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Newbie, concerned too much bittering hops

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AwesomeHobby

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First, thank you in advance to anyone who responds.

So, new to this, first batch. Did not want to use kit and got everything together for an Amber Ale using LME based on some, but maybe not the best research, to start simple. Used Magnum (bittering) and Willamette. Not know at all how much hops to use, seemed I found good enough info saying 2 oz of Magnum (approx 13.7 AA ... 27.4 AAU if I understand that correctly) would be good but then doing continued reading, AFTER BREWING AND IN FERMENTER, I see a lot of recipes with bittering in the 10 AAU max range, so I got concerned. After brewing and putting in fermenter smell very strong hoppy (I think) aroma coming out initially to around a week. Doing some more reading I buy into "patience" and see how it goes. After just over 2 weeks in primary take first hydrometer reading in preparation for planned bottling in 5 days. All looks good and not a bad taste as I tasted to see how is in this phase, understanding more "balancing" is ahead as well as bottle conditioning .... but as I was concerned, quite bitter. I read Magnum is considered a very suitable bittering hop and "clean", which based on my tasting seems about right for what I tasted. I also read something saying because of its smooth bitterness you can use as much as you want (making me feel better about my 2 oz). But wondering if I should expect it to balance out more as I am not sure many I share it with would like, which of course means more for me, but want to share it. If balancing will not happen, is there anything I can do before bottling to counter the bittering. Honestly, if it is best to ride it out, I am fine with that, just wanting to understand options, with of course my ultimate goal being to not trash it. So here is some data if it helps (I see people post similar):

Amber Ale LME (Breiss Sparkling Amber) 6.6 lbs
SafAle S-04 Yeast (11.5g)
5 gallon in fermenter after 60 min boil
Magnum 2 oz @ 13.7% (27.4 AAU ?) for 45 min
Willamette 1 oz @ 5.8% (5.8 AAU ?) for 15 min
OG: 1.055 (from what I understood sounded good) -- measured after cooling and into fermenter with top-off water for 5 gallons
FG: 1.010 (obviously not out of fementer, but my understanding is that it probably is done and this is right in line with high side of with what I figured from attenuation of 70-80% for the S-04)
Wort chill seemed to go well
A few minor hiccups getting into fermenter with blockages but not big deal
Nice and sealed bucket
Good bubbles out of airlock in less than 12 hrs
Temp control ok with primative, hands-on system, only extremes were to low side but that was after about 2-3 days fermenting
Essentially my bottling will be after 3 wks of fermenting in primary only, from what I could tell 2ndary not needed and only added risk to infection or oxidation, again trying to keep simple first one.
This bottling at 3 wks was mostly arbitrary due to availability of brewing buddy, wanted to be at least 2 wks.

QUESTION: Should I let it be and and bottle at 3 wks, practicing what I understand to be a brewers most important tenet of patience ? Or do something before bottling that might counter the bitterness a little. Again, I am ok with it as is, I just figure it will be on the bitter side for people I share it with.

Thank you again !
 
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Genuine

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Magnum is a great smooth bittering hop however 2oz does seem like a lot for an amber ale. Do you use any brewing software of any sort like BrewFather or Beersmith or Brewer's Friend? That'll help you figure out the IBU's as you're putting together a recipe. Doing a couple kits at first isn't a bad idea either because it'll help you get your brew day process down and help with future recipe formulation.

I just picked a simple ipa recipe of mine where I use .5oz of magnum for about 20IBU's of bittering. I changed that to 2oz with the same AAU of the ones you used and it brought the IBU's into the 80's...that's more IPA/DIPA range for bitterness and brings your Bitterness Unit/Gravity Unit Level over 1.0. So, expect this one to be quite bitter and hopefully it'll smooth out over time. Maybe this a batch that you package and let it mellow for a good few months/year and see how it does over time.
 
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AwesomeHobby

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Thank you, so nothing to try before bottling ? And yeah, seems heading in IPA direction (or beyond, as you mention), which is not a problem as I like IPAs but I went the direction I tried to go in hoping to have a fairly neutral beer to get input from friends, guess I messed that up. No software used and veered away from kits as I really wanted to have good immersion into the aspects and seeing the consequences, which looks like something for which I am getting a good opportunity. I have been looking at software since putting in fermenter, kind of evaluating what I did, which is what concerned me about IBUs too. I have gotten anywhere from 80 to 120 with equations/apps I have used. Not sure if using each correctly and I realize there are different scales; does that sound right that different sources might give that large a range ? Your idea to leave in bottles was a thought too, continuing the experimentation and having a bottle every couple weeks to observe.

Thank you again.
 
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AwesomeHobby

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With a little tongue in cheek, are you suggesting a good name for this might be The Accidental IPA ?
 

davidabcd

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I would let it smooth out on its own. Bottle as planned. Might take a month.
I wasn't sure if you used a single recipe or parts from different sources. You could consider using proven recipes that list the AA near the beginning of your brewing career and take notes. With each hop, each crop can have a different alpha acid (aa) so it's good to keep an eye on that. (2oz X 4% aa=8AAU, as an example).
 

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Amber Ale LME (Breiss Sparkling Amber) 6.6 lbs
SafAle S-04 Yeast (11.5g)
5 gallon 60 min boil
Magnum 2 oz @ 13.7% (27.4 AAU ?) for 45 min
Willamette 1 oz @ 5.8% (5.8 AAU ?) for 15 min
Ive got you at 87 IBUS for that first addition plus the Willamette and you're pushing over 100 IBUs...it's definitely gonna be a bitter one!

You could try adding some adjuncts (orange peel, coffee, etc) to try to add some sweetness back but I don't know how much that is going help considering the proverbial damage is done.
 
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AwesomeHobby

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I would let it smooth out on its own. Bottle as planned. Might take a month.
I wasn't sure if you used a single recipe or parts from different sources. You could consider using proven recipes that list the AA near the beginning of your brewing career and take notes. With each hop, each crop can have a different alpha acid (aa) so it's good to keep an eye on that. (2oz X 4% aa=8AAU, as an example).
Thank you, I just got things off Amazon (I hope that my new membership here is not deleted), saw the Magnum and Willamette were generally considered a good paring, liked the high AA of the Magnum, being afraid of oversweet. I wanted something that did not have the appearance of Bud Light but not yet as dark as a Guinness. Just taking in a lot of info and in a very wobbly manner ending up where I ended up, making decisions with "reasons" but expecting some, shall we say, faux pas. I think I can drink it, my biggest fear was to have a dumping party after 5+ weeks, so I think I have averted that. Hops packages had AAs on them so that seemed well accounted for, and then I say "let's just put all 2oz in". I think it would have turned out very nice if I just put 1oz max and probably less, of the Magnum, based on what I tasted. I got it in my head to get as much of the water to LME ratio as suggested, in the boil, and did not have big pot setup so used 3 pots on stove, we staggared the boils in every aspect to be able to be consistent before combining after cool down. But all seemed to go well with the help of Echo Show timers.

Thank you very much for the input !
 
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AwesomeHobby

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Ive got you at 87 IBUS for that first addition plus the Willamette and you're pushing over 100 IBUs...it's definitely gonna be a bitter one!

You could try adding some adjuncts (orange peel, coffee, etc) to try to add some sweetness back but I don't know how much that is going help considering the proverbial damage is done.
Thank you, sounds like it a good learning experience that based on initial taste I will at least be able to still drink ... hopefully.

Thank you for the input.
 

davidabcd

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@AwesomeHobby
You're welcome, any time.
One thing I tell anyone who's new to newish is (besides making sure all your equipment is clean and sanitized), it's incredibly difficult to not make drinkable beer. You should have seen the horrors I inflicted on my first two batches and they were still pretty good. I also liked buying ingredients individually for various reasons.
In any case, it looks like you're off to a really good start.
 
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AwesomeHobby

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So adding on, I just read a suggestion on another thread that possibly dry hopping might address extra bitterness, is that valid ? I have some Centennial hops in the fridge because I was concerned might not get the Magnum for brewing day.
 

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What I would do if I were you, would be familiarize yourself with some sort of brewing calculator - I like web.brewfather.app because it's very user friendly and I can go from my laptop to my cell if I need to input info/makes changes, create recipe, etc.

It was original brewing dogma that said dry hops only add aroma and nothing for bitterness.....however we know now that they can impart bitterness along with aroma AND flavor.

I'd try a couple kits so you know for certain how they should come out and take things from there.
 

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Ive got you at 87 IBUS for that first addition plus the Willamette and you're pushing over 100 IBUs...it's definitely gonna be a bitter one!

You could try adding some adjuncts (orange peel, coffee, etc) to try to add some sweetness back but I don't know how much that is going help considering the proverbial damage is done.
Not sure how this would work with an amber, but I had a pale ale that didn't suit me much and wound up adding a little sweet and sour mix to my glass to make a type of shandy. The beer is good now (it was just green initially). But I've noted that maybe adding some lemonade at serving to create a quick shandy/rattler sort of thing might be a good way to "save" a beer.
 
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AwesomeHobby

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I really appreciate the input Genuine and I know your recommendation is spot on, but this is kind of a journey for me, a fun discovery. Obviously I am standing on shoulders to go about it, yours included, but I am currently trying to be in a mode of learning as much as I can through experience and trials/"failures" following and followed by research. This one obviously has given me significant "ones to grow on." I learned a ton just going through the extract brew process this first time and up to where I am right now in primary, pretty exciting stuff.

I think I will be continuing with this one as is through the bottle conditioning and then depending on how it is, see what the impact of the months/year you suggested is. I will definitely involve some of those apps, already have the Brewfather app on phone from your previous post as well as about 8 others of them I previously installed to play around with calculations and generally seeing how I like the apps (of course this was after my brew). Thank you again.
 

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Not sure where your from, but sounds like you accidentally brewed a type of “West Coast IPA”. Basically a very bitter, piney citrus beer. They were more popular in the states a few years ago and have mostly faded away and replaced with hazy IPAs. Give an extra week or two of bottle conditioning and some of that bitter/piney flavor should smooth out. You have an interesting approach but also sounds like fun. Welcome to the club.
 

dtashmore547

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let it be, try it once it is ready for drinking, if you enjoy it good, if not I suggest you make another ale with low bitterness and open one of each and poor together to balance out. just a suggestion, your extra bitter ipa will last a long time at that gravity but you will have to be patient.
 
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AwesomeHobby

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Not sure where your from, but sounds like you accidentally brewed a type of “West Coast IPA”. Basically a very bitter, piney citrus beer. They were more popular in the states a few years ago and have mostly faded away and replaced with hazy IPAs. Give an extra week or two of bottle conditioning and some of that bitter/piney flavor should smooth out. You have an interesting approach but also sounds like fun. Welcome to the club.
Thank you for the info. The West Coast IPA aspect is very interesting and will definitely come in handy as I defend the bitterness ! From USA ... Michigan, Florida.

So I was originally planning 2 weeks in bottle, was that your baseline also and are looking at 3-4 ? If so, sounds good and week 2 will be my first sampling followed by weeks 3 and 4.

Yeah, thinking a craft approach with soft science backbone, which is I imagine is how most do it whether they express it or not. But I am looking to really learn how to do it gaining understanding of different variables, acquiring as much knowledge as can, not so much just making beer.

This one tasted similar to other very hoppy/bitter beers I have had where they were really just too much (thinking they could have been what you mentioned), but this one seemed to be just a little more drinkable to be honest, but that might have been my hopefulness clouding my judgement. Of course sounds like it is still "green" (hopefully using terminology correctly) and not done with creating its profile, but if it generally only gets more mellow that will be good. Was leaning toward a name of Accidental IPA or AIPA, but maybe AWCIPA or better yet Awcipa (for less hint of name and more mystery), Aweco ? ... going to have to make a list ...

Thank you so much for the help.
 
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AwesomeHobby

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let it be, try it once it is ready for drinking, if you enjoy it good, if not I suggest you make another ale with low bitterness and open one of each and poor together to balance out. just a suggestion, your extra bitter ipa will last a long time at that gravity but you will have to be patient.
Thank you, was spitballing similar on the 2nd batch for evening out. Sounds like you are saying to do the mixing at the bottle opening, if I understand correctly what if I did that NOW and basically combined fermenters so I end up with 2 of the same size of the 1 I have now ? Where obviously half of each of the now 2 has nearly 3 week head start in the fermenter ? Or is that just a mess ?
 

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Are you talking about opening 2 active fermentation’s? Best to let the fermenters ride man. Mix before yeast pitch, or at pour time. In the first day or so you’ve got a little play from the yeast scrubbing oxygen, but now all you would do is oxygenate and ruin two batches.
 

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Start with a proven recipe, use software such as brewers friend and adjust your recipe to the AA value of the hops that you receive. Most hops have a different AA value depending on the producer and crop
 
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AwesomeHobby

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Are you talking about opening 2 active fermentation’s? Best to let the fermenters ride man. Mix before yeast pitch, or at pour time. In the first day or so you’ve got a little play from the yeast scrubbing oxygen, but now all you would do is oxygenate and ruin two batches.
Makes sense, thanks. Going to focus on bottle ageing and blend at serve if needed. It was certainly drinkable, for me, and if it mellows at all I think will be fine. If anyone cares, I will try to provide feedback at scheduled tastings. Obviously subjective, but data.
 
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Start with a proven recipe, use software such as brewers friend and adjust your recipe to the AA value of the hops that you receive. Most hops have a different AA value depending on the producer and crop
Thank you.
 
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AwesomeHobby

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Just updating to serve as a log. Bottled as expected a couple days ago. Still obviously has the bitterness but I have to say it is drinkable, so with that, still hoping for mellowing out. Not to mention it was warm as opposed to refrigerator-cooled.
 
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davidabcd

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You could take a page out of BMC (Bud, Miller, Coors) and drink them ice-cold so you can't taste as much which would counter the bitterness. As I said earlier, though, a month-ish amount of time should be good.
Glad they are drinkable. I would consider it a victory.
 
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You could take a page out of BMC (Bud, Miller, Coors) and drink them ice-cold so you can't taste as much which would counter the bitterness. As I said earlier, though, a month-ish amount of time should be good.
Glad they are drinkable. I would consider it a victory.
Ha, yep, thanks, and the cooler the better on these for sure. Add the nearly 6% and should be going down smoothly in no time ! Definitely doing your month-ish (at least, depending) on the bulk of the batch, but will start sampling at week 2, just to get a feel for things. I really appreciate the input.
 

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Remember. As long as you make notes the your sampling in the name
of science.
 
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Update:
Had first tasting at 2 weeks last night. Definitely still very bitter. I have tasted beers in that area of bitterness, just was not the intent for this one. Sticking with original plan of keep in conditioning for some more time. Not sure if will go with tasting at every week at this point or every 2 weeks. Conditioning has been done at what I understand to be a good temperature of around mid 70s and complete darkness. Carbonation looks good.
 
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AwesomeHobby

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Another tasting, 1 month in bottling. Seemed similar to first tasting. Thinking of going full month before next.
 
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NGD

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I think after a month and a half your risk of having an oxidized bitter brew over a good bitter brew starts to go up.
If they really arent to your liking, find an IPA lover and tell them its a West Coast style IPA. It’ll be a win/win
 
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AwesomeHobby

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I think after a month and a half your risk of having an oxidized bitter brew over a good bitter brew starts to go up.
If they really arent to your liking, find an IPA lover and tell them its a West Coast style IPA. It’ll be a win/win
Appreciate the input; something to think about. I guess the idea of waiting a little longer was based on some suggestions in this thread as well as logged experience in another thread where someone had let the beer sit in bottle I believe 4+ months for the exact same reason to mellow out the bitterness with reported success/improvement. I can drink them for sure, just seeing what happens I guess. Maybe I will stick with the 2-wk interval to catch a bad trend and drink 'em up. I do have them in a nice coolish, dark location with zero movement, logically thinking that at least the headspace O2 will be kept isolated from the beer by presumably at least a thin layer of CO2. I assume there is O2 already absorbed that can do damage though. I did read something that indicated hoppier beers can be more suceptible to in-bottle O2 though, so I guess that is my situation. Thank you for getting me to rethink this.
 
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