It seems everytime I bottle/keg I end up with a bitter taste for almost any brew i make. It seems to mellow out a bit with age, but never seems to completely go away. I have not been using a secondary, going with the idea that less racking allows less bad critters in my brews.
Ok, I take it that this strange bitterness is not the type of hops that you are using (sorry, I *had* to ask bro!) not to sound facetious
Thoughts I am having are:
1. I always try to get as much of the wort out of my boil kettle and haul a lot of the cold break into my primary.
This could also be hot break material, which is very nastily bitter (don't ask how I know, just trust me in that you NEVER want to taste spooge)!
2. I have been having a time hitting my mash temps and over shot on the last few brews. I brought it down quickly. I dont think its tannins, but I'm not sure.
Tannins are but one class of chemicals that could do this, esp if they complex with proteins, but I'm banking on silicates, which are much more temperature labile than tannins, and can really taste yuckily ass(sic)stringent.
3. I switched over from fly to batch sparging in the thought that I might have been over sparging and extracting tannins. The same taste shows up.
This really shouldn't be causing you much trouble, unless you are getting too high a pH for the grist (like pH way above 6 or 7).
4. I just need to let this stuff age more and not worry about it.
Time is the fifth element (my apologies to Bruce Willis) of every brewer, and is very nearly forgotten by most. Like the old saw about time healing all wounds, give it some time, and see what results may come. Also, try fining with some gelatin and polyclar *after* the beer has been cooled to a really low temp like 35'F or so.
I do not think this is an infection, I have had a few and am comfortable I know what one tastes like. This does not taste like any I've had to date, so I have ruled this out.
I tend to agree with you on this one Sean. Most infections tend to taste like ass (thanks for that jewel Jon!) and are usually turbid. Also, most infections will be a lot more carbonated too, so I think that you are dealing with either wort handling problems, or water problems imho. Ttyl, and ilbcnu!