Beer too tart

Discussion in 'General Brewing Discussions' started by Beer_Pirate, Feb 5, 2019.

  1. Beer_Pirate

    Beer_Pirate Active Member

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    I have an English Brown that I brewed with S-04 and the finished product (OG 1.050 to FG 1.010) is incredibly tart. It's almost like a kettle sour. Is there a way to raise the pH without changing the beer too much? I put a dash of baking soda in a tasting glass and poured beer onto it. I used too much baking soda but otherwise the flavor improved. I'm a little wary of dumping a large amount of baking soda into a beer so I'm hoping for a better method.
     
  2. J A

    J A Well-Known Member

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    Unless you added quite a bit of acid during mashing it's probably gotten a lactobacillus infection. A little tartness can express itself in some English yeasts, but actually sour isn't likely unless infected. You'd probably have to add sweetness to counter the tartness not just reduce the PH.
     
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  3. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    Agreed. It may be a dumper - are you getting off flavors with the tartness such as butter, rancid butter or even worse, baby puke? If not, you got awfully lucky and it's a pretty benign lacto infection. Sweeten it with lactose and drink it quickly.
     
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  4. Mark Farrall

    Mark Farrall Well-Known Member

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    Maybe try some chalk and be very careful not to disturb it when you go to package (or transfer to bottling container making sure to leave the chalk behind). That said, I'm expecting that with either baking soda or chalk the amount you'd need to add will affect the taste. To the point where the beer becomes a dumper from tasting like chalk or baking soda.

    For the lactose I don't find it cuts the acid. Makes a very interesting beer (I've done it deliberately with kettle sours). You get the acid, then the lactose and then the two tastes wash back and forth fighting for your attention. In some I've tried it works, in just as many it doesn't, but either way I definitely taste both the acid and the lactose.

    And if you do try the lactose, add some vanilla extract and you can say you've brewed a sour English brown milkshake.
     
  5. Beer_Pirate

    Beer_Pirate Active Member

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    I'm not seeing any pellicle formation or detecting any off flavors other than tartness. I did use a new acid (85% phosphoric) and based my calculations off of the most recent city water report so it's very possible I added too much acid. Is there anything else that I can check for to determine if this is bacterial?
     
  6. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    Oooohhh! 85% Phosphoric is VERY strong and hard to measure! That could be your tartness. I cut mine down to 50% with distilled water before use so I don't have to be as accurate. If you have a microscope, put a drop or two on a slide and look. If you have the proper petri dishes and growth media you could check but the easiest thing to do is wait until or if there are off-flavors. I'm betting the acid, now that I know you were using a very strong acid to adjust pH.

    By the way, have you tested the pH of the finished beer? If you try, degas first....
     
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  7. Beer_Pirate

    Beer_Pirate Active Member

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    I plan to pH a sample later today or tomorrow. I used a calibrated pipette to deliver the acid, but I didn't pH my water beforehand. Live and learn... I may try to grow something on an agar plate just to see what pops up. Thanks for the suggestion.
     
  8. HighVoltageMan!

    HighVoltageMan! Well-Known Member

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    How much phosphoric acid did you use? I use 85% phosphoric acid in every beer with no tartness problems, unless you start to exceed 2 teaspoons or so per 5 gallon. Phosphoric acid is thought to add less flavor profile compare to 88% lactic acid. Both are strong acids, but phosphoric drops pH with a slightly lower dose than lactic acid.

    S04 yeast is a pretty good acid producer, so it's not uncommon to see a pH in the lower 4's, Samuel Smiths Nut Brown Ale had a pH of 4.1 when I measured it years back. New Castle was 3.9. So pH can be an indicator of tartness, but sometimes the palate and the meter don't always line up.
     
  9. Maddog1

    Maddog1 Member

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    If it is too tart, but otherwise ok, no off flavors other than the lacto tartness, you can correct that with the addition in the keg of a number of different syrups. For instance, a hazelnut syrup from your local coffee supplier would be very nice in a brown. Just be sure that you underdose your keg and wait a couple days before adjusting it any further. This assumes you are adding the syrup to the finished, kegged, carbonated, cold crashed product.
     
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