Author Topic: Astringency and esters.  (Read 1736 times)

Offline lupy

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Astringency and esters.
« on: February 20, 2010, 11:56:12 PM »
I got my scores back from the local comp. (my first). One of my entries took second (kolsch 34.5) but my others failed.
My other entries (IPA, IPA, Stout) ranged from 26 -29+ and the concensus seems to have been "astringency" and "esters"

I grind my own using a Corona - very tight (but no stuck sparges when batch sparging).
I  think my pH is OK - relying on colorphast strips.
I believe the astringency is due to feral hops I have been using. I've decided to stop using the feral hops.
Efficiency is typically 65-70% consistantly.

I'm looking for suggestions to help eliminate the astringency and explain the esters. I too think I noticed the astringency but I can't figure out if it is from the hops or from the grains - grainyness was mentioned.

All-in-all I am pleased with the results and the feedback, though I'd like to have known how I fared, comparatively, in the categories in which I didn't place.

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Offline dean

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Re: Astringency and esters.
« Reply #1 on: February 21, 2010, 09:01:30 AM »
I've been noticing astringency lately also, I've blamed and tried everything in my process but hops.  I have hops that are a year old and I've recently bought a few pounds of pellet hops.  I'm going to buy more.  But, with that said I've also noticed astringency in commercial beers lately.  I bought SN BigFoot and it tastes solventy to me.  Maybe my tastebuds are whacked?   :-\

I've even wondered if S05 hasn't mutated...
« Last Edit: February 21, 2010, 09:05:48 AM by dean »

Offline MDixon

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Re: Astringency and esters.
« Reply #2 on: February 21, 2010, 12:45:11 PM »
Easy on simply accepting Astringency. First take a look at the skill level of the judges and secondly taste the beer. Does it cause a FEELING, a SENSATION in the mouth which is drying (not to be confused with a dry finish) and somewhat puckering. It is NOT a flavor, it is a SENSATION. Too many people at the judging table call a flavor astringency when it is not.

Yesterday I proctored a BJCP exam and had a beer which was unpalatable and so dry it was taking the moisture out of the room to put it into my mouth. Despite having that characteristic the beer was only very very slightly astringent. I asked the Administrator afterwards if he had spiked the sample since I couldn't think of a way that beer would not have been strongly astringent and he admitted it was spiked sample.

As far as esters, look at your fermentation temp and cool it down to control the esters or choose another yeast. Keep the fermenter temps for general ales below 68F. Of course this is the temp of the fermenter, not the room in which they were fermented in. Without having tasted your beers my gut tells me you fermented too warm and your beers may not have been astringent. OTOH, perhaps they were, look for issues in the process. I really don't fall into the camp where hops cause astringency, more often I see that as bitterness if I can attribute it to hops. YMMV
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Offline tom

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Re: Astringency and esters.
« Reply #3 on: February 21, 2010, 01:56:02 PM »
All -grain I assume?

If your Kolsch doesn't have any astringency you are mashing very well. Astringency from grain husks comes when grain is milled too fine or mashed at too high of a pH >6 along with mash temperatures above 170F.

If your dark beers have some astringency it might be a harshness from mashing at too low of a pH <5 or so. But it sounds like you are checking everything.

Hops can leave some astringency and perhaps you are right about your wild hops. Make the same recipe with regular hops and see if that makes a difference.

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Offline blatz

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Re: Astringency and esters.
« Reply #4 on: February 21, 2010, 02:12:50 PM »
Well put mdixon - astringency and diacetyl arte the most overdiagnosed flaws - its rather annoying to many competitors.
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Re: Astringency and esters.
« Reply #5 on: February 21, 2010, 02:58:56 PM »
Well put mdixon - astringency and diacetyl arte the most overdiagnosed flaws - its rather annoying to many competitors.

Took the words right out of my fingers, Paul.  And it's not just judges...I hear so many homebrewers complain about astringency, yet I seldom find it in my beers or those of others.  Not to say that it doesn't happen, but it seems like many people interpret other characteristics as astringency.
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Offline bluesman

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Re: Astringency and esters.
« Reply #6 on: February 21, 2010, 04:36:41 PM »
Well put mdixon - astringency and diacetyl arte the most overdiagnosed flaws - its rather annoying to many competitors.

+1

...and very subjective as well.
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Offline lupy

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Re: Astringency and esters.
« Reply #7 on: February 21, 2010, 06:29:27 PM »
This is good. You folks are great!
In general, I mash low - nothing above 155*. I like dry beers.
My fermentation control is suspicious. Relying on the fermometer, my temps do not exceed 68* and are usually in the 60 - 66* range - mostly on the low end.
Based upon your replies, I think the feral hops may actually be the problem (though that's what I want).
Fact is, I'm not sure I could identify astringency, diacetyl, acetaldehyde or esters.........it's a long road.
Thanks for the help.
« Last Edit: February 22, 2010, 06:51:04 AM by lupy »
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Offline MDixon

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Re: Astringency and esters.
« Reply #8 on: February 22, 2010, 05:04:19 AM »
Esters are really fruity aromas and flavors.

Acetaldehyde is similar to fresh cut green apples. (An apple ester would smell and perhaps taste of apples, not freshly cut green ones ;)

Diacetyl is butter or a slickness on the palate. The problem is some people are hypersensitive and other do not detect it at all. I'm middle of the road which is good, if you are at one end or the other, just figure out where and IMO judge as if you were in the middle.

Astringency is as I described above. Think of sucking on a tea bag, ignore the flavor, but what you are after is the sensation in the mouth.

I think your temps are minus 100 for the fermenter. If your fermometer is not exceeding 68F, then are you perhaps pitching above fermentation temp and allowing the temp to drop. Starting at say 90F? Esters are formed early in fermentation and yeast loves a high temp since they really want to make alcohol and CO2, not necessarily a tasty beverage unless controlled.

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Offline lupy

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Re: Astringency and esters.
« Reply #9 on: February 22, 2010, 07:03:00 AM »
Esters are really fruity aromas and flavors.

Acetaldehyde is similar to fresh cut green apples. (An apple ester would smell and perhaps taste of apples, not freshly cut green ones ;)

Diacetyl is butter or a slickness on the palate. The problem is some people are hypersensitive and other do not detect it at all. I'm middle of the road which is good, if you are at one end or the other, just figure out where and IMO judge as if you were in the middle.

Astringency is as I described above. Think of sucking on a tea bag, ignore the flavor, but what you are after is the sensation in the mouth.

I think your temps are minus 100 for the fermenter. If your fermometer is not exceeding 68F, then are you perhaps pitching above fermentation temp and allowing the temp to drop. Starting at say 90F? Esters are formed early in fermentation and yeast loves a high temp since they really want to make alcohol and CO2, not necessarily a tasty beverage unless controlled.

Thanks MDixon. Yes, I incorrectly stated my fermentation temps. :doh: Corrected now.
I usually pitch right around 60* and it creeps up during fermentation but I try to keep it low.
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Offline dean

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Re: Astringency and esters.
« Reply #10 on: February 22, 2010, 08:02:57 AM »
I've been taking advantage of the cold weather lately, I just chilled a batch overnight, in the morning it was about 34 degrees and I had just kegged 5 gallons so I saved the slurry and let it chill naturally to the same temp as the wort and siphoned the wort onto the slurry.  This morning its working nicely at 61 degrees, the krauzen looks picture perfect, white and puffy.

I think I may be hypersensitive to dryness or astringency perhaps as even drinking water leaves the roof of my mouth and tongue with a dry / sticking feeling.

Offline redbeerman

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Re: Astringency and esters.
« Reply #11 on: February 22, 2010, 08:03:32 AM »
I agree with you all.  I know how to produce both astringency and diacetyl with my process and also how to prevent them.  Both faults are mouthfeel, not flavors.  I had problems with astringency when I first tried brewing lighter colored beers (< 8 SRM).  This was due to water chemistry issues, after dealing with it, I am now able to produce very good lighter beers.  Diacetyl in lagers was an easy one to solve as well and I seem to be very sensitive to it.  I will usually taste my hydro samples and during the first week of fermentation the diacetyl is off the charts for me (especially with 34/70 and WLP 820) and yes I ferment between 48 and 50 F.  I do a diacetyl rest at 66 - 75% completion and it goes away completely.
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Offline MDixon

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Re: Astringency and esters.
« Reply #12 on: February 22, 2010, 09:21:58 AM »
Diacetyl is both an aroma and a flavor and can be detected in the mouthfeel at times.
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Offline redbeerman

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Re: Astringency and esters.
« Reply #13 on: February 22, 2010, 10:19:32 AM »
Diacetyl is both an aroma and a flavor and can be detected in the mouthfeel at times.

You are correct.  At low levels it is mouthfeel at higher levels (like in margerine or popcorn) it is flavor and aroma.  I've never had my beers taste like butter, but I have had the slipperiness or slickness.
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Offline MDixon

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Re: Astringency and esters.
« Reply #14 on: February 22, 2010, 10:24:13 AM »
It's not a popularity contest, it's beer!