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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > General Techniques > How Many IBU's for my Pale Ale?
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Old 07-22-2009, 07:35 AM   #1
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Default How Many IBU's for my Pale Ale?

I have 4 oz. of whole hop Goldings at 5% a.a. and 2 oz. of Spalt at 2% a.a. I was ready to throw them all in evenly in three different intervals but after calculating the IBU's I'm getting a pretty high number (79 IBU). My idea behind the amount and kind of hops comes from Randy Mosher's Radical Brewing. He suggests using lots of low % a.a. hops rather than a little bit of high a.a. I like hops but I find the extreme cat-piss/grapefruit flavor too much sometimes, so while I wouldn't mind having a pretty hoppy pale ale, I also don't want it to be ridiculous. So when is the IBU too high in a pale ale? My recipe is pretty simple, all extract with a pre-boil tea of crystal and biscuit. I might add a half pound brown sugar during fermentation, too.

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Old 07-22-2009, 01:45 PM   #2
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The BJCP style guidelines show IBUs for a pale ale between 30 and 45. They are just guidelines and going a little higher is not a big deal. Once you start going over 50 or so, you will need some more malt to help balance the beer to keep it from getting overly hoppy.

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Old 07-22-2009, 03:37 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Brewmasters Warehouse View Post
They are just guidelines and going a little higher is not a big deal.

Ed
Thanks for the awesome reference Brewmasters Warehouse. I now know a good range to try to keep my IBU's in, but I'm still wondering how these low alpha acid hops are going to affect my beer. The whole point in my getting them was so that I could make my beer real nice and hoppy without having to worry about that harsh, grainy high alpha acid hop taste.

Right now I'm thinking of aiming for the mid 50's with my IBU's, and if need be I'll add a little more malt or some kind of sugar (any suggestions?), I have 7 1/4 pounds of light extract at the moment. I wouldn't mind turning this into a slightly Extra Pale Ale (anyone had Odells seasonal?).
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Old 07-22-2009, 04:13 PM   #4
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As a comparison, Bell's Two Hearted is around 55 IBUs just to give you some idea what your numbers mean. Based on what you say you want, I don't think you are going to be very happy with 79 IBUs unless ending up with an IPA is something that you like. However, like Ed said, you will need to account for that and bump your malt character to give you some balance.

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Old 07-22-2009, 04:25 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by ThinkinDavid View Post
Right now I'm thinking of aiming for the mid 50's with my IBU's, and if need be I'll add a little more malt or some kind of sugar (any suggestions?), I have 7 1/4 pounds of light extract at the moment. I wouldn't mind turning this into a slightly Extra Pale Ale (anyone had Odells seasonal?).

You can find all of the style guidelines at BJCP. With the mid 50s you may not need to adjust anything and let the beer just be more hoppy. If you go higher than you would need more malt. Stay away from sugar in a pale ale as it will only dry it out.

This is a good reference guide to use when trying to decide how hoppy the beer is going to turn out.

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Old 07-22-2009, 06:25 PM   #6
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I've never been a big fan of that chart and find it to be too vague. I guess it's a good very general guide, but a 1.055 brew with 37 IBU's is not something I would consider "extra hoppy." Especially if there's a good level of Crystal malt in there. But we all experience beer differently, so that's just me.
To the OP - I think a well spread out addition of those hops in the range you're thinking of will work out pretty nicely.

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Old 07-22-2009, 06:34 PM   #7
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I agree the chart is just a general guide. I use it more for malty and balanced beers than I do for Pale Ales and IPAs. I am a pretty big hophead so it needs to be extra hoppy by the chart before I would consider a beer hoppy. When I make IPAs the chart does not help as I shoot for between 75-100 IBUs pretty consistently. A lot of taste is perception that is different from person to person so a chart like this loses some value.

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Old 07-22-2009, 06:45 PM   #8
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I've never been a big fan of that chart and find it to be too vague. I guess it's a good very general guide, but a 1.055 brew with 37 IBU's is not something I would consider "extra hoppy."
To the OP - I think a well spread out addition of those hops in the range you're thinking of will work out pretty nicely.
jacksonbrown, I think this is the advice I've been looking for. I appcreciat the graph from Brewmasters but I'm not sure how much I should trust it. Like you said, what they consider "extra hoppy" doesn't seem very hoppy. Then there is the fact that the actual IBU is not the same as percieved bitterness. The whole point in my experiement here is to play with higher quantities of low-alpha hops; the chart does not seem to take this into consideration. The inspiration for this comes from Randy Mosher who suggests, "If you want a nice hop flavor and aroma, use high quality low-alpha hops, and lots of 'em" (Radical Brewing 52). Like I've said, I like hoppy, I just don't want to ruin my beer with that raw flavor of high-alpha hops. And with that said, I don't want my pale ale to be under hopped, either.

So here's what I'm still wondering which I don't think has been answered: by bringing my IBU's up to, say, 60-70 with low-alpha hops will I be turing my pale ale into an IPA, or could it be that even at such IBU levels it will turn out perfectly hopped with low alpha hops?
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Old 07-22-2009, 08:14 PM   #9
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What calculation are you using? When I dump all your hops in at 60 minutes for a 3 gallon boil for a 5 gallon batch with 7.5 # of DME, I only get 55 IBU's in my calcs. That leaves you no hops for flavor or aroma. IMHO, use a clean bittering hop like a warrior or magnum for your bittering and save your low aa hops for flavor and aroma, which is Mosher's point, IIRC. I haven't read that book in a while.

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Old 07-22-2009, 09:01 PM   #10
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IMHO, use a clean bittering hop like a warrior or magnum for your bittering and save your low aa hops for flavor and aroma, which is Mosher's point, IIRC. I haven't read that book in a while.
I think you've missed the point with Mosher. In the part I cited earlier he says, "My personal opinion is that there are few legitimate homebrew uses for high-alpha hops... I usually stay away from them, although I perversely enjoy them as aroma hops in American-style IPAs." What I'm trying to do is pull off a full, yet balanced, hoppy pale ale. This is how I came up with my original 79 IBU, I was thinking three additions using pellet hops for the aroma, which seems to make a big difference in the numbers:

1st addition: Golding whole (60 mins)
2oz. X 5AAU X 23% X 15.8 = 36.34 IBU

2nd addition: Golding whole (60 mins)
2 oz. X 5AAU X 16% X 15.8 = 25.28 IBU

3rd addition: Spalt pellets (5 mins)
2 oz. X 2AAU X 28% X 15.8 = 17.7 IBU

Total 79.32 IBU

please check my math
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