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Old 04-14-2011, 03:19 PM   #1
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Default How much will excess bitterness fade?

Hello all. I had my first real disappointment this week. Let me explain my process and then ask the question.

On February 20, I brewed AHS' extract Fat Tire clone. I did a full boil (but did not adjust the hops). I chilled the wort with an immersion chiller to 70 degrees in approximately 10 minutes, shook the heck out of the carboy and pitched a rehydrated pack of Nottingham. Fermentation temperatures were in the low to mid 60s. I hit the called out OG and FG. On March 20 I bottled. This weekend, I chilled three bottles and opened two last evening. Color was good, the head was good. But my word was the brew bitter. I mean overpoweringly so.

My newbie's brain tells me that failing to adjust the hops is the culprit, although I thought that the utilization would not change that much. I suppose I could have oxygenated the wort too much, which I understand may lead to astringency, which is kind like bitterness. I really don't think I have an infection, but I guess anything is possible.

So, the question is, will the bitterness fade? If so, how significant of a difference will there be? If the beer is astringent, will that fade?

Thanks for any help.

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Old 04-14-2011, 03:38 PM   #2
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Can you provide your hop schedule? what hops added at what times?

Also, bitterness and astringency are two different things. bitter is, well, a basic component of taste. So, bitter is just bitter.
Astringency, on the other hand, is more like a puckering, medicinal flavor. Like cough syrup... or like how the smell of isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol would expect to taste.

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Old 04-14-2011, 04:02 PM   #3
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I don't have my notes with me, but will post the hop schedule when I get home this evening. I was right on (within a minute or so) of the schedule laid out in AHS' directions.

I am pretty sure the flavor I am tasting is bitterness, not astringency. It is a little dry, a little puckering, but not at all medicinal. Maybe a bit alcoholic.

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Old 04-14-2011, 05:18 PM   #4
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I assume there were steeping grains... did they get boiled?

You are describing more of astringency, not bitterness.... Which most often comes from tannins in the husks. Tannins are extracted from the husks at overly hot temperatures (around 180).

Bitterness from over hopping mellows out over time. I don't think astringency does, though.

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Old 04-14-2011, 05:19 PM   #5
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It sounds like your timing (4 weeks fermenting, 3 week bottle) was good, but a little more time will always help. I wouldn't worry about over-aerating though, unless you're pumping pure oxygen through it its tough (or possibly impossible) to over-aerate.

Were the AHS instructions written up for a full boil, or partial boil? It sounds like you might have been considering that since you mention not adjusting the hops. I just ask because I grabbed a pale ale recipe from the LHBS when I first started, and the recipe was written up for partial boils with the full amount of extract. I'd just figured out late extract additions on here, but didn't take into account the hop utilization. Dropping some of the extract to late addition meant that my bittering hops were in a less dense wort, so more AAs got extracted and it was definitely more bitter than it should have been. On the plus side, I gave it an extra month in the keg and it mellowed out nicely, so you'll wind up being fine eventually. Taste one every now and then, and before you know it you'll be good to go.

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Old 04-14-2011, 05:34 PM   #6
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Wassup D?! Good to see another member from our area! If this keeps up,maybe we can start some kind of club or other. Anyway,a bit more aging can help to a noticeable degree. Imo,moreso with astringency & fusel alcohols. My first one took a total of 4 weeks to get over a couple of these things,but it was darn good after that much time.
I'll be checking my latest pale ale (my version of the original amber colored "pale") tomorrow. It was weird to me that,after 3 weeks at 70F,only 1 day in the fridge gave it head out the wazoo,but little carbonation. Kinda the same predicament. I guess they don't have to be "big beers" to need more time to get right. So let'em ride a bit longer...
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Old 04-14-2011, 07:49 PM   #7
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Hey, thanks for the replies guys.

In order:

Yes, the recipe involved steeping grains. I believe the temperature stayed in the 150s though during this process. I could check the calibration of my thermometer. Maybe it is something that simple (which would mean my next batch is probably screwed up as well)

Yes, the instructions were for a partial boil. That is kind of where I have been thinking, that the increase to a full boil without a reduction in the hops made a big difference in the flavor profile. Hopefully it evens out over a bit of time.

Unionrdr, where are you located? I am in the Village, off of Abbe Rd. We should get together and trade some lies one of these days.

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Old 04-14-2011, 07:56 PM   #8
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Wow,really! So am I! I'm up near the Giant Eagle plaza. Might be cool to sample a few & throw the bull around by the tale for awhile.
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Old 04-14-2011, 08:13 PM   #9
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What size was the intended 'partial boil' for?

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Old 04-14-2011, 08:14 PM   #10
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Aeration prior to fermentation is fine -

aeration after fermentation will lead to oxidation - which will taste like wet cardboard - not bitter, not astringent.

give it a few weeks and try another bottle -

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