extremely bitter brown ale

Homebrew Talk - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Forum

Help Support Homebrew Talk:

How should I deal with the bitter batch?

  • cold lager to let it mellow on its own

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • add cold pressed coffee

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters
    5

Bummer

Member
Joined
Feb 11, 2018
Messages
9
Reaction score
2
I may have brewed my first bad batch here... I am hoping that it can still be saved and am looking for suggestions. Basically the beer tastes extremely bitter and did so coming straight out of the kettle. I kegged it three days ago after I had it fermented at 70F for about 15 days and it's still too bitter, almost to an undrinkable level, and leaves your mouth feeling slightly dry. You can't taste any malty sweetness at all.

That brew day it got incredibly windy (25mph winds) and I remember hunkering down inside while I left the kettle on. 45 minutes into the boil I stepped outside to add my second hop addition and noticed the temperature had dropped to a pathetic 175! I threw the lid back on, freaked out for a solid fifteen minutes while scrambling to build a makeshift shack over top of the kettle yo block the wind. The wort finally returned to a boil at which point I added my T-15 hop addition and boiled the batch for the remaining 15 minutes. In total the kettle had been on the burner for 1:45 since the first hop addition (2oz German Northern Brewer Hop). My friend suggested that I might have extracted tannins from the grains during mashing but I took detailed notes indicating the mash temperature was 154F. I sparged with 170F water... That concludes the story behind the brewing; now onto the solutions:

In my research I came across the following solutions:
- brew a second batch without bittering hops and combine the two post fermentation.
- boil lactose in water, let cool and add to keg
- dry hop the bitter batch. supposedly in very bitter batches, dry hopping may in fact reduce the bitterness
- cold lager the batch to let it mellow out
- add some cold pressed coffee
- dump the batch haha

Mostly I concede that I screwed up and am just trying to learn. Could the bitterness have come from the extended brew time? Also, 2oz of bittering hops seemed high to me from the start.
Thanks everybody for your input
Chris.
 

brewbama

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 20, 2013
Messages
3,549
Reaction score
2,072
Your ideas are good ones. You could add baking soda or pickling lime (~1/8 tsp) to a glass of beer. See if that helps. Is so scale up and doctor the entire batch.
 

Pappers_

Moderator
Staff member
Mod
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Jan 31, 2009
Messages
17,908
Reaction score
4,404
Location
Chicago
Some American Browns are supposed to be bitter, your recipe might have been one of them. If you left the bittering hops in the boil for an extended period, that would definitely increase the IBUs (international bittering units) in the beer.

Did your friend suggest the tannins issue after tasting your beer? I'm just wondering if you're sure you're tasting bitterness rather than tannins, which I find to be quite different. You might share the beer with some experienced brewers, or send it in to competition, and get some feedback on what is actually going on in the beer.

If it were me, I wouldn't try to fix it, I'd call it a Brown IPA and enjoy it for what it is. Whatever fix you do, be cautious that you don't make the beer worse.
 
OP
B

Bummer

Member
Joined
Feb 11, 2018
Messages
9
Reaction score
2
Some American Browns are supposed to be bitter, your recipe might have been one of them. If you left the bittering hops in the boil for an extended period, that would definitely increase the IBUs (international bittering units) in the beer.
Understood and I am sure that the bitterness would have been less overpowering had the wort not been on the heat with the bittering hops for nearly double the time... As it stands now nearly all I can taste is the bitterness and I believe some sweetness might in fact mellow out the bitter flavor. I have mixed a quarter teaspoon of sugar into a 4oz sample multiple times and it makes the beer a lot nicer.

Did your friend suggest the tannins issue after tasting your beer? I'm just wondering if you're sure you're tasting bitterness rather than tannins, which I find to be quite different. You might share the beer with some experienced brewers, or send it in to competition, and get some feedback on what is actually going on in the beer.
Yes, my friend suggested the presence of tannins after tasting the beer. I am relatively new to brewing and couldn't tell you if I was tasting tannins or not. I can merely identify bitterness and a slight dry sensation in the roof of the mouth after drinking it. For what it's worth I tasted the wort right out of the mash tun and didn't get any unpleasant flavors whatsoever. It just tasted malty sweet like one would expect. I later tasted it again right out of the kettle and it was already supremely bitter then. If anything it was more bitter coming out of the kettle than after fermentation.

Thanks again for all the help! Oh, here's the recipe:

7.5# pale base
1/4# chocolate malt
1/4# crystal 120L
1/4# belgian biscuit
1/4# roasted barley malt
8.5# total grain bill

T-60 2 oz German Northern Brewer
T-15 1 oz Fuggles

Wyeast - American Ale 1056
 

LLBeanJ

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 27, 2012
Messages
3,247
Reaction score
892
Location
Northern Colorado
With that recipe, I'd expect it to come out with a fair amount of bitterness. I think if it were my brew, I'd dry-hop the keg and make an IPA out of it.
 
OP
B

Bummer

Member
Joined
Feb 11, 2018
Messages
9
Reaction score
2
I went ahead and dry hopped it with an ounce of citra and it elevated it to a very decent beer. The citrus notes really worked well with the bitterness and made it a lot more mellow. Overall I would give it a 7.5/10 up from a 3/10 originally. Thanks again @ all for the support
 

Amadeo38

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 24, 2014
Messages
812
Reaction score
715
Location
Gainesville
Why would we think this would help?
This will sound weird, but the way to cut bitterness is actually with salty. If the dry-hopping hadn’t worked I would have suggested pouring a glass and adding some salt to see what it did. The fact that you describe the taste as bitter with a drying effect on the roof of the mouth also suggests tannins to me as well - kind of like the effect after drinking an over-steeped tea. I’m sure the over-utilization of that massive bittering hop charge with an extended boil didn’t help. Glad it worked out!
 

ajdelange

Well-Known Member
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Aug 5, 2010
Messages
11,959
Reaction score
2,731
Location
McLean/Ogden
Sorry, but I'm still confused. Lime is not a salt. It is an alkali. As such if it is added in sufficient quantity to taste it is bitter. Baking soda is a salt but it does not taste salty either if added in quantity that exceeds the taste threshold. As it is the salt of a strong base and a weak acid it is an alkaline salt and tastes slightly bitter.

Sodium chloride is a different matter. It is a neutral salt and its ability to sweeten at low levels is well known to cooks and brewers.
 

Amadeo38

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 24, 2014
Messages
812
Reaction score
715
Location
Gainesville
Oh I didn’t mean to defend the pickling lime/ baking soda suggestion. I was merely replying to the last comment. I have no idea what’s going on there and totally agree with you.
 
Top