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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Beginners Beer Brewing Forum > Overcoming the bitterness.
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Old 02-07-2008, 12:08 PM   #1
PeteOz77
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Default Overcoming the bitterness.

OK, so seeing as how I am new, and like a lot of NewBs, I can't leave well enough alone, I tried adding bittering hops to a couple of my extract brews.

Brew #1, is a mild Munich Lager (not really a lager, it has ale yeast and doesn't require lagering). I made this as my first brew with 12gm of Hallertau in a teabag type aroma hop packet, it was nice, but I decided to go bigger this time. It was an afterthough, and the fermenting process was complete. I decided I wanted a higher ABV, and while boiling 2 litres of water and 1KG of dried brew blend (malt/dextrose etc) I dropped in about 3/4 oz of Simcoe hops. This was split between two batches of brew, so 1.1lbs of LME and 1/8 ounce of hops per fermenter, or the entire lot across 46 litres of beer. I am happy with the taste, but the hops have given it a bitter aftertaste that I would like to deaden if possible.

Brew #2 is am American Pale ale extract kit that again, I loved before I started messing with it. This one, I boiled 25gm of the simcoe hops in 1.5 litres of water.. no sugars at all. I added this to 23 litres of wort at the pitching stage. Again, I love the flavour of this brew, but the hop bitterness is putting off everyone I serve it to. I can drink most anything, and I just ignore the aftertaste and enjoy the great flavour of the beer.
My question is..can anything be done now at the kegged/serving stage to tame the bitterness in the aftertaste?

Both brews are kegged and force carbed Brew #1 is 24 days old and Brew # 2 is 27 days old.

I assume that if I just leave them alone, they will mellow with age, but if that is not the case, or if there is a way to mellow them out, what might I be able to do?

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Old 02-07-2008, 12:40 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PeteOz77
I assume that if I just leave them alone, they will mellow with age, but if that is not the case, or if there is a way to mellow them out, what might I be able to do?
What might you be able to do? How about stop mucking with the recipes!!!!

Don't get me wrong, I understand that adding your own personal touch, and experimenting, is half the fun. However, the fact that you added Simcoe to a Munich Lager tells me that you aren't really thinking through your changes, you're just kind of throwing things in there hoping to find something good. Well, odds are that you won't.

Again, don't get me wrong, there's a time and place for radical brews. I won't dare say Simcoe should never be added to a munich lager, but really, I gotta say, I don't think you knew what you were doing.

My suggestion is to start reading "second tier" books on homebrewing... not the "how to brew" books, but the books that talk about recipe formulation. Read the BJCP guidelines. Get a feel for styles and what differentiates them.

The best analogy I can give you is from back when I played semi-professional chess. I spent months memorizing possible opening combinations out 10, 20, sometimes 30 moves. Newbs coming into the game would just throw pieces out onto the board, hope for the best, and learn from their mistakes. Now, to be sure, some of those folks grew up to be respectable players and learned WHY the lines and combinations extending out 30 moves existed. They eventually learned WHY experienced players copied the moves played by Kasparov and Anand and Shabalov, and Karpov and Fischer. Others never figured it out and foolishly thought that they were "creating something new" every time they sat down at a board... but they weren't creating anything new, they were merely repeating mistakes that have been made hundreds of times before. Trust me, there is no 5th move in chess that hasn't already been thought of.

Similarly, there are few combinations of hops that haven't been contemplated. You should feel free to experiment, but if you do so without acknowledging the history that came before you, then you aren't really experimenting, you're probably just repeating mistakes. Above, I suggested reading BJCP guidelines. Just like combinations (lines) in chess, I think you will discover that by playing "within the guidelines" you will actually find much BETTER areas of experimentation than you would ever find just throwing things into the pot. In fact, that's what I discovered with chess. It was the most complex and difficult styles, already well-fought, that provided the most interesting avenues for experimentation. Both players would sit down at a board and independently, exactly, copy the first twenty or thirty moves or more of a famous game... neither opponent deviating until the 33rd move where one of them thought they saw something worth examining, some brilliant twist that nobody else had seen, or was it merely a brilliant trap? Or did they just forget the next move? That's the stuff that gets exciting because EVERYBODY knows what you're competing against, everybody knows how the original turned out, and everybody wants to see if you can improve on it. That's a much taller order than just throwing things into a pot, wouldn't you say? The brilliance, the excitement, is in the subtlety. Reading the higher-tier books on brewing will help you to appreciate that.

It sounds weird at first, doesn't it? The brilliance is in the subtlety... but think about baseball. The double no-hitter going into the 9th. Isn't that boring? No hits, no runs? Or are you seeing a brilliance of performance too subtle for most? Is a 3-0 football game exciting? Or not? I feel that if you really understand the game, it's got to be the most god-damned frustrating, intense, exciting game of your life... when else besides a 3-0 game is a single goddamned catch or a sack or a snap from the 1 yard line that important? But now I edit my post because I see you are in australia. It's like a 0-0 football game. What could be more boring than sitting through a game tied at zero? 58 minutes without scoring, just kicking the ball around? Some folks will say that's boring, but I would be on the edge of my seat. Suddenly, every little pass, dribble, fake, and feint takes on added importance because what if that's the weak link in the armor? Exciting stuff there.

Seriously, I don't want to discourage you from experimenting... I'm just trying to suggest you try doing it from a more educated standpoint. Stand on the shoulders of the brewers that came before you, rather than assume you can do better than they did with their centuries upon centuries of experiences...

Another tip: More doesn't mean Better. Do you think you have to add something to a recipe to make it better? What if you ELIMINATED something instead? Get rid of the Crystal malt, or the 30 minute hop addition. If you're just playing odds, the removal of an ingredient is just as likely to make a better beer than the addition of something. And it's cheaper too. I'm not saying that you shouldn't experiment, I'm just saying you should experiment with a greater purpose. Don't fool yourself into thinking more is automatically better. That type of idea has almost killed the Ordinary Bitters and Milds. More isn't better, it's only different.


I don't mean to be a wet blanket, it's just my two cents...
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Old 02-07-2008, 12:50 PM   #3
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To answer the question, the flavors will mellow, but the hops bitterness never goes away. I have beers that I overhopped (around 100 IBUs) that I hoped would mellow, but years have gone by, and they are still just as bitter.

However, if the bitterness is simply from being "green", then that will fade some.

nick

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Old 02-07-2008, 03:03 PM   #4
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One thing you can try is an ounce or two of lactose. In some cases, adding an alternative flavor note (given that we only taste five things) can balance the bitterness.

Don't go past two ounces.

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Old 02-07-2008, 03:04 PM   #5
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The real problem with messing around with recipes so early on is that when it flops, you can't really know if it's your process, the kit, or your crazy modifications to blame. There's no way to fix it for next time. Stick to a few recipes and see if those turn out.

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Old 02-07-2008, 05:13 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HP_Lovecraft
To answer the question, the flavors will mellow, but the hops bitterness never goes away. I have beers that I overhopped (around 100 IBUs) that I hoped would mellow, but years have gone by, and they are still just as bitter.

nick
That explains a lot. My ex-wife was just overhopped.
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Old 02-07-2008, 10:06 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sir Humpsalot
What might you be able to do? How about stop mucking with the recipes!!!!

I don't mean to be a wet blanket, it's just my two cents...
Two Cents? That was more like Forty Bucks!

I understand everything you are saying, and I agree. I tried the simcoe hops because I sampled an AG brew that was on tap at the LHBS. The owner, who has been making beer for decades told me that the flavour I was enjoying so much was Simcoe. I asked how this would affect my American Pale Ale extract and he suggested that it would compliment it nicely. It has complemented it fantastically, I just overdid it.

As for the Munich lager, last time I brewed this, I added 12gm Hallertau and it was very nice. Since I had roughly that much Simcoe left in the freezer, I decided that since I enjoyed the citrus/passionfruit aroma I might add this small amount to the roughly 15 gallon batch,which I did after the fermenting had finished, but also added more LME and dextrose which started the fermentation process again.

I intend to read a lot more about recipes and what works and what doesn't. But be advised that I DID ask a knowledgeable person about this hop addition, I didn't just chuck something in to see what happened. I had a recipe that I really liked and and wanted to add another flavour that I really enjoyed.

But, back to the reason I actually posted this thread.... I wasn't asking "What did I do wrong?" as I already know that. I asked "Is there anything I can do to smooth this out?" A Chess analogy doesn't really answer that question, but thanks for the input.

Based on the input from others, I might just leave them both another 3-4 weeks and then if it's too bitter, just drink it and remember every time I taste the bitterness, that I never should have taken that rook with my bishop !

This is the Beginner's Forum, isn't it?
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Old 02-08-2008, 06:56 AM   #8
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Looks like I posted too soon, in the last 35 hours, the Munich lager has stopped being bitter! The APA is still there,a nd it's older, but I reckon it will come good in the end.

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Old 02-08-2008, 07:00 AM   #9
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No, this is NOT the beginner's forum. This is the drunkard's forum.

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Old 02-08-2008, 07:00 AM   #10
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the entire SITE is a drunkards site eh?

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