help eliminating this off-flavor!
Post by: hossthegreat on June 24, 2011, 04:40:22 PM
Another vote for pH.  If the OP is mashing with the full volume of water and not adjusting pH, it's likely that the grain isn't bringing it down far enough for light beers.  use the correct amount of water and check your pH, as mentioned.

Denny, I'm actually using the Aussie BIAB method which calls for a full volume mash and no sparge. Others have had much success with this method with no obvious detriment to the final product. In fact, I haven't noticed any difference in my beers since going with this method. The grainy flavor that I'm struggling with was present even when I was batch sparging in a chest cooler. Doing that method, I would generally always calculate my mash at 1.25 qt/lb.

So now the general consensus seems to be that the issue is with pH, I've been researching pH meters. It seems that all within my price range (~$100 or so) do not work at mash temps. You need to draw a sample and cool it before getting an accurate reading. So, my question is how soon after mashing in do I need to make adjustments to my pH? By the time I draw the sample, let it cool, and perform the measurement, will the damage already be done?

Also, before going out and spending money on a pH meter, could I maybe do a batch by building up a water profile using Distilled / RO water? Is there a baseline "water recipe" that I could use that we'd know would put the water in the correct pH range? If the batch comes out without the grainy flavor, then presumably I'd know the issue is with my water???
Title: Re: Need your help eliminating this off-flavor!
Post by: ccarlson on June 24, 2011, 04:54:52 PM
What does your grain crush look like? Too much damage to the husks can cause this.

I'd look in this area before I looked at ph meters, RO water build ups, etc.
Title: Re: Need your help eliminating this off-flavor!
Post by: hossthegreat on June 24, 2011, 04:59:11 PM
What does your grain crush look like? Too much damage to the husks can cause this.

I'd look in this area before I looked at ph meters, RO water build ups, etc.

Here's a look at the crush I'm getting on the default settings on my crankandstein.

(https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-6GmKd1KsRb0/TWlo5bGvnTI/AAAAAAAAAvU/k_T9culHYUc/s640/DSCN1057.JPG)
Title: Re: Need your help eliminating this off-flavor!
Post by: denny on June 24, 2011, 05:00:56 PM
Here's a look at the crush I'm getting on the default settings on my crankandstein.


That looks fine to me.  My crush is finer than that.
Title: Re: Need your help eliminating this off-flavor!
Post by: Hokerer on June 24, 2011, 05:01:33 PM
Also, before going out and spending money on a pH meter, could I maybe do a batch by building up a water profile using Distilled / RO water? Is there a baseline "water recipe" that I could use that we'd know would put the water in the correct pH range? If the batch comes out without the grainy flavor, then presumably I'd know the issue is with my water???

Since you've already got the report on your water from Ward Labs, before you do the RO/distilled thing, why don't you try Martin's water spreadsheet and see what it tells you...

http://www.homebrewersassociation.org/forum/index.php?topic=6016.msg72038#msg72038
Title: Re: Need your help eliminating this off-flavor!
Post by: ccarlson on June 24, 2011, 05:12:13 PM
Hard to see from the picture, but while it looks fine, some of the husks seen to be shredded. What kind of a mill are you using?
Title: Re: Need your help eliminating this off-flavor!
Post by: denny on June 24, 2011, 05:15:30 PM
What's the problem with shredded husks? 
Title: Re: Need your help eliminating this off-flavor!
Post by: tschmidlin on June 24, 2011, 05:40:55 PM
Lighter ales always taste kind of grainy to me.  Are we sure it is actually tannins that are the problem as opposed to the flavor of grains?
Title: Re: Need your help eliminating this off-flavor!
Post by: denny on June 24, 2011, 05:42:14 PM
Are we sure it is actually tannins that are the problem as opposed to the flavor of grains?

I don't think that's been established.
Title: Re: Need your help eliminating this off-flavor!
Post by: hossthegreat on June 24, 2011, 05:43:40 PM
Hard to see from the picture, but while it looks fine, some of the husks seen to be shredded. What kind of a mill are you using?

I'm using a crankandstein 2A on the default gap setting.
Title: Re: Need your help eliminating this off-flavor!
Post by: hossthegreat on June 24, 2011, 05:46:57 PM
Lighter ales always taste kind of grainy to me.  Are we sure it is actually tannins that are the problem as opposed to the flavor of grains?

This is a pronounced grainy flavor. I have never tasted it in any commercial Pale Ale's or Blonde's that I've had. I suppose that it could be the grain, but I've experienced the same issue with both 2-row (now that I look at it it's actually Pale malt) and MO from 2 different maltsters, so I'm not sure if that's it or not. I did just buy 3 new sacks of CMC 2-row, I could open one of those up on my next batch to determine if it's the malt.
Title: Re: Need your help eliminating this off-flavor!
Post by: tschmidlin on June 24, 2011, 05:54:19 PM
It doesn't necessarily mean there is anything wrong with the malt, it's just that some styles taste grainy to me.  It could also still be a little bit of tannins due to the pH, it's hard to say without tasting it.

I think I like the the Bru'n water suggestion, people have had luck with it nailing the pH.  So you can calculate what the pH would be with what you've been doing, and figure out how to adjust it for your next batch.  That would be my first step I think.
Title: Re: Need your help eliminating this off-flavor!
Post by: hossthegreat on June 24, 2011, 06:01:45 PM
Also, before going out and spending money on a pH meter, could I maybe do a batch by building up a water profile using Distilled / RO water? Is there a baseline "water recipe" that I could use that we'd know would put the water in the correct pH range? If the batch comes out without the grainy flavor, then presumably I'd know the issue is with my water???

Since you've already got the report on your water from Ward Labs, before you do the RO/distilled thing, why don't you try Martin's water spreadsheet and see what it tells you...

http://www.homebrewersassociation.org/forum/index.php?topic=6016.msg72038#msg72038


Ok, I just plugged in all of my water numbers and my grain bill from my previous batch (Blonde Ale). According to it, with no water adjustments my mash acidity results are as follows:

Net Water Alkalinity 3.8
Total Mash Acidity  8.7
Net Mash Acidity  5
Estimated Room Temp Mash pH  5.5

Now, here's what it gave me based on the adjustments that I did make on my last batch:

Net Water Alkalinity  -24.6
Total Mash Acidity 38.7
Net Mash Acidity 63.4 (Says range should be between 0 and 25)
Estimated Room Temp Mash 5.2

So, it looks like by making no additions I should have been OK, correct? I have been getting this grainy flavor when making NO water adjustments as well as my previous batch, where I used 1 gram of calcium chloride per gallon and 2% acidulated malt.


Title: Re: Need your help eliminating this off-flavor!
Post by: mabrungard on June 24, 2011, 06:02:29 PM
That is a great looking water report.  The alkalinity is nicely low.  Hardness is low, but that does not matter.

Given the low alkalinity, I would not be surprised if the mash pH fell into range if the OP was performing a normal mash procedure. Even for lighter colored beer grists.  But since the OP says he does the full volume of water when mashing BIAB, it is possible that there isn't enough acidity in light colored grists to bring the mash pH down.  Bru'n Water allows you to check that out.  It also allows you to check if that 2% amount of acid malt is enough to do the trick for the pH.  

Given that the OP says his darker beers seem fine and the lighter ones not so much, it is probably the resulting mash pH that is creating the problem.  

BIAB is a nice method, but the high amount of water in the mashing step can accentuate the amount of alkalinity in the mash.  On the other hand, given the relatively low alkalinity of this water, if the OP was mashing with a normal water to grist ratio, the mash pH would probably fall too far when brewing dark beers.  

Check out Bru'n Water.  It is the perfect tool for situations like this.
Title: Re: Need your help eliminating this off-flavor!
Post by: hossthegreat on June 24, 2011, 06:10:56 PM
That is a great looking water report.  The alkalinity is nicely low.  Hardness is low, but that does not matter.

Given the low alkalinity, I would not be surprised if the mash pH fell into range if the OP was performing a normal mash procedure. Even for lighter colored beer grists.  But since the OP says he does the full volume of water when mashing BIAB, it is possible that there isn't enough acidity in light colored grists to bring the mash pH down.  Bru'n Water allows you to check that out.  It also allows you to check if that 2% amount of acid malt is enough to do the trick for the pH.  

Given that the OP says his darker beers seem fine and the lighter ones not so much, it is probably the resulting mash pH that is creating the problem.  

BIAB is a nice method, but the high amount of water in the mashing step can accentuate the amount of alkalinity in the mash.  On the other hand, given the relatively low alkalinity of this water, if the OP was mashing with a normal water to grist ratio, the mash pH would probably fall too far when brewing dark beers.  

Check out Bru'n Water.  It is the perfect tool for situations like this.


Martin, thank you for the response as well as the awesome tool. I just posted some info as you were typing your post. Above yours you will see the numbers I came up with using Bru'n water.
Title: Re: Need your help eliminating this off-flavor!
Post by: tom on June 24, 2011, 07:14:28 PM
Any other beer lovers around who you could have taste it?
Title: Re: Need your help eliminating this off-flavor!
Post by: tomsawyer on June 24, 2011, 10:28:14 PM
Lets see a recipe.  You might try British or German crystal, and maybe some Rahr 2-row.  A little Munich would give you a bready flavor.

I agree that your water looks good, and your crush is fine too.  So I'd focus on ingredients and process.
Title: Re: Need your help eliminating this off-flavor!
Post by: tubercle on June 24, 2011, 10:42:30 PM
Replace some of the malt bill with rice and corn. :-\

Title: Re: Need your help eliminating this off-flavor!
Post by: hossthegreat on June 25, 2011, 02:06:34 AM
Lets see a recipe.  You might try British or German crystal, and maybe some Rahr 2-row.  A little Munich would give you a bready flavor.

I agree that your water looks good, and your crush is fine too.  So I'd focus on ingredients and process.

Here's the recipe from the Blonde I just brewed. Also had the same flavor in a Pale Ale I brewed prior to this one.  Before those two, I brewed an AG Mild and an extract IPA with no off-flavors whatsoever. Honestly, I'm not sure what else in my process to tweak if it's not an issue with the pH. I guess it's still possible that I'm getting to much grain particles in the boil. I was thinking about double bagging the next mash, to help eliminate any particles getting through the bag and into the boil. Still, BIAB is becoming such a popular method, you'd think that more people would have this problem if this were the case.

8lb CMC Pale Ale Malt
.75lb Cara-Pils
.5lb Crystal 20
.5lb Vienna
.2lb Acid Malt

55min 10 grams Centennial 6%AA
35min 10 grams Centennial 6%AA
20min 10 grams Cascade 5.4%AA
5min 10 grams Cascade 5.4%AA

Water treatment 7.5 grams Calcium Chloride
Title: Re: Need your help eliminating this off-flavor!
Post by: narvin on June 25, 2011, 02:36:41 AM
Your gypsum is quite low.... adding only calcium chloride will emphasize the malty flavor and leave you with a softer hop flavor.  I wouldn't think this would cause a grainy taste, but I would use half gypsum and half calcium chloride in the recipe you posted.

What's your yeast pitching and fermentation temperature like?  Yeast also wouldn't usually make a beer grainy, but at this point I think we're looking to find any process flaws we can.
Title: Re: Need your help eliminating this off-flavor!
Post by: hossthegreat on June 25, 2011, 02:45:21 AM
Your gypsum is quite low.... adding only calcium chloride will emphasize the malty flavor and leave you with a softer hop flavor.  I wouldn't think this would cause a grainy taste, but I would use half gypsum and half calcium chloride in the recipe you posted.

What's your yeast pitching and fermentation temperature like?  Yeast also wouldn't usually make a beer grainy, but at this point I think we're looking to find any process flaws we can.

On this last batch, I built a starter using Wyeast 1056. The starter sat on a stir plate for a couple of days. After that, I crashed it in the fridge for a few days. At the beginning of my brew day, I took the starter out of the fridge and decanted most of the liquid. After the boil, I chilled the wort to 65 degrees, aerated with pure O2 for approx 45 seconds, and pitched. After this, I insulate my temp probe with some bubble wrap and tape it to the side of my carboy. I then set my temp controller to 66 degrees.

For what it's worth, I have also used Safale US 05 rehydrated and still got the same grainy flavor in the finished beer.
Title: Re: Need your help eliminating this off-flavor!
Post by: ccarlson on June 25, 2011, 02:48:36 AM
I think every one is way over thinking this, and it's not a ph or water quality problem. If you think you have a lot of husks getting into your boil, then I'd work on that.

Hit the obvious things first and if that doesn't fix it, then look deeper.
Title: Re: Need your help eliminating this off-flavor!
Post by: hossthegreat on June 25, 2011, 03:05:13 AM
I think every one is way over thinking this, and it's not a ph or water quality problem. If you think you have a lot of husks getting into your boil, then I'd work on that.

Hit the obvious things first and if that doesn't fix it, then look deeper.

See, that was my original thought too. I first changed my mill, as I thought my corona might have been shredding the husks too much. I then changed my bag to a very fine voile material. Well, no change. Again, I got this same off-flavor when I was batch sparging too. Back then I used an igloo cooler with a stainless hose braid. I would also vorlauf before collecting the wort. On my next batch, I do plan on using my old bag inside my new voile bag to act as a double filter. This should hopefully eliminate any particles getting into the boil.
Title: Re: Need your help eliminating this off-flavor!
Post by: ccarlson on June 25, 2011, 03:20:46 AM
I have heard that Corona mills can shred the husks, but you've eliminated that with the roller mill. Also, you say you got that with batch sparging, so problems as a result of BIAB are probably not an issue either.

I feel your pain, but I've fought other off flavors ( not grainy) and they went away for reasons I'll never know.Good luck and you will figure this out or it may just go away.
Title: Re: Need your help eliminating this off-flavor!
Post by: hossthegreat on June 25, 2011, 03:26:20 AM
I have heard that Corona mills can shred the husks, but you've eliminated that with the roller mill. Also, you say you got that with batch sparging, so problems as a result of BIAB are probably not an issue either.

I feel your pain, but I've fought other off flavors ( not grainy) and they went away for reasons I'll never know.Good luck and you will figure this out or it may just go away.

Thanks man. Yeah, its really frustrating. Nothing like spending all of the time and effort into making the best beer possible, and having it turn out with the same off-flavor time and time again. I'm not going to give up....I'm going to nail this eventually.
Title: Re: Need your help eliminating this off-flavor!
Post by: tschmidlin on June 25, 2011, 05:12:50 AM
Still, BIAB is becoming such a popular method, you'd think that more people would have this problem if this were the case.
You're only the second person I know of outside of Australia, who does BIAB.  Maybe more people aren't having the problem because your situation isn't that common to begin with,
Title: Re: Need your help eliminating this off-flavor!
Post by: malzig on June 25, 2011, 11:53:22 AM
I make quite a few No-Sparge beers.  I've never had this problem with any of them, but I've only ever tried mashing with the full volume for the full time with amber beers.  More commonly, and for yellow beers, I usually add the second half of the water for the last 20-40 minutes, to raise the temperature for a step.  I have similar water to Hoss, so I'm not very concerned about his pH, especially with all that Crystal Malt in his Blonde, but it wouldn't hurt to get a pack of ColorpHast strips.

My first thought is the grain source.  The only two beers I ever had a strong graininess were two beers I made with come generic american Munich Malt I got from a bin at my LHBS.  I'd recommend trying a beer with a good, clean German Pilsner Malt, and little else. Maybe some German Carafoam, since you seem to like a little Crystal Malt character.
Title: Re: Need your help eliminating this off-flavor!
Post by: hossthegreat on June 25, 2011, 12:32:55 PM
Still, BIAB is becoming such a popular method, you'd think that more people would have this problem if this were the case.
You're only the second person I know of outside of Australia, who does BIAB.  Maybe more people aren't having the problem because your situation isn't that common to begin with,

I know of many other homebrewers who are using BIAB. Not just as a way to get into AG brewing at a small cost but also for simplicity and just to save time during the brew day. It's is, in fact, increasing in popularity. Brew Strong, Basic Brewing Radio, as well as the Beersmith podcasts have all done a show dedicated to the topic recently.

But with that being said, I previously was doing a traditional batch sparge method using 1.25qt/lb. which is a common method and was still experiencing the same off-flavor then.
Title: Re: Need your help eliminating this off-flavor!
Post by: hossthegreat on June 25, 2011, 12:47:49 PM
I make quite a few No-Sparge beers.  I've never had this problem with any of them, but I've only ever tried mashing with the full volume for the full time with amber beers.  More commonly, and for yellow beers, I usually add the second half of the water for the last 20-40 minutes, to raise the temperature for a step.  I have similar water to Hoss, so I'm not very concerned about his pH, especially with all that Crystal Malt in his Blonde, but it wouldn't hurt to get a pack of ColorpHast strips.

My first thought is the grain source.  The only two beers I ever had a strong graininess were two beers I made with come generic american Munich Malt I got from a bin at my LHBS.  I'd recommend trying a beer with a good, clean German Pilsner Malt, and little else. Maybe some German Carafoam, since you seem to like a little Crystal Malt character.

In the new BYO this month, there's an article by Gordon Strong on session beers. There he as a recipe for an Irish Red, where he recommends using a no sparge technique. Of course, he's also starting with RO water and a tsp of CaCl2.

On my next batch, I think I will do another Pale Ale. I'll open one of the brand new sacks of grain that I just bought and double bag the mash. If the flavor sticks through, I'll probably do another batch using RO water and water additions to see if that knocks it out. If i'm still getting the flavor then, I'll go back and do a traditional thin mash and batch sparge.
Title: Re: Need your help eliminating this off-flavor!
Post by: tomsawyer on June 25, 2011, 02:22:48 PM
I have heard that Corona mills can shred the husks, but you've eliminated that with the roller mill.

I've made a lot of good beeer using a Corona mill.

I'm currently using no-sparge almost exclusively, its been working pretty well for me.

Your recipe looks OK.  I just wonder if you've become accustomed to the slight sweetness of an extract beer, and are missing that in your AG stuff.  You can always add a little more crystal and/or use mash schedules to leave a little more residual sweetness.
Title: Re: Need your help eliminating this off-flavor!
Post by: denny on June 25, 2011, 02:42:21 PM
Still, BIAB is becoming such a popular method, you'd think that more people would have this problem if this were the case.
You're only the second person I know of outside of Australia, who does BIAB.  Maybe more people aren't having the problem because your situation isn't that common to begin with,

Or maybe they are but just don't recognize it.
Title: Re: Need your help eliminating this off-flavor!
Post by: hossthegreat on June 25, 2011, 02:49:22 PM
Say, could a lot of unconverted starches in the boil possibly cause this flavor? On my last batch, my efficiency was pretty poor...around 65%. I wonder if this could be contributing to it? I haven't done an iodine conversion test in a while, so I think I'll go ahead and do one on the next batch. I also normally do a 60 minute mash....maybe going to 75 min or even 90 could help?
Title: Re: Need your help eliminating this off-flavor!
Post by: denny on June 25, 2011, 05:06:56 PM
Say, could a lot of unconverted starches in the boil possibly cause this flavor? On my last batch, my efficiency was pretty poor...around 65%. I wonder if this could be contributing to it? I haven't done an iodine conversion test in a while, so I think I'll go ahead and do one on the next batch. I also normally do a 60 minute mash....maybe going to 75 min or even 90 could help?

Personally, I feel like it's so easy to get false readings from the iodine test that it's useless.  If your temp was correct and you held it for 60 min., there's almost no chance you didn't get conversion. It's more likely you have poor extraction efficiency rather than poor conversion efficiency.
Title: Re: Need your help eliminating this off-flavor!
Post by: hossthegreat on June 25, 2011, 06:30:02 PM
Thanks Denny and everyone else for your help. I'm going to try and brew a batch tomorrow, making the adjustments I listed above. I will report back if I have any luck.
Title: Re: Need your help eliminating this off-flavor!
Post by: tschmidlin on June 25, 2011, 08:16:43 PM
Still, BIAB is becoming such a popular method, you'd think that more people would have this problem if this were the case.
You're only the second person I know of outside of Australia, who does BIAB.  Maybe more people aren't having the problem because your situation isn't that common to begin with,

I know of many other homebrewers who are using BIAB. Not just as a way to get into AG brewing at a small cost but also for simplicity and just to save time during the brew day. It's is, in fact, increasing in popularity. Brew Strong, Basic Brewing Radio, as well as the Beersmith podcasts have all done a show dedicated to the topic recently.
I know more people are doing it, I'm just not sure I would classify it as "such a popular method".   That's all I was saying. :)

Let us know how the next batch turns out either way, I'm interested.
Title: Re: Need your help eliminating this off-flavor!
Post by: ccarlson on June 25, 2011, 09:13:57 PM
I don't get the advantage of BIAB, but I'm hearing a lot of people say they're doing it. Truth is, I haven't really researched it enough to know if it would help me or not. I'm still betting the off flavor has nothing to do with ph. The double bag may solve the problem.
Title: Re: Need your help eliminating this off-flavor!
Post by: hossthegreat on June 25, 2011, 11:21:27 PM
I don't get the advantage of BIAB, but I'm hearing a lot of people say they're doing it. Truth is, I haven't really researched it enough to know if it would help me or not. I'm still betting the off flavor has nothing to do with ph. The double bag may solve the problem.

For many its an inexpensive way to get into AG brewing. All that you need is a big enough pot and a bag to hold all of the grain. For me it shaves some time off of my brew day by not sparging or needing to clean multiple vessels. When I'm done with the mash, I pull out the bag, dump out the spent grains, and give it a quick rinse. I actually converted an old keg into an electric BIAB rig and I love how easy it is to control my temps. For me, it just makes the whole process so much easier. Here's some pics of my setup.

(https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-V2fiFBaAJe0/TdRnIT8XnfI/AAAAAAAAA1k/O-WzE2O4AOo/s512/DSCN1245.JPG)

(https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-YAh9ciaqYAs/TdRnIdr8mwI/AAAAAAAAA1k/I6Cj94t0t48/s640/DSCN1030.JPG)

(https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-eIXE-rZxoCk/TdRnIei_tzI/AAAAAAAAA1k/bPdGQyU3ZhY/s640/DSCN1066.JPG)

(https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-Hbq3Srdeq-Q/TdRnIVvItkI/AAAAAAAAA1k/2A7rtg5eNmY/s512/DSCN1067.JPG)

(https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-q34AG1R5hPI/TdRnIQ3u2cI/AAAAAAAAA1k/LGP0KVq2GPo/s640/DSCN1073.JPG)

(https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-dFSGllOh2iM/TdRnIc3B9hI/AAAAAAAAA1k/UTbZHfTuCYo/s512/DSCN1024.JPG)

(https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-3Qkm-xPOBSs/TViKSC6B8MI/AAAAAAAAAr8/KMFlmts892Y/s640/DSCN1034.JPG)


Title: Re: Need your help eliminating this off-flavor!
Post by: Will's Swill on June 26, 2011, 04:20:11 PM
How do you keep your bag off of the heating element?
Title: Re: Need your help eliminating this off-flavor!
Post by: hossthegreat on June 26, 2011, 08:17:55 PM
How do you keep your bag off of the heating element?

Actually, nothing. I did quite a bit of research when designing my rig. The consensus seemed to be that the melting point of the bag material is far higher than the temperature of the element. I use an ultra low watt density element, which is important. I suppose if you used a high density element it could potentially melt the bag. I've done 6 or 7 brews this way so far and have not had any problems with the bag in direct contact with the element.
Title: Re: Need your help eliminating this off-flavor!
Post by: hossthegreat on July 02, 2011, 02:22:38 AM
Ok, here's an update for everyone following this issue. This past weekend I brewed up a pale ale. Here are the things I did to try and eliminate the grainy flavor:

1. Double Bagged the mash (although after mashing in, I realized that I put my coarser bag on the outside. So if anything got through the fine mesh, the coarser mesh bag would most likely have done nothing. So, I can't say that this accomplished anything.

2. Opened a brand new sack of CMC 2 row.

3. Treated my 9 gallons of water used in the mash with 9g of Calcium Chloride

4. Used acidulated malt for 2% of my grist

Here's the recipe

9.5 lbs 2row
10 oz Cara-Pils
10 oz 60L
3.5 oz Acidulated Malt

37g Cascade (5.4%) 60min
37g Cascade (5.4%) 10min
21g Cascade (5.4%) 5min

1pkg rehydrated Safale US05

I did a normal 60min mash and 60min boil.

I brewed this last Sunday and tonight the krausen had dropped, so I took a sample. I'm happy to report, the sample was very clean and had no trace of graininess whatsoever! So, I'm assuming that the issue was either of the 2 (since I don't think double bagging with the course bag on the outside eliminated any particles getting into the boil)

1. The acidulated malt brought the pH down to the appropriate level (perhaps the blonde I brewed last needed more acidulated malt? Maybe next time, I'll try using 3%?)

2. The issue was with the grain I was using (although I don't think this was the issue since, I've had this flavor come through using different sacks of grain).

Again, thanks for all of the help and input. I'll keep brewing and if the flavor reappears, I'll let you all know.
Title: Re: Need your help eliminating this off-flavor!
Post by: gordonstrong on July 02, 2011, 02:31:35 AM
Did you measure your actual mash pH this time?  If you suspected that was a cause (and you should) then it's good to know what range works for you.  Glad you were able to avoid it this time, but with so many variables changing, it's hard to pin down the root cause of the problem in your previous batch.  On the other hand, if you have a repeatable process that makes good beer, do you really have to know why the other batch failed?  Different people would answer that question in different ways.  Depends on what your goals are. 
Title: Re: Need your help eliminating this off-flavor!
Post by: tubercle on July 02, 2011, 12:43:56 PM
+1 to what Gordon said.

  An old adage in business: You can't manage what you can't measure
Title: Re: Need your help eliminating this off-flavor!
Post by: hossthegreat on July 02, 2011, 01:07:29 PM
Did you measure your actual mash pH this time?  If you suspected that was a cause (and you should) then it's good to know what range works for you.  Glad you were able to avoid it this time, but with so many variables changing, it's hard to pin down the root cause of the problem in your previous batch.  On the other hand, if you have a repeatable process that makes good beer, do you really have to know why the other batch failed?  Different people would answer that question in different ways.  Depends on what your goals are. 

Hi Gordon, no I still don't have any means to take a pH measurement. You're absolutely correct, though. As long as I have a repeatable process that turns out consistent, clean beer I'm not concerned specifically what the pH is. Certainly, I would like to know why exactly the other batches failed so that I can avoid having the same problems in the future. If the flavor returns and I run into the issue again, I might break down and get a pH meter. As for now though, I'm planning on taking that money and putting it towards a pump instead.
Title: Re: Need your help eliminating this off-flavor!
Post by: gordonstrong on July 02, 2011, 01:12:09 PM
Get some pH strips just to see if you're in the right ballpark.  They aren't as precise, but they can tell you if you're way off.  And definitely get a pump.  Put the pH meter on your Christmas/birthday/whatever-holiday-where-someone-might-give-you-something list.