Strange "dusty" taste in some of my brews

Discussion in 'General Brewing Discussions' started by Clarkey35, May 9, 2017.

  1. Clarkey35

    Clarkey35 New Member

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    Hi everyone,

    I've brewed 4 different "all grain" beers now, with the first and the most recent displaying a bit of an odd taste I'm hoping somebody can identify the source of. I should point out the middle two "successful" brews were to the same recipe as each-other and were heavily hopped IPAs which are in my opinion better than any commercial example I've ever drank! That's why the off-taste in the other brews is bugging me!

    I can only describe the taste as "dusty" and sweet, perhaps what I've seen others describe as like butterscotch, but I'm not sure. It's only there in the initial taste and doesn't linger into the aftertaste. It also strangely becomes far less noticeable after a couple of swigs, but to anyone tasting the beer for the first time, it could be pretty off-putting. My mates and family can't seem to taste it but to me it's really obvious and disappointing.

    The first brew was a strong winter bitter and the most recent a weissbier. For the first one, I know I under hopped it, as I've since determined that hops dry to perhaps a fifth of their original weight. I used wild hops I'd picked myself and the recipes I was copying were obviously using dried hops from a shop. Amateur error! The weissbier is exhibiting similar flavours and perhaps I was over-cautious with hopping that as I've heard they don't need much to balance out the not-so-sweet wheat (compared to barley).

    I do whirlpool and the result of sinking trub was incredibly obvious with the weissbier- loads of crud sank over half an hour. I can't help but think the taste is down to recipe (not enough hops to balance out the sweet & dusty flavour) or not adjusting mash temperature appropriately for the given recipe. I can't imagine it's my processes for boiling, whirlpooling, fermenting, etc. as I'm pretty consistent with these and would have therefore expected the taste to be present in all four brews so far.

    Any good knowledge or random stab-in-the-dark suggestions welcome! Thanks in advance.
     
  2. jmcnamara

    jmcnamara Well-Known Member

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    Were there any similar ingredients in the bad batches? Maybe not with how different the styles were
     
  3. jmcnamara

    jmcnamara Well-Known Member

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    Reading a little more on other forums, you may have picked up some astringency from the mash. Did it feel like sucking on a teabag or putting an aspirin in your mouth when you tasted it?

    With how hopped the 2 good beers were, maybe that helped to mask the flavor there?
     
  4. Anthony G Milner

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    Hi Clarkey
    Did you do any water treatment? I bet your water is the same as mine, central Manchester, and I think Manchester has upped the chlorine of late I use a campden tablet to remove this. but that's all, as to the butterscotch taste - did you cover the kettle during the boil - I believe this can lead to off flavour in the beer.
    Nice to see another local on this forum:)
    Cheers
     
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  5. Clarkey35

    Clarkey35 New Member

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    Thanks for the responses guys.

    Each of the "bad" batches- although still completely drinkable- used the same base malts as the "good" beers (Marris Otter) and I can't put it down to the particular hops used either. Perhaps as you suggest (jmcnamara), the problem is underlying in the IPAs I've brewed as well, but you just can't notice it due to the initial hop hit. Or perhaps it's just an overall lack of hops in the two bad brews.

    One source I see (howtobrew.com/book/section-4/is-my-beer-ruined/common-off-flavors) - which points towards what you're both saying- says "Astringency differs from bitterness by having a puckering quality, like sucking on a tea bag. It is dry, kind of powdery and is often the result of steeping grains too long or when the pH of the mash exceeds the range of 5.2 - 5.6". I wouldn't say it has the tea-like (tannin) taste or the bitter aspirin kind of flavour, but you could definitely describe it as "dry and powdery" i.e. "dusty".

    Perhaps I have steeped the grains too long in the two bad batches. Although I've aimed for a mash time of 60 mins in all cases, the wheat beer was particularly sticky (which I'd not experienced before) and took me a lot of time and interfering to drain it, and I may have taken too long with the first beer I did due to inexperience.

    I don't yet do any water treatment, but since it's an easy step, perhaps it's the next thing to step up to. The trouble with brewing 30 pints each time is it takes forever to go through the process of elimination. Even if I treat the water next time, I still won't know if I've just got lucky if the next beer is fine again! Hey ho, I see no harm in the bad brews being a lot hoppier anyway even if it is just masking an underlying problem :)

    Good shout on the kettle too Anthony but yes, I do leave it open. Do you only treat your water with campden tablets, and is this to change Ph levels at all or just get rid of chlorine? Thanks for the tip.

    p.s. the taste is detectable if I take a sample mid-way through fermentation, so I can be sure it's down to the earlier brewing stages rather than fermentation or conditioning.
     
  6. jmcnamara

    jmcnamara Well-Known Member

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    campden is only to get rid of chloramine or chlorine, can't remember which one.
    i'll be doing my first (small) water adjustments on the next batch, but from what i can tell my base water is pretty average in terms of what i need to brew. id suggest checking a local county or city water report before doing anything much more substantial than campden
     
  7. Anthony G Milner

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    Campden should get rid of both the nasty's, 1 tab per 23lit is enough. Yes I use it all the time and its the only treatment I use.
    Did check the Manchester Ph this morning came out at 5.5 / 5.6 so that is close enough for me anyhow. I've had my first AG wheat beer in bottle for 4 weeks now (An all grain kit from HBS) has a nice banana & citrus flavour, but came out more like a Kristal than a cloudy Hafe beer. Will take some to the Chorlton home brew group meet tonight and let the guys rip it apart :eek: - my joke - they are a nice bunch!
    The local water seems to be fine for SMASH style hoppy ales, that's were I've had my best results. Most of the guys at the brew group don't use any treatment other than campden tabs - and they do brew some very very good beer!
    Cheers
     
  8. Ozarks Mountain Brew

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    Ive had the musty taste before, it can come from several places one being oxygen hitting the krausen ring from opening too long and shaking it after, the taste can be a very slight mildew taste also from the same thing
     
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  9. Trialben

    Trialben Well-Known Member

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    I'd say it's a water source issue I was listening to a local craft Brewer who went over to England to cut his teeth in the brew industry he was talking about water and said to remove all traces of chlorine and that other one chloramine with your Campden tablet or sodium meatabysulphste. The yeasts don't like it and squirt out some yucky farts when this is in your brew water he said DMS can be a result of this chlorine reaction with the yeast he also said its actually in a lot of the U.K. Beers and comes as a sorta acceptable flavour in the beers. Just word of mouth there Clarky but there may be some reasoning in it.
     
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  10. Mark D Pirate

    Mark D Pirate Well-Known Member

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    #10 Mark D Pirate, May 9, 2017
    Last edited: May 9, 2017
    Butterscotch is diacetyl , yeast strains vary in how much they produce and how well they clean it up afterwards
    What yeast are you using and how much are you pitching ?

    Oxidised beer can take a wet cardboard or sherry flavour , avoid oxygen exposure once fermentation has started ,are you bulk priming ?
     
  11. Mark D Pirate

    Mark D Pirate Well-Known Member

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    When I get home tonight I'll have a look at a Manchester water report , from memory you have fairly hard groundwater in that part of the work do you may need a combination of campden tablets for the chlorine issue and dilute tap water with distilled to reduce ion levels
     
  12. Anthony G Milner

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    Manchester water is very soft Mark
    Cheers
     
  13. Clarkey35

    Clarkey35 New Member

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    Thanks mate. Didn't really know there were home brew groups locally. Chorlton is only right down the road too. Is it a pretty open club? I'd be interested in any knowledge/beer swapping!

    United Utilities claim their tap water Ph level has to be "between 6.5 and 9.5" (https://www.unitedutilities.com/globalassets/documents/pdf/phfactsheet_acc16.pdf) and I'm sure last time I searched their local test results, it displayed ph level which I noted down at 7.39. When I've just looked now, it doesn't display Ph. Are you getting 5.5/5.6 straight out of the tap?

    Cheers.
     
  14. Clarkey35

    Clarkey35 New Member

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    Yeah it's hard to diagnose whether it's what other people might call a "butterscotch" taste. It's certainly got an initial sweetness to it. I've generally used Safale yeasts for most brews, some exhibiting this taste and some not.

    I don't yet calculate the amount of yeast I'm pitching. I have a starter procedure of... 12-24 hours before pitching, hydrate dried yeast for 15 mins in 1 cup of sterilised (boiled) water, then add small amount of syrup (1 tea spoon "brewing sugar" dissolved in a small amount of boiled water). Always seems to kick off a good fermentation and I'm pretty consistent with the technique.

    I transfer from fermentor to a second vessel to leave yeast etc. behind, bulk prime, and then bottle.
     
  15. Anthony G Milner

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    Hi
    Chorlton Home Brew meet in 'The Font' every 2nd Tuesday of the month at 8pm, they are a very open group, folks take a bottle or two of beers for all to try at the meeting, do come along if you can.

    Ph
    Straight from the tap 5 min. ago the result is the larger band in the centre
    ph-1.JPG

    Cheers
     
  16. Clarkey35

    Clarkey35 New Member

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    Wow, perhaps worth me testing it myself then rather than trusting UU!

    I'd love to pop down to the Chorlton group. I'll give them a shout on the Facebook page and say you pointed me their way if you don't mind? Nice one.
     
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  17. Anthony G Milner

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  18. jimmyz

    jimmyz Member

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    What kind of ph test strip is that?
     
  19. Anthony G Milner

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    Hi
    Made by 'Brouwland in Belgium
    Link to the site
    https://www.brouwland.com/en/
    Cheers
     

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