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?


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

  • Could you clarify just how much of each (Northdown, Target, and Bobek) was added at 60 min?
    – hartski
    Commented Jul 15, 2012 at 12:26
  • Can you also share the original and final gravity? These play a large role in bitterness.
    – baka
    Commented Jul 15, 2012 at 13:47
  • Hi hartski/baka, i've added details on the amounts of hops used and the OG/FG. :)
    – dazoakley
    Commented Jul 16, 2012 at 8:10

9 Answers 9


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.

  • 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
    Commented Jul 15, 2012 at 12:01
  • 2
    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
    Commented Jul 15, 2012 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. Commented Jul 19, 2012 at 0:38

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.

  • 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
    Commented Jul 15, 2012 at 13:49
  • Double plus to Baka. Cooking it will only make it more bitter.
    – brewchez
    Commented Jul 16, 2012 at 18:51

A quick idea which works for me. After bottled. when serving the beer. Pint glass put 1/4 teaspoon of granulated white sugar (regular sugar u put in coffee). Pour your beer into glass n sugar.Play with this to your liking. Works well for my unbearably bitter IPA.

  • Good idea. Really the only ways to reduce bitter is to get it balanced with sweet, dilute with blending, or aging. If balancing a whole batch use an unfermentable sugar like lactos. Commented Jan 18, 2016 at 15:01

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.


I would suggest aging the beer, and if that doesnt work, blend it with a nice, sweet, malty amber ale.


Pick a juice and make a shandy. I made a grapefruit IPA that ended up getting more bitter than I wanted. So, I decided to make a shandy out of it. I ended up adding 1.5 quarts of grapefruit juice to the keg after trying different ratios. I added an additional 1/2 gallon grapefruit juice after carbonating to get more juice flavor. This worked very well. I now have a new grapefruit shandy with nice juice sweet/tart at the front and a slight bitterness toward the middle of the flavor palate. I also dry hopped in the keg with 1 oz centennial and think that brought a nice aroma to what was an overwhelming bitter flavor.

  • Update... It has been a week since adding the 1/2 gallon grapefruit juice. The first few pints pulled from the keg were still a bit bitter, but now after about 10 pints pulled, the bitter has really settled down.
    – Ryan Whitt
    Commented Apr 11, 2016 at 18:11

Chew paracetamol before drinking it and it will taste great after that!
No seriously , I'm sitting here with the same problem. My idea is to balance out with sugar even though that's bringing me away from the dry crispness that I was after. My initial thought was to boil equal amounts of sugar and water to make a simple syrup and then experiment with the amounts needed per serving.

  • Is this a new question or a viable answer to the OP's question? Asking for thoughts in thread like this is a traditional forum type response. This stack exchange format is supposed to provide answers to questions directly. Your's is right on the edge. Consider posting it as a new question, after a thorough search to be sure you aren't duplicating.
    – brewchez
    Commented Apr 8, 2016 at 13:30
  • And if you happen have some sildenafil, you can chew that as well. It might have added benefits. Look it up if you are not understanding.
    – 42-
    Commented Mar 25, 2019 at 21:22

I have a similar issue at the moment. I am attempting a Cascadian Coffee ale. My bitterness is coming from the coffee. I used 4oz coursely ground light roasted coffee in secondary fermentation. At the same time I am amping my AVB's a little so I added a pound of corn sugar. I may have pulled a wild yeast strand from the grounds but I'm pretty sure it's just the coffee itself. I'm almost considering trying some sort of lactose if there are no other suggestions. I'll sample it again tonight and either rack it in a keg and let it sit or fool around with lactose. Anything? Wow this is an old thread.

  1. add dry malt,candy,or other sugarlike dextrose to fermenter and water...maintaining original OG 2.add say half a can of Coopers or other "kit" beer and 10 litres of water to fermenterUse a lager kit or low IBU 3.sweeten the beer e.g. lactose.

I have this problem I think..lol...hence I am looking for help.Loved the paracetemol and sidifinil jokes.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.