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Gated312 12-17-2010 05:38 PM

First IPA, but high ABV and low IBU fix?
Hey all,

So I've only been brewing for a couple months, and I took my first shot at an IPA last weekend. I'm not sure if its entirely an IPA, but it seemed close enough. Unfortunately, I made a huge noob mistake and am kicking myself right now, but was hoping for some advice on maybe what I could do to fix it. This will probably be a fairly long post, so bear with me, just want to get everything in here.

Here was the original recipe.

6 lbs Light LME
.5 lb Extra Light DME
1 lb American Crystal 30 L

1 Pack notty

Hopping Sched.
1.5 oz Northern Brewer (60 min)
1 oz Cascade (20 min)
.5 oz Cascade (10 min)
.5 oz Cascade (5 min)
1 oz Cascade (Dry Hop)

According to the Hopville Calculator
Est.OG 1.060
Est. FG 1.014
Est. ABV 6.1%

IBUs: 45.2
Did a partial boil of about 3 gallons.

Kept it nice and simple for the first go around, and followed procedure pretty closely to Palmer's How To Brew.

So after I dumped my wort into the primary, I stirred it and made sure it was cool enough for pitching. My pitching OG was 1.042! So...in a slight panic I added about 1 lb of Light DME I had lying around, bringing it up to 1.052 (I might have been slightly :drunk:). So I figured this would be good enough for me, pitched my yeast and let it start up. Fermentation began about 36 hours after and all seemed well.

But I started looking online and trying to figure why my OG was so low, even after the calculator said it should be higher. To my dread, it was probably because I didn't stir it vigorously enough and a lot of the sugar sat at the bottom while I took my reading. From what I've read, this has little to no effect on fermenting and it should come out fine. But I added that extra DME, and according to hopville my OG would have been up around 1.074! My ABV will come out around 7.5%?? (:cross:). But more importantly, my IBU is down to 36.7, which might be a little shy on bitterness.

So I have two primary questions to go with this:
1) Did I pitch enough yeast? Despite my late additions, it seems to have fermented out ok and I checked the FG now and it is at 1.019 or so..right in the area of my new FG. But would this extra stress on the yeast maybe cause some problems with carbing?

2) Should I worry about bitterness? I'm under the impression the bigger the beer, the more bitterness you might need. I've read more bitterness can be added by simply boiling some hops in water/wort? (here's the thread I was looking at: http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f12/big-hop-flavor-1-3-hops-55721/). I still have to dry hop (which I know doesn't add any bitterness), but am just wondering what to do next!

Thanks so much,

JJL 12-17-2010 05:45 PM

As for bitterness, you are kind out of luck at this point. I suppose there might be some ways to go about adding bitterness at this point, but they would be extremely unorthodox, and I don't know if they would even work. I've never tried the boiling hops in water technique, but water has a pH of 7 +/-, and wort is in the 5.2 range. I believe the difference in acidity is going to throw off your hops utilization. Your best bet at this point is to up your dry hopping. No, it won't add bitterness, but it will give you a bigger hop flavor, which may suffice for your purposes.

As for the yeast, you probably underpitched a little, but I would be more concerned that the notty you used won't tolerate the higher alcohol content, but I'm not sure off hand how tolerant that strain is.

dcp27 12-17-2010 05:56 PM

Your IBUs are uneffected by adding more sugar after the boil. I'd just leave it as is and if it doesn't seem bitter enough to you just call it an imperial pale ale

BendBrewer 12-17-2010 06:01 PM

Extract brewers should just trust the estimated OG from the recipe. As long as you measured everything correctly, chances are that number is going to be more than close enough. Aside from your measurements the factoring steps have already been done.

duckmanco 12-17-2010 06:05 PM

I too think "it is what it is" at this point, but in the future, if you are building your own recipes at this point and I'm guessing you are forced to do partial boils due to kettle size (as I am) why not try some 2-3 gallon full boil smaller test batches?


less risk if you screw up
full boil = better hop utilization
less beer but more brewing

less beer
same work
sucks if you make something really great and wished you had 5 gal.

I just started fooling around with some lme various hops and 3.5 gal ale pale... lots of smaller IPA's in my future with this set up. Also full volume boils that small cool down super fast in an ice bath in the bathtub. My 2cents

Frodo 12-17-2010 06:14 PM

+1 to dcp, the number of IBUs wouldn't have gone down by adding more sugar. However, the effect of keeping the same IBUs goess down as gravity increases. In other words, the more sweetness you have to counteract, the more IBUs you need to keep the same balance. Really though you're not talking a whole lot of extra sugar. In your case you would've had a BU:GU ratio of 0.75, and now that ratio is 0.60 with the extra sugar. And IMHO you're still on track with making a good beer. You could always up your dry hops for more aroma if you want.

Gated312 12-17-2010 06:15 PM

Yeah I think I'll go with the advice and just chalk this up to a learning experience. I can at least be thankful its still drinkable And, like dcp said, I can always just call it an imperial ale.

As for upping my dry hopping, what should I move it to? Double it to 2 oz or so? And the yeast I used was just Danstar Nottingham. Couldn't find any specifics about its tolerance..any one have any experience with this?

rj_hockey 12-17-2010 06:20 PM

Everything seems fine to me, sounds like a good beer. (Minus the Extract Twang, hehehe)

Frodo 12-17-2010 06:31 PM

The yeast will be plenty fine at that level. Didn't look it up but I'm almost certain Nottingham is good to 10% or so. It has high attenuation too which is good in your case - it'll help with the sweetness issue. You could easily go to 2 oz on the dry hops, but just realize it's not helping with the sweetness, just giving you more hops nose.

Calder 12-17-2010 08:53 PM

I thought someone would have noticed, but your OG calculator is wrong. Did you plug the LME in as DME? Lets cover the details:

6 lbs light LME = 6 x 36 = 216 points.
0.5 lbs DME = 0.5 x 46 = 23 points
1 lb Crystal (steeped) ~ 18 points

Total points ~ 257 gives a start gravity of about 1.051 in 5 gallons (about 1.045 if you had 5.5 gallons).

If you programmed DME in place of the LME, you would get an additional 11 points, or 1.062.

Adding the additional lb of DME would give you an additional 45 points, or increase the OG by 9 points for 5 gallons.

Everything looks fine to me. Leave it alone and don't worry about it.

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