Is Homebrew or Extract "Twang" a Thing?

While homebrew or extract "twang" is a term in circulation, any cursory glance over a homebrew message board will reveal that some brewers believe in it, and some do not. Some brewers claim to notice it in varying severities across different brews, but guaranteed cause-and-effect connections aren't made. Simply put, the fact that this twang is not present in every extract batch indicates that it is not characteristic of extract brewing. It seems common knowledge that when working with liquid malt extract (LME), freshness is paramount, as oxidation of the extract will create off-flavors. However, there are distinct brew factors that seasoned brewers will suggest as culprits for off-flavors before they blame the idea of extract twang.

Likely Culprits for Twang in Your Beer:

  1. Stale LME Be sure to locate the best-by date of the extract you're purchasing and store the extract according to the temperatures and times given on the packaging. If not, you run the risk of oxidizing the extract, which could certainly produce an off-flavor.
  2. Inadequate Sanitization Not sanitizing each utensil that touches your wort as you are preparing your beer will leave your beer vulnerable to infection and with it, a twangy off-flavor.
  3. Lack of Temperature Control During Fermentation Pay close attention to the temperature range provided for your beer recipe. Also, remember that you are controlling the temperature of the beer, not just the room or space where the beer is being stored. Consider whether temperatures are fluctuating outside of the range during the day or at night.
  4. Water Some have voiced their concern that water choice caused a twang-y finished beer. As in, the water they used was high in chlorine or very alkaline, and this is noticeable in the beer. For this issue, we always suggest using natural spring water, and avoiding distilled water or tap water that has a noticeable flavor/aroma.
  5. Insufficient Time for Brewing and/or Conditioning Pulling the wort off the yeast too soon or not giving the beer enough time to age into the right flavors/aromas both occur relatively often with new, eager brewers. New folks sometimes figure that time ranges are very flexible and just want to get to the drinking part but end up with a mouthful of cidery beer.

Homebrewing, much like baking cookies at home instead of purchasing them at the store, means that your process must be tried, tested, and won't be perfectly executed every single time. Still, the claim that extract will hold you back from brewing a commercial-quality beer or always cause a twang is simply not true. Too many extract beers have won competitions and wowed beer fans for extract to be cursed with a noticeably peculiar flavor. So check that expiration date, stay determined, and keep brewing.