First of all, I didn't really plan to make a beer with IBU above 100... I popped the hops into the calculator and it came out about 85. So, after the brewing the beer I was going over the printed out recipe, and found that the hops schedule was not reflecting the reality... I recalculated the IBU according to my steps, and it came out as 120 (that is what happens when you put Magnum and Columbus at 60mins of boil).

Anyway, I'm not against hops, and I love hoppy IPAs and DIPAs with tons of hops (I'm a hophead and an addict, I know). However, I've read that a human won't be able to taste bitterness of IBU above 100... In other words IBU 100 and IBU 150 would taste the same... Is it the case?

Will it be bad? Can I neutralize the over-bitterness with any additional ingredients into secondary like oak cubes, maltodextrin, caramel or crystalized honey? Or I just should not worry about it and just enjoy it like an extra bitter IPA?

Thanks guys.

PS. I am documenting every single mistake I make, and so far in 7 batches I didn't repeat any of them twice.

PPS. It was supposed to be an DIAP/IPA with 7.5 ABV, 80 IBU, and 20 SRM.

1 Answer 1


There's plenty of commercial beers that exceed 100 IBUs, some go to absurd levels. A lot of my favorite DIPA's have over 100 (Stone's Ruination being the first that comes to mind). I've had the IBU debate with others who have made the claim of the human threshold on hops. No one has been able to cite a factual source on whether or not such a theory is at all true past hearsay. Seriously, someone please correct me if I'm wrong.

If you'd like to neutralize the bitterness, you have a few options: increase the body (higher FG), dilute your recipe, or probably the simplest method, reduce your hop quantities. Unfortunately, since you've already brewed it, none of these are viable options. If you like hops, I doubt 120 IBUs will push you away.

It's my belief that perceived bitterness relies more on the quantity of hops you use, and not their resulting IBU's. You will taste way more bitterness if you double or triple your hop quantities (towards the end of the boil) to get to an IBU count instead of using one high-alpha hop.

Also, for future reference, you can save yourself the hassle and use one hop variety instead of two for your bittering charge. Bittering hops are not intended for flavor, so at 60 minutes, you wouldn't be able to taste much of a difference between two bittering hops like Magnum and Columbus (other hops have different bittering characteristics though, so some level of research when experimenting with bittering hops should be done). My personal preference for IPAs is to aim for anywhere between 25% - 33% of my total IBU contributions coming from my bittering charge, the remaining 66% - 75% are typically at the 15-minute mark and a 30 minute hop stand. This results in a very hoppy, bitter, chewy IPA, yet it can be well under 100 IBUs and drink like it's way north of that. Just some ideas for your next recipe if you haven't experimented with any of this.

  • I was planning to use Magnum at 60 mins and Columbus at 30 mins, but it was one of those situations when "something went wrong". For next batches I will try to move most of my hops towards the end of the boil (20-10-5mins).
    – Trigger
    Commented Mar 12, 2014 at 21:52
  • Given that most brewing software says that sub-5-minute additions add very little IBUs, how do you account for your 30min hop stand? What impact does it have on the IBU contribution of your earlier additions, if any?
    – GHP
    Commented Mar 13, 2014 at 12:20
  • According to Mark Malowicki's thesis for Oregon State University, assuming a hop stand is held at 194°F, at 15 minutes, you get 44.6% efficiency versus boiling, 30 minutes 47.7% and 60 minutes, 54.3%. It drops off quickly though. Go down to 170°F and you'll average 15% efficiency.
    – Scott
    Commented Mar 13, 2014 at 13:50

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