Author Topic: troubleshoot my too-bitter North German Pils  (Read 1942 times)

Offline redzim

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troubleshoot my too-bitter North German Pils
« on: March 27, 2014, 05:37:06 AM »
Hey Guys,

Got a weird one here: just been tasting my latest Pils (based off Hopfenundmalz's recipe). It's been lagering 5 weeks in the keg at 33F.  It has been a great recipe for me until this batch... but this batch has a really really dry bitter finish that is not pleasant at all. It's not a good hoppy bitterness like an IPA, it's bone dry, very long lasting in the mouth, and quite frankly not good. I'm trying to figure out why. The only thing I can think of is that for this batch I left the FWH hops in for a little over an hour before the wort boiled... my previous batch (which was fantastic), I only left them in for 30 minutes. Will this make a huge difference? 

Or perhaps hop freshness? For this new batch I used a brand-new vac pack of hop pellets, for the previous batch I used up a pouch that had been opened maybe 6 months earlier, BUT I vacuum seal it after every use and store it in a commercial freezer at -15F so I am not sure how much the oils are degrading...

The other difference is that in this batch I used 3% acidulated malt to try to get a little lactic tang in the flavor, the mash pH was in the 5.3 range, but on my previous batch I used no acid malt and the pH was still 5.3...

Otherwise here are all the things that were pretty much identical between batches:
(for my "bad batch" I used all 4.0% Mittelfruh; for my previous batch I blended 4.5% Mittelfruh & 6.3% Tettnang... does the fact that I used a lot more hops matter, weight-wise, have anything to do with it, even if IBUs of each addition were identical??)

2.8 IBUs @ FWH
41 IBUs @ 60min
1.7 IBUs @ 10min
0.1 IBUs @ 1min

Hochkurz Double Decoction mash, dough in at 146F, hold 30 min, raise to 158F with decoction, hold 30 min, raise to 168F with decoction, hold 20 min, sparge out.  OG 1.050, FG 1.011.  Water used was pretty close to Yellow Bitter profile in Brun Water (+/- 10ppm or so on each mineral).

Any suggestions would be appreciated. I could even mail a bottle to someone who seriously wants to critique it. Send me a PM.

-red


Offline beersk

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Re: troubleshoot my too-bitter North German Pils
« Reply #1 on: March 27, 2014, 05:54:00 AM »
Hmmm, I don't think 30 extra minutes would make that much of a difference on the first wort hops. One thing I can think of is acidifying you sparge water. This sounds a bit like a tannin issue, not a hop issue. But I could be wrong there. You didn't mention what your water source is.
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Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: troubleshoot my too-bitter North German Pils
« Reply #2 on: March 27, 2014, 05:55:32 AM »
That is interesting. The lactate will influence the taste, it may counter some of the malt sweetness. The FWH for an hour will add more IBUs as the hops stay at sparge temp longer. Jeff Renner uses an hour FWH steep, nothing bad that I have tasted in his beers.

I have had some pretty dry and lingering Pilsners back in the day. If it is too much, brew another batch without any of the changes and blend.

The astringency angle brought up is possible, but I know you normally don't have that issue.
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Offline HoosierBrew

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Re: troubleshoot my too-bitter North German Pils
« Reply #3 on: March 27, 2014, 05:58:43 AM »
The extra 30+ minutes of FWH time would definitely extract a little more bitterness .  I think with a clean, dryish style like German Pils you'd notice the extra bitterness more so than in other styles. And variation in hop crop could account for some of the unpleasant character, I guess.
Jon H.

Offline redzim

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Re: troubleshoot my too-bitter North German Pils
« Reply #4 on: March 27, 2014, 06:36:08 AM »
Hmmm, I don't think 30 extra minutes would make that much of a difference on the first wort hops. One thing I can think of is acidifying you sparge water. This sounds a bit like a tannin issue, not a hop issue. But I could be wrong there. You didn't mention what your water source is.

I did not acidify the sparge water because I built on a 100% distilled water based, and Martin says (in BrunWater and elsewhere) that acidifying sparge water is not necessary when using 100% RO or distilled.

Here's the exact water chemistry for this beer, according the BrunWater, in ppm:
Ca 35
Mg 5
Na 8
SO4 80
Cl 32
Bicarbs zero
RA -28

Offline ynotbrusum

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Re: troubleshoot my too-bitter North German Pils
« Reply #5 on: March 27, 2014, 06:37:35 AM »
I stopped doing FWH with my pils for this reason.  I make 10 gallon batches routinely and the time to boil was resulting in excessive bitterness - excessive to my taste - because others said it was appropriate to a Northern German Pils, but I prefer more of a BoPils flavor.  I did a FWH on a Munich Helles and it was dinged in a comp for being out of balance, which was a correct assessment as I tasted the beer later with the hops being my focus in the tasting...these are subtle differences in many instances.

Your pH would seem to rule out tannin astringency, unless you had an extremely long sparge in terms of volume and OG getting too low...

Jeff is right about blending - a maltier pils would likely balance it out!
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Offline mabrungard

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Re: troubleshoot my too-bitter North German Pils
« Reply #6 on: March 27, 2014, 07:34:16 AM »
Using the Yellow Bitter profile might have been too much. At over 100 ppm sulfate, that is a lot for a lager. The Jever water supply only has about 75 ppm sulfate and low chloride. The Yellow Bitter profile is intended for bigger and more hop focused beer. Comparatively, the Yellow Balanced profile has more similarity to Jever's profile. So the extra sulfate could be emphasizing the bitterness in that beer. I see that you ultimately did moderate the sulfate, so it's probably not way out of line.

But more likely, the bittering level is emphasizing the bitterness in the beer. 45+ IBUs in a 1.050 beer is a lot and could be a source for an imbalance. In addition, I see that you were emulating a Hockkurz mash schedule, but it seems that it was not very kurz (short). I'm afraid that the mash might have been made too fermentable and there may not be enough residual sweetness. Ultimately, there was a over an hour of mashing.

Only 2.8 IBUs of FWH contribution? I assume that was a teeny hop addition.

Yes, the use of RO water negates any need to acidify the sparging water. The very low alkalinity makes it unnecessary. Even if you did acidify, it would only take a few drops to send the pH plummeting. Astringency from the water is unlikely. However, oversparging is still in play. I stop my runoff at 3 Brix now, after infusing several beers with light tannins by stopping at 2 Brix.
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Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: troubleshoot my too-bitter North German Pils
« Reply #7 on: March 27, 2014, 08:00:46 AM »
Even with acidified RO water at 5.5 pH, I check the gravity at the end with a refractometer. At around 4 or 5 Brix, I taste a sample. Once it has that prickly astringent sensation, it is time to stop.

The way I taste it is to lick the hydrometer sample after the reading. Pragmatic.
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Offline denny

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Re: troubleshoot my too-bitter North German Pils
« Reply #8 on: March 27, 2014, 09:18:59 AM »
The extra 30+ minutes of FWH time would definitely extract a little more bitterness .  I think with a clean, dryish style like German Pils you'd notice the extra bitterness more so than in other styles. And variation in hop crop could account for some of the unpleasant character, I guess.

Based on my experience, I think the extra 30 min, would give you so little extra bitterness that you'd be hard pressed to notice.
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Re: troubleshoot my too-bitter North German Pils
« Reply #9 on: March 27, 2014, 09:20:15 AM »
The way I taste it is to lick the hydrometer sample after the reading. Pragmatic.

Life begins at 60.....1.060, that is!

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Offline denny

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Re: troubleshoot my too-bitter North German Pils
« Reply #10 on: March 27, 2014, 09:21:55 AM »
Using the Yellow Bitter profile might have been too much. At over 100 ppm sulfate, that is a lot for a lager. The Jever water supply only has about 75 ppm sulfate and low chloride. The Yellow Bitter profile is intended for bigger and more hop focused beer. Comparatively, the Yellow Balanced profile has more similarity to Jever's profile. So the extra sulfate could be emphasizing the bitterness in that beer. I see that you ultimately did moderate the sulfate, so it's probably not way out of line.

I started using the Jever boiled profile for this years German pilsners and I like them much better than when I used the yellow bitter.
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Offline HoosierBrew

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Re: troubleshoot my too-bitter North German Pils
« Reply #11 on: March 27, 2014, 09:22:46 AM »
The extra 30+ minutes of FWH time would definitely extract a little more bitterness .  I think with a clean, dryish style like German Pils you'd notice the extra bitterness more so than in other styles. And variation in hop crop could account for some of the unpleasant character, I guess.

Based on my experience, I think the extra 30 min, would give you so little extra bitterness that you'd be hard pressed to notice.

Yeah, it wouldn't be a huge jump, for sure, Denny. I thought in a clean beer like a pils it might be noticeable. Maybe not.
Jon H.

Offline blatz

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Re: troubleshoot my too-bitter North German Pils
« Reply #12 on: March 27, 2014, 09:34:12 AM »
Is the FWH IBUs calculated as a 20 minute addition?

Lot of IBUs there.
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Offline denny

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Re: troubleshoot my too-bitter North German Pils
« Reply #13 on: March 27, 2014, 10:52:29 AM »
45+ IBUs in a 1.050 beer is a lot and could be a source for an imbalance.

FWIW, the German pils I made with the Jever profile is 1.052 and 47 IBU.  Doesn't seem overly bitter or harsh to me.  10 IBU from FWH, the rest at 60.
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Offline blatz

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Re: troubleshoot my too-bitter North German Pils
« Reply #14 on: March 27, 2014, 11:04:27 AM »
Prima is around those stats - 44ibu/5.3% and while I love it, I could see it being described by some folks as harsh, too bitter etc. when described relative to say a bitburger, polestar, scrimshaw, etc.
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