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My latest batch of IPA has come out really unpleasantly bitter, it was only supposed to be about 45 IBUs, using a combination of Northdown, Target and Bobek for bittering (60 minutes) and some more Bobek at flame out and for dry hopping. But I think I may have messup up somewhere as it tastes like it's much much higher than that...

I've not bottled it yet (it's still in the secondary - been there for a couple of weeks), so I was wondering if there was a way I could rescue this batch, or at least make it more pleasant to drink?

Is there something I could add to the secondary, prior to bottling?

Should I just shove it in the bottles and age it for a while to see if it mellows out?

If it's still too harsh after aging, would it be worth trying to blend it with another beer to counteract the over the top bitterness? If yes, what do you suggest, something more malty?

EDIT:

Here's the details on the hops as requested in the comments...

  • Northdown (8.1% AA) - 23g at 60min
  • Target (9.3% AA) - 23g at 60min
  • Bobek (5.25% AA) - 23g at 0min, 20g dry hop for 4 days

OG was 1.059, FG was 1.012

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Could you clarify just how much of each (Northdown, Target, and Bobek) was added at 60 min? –  hartski Jul 15 '12 at 12:26
    
Can you also share the original and final gravity? These play a large role in bitterness. –  baka Jul 15 '12 at 13:47
    
Hi hartski/baka, i've added details on the amounts of hops used and the OG/FG. :) –  dazoakley Jul 16 '12 at 8:10

3 Answers 3

up vote 8 down vote accepted

I vote for ageing, 45 IBUs isn't that bitter, and the bitterness will round out over time. It's more important that you nail down if this is how it should have turned out, or if there was a process problem, so you can avoid doing the same again in future.

Are you accustomed to drinking IPAs? I remember my first which was around 45 IBUs, and thought it was unpleasant. Now I barely taste 45 IBUs. You may simply need to acquire the taste for the hop bitterness.

Finally, are you sure it's hop bitterness you're tasting. Could it be astringency from the hops or from excessive fly sparging?

Either way, let it age. I wouldn't start messing with it, since you're equally likely to end up with a brew that is at least as undrinkable, only for different reasons. If you want to blend, I would blend in the glass with another brew, such as a pale ale. At least you can then enjoy some of the brew now while you're waiting for it to round out.

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Hi, thanks for the reply. Yep, i'm used to drinking IPAs - one of my favourite styles. :) Now you mention it, it is more of an astringent character i'm getting to be honest (just didn't think of that originally). I'll bottle it up and give it time to age as you suggest. Thanks! –  dazoakley Jul 15 '12 at 12:01
1  
If you used a lot of hops and boiled for a long time, that can extract astringent compounds from the hops. You may want to consider using very high alpha hops (12%+) for the 60+ min boil to reduce the amount of vegetal matter being boiled for a long time. This can help reduce astringency. Of course, rule out other causes first, such as the sparge. –  mdma Jul 15 '12 at 15:45
    
I agree with @mdma. I almost gave up brewing pale ales after I had a string of way too harsh (earthy bitterness) in all batches. To fix it I made sure to filter when transferring to primary (or after), cold crashing and optionally using fining agents to separate hop matter from the wort/beer. –  Mark McDonald Jul 19 '12 at 0:38

You could try blending it with another beer, probably would do this when serving. It might taste good mixed with something that has a similar malt profile but obviously less bitterness, maybe a pale ale. In case this sounds weird to you, remember people have been doing it for a long time. Two popular examples are a black & tan - a blend of dark and light beer, or a gueuze, which is a blend of lambics of different ages.

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As an alternative to drinking it, you could cook with it and use it in marinades. In this arena you can take advantage of the concentrated flavors and bitterness. Obvious examples would be beer brats, beer cheese soup, beer cheese dip, beer bread etc.

Over the time it would take you to cook with 5 gallons of beer, it would still offer you the chance to see if it improves with age (as mdma describes). Then each time you make food with the beer you have a chance to sample for any improvement in bitterness.

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+1 to that. That's a great idea. :) –  dazoakley Jul 15 '12 at 13:31
2  
Just remember to avoid anything that will reduce (as in deglazing and sauces) the beer, as that will amplify bitterness and make your food taste somewhat unpleasant. –  baka Jul 15 '12 at 13:49
    
Double plus to Baka. Cooking it will only make it more bitter. –  brewchez Jul 16 '12 at 18:51

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