So I got a Chinook IPA kit last Xmas from Northern Brewer and made my first ever home brew. I followed instructions except I think I made the mistake of steeping grains in boiling water.

Everything about the beer ended up perfect except this nasty dry/bitter overtone that ruined what other wise seemed like a good beer. Color was amazing including a nice light brown head. I bottled some and kegged some and they were identical.

10 months later I am attempting a Brew Dog Elvis Juice clone (Elvis Juice 2.0). I steeped the Pale grains at 149°F for 20 minutes. Used Caramalt extract. Totally different hops in this recipe. 1060 OG.

So it's been fermenting for one week. I just added dry hops and peels per recipe and took a gravity reading and am at 1014 (FG target is 1010). Temp is 66.2°F.

So far so good, right?

Then I took a taste. DAMNIT. Same dry / bitter taste as the Northern Brewer Chinook batch. You can just about smell it, too.


Is it the water?

I am using filtered tap water out of the fridge water dispenser. Fairly hard water where I am. Also, besides that actual water, I did not boil 6 gallons of water. I only boiled 2.5 gallons per Northern Brew recipe. The rest of the water is added to the wort after it has been cooled.

Or is it something else? Infection?

2 Answers 2


It's most likely water. It may or may not be a mash issue with astringency. I have recently experimented with intentionally using >pH6 water to try and make astringency happen. It wasn't as much of a given as the brewing texts would have you believe.

More likely is that you might have a high sulfate level in your hard water and that's making the hops come across as more harsh than you like. I'd recommend repeating your effort with some spring water or RO/distilled water. That will have much lower sulfates. If that solves the problem great. If not then you need to dig into this pH thing a bit more.

  • I'm racking this weekend or early next week and will report back on taste of finished brew. Planning a test brew (1 gal probably) as suggested with spring water.
    – lilbiscuit
    Dec 8, 2020 at 21:19
  • Spring water can often be (not always, but often) very hard with high sulfate.
    – dmtaylor
    Dec 9, 2020 at 22:22
  • Ok so I tested ph of my water versus store bought Crystal Geyser Natural Alpine Spring Water and they are close.. 7.35 versus 7.0 respectively. They can’t be the main issue, right?
    – lilbiscuit
    Dec 9, 2020 at 23:27
  • pH and the sulfate are relatively unrelated. If it is sulfates then you need to know the sulfate levels in the water. Some water bottlers will post online the mineral content of the water. Start there. And the starting pH of water for brewing is also relatively meaningless because water alone is not a strong buffer. So again it depends on whats dissolved in the water and how it reacts with the malt (or hops possibly in your case).
    – brewchez
    Dec 16, 2020 at 13:57

This is a pH issue. Mashing just pale malt alone with hard water, which is typically also very alkaline, is probably at a high pH of like 6.0 or more, way too high. You need to be aiming for a pH of about 5.5-5.6 (sample measured at room temperature) or 5.3-5.4 (if measured at mash temperature). Get a pH meter (I use a cheap one from Amazon, link below, they work just fine!). Get some lactic acid or phosphoric acid, or if you're a cheapskate like me you can even use literally a "glug" of vinegar in the mash, it all works fine.

Fix the mash pH and this problem won't happen anymore.


  • pH meter comes tomorrow I think. I'll report back.
    – lilbiscuit
    Dec 8, 2020 at 21:16
  • To confirm, mash was with pale malt and Caramalt extract. does that make a difference?
    – lilbiscuit
    Dec 10, 2020 at 13:36

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