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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > General Beer Discussion > Sharp Bitterness in my IPAs.
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Old 08-08-2012, 04:45 PM   #11
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Lol, I definitely agree that I'm a bit confused. Don't get me wrong, I really like the fruity hoppy flavors of my IPA's, but mine are lacking the initial deep bitter flavor that most commercial and micro IPAs have. Instead mine have an instant sharp citrusy almost tart bite to them and then they transition to the fruity/hoppy flavors and end with little or no residual bitterness. I'm no judge, so I'm having a hard time explaining what I'm tasting. Was just kind of hoping someone here could relate and maybe shine some light on what the issue might be if it even is an issue.

I would be perfectly content with my beers as they are very hoppy/fruity/tasty, if it wasn't for the occassional commercial IPA I purchase and try. As an example I went to a brew festival last month where every brewery in the state was represented. I tasted every IPA I could get my hands on and they all had the same deep rich (not sharp) bitterness character to them that was different than the sharp bitterness I taste in my beers. Maybe I'm just over hopping somehow, but my pale ales even seem to have the same bite to them.


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Old 08-08-2012, 05:03 PM   #12
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If you want less bitterness, I can think of 2 things to look at off hand:

1) The sulfate levels in your water - lower sulfates create less bitterness.
2) Your early vs. late hop additions - move more of your hop additions to 30 mins or less. Also you might look into using mash hops or whirlpool hops.

I've also heard that adding a little phosphoric acid to the finished beer can help smooth it out a little, but I've never tried it.


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Old 08-08-2012, 05:03 PM   #13
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Try just doing your bittering at the beginning of the boil istead of the fwh,etc. Too much boiling between fwh & the boil maybe? My IPA usually has that slightly bittered malt flavor up front right before the hops come in. How much are you bittering with & what?
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Old 08-08-2012, 05:32 PM   #14
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Three things I've changed since I started making IPAs:

1. Get half of my IBUs from the 30min point forward. Most IPA recipes get most of the IBUs from the 60 minute addition, but I have found (accidentally really) that moving them forward is better. This usually means you'll use more hops, but it's worth it.

2. Use several hops. I used to just use one or two hops, but that made an uninteresting beer. All amarillo, i.e., was a grapefruit bomb that I didn't like. Especially for the flavor hops (20min to flameout), mix up 2 or 3 or more different hops. BTW, Vinnie Cilurzo of Russian River says the same is true for dry hops... do several separate additions of different hops.

3. Flameout hops still stay in during chilling. This means that even though they are 0-minute hops, they have contact with the wort for 5 or 10 minutes as it cools. I use a hop spider, so I to pull these too early.
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Old 08-08-2012, 05:47 PM   #15
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I've mashed anywhere from 149 to 158 and normally mash at 151 or 152 for all my IPAs. I always check mash temp with 2 different thermos and my efficiency is always dead on so I don't think the problem is with the mash unless it's mash pH or something. Up until about 4 months ago I didn't do anything to control pH in my mash, but now I add a little accidulated malt to everything but stouts to get the mash down in the 5.4 range according to the EZ water spreadsheet.
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Old 08-08-2012, 05:57 PM   #16
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Thanks for the input passedpawn.

I typically bitter with magnum, warrior, or CTZ. Sometimes with a little simcoe or centennial mixed in. Most of my past IPA recipes have been with most of the hops coming after the 30 minute mark. The one I made a few days ago is the exception as most of the IBUs will be coming from the first wort hop addition. I also use a pump to whirlpool for about 20 minutes before I start chilling and my whirlpool/flameout hops stay in throughout the chilling process. The aroma on my IPAs is excellent, the hops are just a little sharp.
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Old 08-08-2012, 06:04 PM   #17
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I need to go get a tea bag and suck on it. I'm imagining what that tastes like and it's sort of tart and astringent, which sounds like what you're describing. I think the FWH might be doing this combined with some other things. Do you FWH everything? I will say, your process sounds like you're doing just about everything possible to get the hoppiest results, with the exception of a hopback.
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Old 08-08-2012, 06:16 PM   #18
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Try sparging with RO water. That made a HUGE difference in my pales. Alkaline water will extract tannins from the grain. You mentioned your pH was 8.0. Do you know your alkalinity?
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Old 08-08-2012, 06:29 PM   #19
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I think I have tasted something like this before. I had a lower IBU (~25) beer and it had this crazy bitterness that was more bitter than an IPA (side by side comparison). The bitterness was pin point sharp and didn't linger like normal hop bitterness and it just didn't make sense when you looked at the hops that went into the beer. How it got there...I have no clue.

Beta acids from hops are supposed to oxidize over time and contribute to bitterness but I have never had some sort of control sample to know what they taste like exactly. By chance do you have old hops that are stored warm and/or have a lot of exposure to air?

If your mashing / sparging technique seems fine, you can troubleshoot the malt contribution easily by doing an extract version of one of your recipes. Take the mashing right out of the equation and see what happens because there are a lot of variables that go into mashing.

I am a little baffled at the fruitiness that you explain and wonder if the two are related and point to an equipment contamination issue of some sort.
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Old 08-08-2012, 06:33 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wynne-R View Post
Try sparging with RO water. That made a HUGE difference in my pales. Alkaline water will extract tannins from the grain. You mentioned your pH was 8.0. Do you know your alkalinity?
That's exactly what I was thinking of. What is the alkalinity of the water? This really sounds like a water chemistry issue, if you're using enough bittering hops for the recipe.

Can you tell us your water chemistry, and give us a typical recipe? I bet we could pick out the issue.


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