Author Topic: beers using light extract tasting the same  (Read 2231 times)

Offline bryceb04

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beers using light extract tasting the same
« on: April 22, 2010, 06:02:05 PM »
Ok, I'll probably get a few "duh"s from the subject, but after brewing about a half dozen extract kits from MoreBeer and Northern Brewer that have shipped with their light or pale extracts, I tend to get the same flavors out of it no matter what style or what types of steeping grains or hops I've used or the quantity.  I'm trying to place exactly if it's a defect in the flavor, but I can't find anything on the BJCP Score Sheet that exactly describes it and I'm at a loss for words as to what exactly the flavor is.  It's kind of sweet-ish, although these beers have both fermented for over a week in the primary and for 4+ weeks in the secondary before kegging.

I just recently brewed a MoreBeer Light Ale, a NB Chocolate Milk Stout (not using the chocolate flavoring--so more of a cream stout I suppose), and then a NB ESB.  For the Light Ale and the ESB I get a very similar flavor, although the Light Ale used 1.5 oz total of Cascade hops (.5 for 60, and 1 for 1 min), and the ESB used 2 oz Willamette for 60, 1oz Kent Goldings for 15 and another 1oz KG's for 1 min.  I understand hops are slightly different in alpha acids and what not, but I would suspect vastly different flavors out of these beers, but what I get are similar sweet-ish aftertastes and only slightly different hop profiles.

Am I doing something wrong?  As for the cream stout, it has none of the problems I'm detecting with the other ales, and is actually quite enjoyable, but when i sip the Cream Ale and ESB, I can't help but wonder what I did wrong.

Any suggestions or ideas?
on deck:  Agave IPA, 115th Dream Hopbursted IPA
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Offline rbclay

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Re: beers using light extract tasting the same
« Reply #1 on: April 22, 2010, 06:24:05 PM »
What type of water are you using? Although you haven't mentioned it, I am thinking that is the only constant ingredient between your beers. The kits you mention have different extracts- light is different than pale. I can't speak to MoreBeer kits, as I've never used them, but I'm sure the NB extracts are reliably fresh. I assume from your recipes that you are using different yeasts. I suspect the water.

I am also an extract brewer. Have been for a long time. Never went AG. I make very good beer- but it took a lot of trial and error. I advise taking the time to repeat at least one of these recipes, changing only one thing at a time. You may not think, as I didn't when I started, that the water makes any difference because you are using extracts. I guarantee you that it makes a huge difference. I thought that if the water tasted OK to drink, it would make OK beer. But your words reminded me of EXACTLY what I said when I started brewing! All my beers tasted the same! Couldn't figure it out. Every time I would just brew a different style fuguring it would change and get better. It didn't. Until I changed the water. Turns out my tap water makes lousy beer.

Good luck...
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Offline bryceb04

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Re: beers using light extract tasting the same
« Reply #2 on: April 22, 2010, 06:41:26 PM »
Hmmm...I guess I'm just using Castle Rock, CO tap water.  I'll try some filtered water or bottled water, do you recommend using a brita or pur filter or just buying jugs of water at the store?  I guess that's part of the trial and error involved, but anything you've learned would be appreciated.  Much prefer to be able to do it filtering tap water, for the cost factor, but I do want a great beer, so if i have to go bottled, i'll go bottled.  Castle Rock water comes from ground sources, not reservoirs like many other places in CO, FWIW.

and yes, the yeasts and malts were different, London ESB vs. California Ale, and Gold (misspoke here) vs. Light for LMEs. 

Appreciate the suggestion, guess I'll order another ESB kit and try it with different water this time...probably go store bought just to completely change sources and try filtered next go round if that clears it up.  Come to think of it, my first batch was back in MD with store bought water and it was a damn good pale ale.  Should'a thought.

Cheers,
Bryce
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primary: None
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Offline beerrat

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Re: beers using light extract tasting the same
« Reply #3 on: April 24, 2010, 09:26:53 AM »
A couple thoughts as I initially had a "house flavor" in my first beers.

1) I used filtered water instead of straight out of the tap.  Something with a charcoal filter to remove chlorine.  I'm not a fan of bottled water because you really don't know what your are getting.  Often, someone else's tap water :-)

2) I switched to starsan to sanitize my equipment.  I think the other no rinse stuff was introducing flavors.

3) Fermentation temp keep < 70f (or per recommendation for yeast/style).  

4) I use DME more then liquid as DME has longer shelf life and less issues with temp impact.

I no longer have the house flavor.

Good luck.

Offline abraxas

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Re: beers using light extract tasting the same
« Reply #4 on: April 26, 2010, 08:05:48 PM »
A few things I have found are:

Liquid extracts always resulted in an off flavor for me regardless of who made them.  They will change sitting on a store shelf and are best purchased fresh and refrigerated if possible.  You will find DME will make a better beer, though it is a bit pricier.   Or you can always go to all grain (Brew In A Bag method is cheap easy and has a lot of proponents right now).

Fermentation Temp...like beerrat stated is important.  Fermentation can easily be 10F over room temp.  Fermentation temp control is one of the single biggest keys to making good beer.

Also water profile.  I've read that extracts should have all the required mineral content and you should be able to use distilled water or spring water.  Give this a try and see if this fixes your problem.  Your water might have a chloride to sulfate ratio that accentuates maltiness, this could be the off-flavor you are describing.

Also, maybe you are being too critical of your own beer.  Send a bottle off to somebody who is more experienced and have them let you know what they think.
« Last Edit: April 28, 2010, 05:57:50 AM by abraxas »

Offline majorvices

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Re: beers using light extract tasting the same
« Reply #5 on: April 28, 2010, 04:21:10 AM »
A couple thoughts as I initially had a "house flavor" in my first beers.

1) I used filtered water instead of straight out of the tap.  Something with a charcoal filter to remove chlorine.  I'm not a fan of bottled water because you really don't know what your are getting.  Often, someone else's tap water :-)

2) I switched to starsan to sanitize my equipment.  I think the other no rinse stuff was introducing flavors.

3) Fermentation temp keep < 70f (or per recommendation for yeast/style).  

4) I use DME more then liquid as DME has longer shelf life and less issues with temp impact.

I no longer have the house flavor.

Good luck.

Definitely take all of the above advice into consideration, especially water and fermentation temps. You simply must remove chlorine and/or chloramine from your water or you will get a "band aid" type off flavor. And warm fermentation temps are usually a stumbling block for new brewers. Never pitch your yeast above 68 degrees and never let your fermentation temp (which can be 4-6 degrees above ambient) get much higher than 68-70 (72 at the highest) for most ale yeasts, and preferably much lower than this. You can use many methods to control fermentation temps. A fridge or freezer with Johnson or Ranco conrtroller is the best way (if you feel like spending the money), but you can also immerse the fermenter in a container of water and rotate out forzen water bottles, or even a wet T-shirt can knock off several degrees. Use one of the stick on "Fermometers" to get an accurate idea of what the actual fermentation temp is.
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Offline zahirff42

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Re: beers using light extract tasting the same
« Reply #6 on: May 07, 2010, 04:22:22 AM »
Brewing Beers with unhopped Liquid Malt Extract (or LME) is an easy way to create beers that are more to your specific taste than may be obtained from using a beer kit. It also allows you to choose which colours, flavours and bitterness levels YOU want in YOUR beer, although caution must be used as you will be dealing with fairly large quantities of BOILING LIQUID, which is obviously going to be quite dangerous if not handled properly.As for the sanitation issue im using potassium metabisulphite. Is that bad? should i change? i really want star san but its expensive to get it shipped where i am. I was thinking of using bleach or oxy clean to sanitize but dont know the method.

Offline hokerer

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Re: beers using light extract tasting the same
« Reply #7 on: May 07, 2010, 06:23:31 AM »
As for the sanitation issue im using potassium metabisulphite. Is that bad? should i change? i really want star san but its expensive to get it shipped where i am. I was thinking of using bleach or oxy clean to sanitize but dont know the method.

In what way are you using the pot met as a sanitizer?  In making wine, since the must isn't boiled, they use pot met.  But with beer brewing, the wort is boiled so pot met is unnecessary for that purpose.  What brewers do use pot met for is removal of chlorine and chloramines.

Your best bet for sanitation is a no-rinse like StarSan.  Probably worth it to bite the bullet and get some.  A little goes a long way and the concentrate keeps for practically forever.

Bleach can serve as a sanitizer but it's most definitely not no-rinse.  If the slightest trace of bleach is left on anything, you can end up with chlorophenols (plasticy band-aid aroma/flavor) in your beer.

Oxiclean is not a sanitizer, it's an excellent cleanser.  Anything you want to sanitize must first be clean, so Oxiclean is perfect for that.  To sanitize, though, after cleaning with Oxiclean, you'd still want to use the StarSan
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Offline silentknyght

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Re: beers using light extract tasting the same
« Reply #8 on: July 20, 2010, 10:41:15 AM »
Wow.  A topic on my primary concern, too.

I've brewed two batches--just bottled the second yesterday--and both of them taste very similar, so far.  However, since one is a wheat and the other is an IPA, they shouldn't taste similar.  I should note that I have only tasted them at the bottling step, so they could condition to be very different beers, but I somehow don't think that magic is going to happen.  I know it's a long post, but I'd greatly appreciate some constructive criticism of my brewing & ingredients, here, because my primary desire is that my beers taste different.  All I can say is that I've made enough screwups both times that I'll keep redoing these recipes until I can say whether it's the ingredients or me.

IPA:
"Soft" tap water (5 gal full boil)
6 lbs. Northwestern's Amber Malt Extract (liquid) & 1 lb. Muntons Light Dry Malt Extract
16 oz. Crystal
15 HBU Chinook (bittering) pellets & 1 oz. Cascade (finishing) pellets
Wyeast London Ale III™ 1318 smackpack

Wheat:
"Soft" tap water (partial boil, ~3 gal)
6 lbs. Northwestern's Wheat Malt Extract (liquid)
8 HBU Willamette (bittering) pellets & 0.5 oz Cascade (finishing) pellets
Dry munich german wheat yeas.  I think it was this brand:



Generalized steps:
1. Boiled the tap water for 5-10 minutes in an attempt to drive off any free chlorine. 
2. (IPA only) Took the water off the boil and steeped the specialty grains for 10-15 min in the hot water. 
3. Water hot, but off the burner, added the all malt extracts and stirred to ensure all were completely dissolved.  Brought the water back up to a boil.
4a. (Screw-up, wheat only) Boiled the LME for a good 30 minutes before adding the hops.
4b. Added bittering hops.  Boiled for 40-45 min.
4c. (Screw-up, wheat only) Boiled covered for a few min here & there, probably no more than 2 min at at time for no more than 10 min, total.  I don't know what I was thinking.
5. Added finishing hops, continuing boil for 5 more min..
6. Cooled by sitting the uncovered pot in a sink of cold water--I don't have a wort cooler yet--and it generally took 3 hours to cool to ~80 deg F.
7. Transferred wort to primary fermenter.  Added cold water to fill to 5 gal, where applicable.  Used a strainer for the IPA.
8. Pitched yeast.  Smackpack had been fully inflated (initiated ~6 hrs previously, sat at ~72 deg F); dry yeast had been prepped with warm (< 80 deg F) water & had sat for ~10 min.
9a (wheat only) Sat with airlock for 8 days.  Temperature probably didn't exceed 74 deg F. 
9b (ipa only) Sat with blow-off tube for 6 days.  Temperature probably didn't exceed 74 deg F.
10 Transferred to secondary fermenter w/airlock; sat for 7-8 days.  Was careful during transfer not to transfer sediments; I would discard the last few inches of fluid in lieu of transferring them if I noticed it had yeast.
11 Added priming solution (corn sugar + boiling water) to bottling bucket.  Transferred from secondary fermenter to bottler.  Bottled.
12. As of July 20, wheat bottles - conditioning for 11 days.  IPA bottles - 3 days.

The wheat is markedly amber in color, though the IPA moreso.

As I mentioned, I tasted a bit of the "leftover" from the bottling (Step 11), and was a bit disappointed that both tasted so similar.  I'm pretty sure my sanitation process is adequate (if clunky).

I use a 30 qt turkey fryer  (brand new, never been used for turkeys) for my boiling.



Thoughts?

Offline thomasbarnes

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Re: beers using light extract tasting the same
« Reply #9 on: July 21, 2010, 04:01:54 AM »
Silentknyght: Your recipes look sound, so I'll comment on procedure:

1) Most municipalities use chloramines in their water, not chlorine. Boiling for 5-10 minutes won't get rid of chloramines. The simplest way to deal with them is to add campden tablets (metabisulfate) - approximately 1/4 to 1/8 tablet per 5 gallons. Alternately, you can use filtered water (counter top carbon filters are fairly inexpensive) or buy reverse osmosis or distilled water.

When making extract beers, if you want to taste the true nature of the malt extract, you need to use distilled water. This is because LME is nothing more than extremely concentrated wort, while DME is dried wort. That means that all the minerals from the mash and sparging water are concentrated in the extract. Adding your own water, with its own minerals, adds an extra dose. For most purposes, this doesn't really matter, but if you live someplace with really hard water it might make a big difference, even if you attempt to precipitate your carbonates.

2) Keep your water temperature below about 168 degrees F when steeping. Higher temps can extract tannins (astringent - like sucking a tea bag) from the grain husks.

4a) No big deal. Slight concentration and darkening of your wort. For a wheat beer, only matters if you're really concerned about competition.

4b) 45 minute boil on bittering hops is a bit short, but it's a hefeweizen so you don't care about maximum hop utilization.

4c) Closed boil for extract really is only a problem if you're worried about boilovers. The idea behind an open boil is to drive off DMS and other sulfur compounds found in some varieties of malt. A full rolling boil helps with hop extraction and hot break formation. Speaking of which, Irish moss added 15 minutes before the end of the boil will help with cold break formation. Also, for the IPA, for full hop utilization, you might want to increase your boil time after you've added your bittering hops. 60-90 minutes is more typical, 120+ minutes is not unheard of.

6) Spend the $30-40 for a coil of soft copper tube, a couple of compression fittings and some food-grade plastic hose and make yourself a simple immersion chiller. If you can bend copper tube around a corny keg or something like it, you can make an immersion chiller in about 30 minutes. Unless you sanitized the hell out of your sink, it's probably the dirtiest place in the house. (I'm not picking on you in particular, it's one of those ugly food safety facts.) An immersion chiller will minimize risk of infection, give you a better cold break, get your wort down to proper pitching temperatures and shorten your brew day.

7) Your water was sterile, right? If it was standing around overnight, that's another source of potential infection. If you stored it in the refrigerator, unless your refrigerator was sanitized, then the water container, and the water if the container was open - is covered in microcritters. (Another sad food safety tip.) Racking (using a siphon starter, not your mouth) is a slightly better way to get your beer off the cold break and hop sludge. Just rig up something so the hop sludge doesn't clog your siphon. A copper wool scrubbing pad wrapped around the end of your siphon works adequately.

8 ) Dry yeast might need a starter, depending on age and cell count. Making a yeast starter is another one of those simple things you can do to improve your beer.

9 A&B) 74 degrees is way high for the yeasts you were using. Your yeasts were probably producing all sorts of off flavors. In particular, your hefeweizen yeast is probably throwing massive amounts of banana esters, clove phenols and higher alcohols. Get your temperature down to 66-68 degrees or brew styles which can stand the higher fermentation temps. (i.e., some Belgian styles). Also, remember that yeast makes its own heat as it metabolizes sugars. That means that your raw beer was probably a bit higher in temperature.

You didn't mention a terminal/final gravity reading (F.G.) for your beer at bottling. Wild temperature swings might shock the yeast into dormancy, possibly resulting in "stuck" or incomplete fermentation. Not so likely this time of year, unless you're someplace where it gets hot during the day and very cold at night.

10-12) No problems. Hefeweizens traditionally have a lot of carbonation behind them, so you might have increased the priming sugar slightly for that batch.

A turkey fryer is bog-standard equipment. Its only disadvantage is that there is a lot of heat under your brew kettle. You can get scorching or caramelization of the wort and boilovers can be fast and nasty. If you have a problem with scorching, you can rig up some sort of flame tamer to go under your pot. Boilovers can be handled by an open boil or by having a squirt bottle full of dechlorinated water you can spray to knock down the foam on top of your kettle. Caramelization really isn't a problem for the styles your brewing, especially since you're using extract.

To differentiate the two styles, try a longer boil time for the IPA and bigger flavor and aroma hop additions, plus dry hopping. For the hefe, possibly a "mini-mash" (like steeping, but hold the grains at ~155 degrees F for about 45-60 minutes) using some wheat malt and maybe a bit of caramel malt.

Without knowing what flavors you're detecting, I'm guessing.

Water derived: Chlorophenols (medicinal, band-aid, mouthwash), excessive mineral harshness ("powdery" or chalky), harsh hop character.

Infection: Just about anything: sour, sulfury, smoky, buttery, vegetal, etc.

Yeast problems: "green apple" (acetaldehyde), buttery (diacetyl), phenolic (peppery, spicy, smoky, medicinal), solventy (higher alcohols), estery (fruity, floral). Excess sweetness.

Ingredient derived: "cidery" notes due to poor-quality or old malt extract, grassy, metallic.

Process derived: medicinal notes from residual sanitizer, metallic notes from copper or iron in contact with raw beer.

Take a look at the flavor faults on the scoresheet here: http://www.bjcp.org/docs/SCP_BeerScoreSheet.pdf
 
If you can describe the flavors you're tasting in more detail, it would be easier to figure out what's going on.

Offline tubercle

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Re: beers using light extract tasting the same
« Reply #10 on: July 21, 2010, 05:40:36 AM »
A lot of you advice is sound.


8 ) Dry yeast might need a starter, depending on age and cell count. Making a yeast starter is another one of those simple things you can do to improve your beer.


 While it can be done...don't. To hydrate or not; that is the question.

 If the dry yeast is too old or questionable get some more; it's cheap.

Liquid yeast on the other hand - always make a starter.


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Re: beers using light extract tasting the same
« Reply #11 on: July 21, 2010, 08:43:02 AM »
2) Keep your water temperature below about 168 degrees F when steeping. Higher temps can extract tannins (astringent - like sucking a tea bag) from the grain husks.

More important than temp is pH.  Many people steep the grains in as much water as they can, resulting in a high pH.  The grains have a natural tendency to pull the pH down, but if you steep in too much water the grain doesn't have enough buffering power to do that.  For best results, use about the same amount of water as you would if you were mashing.  1.5-2 qt. of water per lb. of grain works great.
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Offline dmtaylor

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Re: beers using light extract tasting the same
« Reply #12 on: July 21, 2010, 09:12:21 AM »
I think you guys might be picking up the ever infamous "extract twang".  Even if you brew everything perfectly, it's very hard to get rid of completely.  There are a number of factors that I believe contribute to the twang.  First is the freshness of the extract.  Regardless of whether it's your own fault or the suppliers, if the extract is not very very fresh, it can oxidize, which gives off an unpleasant sort of caramelly aroma and flavor.  This also can darken the extract.  If your beer turns out a lot darker than anticipated, this is an obvious indicator of old extract.  Also, if you do not pitch sufficient yeast, or you ferment too warm, there can be a lot of esters similar to banana and apple, which are also not quite right and can contribute as part of this "extract twang".  For whatever reason, extract beers are much more prone to these off-flavors and aromas as compared to partial mash or all-grain brewing.

At least, that has been my experience.  I've brewed with all grain for the past 5 or 6 years, and have only looked back once.  About 18 months ago, I brewed an extract beer just for giggles.  It actually turned out pretty good, but yes it did exhibit a bit of the extract twang.  It seems there is just no getting away from it.  Or at least, it is difficult to master, and I haven't bothered to try.
Dave

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Offline kgs

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Re: beers using light extract tasting the same
« Reply #13 on: July 23, 2010, 08:57:25 AM »
"As for the cream stout, it has none of the problems I'm detecting with the other ales, and is actually quite enjoyable, but when i sip the Cream Ale and ESB, I can't help but wonder what I did wrong."

I'm fairly new to homebrewing too (18 mo), but when I had a far more experienced neighbor taste a beer of mine that had similar problems, he immediately said that for the intended style, underhopping was an issue. Until the batch after that I really hadn't been paying close attention to the alpha acids of my hops... I went strictly by weight and the hop schedule. After that batch, for some reason I no longer remember I began paying stricter attention to my alpha acids and adjusting the hops additions accordingly. I have since adjusted my water as well, but two pre-water-adjustment batches where I paid attention to my hops were far better than anything close to that style that I've brewed--more flavorful and aromatic. I also make sure hops go from the store to the freezer if I'm not using them right away, and the fridge if I'll use them in a day or two--they only go to room temp when I'm ready to brew.

No aspersions to the sources of your kits, which have a good reputation, but storage conditions and age can degrade hops, and an ESB especially would be flawed by hops that aren't hoppy enough. Just one more thought.
K.G. Schneider
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