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Author Topic: Metallic taste in pale lagers  (Read 3706 times)

Offline Big Harry Deehl

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Metallic taste in pale lagers
« on: December 27, 2022, 04:48:35 pm »
I have been brewing lagers for the past couple of years in an attempt to dial in my process.  I have been making what I think are pretty good beers but one specific homebrewer always says the lighter colored lagers I have made have a metallic character.  My sister said the same on Christmas day and I kind of get it too.  I have never had this complaint with my ales.  I am using Diamond and 34/70 and have gotten the comments on both yeasts (Attenuation 75-82% on various batches).

Do you get this sensation in your lagers? What tips can you give to minimize the metallic taste in light colored lagers? I have a copper CFC that I whirlpool through (recirculate boiling water through before brew that gets the green oxide out) and some other copper elements in my system that I am considering as the sources of the taste, but again it isn't present in my ales.

FWIW, I am mashing at 5.3 -5.4 ph and acidifying the sprge water to @5.5.  I am using pretty soft Birmingham, AL water as 1/3 of the brewing liquor cut with 2/3 distilled.  I use fresh malt from local breweries.

Advice or experiences?  Should I get rid of all copper in my system / process?
« Last Edit: December 31, 2022, 06:46:48 am by Big Harry Deehl »
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Offline MDL

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Re: Metallic taste in light lagers
« Reply #1 on: December 28, 2022, 03:39:21 am »

Offline jeffy

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Re: Metallic taste in light lagers
« Reply #2 on: December 28, 2022, 07:04:43 am »
You said that you found this flavor with "both yeasts" but also that it was when using 34/70, so I'm a little confused.
I find that 34/70 tends to have a tart flavor.  Try switching to another lager strain, like Diamond, which in my beers accentuates malt flavors.
I doubt that copper is the culprit.
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Online BrewBama

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Metallic taste in light lagers
« Reply #3 on: December 28, 2022, 07:19:14 am »
Cheers from just N of you in Huntsville.

Does the brewer’s lagers that you buy malt from taste like metal?  If so it could be improper lager malt storage

As far as copper: though many have used it for years without concern, I would remove it from the system. As you said it just corrodes too easy as well as can contribute to other problems for my brewery.

To eliminate water as a culprit you could brew a batch with 100% bottled water just to give you peace of mind.
« Last Edit: December 28, 2022, 07:28:09 am by BrewBama »

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Re: Metallic taste in light lagers
« Reply #4 on: December 28, 2022, 07:30:29 am »
What's your brew kettle and fermenter ?

"and some other copper elements"
What are they ?


Cheers

Offline denny

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Re: Metallic taste in light lagers
« Reply #5 on: December 28, 2022, 08:43:29 am »
Cheers from just N of you in Huntsville.

Does the brewer’s lagers that you buy malt from taste like metal?  If so it could be improper lager malt storage

As far as copper: though many have used it for years without concern, I would remove it from the system. As you said it just corrodes too easy as well as can contribute to other problems for my brewery.

To eliminate water as a culprit you could brew a batch with 100% bottled water just to give you peace of mind.

I'm not familiar with the issue of malt storage causing metallic flavors. Could you fill me in on how that works?
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Metallic taste in light lagers
« Reply #6 on: December 28, 2022, 09:11:50 am »
Cheers from just N of you in Huntsville.

Does the brewer’s lagers that you buy malt from taste like metal?  If so it could be improper lager malt storage

As far as copper: though many have used it for years without concern, I would remove it from the system. As you said it just corrodes too easy as well as can contribute to other problems for my brewery.

To eliminate water as a culprit you could brew a batch with 100% bottled water just to give you peace of mind.

I'm not familiar with the issue of malt storage causing metallic flavors. Could you fill me in on how that works?

It’s the only thing I can think of that Is different between Lager and Ale: the base malt. Equipment and water are common.

There are many references. Here is one:

“While metals should be suspect number one, it’s also possible to derive metallic flavors from improperly stored malt. The solution to this one is easy: Buy fresh malt from a reputable supplier, and store it in a cool, dry area.”

https://beerandbrewing.com/off-flavor-of-the-week-metallic/
« Last Edit: December 28, 2022, 09:16:22 am by BrewBama »

Offline denny

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Re: Metallic taste in light lagers
« Reply #7 on: December 28, 2022, 09:15:50 am »
Cheers from just N of you in Huntsville.

Does the brewer’s lagers that you buy malt from taste like metal?  If so it could be improper lager malt storage

As far as copper: though many have used it for years without concern, I would remove it from the system. As you said it just corrodes too easy as well as can contribute to other problems for my brewery.

To eliminate water as a culprit you could brew a batch with 100% bottled water just to give you peace of mind.

I'm not familiar with the issue of malt storage causing metallic flavors. Could you fill me in on how that works?
There are many references. Here is one:

“While metals should be suspect number one, it’s also possible to derive metallic flavors from improperly stored malt. The solution to this one is easy: Buy fresh malt from a reputable supplier, and store it in a cool, dry area.”

https://beerandbrewing.com/off-flavor-of-the-week-metallic/

Thanks for that.  As a counterpoint, I've been working with an 8 year old bag of Best pils malt. No off flavors noted.
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Metallic taste in light lagers
« Reply #8 on: December 28, 2022, 09:34:54 am »
Cheers from just N of you in Huntsville.

Does the brewer’s lagers that you buy malt from taste like metal?  If so it could be improper lager malt storage

As far as copper: though many have used it for years without concern, I would remove it from the system. As you said it just corrodes too easy as well as can contribute to other problems for my brewery.

To eliminate water as a culprit you could brew a batch with 100% bottled water just to give you peace of mind.

I'm not familiar with the issue of malt storage causing metallic flavors. Could you fill me in on how that works?
There are many references. Here is one:

“While metals should be suspect number one, it’s also possible to derive metallic flavors from improperly stored malt. The solution to this one is easy: Buy fresh malt from a reputable supplier, and store it in a cool, dry area.”

https://beerandbrewing.com/off-flavor-of-the-week-metallic/

Thanks for that.  As a counterpoint, I've been working with an 8 year old bag of Best pils malt. No off flavors noted.
Just a thought: Most likely you store your Pils inside in a 55lb sack, plastic bucket or bag. IDK

However, while breweries can store 55 lb bags on pallets, larger ones can store larger qty of grains in (metal) silos outside. If this particular brewery has these silos for their Pils malt it could be the cause. Admittedly, pure speculation on my part.

« Last Edit: December 28, 2022, 09:58:09 am by BrewBama »

Offline tommymorris

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Re: Metallic taste in light lagers
« Reply #9 on: December 28, 2022, 10:00:05 am »
Have you tried Brewtan-B in the boil?

Offline Semper Sitientem

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Re: Metallic taste in light lagers
« Reply #10 on: December 28, 2022, 10:21:36 am »
Boiling water will probably only remove minimal copper oxide. One of the best ways to clean the inside of a copper coil is to circulate white vinegar for a few minutes and then flush with water. It’s basically the same process used to descale a tankless water heater for anyone that has one.
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Offline erockrph

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Re: Metallic taste in light lagers
« Reply #11 on: December 28, 2022, 10:38:39 am »
Have you tried Brewtan-B in the boil?

I was going to recommend the same, although I would expect to see the off-flavor in every brew (not just lagers) if there were metal ions present at a high enough concentration. Still this is easy insurance, and will make a huge improvement if metal ions are the cause. I'd add it to you mash water (in case the water source is contributing), and just prior to putting your chiller into your kettle.
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Offline HighVoltageMan!

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Re: Metallic taste in light lagers
« Reply #12 on: December 28, 2022, 11:37:01 am »
Are you allowing the wort to come in contact with the counter flow chiller that has/had copper oxide on it (the green stuff)? Copper oxide is highly toxic, boiling water isn't going to remove it. Cleaning with an acid will remove it and the copper will be bright, but how will you know if the copper oxide completely gone? The bright copper reacts to acids in the wort and goes into solution. Your copper should have a dull brown patina to avoid it reacting to acid, the green stuff is really bad and should be avoided completely.

I think the source metallic flavor is pretty obvious. Get rid of the copper unless you can keep it a dull brown.
« Last Edit: December 28, 2022, 01:49:09 pm by HighVoltageMan! »

Offline Big Harry Deehl

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Re: Metallic taste in light lagers
« Reply #13 on: December 28, 2022, 09:18:08 pm »
What's your brew kettle and fermenter ?

"and some other copper elements"
What are they ?


I use 3 keggles (HLT, BK, MT) for the brew day and I ferment in a 10 gallon Corny keg.
The BK has a pickup tube and whirlpool "arm" of copper. MT is all stainless but there is copper tubing that carries the water from the HLT to my Phil Listerman brass whirly gig sparger (Circa 2002..... a real antique that you old timers will remember).  CFC and IC are copper.

All malt stored in sealed HDPE containers (Vittles Vaults and other similar).  Most batches are WY Barke Pils malt. I don't taste metal in the malt

I have loved my homemade copper CFC because hop pellets cannot clog it and I have always been worried that SS plate chillers would clog.  Might be wrong? But the green oxide is definitely in my copper CFC and it seems logical that on my more delicate beers it could show up more in the taste.  Any thoughts on plate chillers and clogs and / or stainless immersion chillers as part of my solution?  Who is using these SS chillers and how effective are they vs copper?  Also is it an expectation that pilsners can be a bit tinny?? 
« Last Edit: December 28, 2022, 09:23:05 pm by Big Harry Deehl »
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Offline Big Harry Deehl

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Re: Metallic taste in light lagers
« Reply #14 on: December 28, 2022, 09:27:41 pm »
I think the source metallic flavor is pretty obvious. Get rid of the copper unless you can keep it a dull brown.

I cannot see the inside of the CFC coil, but I run a boiling water loop through it for @15 mins while mashing to both pasteurize and to flush any green out of it (which some does come out).  I also run boiling wort through the CFC coil at 15 mins left in the boil just to be extra safe. After use, I flush with water, drain as best I can,  and store.

Lets say I were to run acid through it, would I then need to re-passivate it?
« Last Edit: December 29, 2022, 12:11:52 am by Big Harry Deehl »
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