West Coast IPA IBU calculations

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zandrsn

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Hi folks, so I've been homebrewing for a number of years now, but have never been inspired to make an ipa until recently (I'm much more of a stout, quad, sour, brett saison, sort of brewer). I really love BP's Sculpin though and in doing research into that brew I came across this question and response:

the beeradvocate recipe IPAAAA posted, which people seem pretty happy with, is giving me over 100 IBUs (Rager: 114! Daniels and Tinseth are just under 100)

Ballast Point website lists Sculpin' at 70 IBUs.

what's the deal?

When I've had the commercial beer, it's been plenty bitter, super dry, and has a lot of hop flavor. Would love to replicate it given the cost here on the East Coast. But should I be adjusting the hopping to get closer to 70 IBUs?
"No, that's correct. IBU formulas don't work for West Coast IPAs. Pliny calculates at like 240IBU (Rager), where in reality it's around 90.

So just ignore what the formula says, and carry on.
I'm wondering if this is actually true? I can't seem to find any info to back it up... I generally calculate using Tinseth, and am wanting a beer with around 70 IBUs (like Sculpin). Right now using a hop schedule based on the North Star IPA (homebrew basis of Sculpin) and info a couple of homebrewers have received from BP my recipe is coming out around ~90 ibus... (and I've already been a bit more conservative than some of the receipes).

Anyone have thoughts about this?

Cheers! :mug:
 

Yooper

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I'm wondering if this is actually true? I can't seem to find any info to back it up... I generally calculate using Tinseth, and am wanting a beer with around 70 IBUs (like Sculpin). Right now using a hop schedule based on the North Star IPA (homebrew basis of Sculpin) and info a couple of homebrewers have received from BP my recipe is coming out around ~90 ibus... (and I've already been a bit more conservative than some of the receipes).

Anyone have thoughts about this?

Cheers! :mug:
Yes, it's true. Sort of. :p

There is a limit of solubility of hops oils, and the amount they can isomerize, which is generally thought to be around 100 IBUs at a maximum. That means that calculating 100+ IBUs is just a theoretical thing anyway.

For lower IBU beers (under, say, 95), you can use some software to help with a theoretical IBU amount. But unless you actually have a way to have it tested, it's just a guess.

A good work around is to know your system and use the same scale (Rager or Tinseth) so that you know what "90 IBUs" tastes like to you. It may or may not be an actual IBU number (probably not) but if you can compare it to other beers that can help.
 

stpug

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Totally shooting from the hip here so I might be way off target, but my understanding is that the theoretical limit of IBUs is around 100 (or the limit of our tongue receptors, not sure which). I would assume that as you approach this number it becomes harder and harder to achieve. Probably up to about 90 and you're seeing fairly accurate estimates but approaching 100 starts getting fuzzy. Again, this is all just what I've gathered and remembered, AND HOW I INTERPRET IT.

On the other hand, I've brewed a lightweight west coast IIPA that calculates as ~84 IBU tinseth using super galena (punchy, biting bitter) for bittering and it came across as a big bitter beer. My tongue would estimate the bittering right in that ballpark (80-90). I've just brewed a variation of this same beer 2 days ago with a bit more bitter to reach ~90 IBU and the kettle sample tasted very bitter.

Water mineral content is said to play a factor in bitterness perception as well. So don't overlook this aspect.

Lastly, my tongue is the best judge of bitterness, so when you're done brewing you batch you can send me a bottle and I'll let you know how bitter it is :D

Edit: Surprise, surprise.... Yooper beat me :D
 
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