Author Topic: Beer too sweet  (Read 20612 times)

Offline MikeinRH

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Beer too sweet
« on: August 25, 2013, 10:38:06 PM »
I've begun to notice that recent batches I've made are coming out too sweet. I know it isn't from allowing insufficient time for fermentation. Could it be from too many pounds of grain in my attempt to gain increased alcohol %?

Offline Foothiller

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Re: Beer too sweet
« Reply #1 on: August 26, 2013, 12:22:01 AM »
What has your mash temperature been?   Unless you are trying for ABV that is beyond the yeast's tolerance (appears to be about 10% for most ale yeasts, less for lagers), I wouldn't think the amount of grain would affect its fermentability.  But as your mash temperatures go up from about 152 F, the wort becomes less fermentable.

Offline philm63

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Re: Beer too sweet
« Reply #2 on: August 26, 2013, 04:54:08 AM »
What has your mash temperature been?   Unless you are trying for ABV that is beyond the yeast's tolerance (appears to be about 10% for most ale yeasts, less for lagers), I wouldn't think the amount of grain would affect its fermentability.  But as your mash temperatures go up from about 152 F, the wort becomes less fermentable.


+1  -  My last couple of IPAs also had that "slightly thicker (sweeter) than expected" note to them and seeing as I mashed at 153 for both, I assumed it wasn't limited fermentability, rather it seems the ABV (7.6 and 7.7 on those two IPAs) gave the impression of increased sweetness and mouthfeel. I'm getting good attenuation so I don't think fermentation is the problem.

Not 100% sure this is the reason, but I'll be mashing around 148 on my next one to see if it makes a difference.
On Tap: Oatmeal Stout, IPA
Fermenting: Air
On Deck: Kolsch

Offline Maine Homebrewer

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Re: Beer too sweet
« Reply #3 on: August 26, 2013, 05:15:33 PM »
Mash temperature determines residual sweetness. 

My suggestion would be to make a few batches that are identical except for mash temp. For example mash one at 148 and another at 152. You will see a world of difference.

The lower the temperature, the longer it takes.  So if you don't already do an iodine test, and you take my suggestion, now might be the time to start.
"To alcohol! The cause of - and solution to - all of life's problems!" -Homer Simpson

Offline MikeinRH

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Re: Beer too sweet
« Reply #4 on: August 26, 2013, 09:52:50 PM »
Thanks, guys. I've always turned off the propane when the liquor reaches 160F. I think I'll turn it off at 150F next time to see what happens. My new work schedule has forced me to begin making 10-gallon batches. That gets pretty expensive when you mess up. Funny how none of my cheapo friends never complain about my brew, however. Ha! It's probably time to re-read Palmer's book for the umteenth time. Funny how you always pick up something new every time you do.

Offline Scott Ickes

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Re: Beer too sweet
« Reply #5 on: August 27, 2013, 02:08:41 PM »
Thanks, guys. I've always turned off the propane when the liquor reaches 160F. I think I'll turn it off at 150F next time to see what happens. My new work schedule has forced me to begin making 10-gallon batches. That gets pretty expensive when you mess up. Funny how none of my cheapo friends never complain about my brew, however. Ha! It's probably time to re-read Palmer's book for the umteenth time. Funny how you always pick up something new every time you do.

I think that you're missing something here.  I noticed is that you seem to be quite general in the temperatures that your trying to hit.  I treat my temperatures with reverance.  I strive to hit them exactly, dead on! 

As others have already stated, higher mash temps = more unfermentables = sweeter beer.  Lower mash temperatures = less unfermentables = dryer beer.  Sweeter beer requires more hop bitterness to balance out the extra sweetness. 

I heat my liquor up until it is hotter than my target strike temperature by about 8 to 10 degrees.  I know that I'm going to lose about 5-6 degrees from the mash tun, which means I'm usually anywhere from 2 to 5 degrees F. high on my strike water temperature.  I then stir the hot liquor in my mash tun, while monitoring the temperature until I drop to my exact strike temperature.  Then I stir in my grains and I always hit my mash temp right dead on.  I never add my grains until I know my strike temperature is absolutely, without a doubt dead on!! 

I used to do things the opposite way, but adding the water to the grains, but I was always missing my mash temp up or down.  Then I was having to add cold or hot water to adjust it.  This isn't good, as it changes your water to grain ratio and it changes your sparge water calculations.  Thus, I always do as above now, which is get the water in my mash tun at strike temperature first then add my grains.

Kegs:
 Red IPA
 ESB
 Saison Solera
 Dubel (Aged in Malbec Wine Barrel
Aging:
 80 Shilling (In bourbon barrel)
Bottled
 Peppermint Patty Stout
 Wee Heavy

Scott Ickes
https://creativebrewing.wordpress.com

Offline Maine Homebrewer

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Re: Beer too sweet
« Reply #6 on: August 27, 2013, 03:17:53 PM »
Quote
Thus, I always do as above now, which is get the water in my mash tun at strike temperature first then add my grains.

I do the same thing.
"To alcohol! The cause of - and solution to - all of life's problems!" -Homer Simpson

Offline philm63

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Re: Beer too sweet
« Reply #7 on: August 27, 2013, 04:44:18 PM »
@ Scott - Between you and Maine, a light came on (perhaps "finally!") - the use of the term "sweetness" or "residual sweetness" is easy to take out of context. I've only looked at it from the perspective of BU/GU ratios, and considered mash temps to be merely a matter of mouthfeel or head retention.

Let me explain:

I started brewing only last July and since, I have done extract, partial-mash, and now all-grain, and I've learned to control my parameters pretty much spot-on. But what I think I've been missing, and Scott; you alluded to this in your last response; "sweetness" is as much a function of mash temp as it is the amount of bitterness in your brew, and Maine drove it home on another thread yesterday (or this morning - can't remember - it's already been a long day!)

The way I see it now, is that mash temperature will determine the amount of sweetness by determining fermentability, but within that parameter; the BU/GU plays a key role and the two must be considered together when developing a recipe and mash schedule. I think I was about to jump of a cliff-of-bitterness with my upcoming black IPA - BU/GU is almost 1.4 and I was going to mash-in at 148 F. Seems to me, even with, say, 75% attenuation, I'd likely end up with a thin bitter beer - not what I'm after here.

Thanks for turning the light on, guys!
On Tap: Oatmeal Stout, IPA
Fermenting: Air
On Deck: Kolsch

Offline Scott Ickes

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Re: Beer too sweet
« Reply #8 on: August 27, 2013, 05:17:35 PM »
When the light comes on, it's a beautiful thing! 

Kegs:
 Red IPA
 ESB
 Saison Solera
 Dubel (Aged in Malbec Wine Barrel
Aging:
 80 Shilling (In bourbon barrel)
Bottled
 Peppermint Patty Stout
 Wee Heavy

Scott Ickes
https://creativebrewing.wordpress.com

Offline Maine Homebrewer

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Re: Beer too sweet
« Reply #9 on: August 27, 2013, 05:57:42 PM »
Glad to be of service.
"To alcohol! The cause of - and solution to - all of life's problems!" -Homer Simpson

Offline Scott Ickes

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Re: Beer too sweet
« Reply #10 on: August 27, 2013, 07:57:18 PM »
I didn't state something as correctly as I should have.  When you mash at higher temperatures (158F), you still convert the starches to sugar.  It's just that you convert some of the starches to unfermentable sugars, thus the redisual sweetness.
Kegs:
 Red IPA
 ESB
 Saison Solera
 Dubel (Aged in Malbec Wine Barrel
Aging:
 80 Shilling (In bourbon barrel)
Bottled
 Peppermint Patty Stout
 Wee Heavy

Scott Ickes
https://creativebrewing.wordpress.com

Offline MaltLicker

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Re: Beer too sweet
« Reply #11 on: August 28, 2013, 11:07:08 AM »
Not to cut it too finely, but there can also be discernible differences in the type of sweetness that is perceived.   Everything above is true, but a bock/dopplebock is both big OG and mashed higher and the Germans decoct them, but they are not supposed to be overly sweet in the finish.   This goes back to the difference b/t malty and sweet as well. 

The other variable, then, is attenuation.   Regardless of OG and mash temp, if the yeast don't finish attenuating the sugars we'd expect them to eat, leaving only the polysaccharides that don't ferment out, then the beer will taste sweeter than expected. 

My friend shared his latest DIPA last night, and he told me he used a wine yeast that got down to 1.012.  It was big, and yet fully attenuated, so it was malty without that annoyingly high 'sweetness' common to really big DIPAs.   And the neutral wine yeast really let the malt and hops shine well. 

Offline philm63

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Re: Beer too sweet
« Reply #12 on: August 28, 2013, 12:39:14 PM »
Can't remember exactly where or when I heard this, but it's been said that you should target a specific FG based on what your looking for in the finish, then formulate your recipe and mash schedule accordingly.

The Finishing Gravity seems to be an important variable in determining the dryness or sweetness of your brew. Much like in wine-speak; a dry wine will normally leave your palette clean whereas a sweet wine will linger. (I'm being very general here)

Does this mean we can consider FG as a stand-alone entity in determining the finish of our brew? Does this mean if I want my beer to finish clean I should shoot for a low FG by using a high-attenuating yeast strain? And conversely; if I want a sweeter finish I should shoot for a high FG by using a less-attenuating yeast strain?

Example - Independent of mash temperature, a 1.080 IPA that finishes at 1.020 (7.9% ABV) will likely taste slightly sweet, and that same 1.080 IPA finished at 1.010 (9.2% ABV) would be much drier, no? But then there's the impression created by a higher alcohol - isn't that perceived as mouthfeel and/or sweetness?

So much more to learn...
On Tap: Oatmeal Stout, IPA
Fermenting: Air
On Deck: Kolsch

Offline Slurk

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Re: Beer too sweet
« Reply #13 on: August 29, 2013, 08:45:38 AM »
Does this mean we can consider FG as a stand-alone entity in determining the finish of our brew? Does this mean if I want my beer to finish clean I should shoot for a low FG by using a high-attenuating yeast strain? And conversely; if I want a sweeter finish I should shoot for a high FG by using a less-attenuating yeast strain?

Example - Independent of mash temperature, a 1.080 IPA that finishes at 1.020 (7.9% ABV) will likely taste slightly sweet, and that same 1.080 IPA finished at 1.010 (9.2% ABV) would be much drier, no? But then there's the impression created by a higher alcohol - isn't that perceived as mouthfeel and/or sweetness?

So much more to learn...

And not to forget, using different yeast strains (could) influence taste/flavour as well for the same beer.
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Offline jomebrew

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Re: Beer too sweet
« Reply #14 on: August 29, 2013, 08:58:35 AM »
Water chemistry will affect perceptions in the final beer.  The IPA example will have a noticeably different flavor and mouthfeel using soft water.  Among the differences could be an unplanned sweetness.   Water will also affect the clarity.

FG alone is not an indicator of sweetness.  The type of unferemented sugars has a significant impact on the flavor perception.  Low finishing gravity will have a drying affect on the palate but could also be full of residual sweet sugar compounds.

Alcohol can contribute to the sweetness which is why the IPA had a balancing bitter element.  Being out of balance can produce an IPA that has a sweet character simply because there is not enough bitter to balance it.  The type of alcohol is also important.  A good, temperature controlled fermentation limits or eliminates the strong, unpleasant alcohol characteristic.  Just having a lot of alcohol does not mean it is will add sweetness, it can be like diesel too.