First Wort Hopping - boil time & IBU calculations

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

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

Nubiwan

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 1, 2018
Messages
582
Reaction score
363
Well, I am all about time efficiency when brewing, and looking to reduce the time it takes from A to Z on brew day. So today I tried something new (for me at least) and was curious to get opinions on the process.

I generally add my bittering hop addition at Boil. Today, as soon as I pulled my bag, I stuck in my bittering hops and lit the flame. So first wort hopping(FWH). Was an ounce of Cascade (2 x 15 gram packs here). It took about 15 minutes to reach boil, at which time I added another 15g of Cascade.

I then boiled for a further 45 minutes.

Now I use Brewersfriend to estimate IBU's. Its a bit of a crap shoot with my Cascade as the AA content is provided as a range 4-7%. So what number do I use to get my IBU's? Low or high end, middle? Also, have I boiled my FWH for 45 or 60 minutes? I could be as low as 25 IBU, and up close to 40 depending on how you interpret the numbers.

Regardless, I reduced my boil time to 45 minutes, and transferred to fermenter. The wort was a delicious bitter sweet. Dare I say smooth. I was very happy with the preliminary result, put it that way. I was planning to add some dry hop, but really wondering if I should just let it see how it stands on its own.

As an aside, I was planning to just add some Cascade dry hop (single hop job), but have an ounce of SAAZ kicking around. Anyone ever mixed the two hops? Must search that. Its an Amber lager I am making.

Cheers All
 

micraftbeer

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Dec 30, 2015
Messages
772
Reaction score
488
Location
Farmington Hills, MI
Quite a lot of questions wrapped in here...

1. I think a combination of Saaz and Cascade sounds horrible. But everyone has their own tastes. Imagine how each of those hops taste to you and see if you can envision them going together. If you can- go for it. But I've made beers before where I used hops or some grain just because I had it on hand, and I totally regretted it.

2. I use FWH periodically. I'm in the camp where I swear they give me a slightly less edgy bitterness, and that's something I'm going for in some beers. But people's experience and taste buds don't always agree with that. If I used them in the example you gave, they would go into brewing software as FWH, and Brewfather would use whatever my boil time is to calculate IBU. I've never reverse engineered the algorithm, but it seems to be about on par for ibu as if they just had that boil time. So 45 minutes boil time for you. Nothing wrong with a 45 minutes hop addition and no 60 minute addition, though. You should still get good bitterness.

3. Brewing software estimates a range because when you're planning a recipe, you might not have the hops on hand yet, so they give you a range so you can plan. When you buy hops, they should have the AA% printed on them. Just over type that into your brewing software recipe to update. If your house somehow didn't have it labeled, it you've thrown out the bag, then seems logical to me to just pick the middle of the range.
 
Last edited:

DBhomebrew

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 18, 2020
Messages
2,263
Reaction score
4,323
Location
St Louis, MO
I use FWH as boilover prevention. As a bonus, I get some improvement in smoothness of the bitter with some flavor surviving the boil. When using Northern Brewer as FWH and bittering, I've had mint show up in the bottle. Maybe my imagination, but the boilover prevention is real deal.

I figure FWH as if it's a 20m addition. IE, in the software I set it as a 20m, but in practice it gets dropped at first wort.

There's possibly a difference in actual vs perceived IBUs. When measured, FWH have produced IBUs in the range of boil time +10%. That's how my preferred software figures it. For my drinking pleasure, figuring 20m gives me the beer I seek.
 
OP
OP
Nubiwan

Nubiwan

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 1, 2018
Messages
582
Reaction score
363
Thanks all.

So should I estimate my overall IBU's as a 45 minute boil with 45 grams 5.5 AA% (that is 4-7 AA% Cascade range on my pack halved) - maybe add on 10% for the FWH. I am in around the 30 IBU range with that, which tasted about right.

My boil time might well have been 65 minutes in hindsight. Much of my ABV / IBU is best estimate anyway. Is this a correct assumption for my FWH?
 
OP
OP
Nubiwan

Nubiwan

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 1, 2018
Messages
582
Reaction score
363
Quite a lot of questions wrapped in here...

1. I think a combination of Saaz and Cascade sounds horrible. But everyone has their own tastes. Imagine how each of those hips taste to you and see if you can envision them going together. If you can- go for it. But I've made beers before where I used hops or some grain just because I had it on hand, and I totally regretted it.

......

Agreed! I'll keep it simple. Single hop lager. Save the SAAZ for a czech later.
 

micraftbeer

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Dec 30, 2015
Messages
772
Reaction score
488
Location
Farmington Hills, MI
I plugged in a generic recipe into Brewfather, then 1 oz of Cascade at 5.5%AA with the following calculated IBU:

- 60 Minute boil: 15.3 IBU
- 45 Minute boil: 13.9 IBU
- FWH Followed by 60 minute boil: 16.9 IBU
- FWH Followed by 45 minute boil: 15.4 IBU

P.S. I've never used Brewer's Friend, but I can't overstate how much I love Brewfather...
 

Coastalbrew

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 26, 2018
Messages
1,016
Reaction score
781
There is a newer hop utilization formula that is starting to gain some traction, called the mIBU formula. I listened to an episode of the experimental brewing podcast where they talked about it. It calculates hop utilization very different than the other traditional formulas used by most of us in the hobby. The Grainfather app uses it and there is an article about it there as well. Might be worth looking at. I've used their app for some recipe creation recently and my IBU figures have come in much higher than with the other calculators I've used. I've not brewed any of the beers using those recipes yet, so no idea what they will be like in real world results.

 
Last edited:

Coastalbrew

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 26, 2018
Messages
1,016
Reaction score
781
I plugged your hop additions into a pilsner recipe and it came out to 34.5 IBU. 24.6 from the first wort hop, and 9.9 from the 45 min bittering addition.
 
OP
OP
Nubiwan

Nubiwan

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 1, 2018
Messages
582
Reaction score
363
I plugged your hop additions into a pilsner recipe and it came out to 34.5 IBU. 24.6 from the first wort hop, and 9.9 from the 45 min bittering addition.
Cheers @Coastalbrew - sounds about right. The sample I had pre pitching was pretty bitter. Smooth, sweet, bitter. Really liked it.
 

Latest posts

Top