Author Topic: Harshness - How much alkalinity is too much?  (Read 9175 times)

Offline thehorse

  • Cellarman
  • **
  • Posts: 30
    • View Profile
Harshness - How much alkalinity is too much?
« on: August 10, 2010, 02:32:44 PM »
I'm probably jumping the gun a little, but I brewed the following...

4 Weeks Ago - Jamil Saison - About 1.065 OG, 1.002 FG - 26 IBU - 8.3% ABV
--------------------------------------------------------------------------
Calcium   Magnesium   Sodium   Chloride   Sulfate      Alkalinity
(Ca ppm)   (Mg ppm)           (Na ppm)   (Cl ppm)   (SO4 ppm)      (CaCO3 ppm)
80           7                      16           87            84               54


3.5 Weeks Ago - Jamil Dubbel - About 1.070 OG, 1.007 FG - 25 IBU - 8.3% ABV
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Calcium   Magnesium   Sodium   Chloride   Sulfate    Alkalinity
(Ca ppm)   (Mg ppm)           (Na ppm)   (Cl ppm)   (SO4 ppm)    (CaCO3 ppm)
137           7                   119            76            79            357

Both beers exhibit a significant harshness. Now with that being said, the harshness DRAMATICALLY improved once I crash cooled them and transfered to the keg. Each beer was roughly primary fermented for 1 week to 1.5 weeks and then sat on the yeast cake another week once fermentation was 100% complete. Both beers turned out with a little bit higher original gravity than was expected and both attenuated more than expected.

I've read a few things about mineral content / Alkalinity, could this harshness be due to too high of alkalinity in my adjusted water? I would think that this is more likely in the Dubbel given the total Alkalinity of 357. Both beers have the same type of harshness and used 2 different yeasts (3711 & 3787).

Is it more likely that this is Alcohol Harshness, I'm not really sure what that even tastes like?
Is it just Green Beer?
Does C02 even out this harshness, or will it taste better after carbonation?

Anyway, I now know I need to bump up my efficiency calculation to at least 75% in the future. I'm just trying to understand the harshness I'm tasting.

Thanks for the help in advance!!!
« Last Edit: August 10, 2010, 02:49:15 PM by thehorse »

Offline richardt

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1227
    • View Profile
Re: Harshness - How much alkalinity is too much?
« Reply #1 on: August 10, 2010, 04:37:15 PM »
Sounds like the harshness and bitterness is due to the suspended yeast (which adsorbs hop bitterness).
For me, the clue was your description of how the flavor dramatically improved after crash-cooling the beer (drops out the yeast).

The two beers you've mentioned have 25-26 IBU's.  That's assuming you're not also drinking the suspended yeast and the associated (extra) bitterness which accompanies it.

I, too, don't like the flavor of yeast in my beer--especially when I've brewed an APA or IPA (30-45 IBU or 40-70 IBU, respectively).  I find that it upsets the balance too much for the intended style.  And I don't find it to be a pleasant bitterness like one would find in an IPA.  In contrast, tasing the yeast in a hefeweizen (mit hefe) is a different experience, and more enjoyable, as bittering rates are much lower (8-15 IBU) in that style.

Offline hopfenundmalz

  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *
  • Posts: 4535
  • Milford, MI
    • View Profile
Re: Harshness - How much alkalinity is too much?
« Reply #2 on: August 10, 2010, 05:21:46 PM »
Yep, you may have had "yeast bite".  You said harsh, not astringent.

The second batch with the high alkalinity might be a problem.  Water is one thing, but what the mash pH is at is the really important thing.  I have over done water in the past.  The brewing water profiles for cities are one thing.  What the brewers in those cities do with the water is another. Stone has a big RO system to treat the mineraly local water, and then they do a 50/50 blend according to the tour guide.  Gypsum or CaCl2 are added to adjust further - at least that is what I surmised from the stack bags on the pallet by the water tank.

A good pH meter is a great tool for the mash.
« Last Edit: August 10, 2010, 05:23:37 PM by hopfenundmalz »
Jeff Rankert
Ann Arbor Brewers Guild, AHA Member, BJCP Certified
Home-brewing, not just a hobby, it is a lifestyle!

Offline gordonstrong

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1355
    • View Profile
    • BJCP
Re: Harshness - How much alkalinity is too much?
« Reply #3 on: August 10, 2010, 09:22:08 PM »
I agree with Jeff; first thing I thought when I read this was "yeast bite".

Alcohol has a hotness and a bitterness when young.  Could be part of it; harshness and bitterness are related.  2-3 weeks is pretty quick for trying to drink 8.3% beers.  If you want to know what alcohol bitterness tastes like, take a light lager and add some vodka to it.

I question the level of carbonates in your water.  I think I'd use relatively soft water for the dubble and relatively soft water with added gypsum for the saison.  But it's not my recipe, so I don't know what it's supposed to taste like.

Maybe it's me, but I think people mess with their water way too much.  If your beer tastes like alka-seltzer, your spreadsheet is leading you astray.  Seems like a big percentage of the beers I tasted at the NHC had this kind of a flavor to them.

So my guess is that you're getting the combined effects of three or four different things going on at once.

And that's some serious attenuation, by the way...
Gordon Strong • Beavercreek, Ohio • AHA Member since 1997 • Twitter: GordonStrong

Offline dean

  • Brewmaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 922
  • Me and Hayden, my newest grandson.
    • View Profile
Re: Harshness - How much alkalinity is too much?
« Reply #4 on: August 11, 2010, 07:31:44 AM »
I've wondered about yeast bite in my brews from time to time, I have a hard time getting the yeast to drop out quite often.  What is a good temperature to crash the beer at in order to accomplish this?  I've also considered installing a whole house filter canister with either a coarse filter or a 2 micron filter... haven't tried it yet though.

I'm getting better at making mineral additions so I can brew lighter colored beer but still not quite what I want, my brews are coming out too smooth now imo.  If I crank the Co2 up it generally helps add more crispness.  So I'm still dialing water adjustments in... I tend to do two or three batches over a period of a weekend rather than brewing every few weeks or month so it allows me to judge all of them about the same time. 

Offline thehorse

  • Cellarman
  • **
  • Posts: 30
    • View Profile
Re: Harshness - How much alkalinity is too much?
« Reply #5 on: August 11, 2010, 08:54:45 AM »
First of all, thanks for everyone's help.  I really appreciate it!!!

I'm not 100% sure what astringency tastes like, but I've read that it gives a puckering factor.  I don't believe that's what I'm tasting.  I think it's either Alcohol Hotness/Bitterness or Yeast Bite.  Given that the beer looks pretty darn clear, I'm almost leaning towards Alcohol Hotness/Bitterness.  Could you still taste yeast bite even if the beer is pretty clear?

If it is Alcohol Hotness, does anyone have any idea as to how long it typically takes for this to mellow?  I know it will very, I'm just looking for a guideline.

Another question would be how can I prevent this in the future.  Is this something that is caused by too low a terminal gravity?  If so, obviously I could adjust my mash temp or recipe for this in the future.

Offline denny

  • Administrator
  • I must live here
  • *****
  • Posts: 11660
  • Noti OR [1991.4, 287.6deg] AR
    • View Profile
    • Dennybrew
Re: Harshness - How much alkalinity is too much?
« Reply #6 on: August 11, 2010, 08:57:09 AM »
"Heat" from alcohol and yeast bite are 2 very different sensations in my book.  "Heat" will be kinda like nail polish remover/model airplane glue kind of thing.  One of the prime causes is fermenting at too high a temp, and high ABV exacerbates it.
Life begins at 60.....1.060, that is!

www.dennybrew.com

The best, sharpest, funniest, weirdest and most knowledgable minds in home brewing contribute on the AHA forum. - Alewyfe

Offline thehorse

  • Cellarman
  • **
  • Posts: 30
    • View Profile
Re: Harshness - How much alkalinity is too much?
« Reply #7 on: August 11, 2010, 09:07:01 AM »
I've heard of Alcohol Bitterness too, how does that play into things?

Offline denny

  • Administrator
  • I must live here
  • *****
  • Posts: 11660
  • Noti OR [1991.4, 287.6deg] AR
    • View Profile
    • Dennybrew
Re: Harshness - How much alkalinity is too much?
« Reply #8 on: August 11, 2010, 09:09:00 AM »
I'm afraid I'm not aware of alcohol bitterness.  Never heard of it, nor experienced it as far as I can recall.  Do you happen to have a reference I could look at?
Life begins at 60.....1.060, that is!

www.dennybrew.com

The best, sharpest, funniest, weirdest and most knowledgable minds in home brewing contribute on the AHA forum. - Alewyfe

Offline bluesman

  • Global Moderator
  • I must live here
  • *****
  • Posts: 8678
  • Delaware
    • View Profile
Re: Harshness - How much alkalinity is too much?
« Reply #9 on: August 11, 2010, 09:16:42 AM »
I am assuming you made an appropriate starter?  If not that would explain your problem.

If so... I think you need to give your beer some more time in order to eliminate the effect or lack of proper conditioning.

Ron Price

Offline thehorse

  • Cellarman
  • **
  • Posts: 30
    • View Profile
Re: Harshness - How much alkalinity is too much?
« Reply #10 on: August 11, 2010, 09:19:40 AM »
I've only heard Jamil refer Alcohol Bitterness to it on podcasts.  I don't really have much for you.  

I'm going to hold out hope that in a month or so of aging and with carbonation that the beer will turn out alright.  Just trying to figure it out because I feel like I did everything right with the exception of coming in a little high on OG.

Made an appropriate starter
Cooled a few degrees below pitching temp
Controlled fermentation temp (Fermentation was fast and very healthy)

I appreciate all the help!!!

Offline denny

  • Administrator
  • I must live here
  • *****
  • Posts: 11660
  • Noti OR [1991.4, 287.6deg] AR
    • View Profile
    • Dennybrew
Re: Harshness - How much alkalinity is too much?
« Reply #11 on: August 11, 2010, 10:01:36 AM »
Yeah, it sounds like you did everything right.
Life begins at 60.....1.060, that is!

www.dennybrew.com

The best, sharpest, funniest, weirdest and most knowledgable minds in home brewing contribute on the AHA forum. - Alewyfe

Offline bonjour

  • Administrator
  • Senior Brewmaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 1771
  • Troy, MI, 37mi, 60.9deg AR
    • View Profile
Re: Harshness - How much alkalinity is too much?
« Reply #12 on: August 11, 2010, 10:08:15 AM »
If it is Alcohol hotness the typical fix is to ferment at a lower wort temp.

Fred
Fred Bonjour
Co-Chair Mashing in Michigan 2014 AHA Conference in Grand Rapids, Michigan
AHA Governing Committee; AHA Conference, Club Support & Web Subcommittees



Everything under 1.100 is a 'session' beer ;)

Offline gordonstrong

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1355
    • View Profile
    • BJCP
Re: Harshness - How much alkalinity is too much?
« Reply #13 on: August 11, 2010, 01:43:51 PM »
Like I said, pour a splash of vodka in some beer and see what alcohol bitterness tastes like.

Chew on some red grapes, drink a young Cabernet or make strong tea (steep for 10 minutes) to see what astringency is like. Astringency makes soft tissue contract so it feels like it's pulling all parts of you mouth.
Gordon Strong • Beavercreek, Ohio • AHA Member since 1997 • Twitter: GordonStrong

Offline bluesman

  • Global Moderator
  • I must live here
  • *****
  • Posts: 8678
  • Delaware
    • View Profile
Re: Harshness - How much alkalinity is too much?
« Reply #14 on: August 11, 2010, 01:51:43 PM »
If it is Alcohol hotness the typical fix is to ferment at a lower wort temp.

Fred

+1

Reminds me of the first time I made a Witbier and fermented at 78F.   :o

Fusel alcohol heaven.
Ron Price