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Ok, ok… I’ll brew something NOT hoppy

After yet another failed attempt to discover what is causing all my hoppy beers to finish with no hop flavor and aroma (after a couple years of brewing very hoppy beers) I picked up ingredients to brew a rye saison and a Bavarian hefeweizen. Going with the French saison yeast this time after battling a stalled fermentation the last time I brewed a saison. Swung into A&G Homebrew in Portsmouth, NH after only finding some of what I needed at closer home-brew shop. Gretchen (the “G” in A&G) was helpful as ever and I found a fresh Bavarian hefe yeast pack, and grabbed a few other things I was missing: a gravity sample tube for taking hydrometer readings (the old one cracked); some DME to make yeast starters; pH test strips to check my mash pH. Then I spotted pretty much the only thing my wort comes in contact with that I haven’t already swapped out in trying to solve my hop loss issue… a PET wide-mouth carboy.

Over the past couple years in which I’ve experienced the hop issue, I’ve replaced all my tubing and wracking cane. I’ve tested my well water (resulting in trying phosphoric acid to reduce the high alkalinity in my lighter colored beers. I’ve brewed with spring water. For one IPA, I dry hopped in the primary rather than rack the beer onto the dry hops in my 5 gallon Better Bottle secondary. Curious if it had to do with my keg setup I split one batch, bottling half, kegging the other half. My last effort I resorted to an extract kit to take my mash process completely out of the equation. Every one of the resulting beers tasted the same. As the head brewer at SoMe Brewing told me after tasting a sample, it tastes like 2-row... as if I never added my late boil or dry hops at all. But he saw the recipe and knew I had more than enough hops in there. The good thing was, he said it didn’t taste like any kind of infection or common “off flavor”… the bad thing was we couldn’t figure out WHY it was happening. At the time he thought water could be the culprit, which lead to me getting my water tests by Ward Labs.

I’ve done all kinds of trials by elimination with the same results. That said, my last non-hoppy brew (an oatmeal stout) was very good. So, I picked up the PET carboy and eventually with brew my IPA recipe again fermenting in it rather than the old glass carboy I’ve used for 5 years. Grasping at straws, but dammit, there has to be an explanation!

In the meantime I will try brewing a couple not hoppy forward beers and rely on their yeast profiles to provide the signature flavors. Hopefully those come out as they should.

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