Author Topic: Similar taste in 3 extract kits, 3 beer styles  (Read 2078 times)

Offline geobrewer

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Similar taste in 3 extract kits, 3 beer styles
« on: December 19, 2010, 10:48:41 AM »
Hi All-

I've got 3 extract batches under my belt so far, and all of them have turned out great. One thing I've noticed though, is a similar background taste in all of them. They are/were three different beer styles. The first was a Red Ale, followed by a Witbier and a Scottish Ale. The overall flavor was good in each batch, appropriate for each style. I've seen some talk about "Extract tang" or something like that, and I'm wondering if that's what I'm experiencing.

Other than being extract kits (from 2 different sources) the other similarities between the batches were:
The use of dried yeast (although the witbier used a different yeast than the other two)
My brewing process (I'd describe the taste has slightly sour, but not strong, and not offensive)
My water (I have hard water, and use a water softener)

So, I plan on using a recipe for the next batch instead of a kit, and I'm just wondering if that might make a difference (using liquid yeast, fresher ingredients maybe, different hops,...?)

Like I said, it's not a strong flavor, and it's not offensive, but it is noticeable (to me) and it's something I'd like to try to change if I try my hand at a lighter beer, like a cream ale. Also wondering if moving to all grain might make a difference, or doing something with my water would be a better answer.

One last thing. The flavor I'm talking about has diminished in my first batch since it's been sitting in the bottle for a couple months now, but I can still tell it's there.


Here are the ingredients I found in the 3 kits, if that helps:

Rebel Brewer - Malty Mississippi Red Ale
6 lbs Extra Light Dry Extract
~1 lbs 8.0 oz. of some kind of steeping grains (not sure exactly what was in the bag)
0.50 oz Chinook [13.00 %] (30 min) Hops
0.50 oz Chinook [13.00 %] (20 min) Hops
0.50 oz Chinook [13.00 %] (10 min) Hops
0.50 oz Chinook [13.00 %] (5 min) Hops
1 Pkgs Dry Windsor Yeast (Lallemand)

Brewer's Best - Witbier
2 lbs Wheat Dry Extract
3 lbs 4.8 oz Wheat Liquid Extract
1 lbs Pale Malt (2 Row)
8.0 oz Oats, Flaked
8.0 oz Wheat, Flaked
1.00 oz Williamette [4.70 %] (60 min) Hops
1.00 oz Sterling [6.00 %] (10 min) Hops
0.50 oz Coriander Seed
0.50 oz Orange Peel, Bitter
1 Pkgs Dry Safbrew WB-06 (Fermentis) Yeast-Wheat

Brewer's Best - Scottish Ale
1 lbs Amber Dry Extract
3 lbs 4.8 oz Amber Liquid Extract
4.0 oz Caramel/Crystal Malt - 60L
4.0 oz Chocolate Malt
4.0 oz Smoked Malt
1.0 oz Roasted Barley
0.50 oz Palisade [6.70 %] (45 min) Hops
0.50 oz Palisade [6.70 %] (5 min) Hops
1 Pkgs Dry Windsor Yeast (Lallemand)

Offline bonjour

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Re: Similar taste in 3 extract kits, 3 beer styles
« Reply #1 on: December 19, 2010, 11:16:58 AM »
Do you have any clubs near you?
To best answer your question we would need to get some experienced pallets on your beer.
You should have some clubs near you.

Nothing wrong with your kits on the surface, and you are correct in that you want to brew with the freshest extract possible.
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 geobrewer

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Re: Similar taste in 3 extract kits, 3 beer styles
« Reply #2 on: December 19, 2010, 12:49:34 PM »
Nearest clubs are about an hour away from home in either direction. I know I'm a little vague with my taste description, but I don't have what you'd call an experienced palette. One of the reasons I'm asking is because the taste I find doesn't really fit with anything I've read about.

The closest I can get is somewhere between sour, wet paper, and a non-hop bitterness. Although if you asked me if it was any of those three, I'd say no. I don't think it's contamination. I think I'm being good about my sanitation routine. Oxidation? I thought maybe so, after the first batch, but next two I eliminated the rack to secondary, and was much more careful otherwise.

The more I think about it, it might just be my water profile. I'll have to pull the books out and refresh my memory on how that affects things.

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Re: Similar taste in 3 extract kits, 3 beer styles
« Reply #3 on: December 19, 2010, 12:55:32 PM »

The closest I can get is somewhere between sour, wet paper, and a non-hop bitterness.

Now, are you SURE they turned out great?  ;)

Sour would most likely be a cause of potential infection (how are your sanitary procedures? What do you use to sanitized?) Wet paper sounds like oxidation to me (cardboard being the descriptor most often used). Are you being extremely careful not to introduce air during racking/bottling? Non hop bitterness sounds like it could be a water issue (or chlorine sanitizer issue) - are you using chlorine free or filtered water?
Keith Y.

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Offline bonjour

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Re: Similar taste in 3 extract kits, 3 beer styles
« Reply #4 on: December 19, 2010, 01:07:23 PM »
Every month I travel over an hour to get to one of the club meetings I go to.  the closet is about 30, The one I've been going to the longest is about 45.

It's worth it!!!!
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 geobrewer

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Re: Similar taste in 3 extract kits, 3 beer styles
« Reply #5 on: December 19, 2010, 01:11:32 PM »

Now, are you SURE they turned out great?  ;)


Well, yes I still would say that.  ::) I only mention those tastes because I don't know how else to describe it. It's really not on "off" taste, just a "different" taste.

I'm not saying that the taste is bad, it's very subtle, and nobody that's had it has even mentioned it to me. In fact it's a taste that I also find a bit of in one of my favorite commercial brews, Long Trail Ale. What I'm confused about is that I can taste it in all 3 of my homebrews, even though I thought I was brewing somewhat different style beers.

Anyway, next batch will be a recipe with ingedients from the LHBS, liquid yeast, using my new 10 gallon SS kettle, and immersion chiller. We'll see if any of that makes a difference in batch #4  :)

Offline geobrewer

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Re: Similar taste in 3 extract kits, 3 beer styles
« Reply #6 on: December 19, 2010, 01:14:40 PM »
Every month I travel over an hour to get to one of the club meetings I go to.  the closet is about 30, The one I've been going to the longest is about 45.

It's worth it!!!!

I have been looking into them. Maybe when things settle down after the holidays.

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Re: Similar taste in 3 extract kits, 3 beer styles
« Reply #7 on: December 19, 2010, 01:20:33 PM »

Now, are you SURE they turned out great?  ;)


Well, yes I still would say that.  ::) I only mention those tastes because I don't know how else to describe it. It's really not on "off" taste, just a "different" taste.

I'm not saying that the taste is bad, it's very subtle, and nobody that's had it has even mentioned it to me. In fact it's a taste that I also find a bit of in one of my favorite commercial brews, Long Trail Ale. What I'm confused about is that I can taste it in all 3 of my homebrews, even though I thought I was brewing somewhat different style beers.

Anyway, next batch will be a recipe with ingedients from the LHBS, liquid yeast, using my new 10 gallon SS kettle, and immersion chiller. We'll see if any of that makes a difference in batch #4  :)

You didn't answer any of my questions. All of them are quite possibly related to the off flavors you mention.

FWIW the chiller will make a big difference. But if you use liquid yeast you may want to check into starters (or pitch multiple vials/packs). Dry yeast generally has enough cells per pitch for up to a 1.065 beer or so. Liquid yeast has about enough for a 1.040 beer - and thats assuming the yeast is extremely fresh. Look at the pitching calculator at www.mrmalty.com to get an idea how much yeast you need to pitch for any given batch.
Keith Y.

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Offline geobrewer

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Re: Similar taste in 3 extract kits, 3 beer styles
« Reply #8 on: December 19, 2010, 01:39:56 PM »

You didn't answer any of my questions. All of them are quite possibly related to the off flavors you mention.

FWIW the chiller will make a big difference. But if you use liquid yeast you may want to check into starters (or pitch multiple vials/packs). Dry yeast generally has enough cells per pitch for up to a 1.065 beer or so. Liquid yeast has about enough for a 1.040 beer - and thats assuming the yeast is extremely fresh. Look at the pitching calculator at www.mrmalty.com to get an idea how much yeast you need to pitch for any given batch.

Well, being new to all this, ALL of these things have crossed my mind.

"Sour would most likely be a cause of potential infection (how are your sanitary procedures? What do you use to sanitized?)"
I clean with PBW, sanitize with StarSan. When I say sour, I really don't know if that's it, as I've never really tasted a sour beer before. I assume if it was really sour, there would be no doubt in my mind what it was.

"Wet paper sounds like oxidation to me (cardboard being the descriptor most often used)"
First batch got sloshed around a bit during racking/bottling. Next two I used an autosiphon, and cut down on that significantly.

"Non hop bitterness sounds like it could be a water issue (or chlorine sanitizer issue) - are you using chlorine free or filtered water?"
I use well water (no chlorine) which goes through a water softener.

I'm thinking it might be a combonation of some oxidation and the water softener. Like I said, hoping next batch results will tell me more.

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Re: Similar taste in 3 extract kits, 3 beer styles
« Reply #9 on: December 19, 2010, 01:49:55 PM »
Water softeners can cause problems with brewing water. For extract distilled water is generally best because the minerals from the brewer of the extract are still bound up in the extract.

Also, if you don't own a good book on brewing I highly recommend picking one up. try John Palmer's book "How to Brew" (www.howtobrew.com)

Good luck with your next batch. Don't get discouraged, brewing is a craft and like all crafts it takes a few batches at least to get the hang of it.
Keith Y.

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Offline bonjour

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Re: Similar taste in 3 extract kits, 3 beer styles
« Reply #10 on: December 19, 2010, 02:36:22 PM »
I'll second Palmer's How to Brew
IMHO it is a must have
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 geobrewer

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Re: Similar taste in 3 extract kits, 3 beer styles
« Reply #11 on: December 19, 2010, 03:00:59 PM »
I've got Palmer's book, and agree it's the most useful one I've read so far. I'll go back and bone up on the water stuff.

I'm not discouraged in the least. First 3 batches came out much better than I had expected. I'm just looking for ways to improve the next 3, that's all.

Thanks for the ideas.  :)

Offline ipaguy

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Re: Similar taste in 3 extract kits, 3 beer styles
« Reply #12 on: December 20, 2010, 09:22:07 AM »
Regardless of whether you're doing AG, mini-mash or extract my feeling is that making good beer is 10% about recipe and 90% about your brewing process.  1) you can't be too careful about SANITATION!  2) do as close to a full boil as possible  3) chill your wort as rapidly as possible 4) pitch at least a 2L starter into well aerated wort at or below fermentation temp 5) ferment at an appropriate, constant temperature.  Going for the lower end of the recommended temperature range for your yeast is better.  6)  Try not to introduce air into the fermented beer.



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Offline tumarkin

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Re: Similar taste in 3 extract kits, 3 beer styles
« Reply #13 on: December 20, 2010, 09:30:09 AM »
Sounds like you're on the right track. Given you're using water softener, your water is a likely culprit. You might try using bottled water for your next batch. Repeat one of the previous recipes and do a side by side comparison to see if water is the source of your off taste.
Mark Tumarkin
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Offline Kit B

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Re: Similar taste in 3 extract kits, 3 beer styles
« Reply #14 on: December 29, 2010, 10:19:19 AM »
Many brewers often find that there is a distinct background flavor that exists in many of their brews that isn't due to anything they can really control.
I used to find that my extract brews had a particular flavor that I could never quite explain, but I was aware of it.
No matter which water I used or what house I lived in, it existed in my beers.
When I switched to a new set of equipment (still using same carboys) & changed to all-grain, the flavor disappeared.
Now, I taste a different "house" flavor...Very subtle, but I taste it.

But...FWIW...Avoid the softened water.
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