Author Topic: Why does all my beer taste the same?  (Read 3635 times)

Offline awfenske

  • 1st Kit
  • *
  • Posts: 7
    • View Profile
Why does all my beer taste the same?
« on: February 05, 2013, 08:02:20 AM »
I started brewing recently and have made three batches from extract kits (details below). I had a little experience before this in helping my dad make mead and wine, so I at least had a clue when I started. I sanitized and followed all directions religiously, and I ended up with three beers that should taste pretty different from each other but all taste incredibly similar. There are no off-flavors. The aroma is very nice on all of them, and the color, head, etc. all look right. OG and FG were exactly where the instructions specified. But they all have a very thin flavor profile and/or seem overcarbonated, with only subtle notes of the beer's intended flavor.

#1) Brewer's Best Scottish Ale, OG 1.034, boil volume 2.5gal
#2) Midwest Supplies Hex Nut Brown Ale, OG 1.043, boil volume 5gal
#3) Midwest Supplies Irish Stout, OG 1.047, boil volume 3gal

After the first one came out thin but with everything else seemingly on-target, I figured I needed to steep the specialty grains for longer (30 minutes on batches 2 and 3 compared to 20 on batch 1), which resulted in little to no improvement. All three seemed to have a much fuller flavor just before bottling compared to after bottle conditioning - going into the bottles each batch tasted great, and all three notably different from each other as they should be, but after 2 weeks in the bottle they all taste very similar and seem to have lost their flavor. There might be a tiny improvement in the flavor after extra time in the bottles (a month or two), but it's small enough that I could just be fooling myself.

I'm using secondary fermentation (roughly a week in the primary and a week in the secondary), bottle conditioning with the 3/4 cup of priming sugar that is included in the kits, and the fermentation/carbonation temperature is around 65F.

I'm stumped.

Offline ocddot

  • 1st Kit
  • *
  • Posts: 6
    • View Profile
Re: Why does all my beer taste the same?
« Reply #1 on: February 05, 2013, 08:27:15 AM »
What yeast are you using?

Offline jeremy0209

  • 1st Kit
  • *
  • Posts: 23
    • View Profile
    • Puzzle Piece Brewery
Re: Why does all my beer taste the same?
« Reply #2 on: February 05, 2013, 08:30:09 AM »
Sounds like they're overcarbed.  Overcarbing can make your beer seem thin.  In my experience, the 3/4 cup of priming sugar that they include with those kits is way too much.  I generally go for about 4 oz of priming sugar per 5 gallons.  I use a calculator like this one  (http://www.brewblogger.net/index.php?page=tools&section=sugar) to determine exactly how much sugar to use.  I also prefer to weigh my sugar instead of measuring it.  I feel it's more consistent.  Hope this helps.
« Last Edit: February 05, 2013, 08:33:28 AM by jeremy0209 »

Online mtnrockhopper

  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *
  • Posts: 3114
  • Delaware
    • View Profile
Re: Why does all my beer taste the same?
« Reply #3 on: February 05, 2013, 08:52:32 AM »
So they tasted different in the bottling bucket but are now similar out of the bottle? The only thing I can think of is that overcarbonation is blowing out many of the aromatics that would distinguish them. It's a shot in the dark without tasting them though. Those recipes do have some similarities - at least, they are more similar than if a stout and IPA came out the same. They are all malt forward.
Jimmy K

Delmarva United Homebrewers - President by inverse coup when the old president ousted himself.
AHA Member since 2006
BJCP: B0958

Online AmandaK

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1029
  • Redbird Brewhouse
    • View Profile
Re: Why does all my beer taste the same?
« Reply #4 on: February 05, 2013, 08:58:05 AM »
Sounds overcarbed. 3/4 cup is almost always too much sugar - especially for a Scottish ale or Irish Stout. I usually carb those around 2 volumes, whereas 3/4 cup is verging on 3 volumes (the standard for, say, a hefewiezen).

Here's a quick & easy priming sugar calculator: http://www.northernbrewer.com/priming-sugar-calculator/

Also, using weight instead of volume is much more consistent.
Amanda Kertz
Kansas City Bier Meister
BJCP National

Redbird Brewhouse - Current Project: Full Basement Bar Build

Offline HoosierBrew

  • I spend way too much time on the AHA forum
  • ********
  • Posts: 2836
  • Indianapolis,IN
    • View Profile
Re: Why does all my beer taste the same?
« Reply #5 on: February 05, 2013, 09:03:02 AM »
+1 to overcarbonation.  Also, I'm assuming the kits all came with yeast packets (maybe under the lid).  Three malt forward kits using the same yeast packets would definitely have some similarities.  Some kits unfortunately tend to taste somewhat similar, depending on manufacturer. Learn all you can and jump to all-grain when you're ready. You (and your friends!) will be glad you did.
Jon H.

Offline kylekohlmorgen

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1201
  • St. Louis, MO
    • View Profile
    • The South House Pilot Brewery
Re: Why does all my beer taste the same?
« Reply #6 on: February 05, 2013, 09:08:44 AM »
+1 overcarbonation. If you have a local homebrew shop, ask them to help you out with getting the right amount of corn sugar. You can also look online for charts, but they can be confusing without some explanation.

+1 yeast selection - go with something other than what is in the kit. You can use dry yeast or liquid yeast, but if you use dry go with Safale S-04 (for malty beers) or S-05 (for hoppy, drier beers).

Don't give up - I had the same issue on my first few batches. It takes a little learning, but you can make great beer from kits!
@southhousebrew

Recipes, Brett/Bacteria Experiments:
http://southhousepilotbrewery.blogspot.com/

STLHops Homebrew Club:
http://STLHops.com/

Offline erockrph

  • I spend way too much time on the AHA forum
  • ********
  • Posts: 2722
  • Chepachet, RI
    • View Profile
    • Critical Tastings
Re: Why does all my beer taste the same?
« Reply #7 on: February 05, 2013, 09:28:11 AM »
Same thing happened with my first kit, and it was definitely overcarbonation. Once I switched to using a priming calculator and plain old table sugar - problem solved.
Eric B.

Finally got around to starting a homebrewing blog: The Hop Whisperer

Offline weithman5

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1679
  • naperville, il
    • View Profile
Re: Why does all my beer taste the same?
« Reply #8 on: February 05, 2013, 09:50:07 AM »
there is also considerable overlap in these kits on the grists and of note they all three use willamette hops.  when you combine this with over carbonation, i would expect similar flavor profiles. i try to not brew anything too similar back to back.  one way of judging this is looking at the bjcp guidelines and you can see overlaps. 
Don AHA member

Offline jackhorzempa

  • 1st Kit
  • *
  • Posts: 17
    • View Profile
Re: Why does all my beer taste the same?
« Reply #9 on: February 05, 2013, 11:16:17 AM »
I just read the title of “Why does all my beer taste the same?” and the first thought that popped into my mind was: I bet he is using the same yeast strain. It is not too uncommon to go the a brewpub and several of the beers will taste similar (e.g., a Blonde Ale and a light Amber Ale for example). It is common for a brewpub to have a ‘house’ yeast for their ales and consequently unless there is a substantial difference in the grist of their beers they will taste similar.

Cheers!

Offline euge

  • I must live here
  • **********
  • Posts: 7396
  • Estilo Casero
    • View Profile
Re: Why does all my beer taste the same?
« Reply #10 on: February 05, 2013, 11:29:58 AM »
I just read the title of “Why does all my beer taste the same?” and the first thought that popped into my mind was: I bet he is using the same yeast strain. It is not too uncommon to go the a brewpub and several of the beers will taste similar (e.g., a Blonde Ale and a light Amber Ale for example). It is common for a brewpub to have a ‘house’ yeast for their ales and consequently unless there is a substantial difference in the grist of their beers they will taste similar.

Cheers!

This was my thought as well.
The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool. -Richard P. Feynman

Online mtnrockhopper

  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *
  • Posts: 3114
  • Delaware
    • View Profile
Re: Why does all my beer taste the same?
« Reply #11 on: February 05, 2013, 12:09:07 PM »
I just read the title of “Why does all my beer taste the same?” and the first thought that popped into my mind was: I bet he is using the same yeast strain. It is not too uncommon to go the a brewpub and several of the beers will taste similar (e.g., a Blonde Ale and a light Amber Ale for example). It is common for a brewpub to have a ‘house’ yeast for their ales and consequently unless there is a substantial difference in the grist of their beers they will taste similar.

Cheers!
Also, if all three kits use the same brand amber or dark extract, then they would have very similar grain bills.
Jimmy K

Delmarva United Homebrewers - President by inverse coup when the old president ousted himself.
AHA Member since 2006
BJCP: B0958

Offline mpietropaoli

  • Assistant Brewer
  • ***
  • Posts: 186
    • View Profile
Re: Why does all my beer taste the same?
« Reply #12 on: February 06, 2013, 09:07:53 PM »
I started brewing recently and have made three batches from extract kits (details below). I had a little experience before this in helping my dad make mead and wine, so I at least had a clue when I started. I sanitized and followed all directions religiously, and I ended up with three beers that should taste pretty different from each other but all taste incredibly similar. There are no off-flavors. The aroma is very nice on all of them, and the color, head, etc. all look right. OG and FG were exactly where the instructions specified. But they all have a very thin flavor profile and/or seem overcarbonated, with only subtle notes of the beer's intended flavor.

#1) Brewer's Best Scottish Ale, OG 1.034, boil volume 2.5gal
#2) Midwest Supplies Hex Nut Brown Ale, OG 1.043, boil volume 5gal
#3) Midwest Supplies Irish Stout, OG 1.047, boil volume 3gal

After the first one came out thin but with everything else seemingly on-target, I figured I needed to steep the specialty grains for longer (30 minutes on batches 2 and 3 compared to 20 on batch 1), which resulted in little to no improvement. All three seemed to have a much fuller flavor just before bottling compared to after bottle conditioning - going into the bottles each batch tasted great, and all three notably different from each other as they should be, but after 2 weeks in the bottle they all taste very similar and seem to have lost their flavor. There might be a tiny improvement in the flavor after extra time in the bottles (a month or two), but it's small enough that I could just be fooling myself.

I'm using secondary fermentation (roughly a week in the primary and a week in the secondary), bottle conditioning with the 3/4 cup of priming sugar that is included in the kits, and the fermentation/carbonation temperature is around 65F.

I'm stumped.

what about serving temp?  34* makes all beer taste cold then bitter!  take them out of the fridge 10 min before pouring them and report back.
Primary: Common Cider; Xmas FauxCAP
Kegged: Pliny Clone; Rodney's Weizenbock; RIS
Bottled: Putain Biere de Garde; 51 RIS; Glutang Clan Roggenbier
Cellaring: Biere de Mars; Flanders
Planned: Schwarz

Offline awfenske

  • 1st Kit
  • *
  • Posts: 7
    • View Profile
Re: Why does all my beer taste the same?
« Reply #13 on: February 07, 2013, 05:44:53 PM »
Wow, that is all incredibly helpful information. The comments about similarities in yeast and malt extracts make sense, but I don't think they are at the core of this problem because these three beers each tasted great and different from each other before going into the bottle. Drinking it a little warmer does let a tiny bit more of the flavor out, but it's still nowhere near what it tasted like before bottling. After comparing the priming sugar calculators that were posted on this topic, I know I'm overcarbing. The companies that make these kits measure everything out in such precise quantities and provide such specific directions, it really surprises me that they just throw in 5oz of corn sugar for every kit (and the directions say to use it all, in all three kits) when that is evidently not a good practice. For the Midwest Supplies Irish Stout, for 2.1 volumes in 5 gallons at 65F I should have added only 3.23-3.45oz of corn sugar rather than 5oz. Ouch.


Really wish I'd have learned all this before I overcarbed 150 bottles of beer. I guess I'll just have to go make 150 more the right way.Thanks for all of your input!

Offline euge

  • I must live here
  • **********
  • Posts: 7396
  • Estilo Casero
    • View Profile
Re: Why does all my beer taste the same?
« Reply #14 on: February 08, 2013, 06:47:19 PM »
You could have a low grade infection from wild yeast which will strip the flavor from the beer and amp up the carbonation without the bottles becoming gushers.   
The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool. -Richard P. Feynman