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Need Some Serious Help

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WARNING- this will be a long post, but please stick with me, I need some help!

OK, I have been brewing all grain for over a year now and I am trying to fine tune what is going on in my system, mostly because I cannot brew an IPA that even comes close to anything commercial, not even a poor example.  I have discovered that I am not a fan of Centennial ( I know, who can believe it) and maybe Columbus too, I don't like the "dirt or grassy" taste I get from them.  My IPA's all taste similar, bland, no hop pop or generally muted and sometimes dirty.  I am using quality, well stored hops from Hop Union so I have eliminated that as an issue.  I have tried using plain RO water and my tap(hose) water ( which I have sent off to Ward labs) and neither seems to make a huge difference int he finished beer.  The only information I can find online about my water is that is has a hardness (average) of about 400.  I can brew most other styles I try with very good-excellent results, so I am not convinced the water is the answer. 

     I brew in a 10 gall rubbermaid cooler with a false bottom, 10 gall stainless brew pot with the bazooka screen, and have the ability to fly or batch sparge.  I usually batch sparge by draining the tun, then adding 2 different sparge additions at 168F.  I use beersmith and have graduated a carboy, kettle and my water jug.  I am set in BS at brewing 5.5 gall batches with 5 gallons going into the fermentor and usually hit that with no problem.  I also USUALLY hit my OG or come extremely close.  Oh, I also vourlaf at each time needed, but I never seem to get as clear as I would like, can always see some med-larger particles sneaking through.  I use a plate chiller in the warmer months, but switch to an immersion in the winter.  Regardless, I add wirfloc and whirlpool the best I can, a little hard since the temp probe in my kettle sticks on a bit. 

     Here is the last batch I brewed, which I just kegged and tasted yesterday.  Has potential, but even after dry-hopping for 4 days at about 70Fish with 2 oz of Simcoe, I have to really try and dig out the aroma and flavor of Simcoe. 
Test Batch 1 (IPA)
American IPA
Type: All Grain Date: 1/15/2013
Batch Size (fermenter): 5.50 gal Brewer: Copper TrÖff Brewing 
Boil Size: 8.01 gal Asst Brewer: 
Boil Time: 60 min Equipment: My AG Setup
End of Boil Volume 6.76 gal Brewhouse Efficiency: 65.00 %
Final Bottling Volume: 5.25 gal Est Mash Efficiency 77.6 %
Fermentation: My Aging Profile Taste Rating(out of 50): 30.0
Taste Notes: 

Amt Name Type # %/IBU
11 lbs Pale Ale Malt 2-Row (Briess) (3.5 SRM) Grain 1 69.8 %
3 lbs Wheat, Flaked (1.6 SRM) Grain 2 19.0 %
12.0 oz Munich 10L (Briess) (10.0 SRM) Grain 3 4.8 %
8.0 oz Carapils 6-Row (Briess) (1.3 SRM) Grain 4 3.2 %
8.0 oz Corn Sugar (Dextrose) (0.0 SRM) Sugar 5 3.2 %
0.75 oz Columbus (Tomahawk) [15.20 %] - Boil 60.0 min Hop 6 31.3 IBUs
0.50 oz Centennial [12.50 %] - Boil 20.0 min Hop 7 10.4 IBUs
1.00 oz CTZ and Simcoe Blend (2/3 Simcoe) [13.73 %] - Boil 10.0 min Hop 8 13.7 IBUs
1.00 oz CTZ and Simcoe Blend (2/3 Simcoe) [13.73 %] - Boil 5.0 min Hop 9 7.5 IBUs
1.00 oz CTZ and Simcoe Blend (2/3 Simcoe) [13.73 %] - Aroma Steep 0.0 min Hop 10 0.0 IBUs
1.0 pkg California Ale (White Labs #WLP001) [35.49 ml] Yeast 11 -
1.00 oz Columbus (Tomahawk) [15.20 %] - Dry Hop 5.0 Days Hop 12 0.0 IBUs
1.00 oz Simcoe [14.10 %] - Dry Hop 5.0 Days Hop 13 0.0 IBUs
1.00 oz Simcoe [14.10 %] - Dry Hop 5.0 Days Hop 14 0.0 IBUs
0.50 oz Columbus (Tomahawk) [15.20 %] - Dry Hop 5.0 Days Hop 15 0.0 IBUs
0.50 oz Simcoe [13.00 %] - Dry Hop 5.0 Days Hop 16 0.0 IBUs
Beer Profile
Est Original Gravity: 1.070 SG Measured Original Gravity: 1.074 SG
Est Final Gravity: 1.012 SG Measured Final Gravity: 1.010 SG
Estimated Alcohol by Vol: 7.6 % Actual Alcohol by Vol: 8.5 %
Bitterness: 62.9 IBUs Calories: 249.7 kcal/12oz
Est Color: 6.2 SRM

I tried a Hopstand on this one, the last oz of hops sat for 45 mins and then I whirlpooled and chilled, trying to get as much aroma and flavor as possible.  My number were as follows:

1st runnings   1.074
2nd runnings  1.052
3rd runnings  1.028
Preboil  1.049
OG     1.074
My mash eff was 66.7%
total eff was 62.7

I used an appropriate sized starter of WL001 and aerated the wort, had active ferm in 2 hours and held at about 69-70 until initial ferm was over, then rack onto dry hops.  At tasting yesterday; hop character was muted, a bit of that Centennial dirty but not as much as usual, aggressively bitter and nearly no hop aroma, really disappointed. 

I am looking to brew again on Monday, another IPA(till I get it right!) and could use some help.  Thinking of going back to the RO water, so cold here that it takes a while to boil tap water before I brew, and maybe treating it.  thinking of just adding some Gypsum to the RO? 

     I am wondering if I do not have my system dialed in correctly and that is causing me to get to many IBU's in the beer causing the bland, muted and mostly bitter flavor?  Oh Yeah, I have my own mill too and may try a double crush this time too.  Any and all help would be greatly appreciated!  Or else I am back to making Berliner Weisse, Wit's and Dunkelweisse, lol.,.

I'm betting it's your water.  If you want to continue using your tap water, get an analysis for .  Or use distilled/RO water.  Either way, also get Bru'nwater and start adjusting your water.  400 ppm hardness sounds like a bad thing.


--- Quote from: denny on February 09, 2013, 03:34:30 PM ---I'm betting it's your water.  If you want to continue using your tap water, get an analysis for .  Or use distilled/RO water.  Either way, also get Bru'nwater and start adjusting your water.  400 ppm hardness sounds like a bad thing.

--- End quote ---

+1.  Use RO water for your next brew and follow the Pale Ale profile in Bru'n Water.  I bet you will like the results.


Off the top you have double ipa alcohol, and pale ale hop quantities. I don't think, if the numbers are right ,it would be bitter at all. Of course tastes vary greatly. If you don't like cent. or ctz, don't use them. Go with a clean bittering hop, like magnum, and up the late hops and even dry hops and lose 10 gravity points are some things to consider.

You have 8 gallons of 1.049 pre boil and 6.76 gallons of 1.074 postboil- typo somewhere? cause the math doesn't add up.

Also any yeasty  pours/samples will be far more bitter than the chilled clean version.

You say you have used r/o and your tap water with same result and onlly on ipa, results fine on all other styles??

Thanks for the reply guys!  Really frustrating, as the rest of my brews are really nice, some are excellent.  I have sent my water off to be tested, just awaiting the report.  I used to have Bru'n water, just downloaded the new version.  As for the boil volumes and gravity, I added the sugar in the recipe in the last 5 minutes of the boil if that makes a difference, so it would not be in the preboil sample. 

As for Bru'N water, so I just start with a water value of 0 in everything fro using RO in the new version?


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