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Old 09-12-2005, 06:59 PM   #1
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Default Fixing a brew that's too bitter ???

I think the IPA I brewed this weekend is going to be too bitter to enjoy.

The first taste of the cooled wort gave a wonderful initial bite and I thought, "Yum! That was nice. this should be a really - oh, yuk... CHRIST, that's really #&@%ing acrid! BLECH!"

The very end of the flavor experience was pleasant, though. It's just got a NASTY acrid bitter flavor between the bite and the aroma, and that was the thing that stuck in my mind.

I SHOULD NOTE; my wort was cooled with ice RAPIDLY, but I tasted before the cold break and a LOT of 'dust' from the hop pellets had settled out. I am hoping the hop dust caused the lock-jaw flavor experience, but that might just be wishful thinking.

I'm going to take samples of it as the process goes on, but am trying to think ahead for ways to fix it if it's as horrid as I am anticipating.

Could I just add some more boiled extract w/ water, or would I be better off with some unfermentable sugars going in (steeped crystal malt)?

Any comments appreciated.

FYI: I used the spreadsheet on the Beer Recipator and came up with an IBU score of 63. While this is just over the high side for an IPA (40 to 60), that is actually what I was TRYING to get. However, if I switch IBU calculation methods on that spreadsheet and use the Rager method, I get an IBU of more than 75, which is a bit more than I want. (and I don't understand the difference between the two methods, so...)

The recipe in question here is:
http://hbd.org/cgi-bin/recipator/rec...up=2&item=5056

Also, I had intended on dry-hopping this in the secondary, but I'm paranoid about adding any more hops to this sucker (I know dry hopping doesn't add bitterness, but I don't want to make something go from bad to worse.)

-walker

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Old 09-12-2005, 07:54 PM   #2
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Owie! And I worry about making beers with 10 IBUs?

This is a prime example of why I always recommend that you mix a sweeter beer with this one to balance them both.

In this case - Two 2 bads can make a right!

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Old 09-12-2005, 08:08 PM   #3
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If it comes to that, I will mix them. I've got a sweet-n-simple brown ale in bottles now that would probably mix well with this IPA, but I would like to try and salvage the IPA if possible.

The only things I can think of off hand are adding some brown sugar or more extract a few days before I rack to the secondary.

-walker

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Old 09-12-2005, 08:56 PM   #4
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If you do that then make sure it's been boiled and cooled before adding. Also add a little at a time and take samples until you find something you can live with.

Be sure you STOP when it is starting to taste OK. NOT GOOD, but OK. If you keep adding the sweet stuff your brew may end up too sweet.

Chances are you'll need to do a bit of mixing to make certain it's all mixed well. Check again in 5-10 minutes. If it's GOOD, then STOP.

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Old 09-12-2005, 09:00 PM   #5
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thanks, HB99.

Any idea if the bitter nastiness might have come from the hop pellet residue that was still suspended in the wort when I took my first sip?

-walkre

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Old 09-12-2005, 09:09 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by homebrewer_99
If you do that then make sure it's been boiled and cooled before adding. Also add a little at a time and take samples until you find something you can live with.

Be sure you STOP when it is starting to taste OK. NOT GOOD, but OK. If you keep adding the sweet stuff your brew may end up too sweet.

Chances are you'll need to do a bit of mixing to make certain it's all mixed well. Check again in 5-10 minutes. If it's GOOD, then STOP.

Please explain how this would work. ????

If you've still got live yeast in there, the yeast will just resume fermentation using up the sugar and converting until you've reached the alcohol content that will kill off the yeast and then you've got to either force carbonate or repitch another yeast with a higher gravity to resume fermentation and then you've got to let that finish off the fermentable sugars before you can prime and bottle.

Seems to me that it's a catch 22 to add addtional sugar unless the're of the unfermentable type.
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Old 09-12-2005, 09:24 PM   #7
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malt sugar is only 60% fermentable. the other 40% would remain to add sweetness.

-walker

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Old 09-12-2005, 09:36 PM   #8
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Lactose is 0% fermentable.

Personally, I'd let it age out some.

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Old 09-12-2005, 09:43 PM   #9
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Yeah, I'll let it age a bit, but I should also mention that I lost some of my wort during the brew (a result of drinking too many beers while brewing too many beers.) Basically, I had the sipgot on my bucket open when I started to dump the wort in for chilling. I probably lost about 1 to 2 pints of wort.

Based on the bitter flavor of what was left, I went ahead and topped off with more water to replace what was lost in my 'accident'.

Anyway, that means that I lost SOME of the bitterness that the recipator calculated, but I also lost some gravity and flavor.

This is why I am leaning toward adding some more DME; I'll get the sweetness I think I'll need, PLUS some mouthfeel and malty goodness to replace what I lost. Maybe I'll use the DME for priming instead of corn sugar.

But, yes, I'll let this puppy age for at least 4 weeks in the secondary before making any final decision. I'm just obsessed right now and planning ahead.

-walker

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Old 09-12-2005, 09:57 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ScottT
Please explain how this would work. ????

If you've still got live yeast in there, the yeast will just resume fermentation using up the sugar and converting until you've reached the alcohol content that will kill off the yeast and then you've got to either force carbonate or repitch another yeast with a higher gravity to resume fermentation and then you've got to let that finish off the fermentable sugars before you can prime and bottle.

Seems to me that it's a catch 22 to add addtional sugar unless the're of the unfermentable type.
Not a Catch 22, but something closer to right. A Catch 22 has no real right answer.

But at this point I am also assuming that the beer is in the secondary and has not been bottled yet. The addition of more fermentables would begin a late re-fermention on a much smaller scale much in the same manner as when adding priming sugar. I am not saying to add 2 or 3 gals of fermentables. Just a concentrated sugar concoction. Just to sweeten it up a bit.

The point here is we are trying to salvage it and make it drinkable, not to win a contest with it.

In another situation my (your) concern would be a last ditch effort to save 2 BAD batches. I was remiss on stating that. I apologize.

What I really should have stated was :

"MIX A SWEET BEER WITH THE BITTER TO GET ONE GIANT BATCH OF BETTER BEER."

This way ALL the fermenting is already completed on both batches.

The thing to do is make another batch of sweet to add to your bitter. The bitter (still being in the secondary (carboy)) can wait for weeks until the sweet and bitter are both ready for bottling.

At this point you would mix 1 cup of sweet to 1 cup of bitter. Sample. Still too bitter? Add a 1/2 cup of sweet. Better? So now your ratio is 1.5:1. If you need to go to 2 sweet to 1 bitter, then do so until you are satisfied with the results.

As long as the beers you brew are either sweet or bitter with no off flavors then they are all salvagable. Sure, you may use the entire 5 gals of a sweet and only 2 gals of a bitter to balance into one giant batch, but that's only a loss of 3 gals, not 10!

Just keep remembering that for homebrewers, each brew is, and will always remain, an experiment. So go experiment.
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