Author Topic: "Twanginess" aftertaste to my Pale Ale  (Read 3512 times)

Offline brianselvy

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"Twanginess" aftertaste to my Pale Ale
« on: March 21, 2013, 11:57:00 AM »
I'm relatively new to homebrewing (currently on my 4th batch) and have noticed a peculiar aftertaste in some of my beers.  The first time I brewed a 5 gallon batch, I brewed a malt extract/specialty grain recipe from my local homebrew store with the following ingredients:

6 lbs Light Dry Malt Extract
.50 lbs 80L Crystal Malt Extract
.75 lbs Aromatic (Grain)
1 oz Perle Hops (Bittering)
1 oz Willamette Hops (Bittering)
1 oz Fuggle Hops (Flavor)
1 oz Cascade Hops (Flavor)
1 vial of WLP001 California Ale Yeast

I started with 3 gallons of water (Arrowhead Mountain Spring Water) in my pot. The specialty grains were steeped for 30 mins at 155°F (I was turning the stove on/off to keep this temp relatively close...it did briefly get up above 170°F for a brief amount of time, which I've read elsewhere is the temperature at which various other off-flavors can get extracted from the specialty grain).  After the malt was added, I added the Willamette hops.  30 mins later I added the Fuggle, and then 15 mins later I added the Cascade and allowed it to boil for another 15 mins.  I then took the wort and added it to 2.5 gallons of cold water in my fermenter.  I then covered this fermenter (with air lock) and put it in an ice batch (I currently don't have a wort chiller).  My sink isn't very deep, so the ice batch wasn't very effective.  At this same time I took the yeast out of the fridge to let it activate (the vial instructions said to let it sit out for 3-6 hours).  Well, it ended up taking about 10 hours for the wort to cool down to 75°F. 

I pitched the yeast and then about 4-5 days later, I transferred it to a secondary.  The temperature during most of the fermentation process hovered around 72 to 75°F.  After about another 10 days, I took my final gravity reading and then bottled.  After letting the beer bottle condition for about a week, I tried one.  It tasted great!  There wasn't any off-taste at this point.  However, after about another week, the beer started to develop a weird "twangy" aftertaste.  I can't put my finger exactly on how to describe the taste except that it tastes a little harsh and has sort of an earthy component.

From some research I've done online, I've heard that the harshness could be attributed to a high fermentation temperature.  Is the temperature range I described above a possible contributor?  I'm also concerned that the length of the wort cool down after boiling opened up the possibility of bacterial infection.  Would bacteria give beer the taste I've described?  Another thing I'm concerned about is that the yeast was sitting out longer than the directions stated it should have.  Could that have an impact?  I also know from doing a little research now that my water probably should have been a little harder.  Would soft water cause any of these off-flavors?

I'm new to homebrewing so any advice that any of you could give me is really appreciated!

Thanks,

Brian

Offline mabrungard

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Re: "Twanginess" aftertaste to my Pale Ale
« Reply #1 on: March 21, 2013, 12:23:13 PM »
It could be an infection.  If it continues to get worse, then that is probably it. 

Another cause could be the water you used.  Since extract has the mineral content of the maltster's water source, there probably isn't a big need to add more.  Brewing with tap water or spring water could add something that the beer doesn't need.  In most cases, that something is alkalinity.  A good choice for brewing with extract is either RO or distilled water since the mineral content is low and the alkalinity is low.  A higher than desirable wort pH in the kettle or fermenter can lead to rougher flavor in the finished beer.
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Offline factory

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Re: "Twanginess" aftertaste to my Pale Ale
« Reply #2 on: March 21, 2013, 12:46:51 PM »
You didn't mention what you use to sanitize your equipment with.  By any chance did you use bleach?  If you did use bleach, and with the fermentation temps at the higher end, you might be tasting chlorophenols (sp?), or some other phenols.  Does it smell/taste like band-aids?

Offline jeffy

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Re: "Twanginess" aftertaste to my Pale Ale
« Reply #3 on: March 21, 2013, 01:39:43 PM »
Of course, it's hard to tell with just a written description, but your fermentation temps are a bit too high and will cause harsh alcohol flavors.  The hop choice may be contributing to it, too.  I find Willamette to have a metallic taste and Fuggles to be "funky."
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Re: "Twanginess" aftertaste to my Pale Ale
« Reply #4 on: March 21, 2013, 01:46:58 PM »
Of course, it's hard to tell with just a written description, but your fermentation temps are a bit too high and will cause harsh alcohol flavors.  The hop choice may be contributing to it, too.  I find Willamette to have a metallic taste and Fuggles to be "funky."

+ 1.060 Jeff.
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Offline brianselvy

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Re: "Twanginess" aftertaste to my Pale Ale
« Reply #5 on: March 21, 2013, 02:39:32 PM »
You didn't mention what you use to sanitize your equipment with.  By any chance did you use bleach?  If you did use bleach, and with the fermentation temps at the higher end, you might be tasting chlorophenols (sp?), or some other phenols.  Does it smell/taste like band-aids?

I used Star San to sanitize everything.  I guess you could describe the taste as sort of like a band-aid.  In Tucson, AZ, it's hard to get ambient house temperatures much lower than the low 70s without completely cranking up the AC (and then having to suffer the consequences, as my wife will be too cold).  I guess this is saying I should invest in at least a small fridge with a temp controller.

Offline denny

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Re: "Twanginess" aftertaste to my Pale Ale
« Reply #6 on: March 21, 2013, 02:56:35 PM »
You didn't mention what you use to sanitize your equipment with.  By any chance did you use bleach?  If you did use bleach, and with the fermentation temps at the higher end, you might be tasting chlorophenols (sp?), or some other phenols.  Does it smell/taste like band-aids?

I used Star San to sanitize everything.  I guess you could describe the taste as sort of like a band-aid.  In Tucson, AZ, it's hard to get ambient house temperatures much lower than the low 70s without completely cranking up the AC (and then having to suffer the consequences, as my wife will be too cold).  I guess this is saying I should invest in at least a small fridge with a temp controller.

Band aid is a red flag fro chlorophenols, which come from using chlorinated water.  You started with bottled water, but was your top off water from the tap?
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Offline brianselvy

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Re: "Twanginess" aftertaste to my Pale Ale
« Reply #7 on: March 21, 2013, 03:38:19 PM »
You didn't mention what you use to sanitize your equipment with.  By any chance did you use bleach?  If you did use bleach, and with the fermentation temps at the higher end, you might be tasting chlorophenols (sp?), or some other phenols.  Does it smell/taste like band-aids?

I used Star San to sanitize everything.  I guess you could describe the taste as sort of like a band-aid.  In Tucson, AZ, it's hard to get ambient house temperatures much lower than the low 70s without completely cranking up the AC (and then having to suffer the consequences, as my wife will be too cold).  I guess this is saying I should invest in at least a small fridge with a temp controller.

Band aid is a red flag fro chlorophenols, which come from using chlorinated water.  You started with bottled water, but was your top off water from the tap?

I used bottled water for the top off too.  I used tap water for the sanitation water.

Offline stlaleman

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Re: "Twanginess" aftertaste to my Pale Ale
« Reply #8 on: March 21, 2013, 04:45:53 PM »
I'm saying your temp was too high, ambient over 70, your actual fermenting temp during high krausen was mid 70's to 80.

Offline hellbound

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Re: "Twanginess" aftertaste to my Pale Ale
« Reply #9 on: March 21, 2013, 09:24:03 PM »

  I guess this is saying I should invest in at least a small fridge with a temp controller.

Not Necessarily. You can go get a party tub, like the ones they give you for ice with a keg? and keep that handy. 20 lbs of ice and some cool water makes for an effective ice bath for chilling your wort. It's also really effective and cheap to use for a swamp cooler to control fermentation temps. Just fill the tub with cool water to about an inch or so below the wort level in your carboy/fermenting vessel and then you can use frozen (sanitized) water bottles to drop the temp down to where you need it.
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Offline garc_mall

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Re: "Twanginess" aftertaste to my Pale Ale
« Reply #10 on: March 21, 2013, 10:37:11 PM »
Given that it started tasty, and ended band-aid, I am going to guess infection as well. However, it may just be the bottle. I have had a couple bottles go infected (one went to a competition :o) but the rest of the batch is fine. If the next bottle is worse, you may have problems, but I wouldn't go direct to dumper unless you really need the bottle space...
In a Keg: Flanders Red Ale, Rye Altbier, Cascade/Topaz Pale
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Offline brianselvy

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Re: "Twanginess" aftertaste to my Pale Ale
« Reply #11 on: March 22, 2013, 06:50:49 AM »

  I guess this is saying I should invest in at least a small fridge with a temp controller.

Not Necessarily. You can go get a party tub, like the ones they give you for ice with a keg? and keep that handy. 20 lbs of ice and some cool water makes for an effective ice bath for chilling your wort. It's also really effective and cheap to use for a swamp cooler to control fermentation temps. Just fill the tub with cool water to about an inch or so below the wort level in your carboy/fermenting vessel and then you can use frozen (sanitized) water bottles to drop the temp down to where you need it.

Excellent lower cost idea!  I sort of was thinking I'd be out of commission for a little while until I could buy a fridge.  I like your idea, and I'll definitely try this next time.  Thanks to all for the advice.  I really appreciate it.
« Last Edit: March 22, 2013, 07:13:21 AM by brianselvy »

Offline brianselvy

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Re: "Twanginess" aftertaste to my Pale Ale
« Reply #12 on: March 22, 2013, 07:12:50 AM »
Should I be boiling the top off water?  I Just read a recipe on this website that said to do so, but my thoughts were that bottled water should be fine as is as long as its not sitting open for days on end for stuff to get in to it. 

Offline Joe Sr.

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Re: "Twanginess" aftertaste to my Pale Ale
« Reply #13 on: March 22, 2013, 07:44:00 AM »
I don't boil my top off water.  Never had a band-aid beer.
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Offline reverseapachemaster

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Re: "Twanginess" aftertaste to my Pale Ale
« Reply #14 on: March 22, 2013, 08:41:37 AM »
I wouldn't immediately assume infection, based on the information given, unless the bottles are getting worse over time, and not just your dislike for the off flavor but that the off flavor is getting more potent over time.

There are a few possible causes for an off flavor that you're not likely to replicate, such as stale ingredients in an old and poorly treated extract kit, but I would look at what possible causes you can control and should improve even if they are not the direct causes of the off flavor here. Like other people here, I strongly suspect the off flavor is a product of fermentation.

You used liquid yeast but didn't mention whether you made a starter. You could probably get away on this beer without a starter but if the yeast was a little past its prime or struggled to get moving you could have some off flavors from stressed yeast that could have been avoided with a starter.

The temperature is the likely culprit with that yeast. For these cleaner strains you really want to keep it down in the 60s for the first several days until the majority of fermentation is complete. If you have the space, money and willingness to commit to it, a fridge and temp controller is your best bet to control fermentation temperatures. If you're not ready to sock the extra money into brewing or lack the space for the fridge, you can also reasonably regulate temperatures using the tub of water/ice method. You won't be able to dial in a temperature and control it there all day every day but it's a good starting place to keep you out of the weeds.
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