Controlling bitterness

Discussion in 'General Brewing Discussions' started by mihacerv, Jul 5, 2016.

  1. mihacerv

    mihacerv New Member

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    Hello everybody,
    I have a question regarding controlling of bitterness. From what I found on forums, bitterness is being extracted from hops, as long as the wort temperature is over 140F (60°C). So bitterness rises even after flame out. That makes 60 min hops actually 60min + time to cool to 140F (60°C), and flame out hops add bitterness too. My guess is, that as temperature goes down, bitterness extraction lowers too, so that adds even more uncertainty.

    Since I can't really predict the time, I would need to cool my wort after flame out, the bitterness would be different from expected. That's why I was looking at two possible solutions. I also thought of some pros and cons for each method.

    1. Use hop bags for bittering and flavor hops during the boil, so I can remove them at flame out. That way, bitterness and flavor hops would not contribute to bitternes any more after flame out.
    PROs:
    - less trub from hops
    - "clean cut" of bittering
    CONs:
    - flame out (aroma) hops would still contribute to bitterness
    - some aroma from flame out hops would be evaporated
    - would have to compensate for worse hop utilization because of bags

    2. Boil concentrated wort and add cold water at flame out. That way, the temperature would drop instantly, and bitterness extraction would stop.
    PROs:
    - fast cooling time
    - no loss of aroma
    CONs:
    - would have to compensate, when measuring original gravity
    - less water available for sparging

    Third option would, of course, would be to just predict the time nad adjust additions accordingly. Not complicating co much about exact bitterness would also help :).

    I hope someone can give me some more information about this and help me decide, what to do.
    Best regards,
    Miha.
     
  2. jeffpn

    jeffpn Well-Known Member

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    While your hypotheses may be correct, I believe the differences to be very insignificant. I can't speak for homebrewers everywhere of course, but I'm sure most homebrewers throw hops in with no bag, and then have a period of time between flame out and chilling. Not to mention that different chillers will have different times to get the wort under 140°. Bitterness can't really be measured by a homebrewer anyway. It can only be calculated. I don't think I could tell the difference between 23 IBUs or 24, unless they were side by side.

    My advice to you is to throw your hops in bare, and make recipe adjustments according to your own personal taste. That being said, do whatever makes you happy as a homebrewer.

    RDWHAHB
     
  3. artbreu

    artbreu Member

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    I have used a hop spider to good effect. It still a "bag" but it floats freely and I didn't notice any change in bitterness or flavor of any of my recipes. Just an opinion but unless you are trying to duplicate or "clone" a beer to exact standards I wouldn't worry too much about it. You're still going to be dialing in your process and ingredients to produce the beer you like.

    Adding cool water to a boil would be great to lower temps quickly, but can you guarantee the sterility of that water? Otherwise that's a bad idea.
     
  4. J A

    J A Well-Known Member

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    I use a bag and put all the hops in it. It stays through the cooling-down process. Unless you're using no-chill, the time that the hops are over 140 is very limited - even with 80+ degree tap water, I'm getting down to 100 in less than 10 minutes.
    I think the IBU numbers in recipe calculator are approximate but accurate to within a few points. The bitterness that's extracted from the 60 minute addition probably doesn't increase more than a small fraction of a point with longer exposure. If you increase the time on the 60 minute addition to 70 minutes, the difference shows to be less than 1 IBU. It's just not a factor.
    Now, doing a hop-stand might make a little bit bigger difference, but I think most of the alpha acids would have been extracted during the 60-70 minutes of exposure to much higher temperatures and the "fresh" hops from the late additions are getting more extraction from the hop-stand/whirlpool exposure. Even then, the IBU contribution is minimal...maybe a few points.
    Bottom line...brew it according to the recipe calculations and see what it tastes like. If it's more bitter than you'd like, change your methodology or the recipe. If it's perfect...do your best to accurately replicate the results. ;)
     
  5. mihacerv

    mihacerv New Member

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    Thanks everyone for your replies!

    OK, I actually didn't mean to say, that I wanted exact IBU, I'm not nearly that idealistic :). What I was concerned about was, that when I was playing with the no-chill function of the brewersfriend recipe maker, 20 minutes made quite an impact on the IBU.


    My plan was to boil some water a day before, then cover it and let it cool, then put it in refrigerator.

    I checked the calculator again, and I see now, that you are right. Late additions are actually the main source of the IBU overshoot.

    So my plan now is to add flavor hops a bit later in the boil and aroma hops when wort is a bit cooler. If it goes well, I'll do it again, otherwise fix it :)

    PS: I do have an immersion chiller, which I made out of aluminum tube, but it is quite small, so I think it will be a slow chill.

    Anyway, thanks again for your replies :D .
     
  6. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    As I mentioned, the flavor threshold for hop bitterness is four IBU. You can't tell the difference between 23 and 24 IBU, I'd be willing to bet side by side! The color of the beer will have more influence on your perception of the flavor than the actual bitterness as long as the bitterness is close (test: Dye a light lager brown and see how people react to the maltiness of the two beers).
     
  7. J A

    J A Well-Known Member

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    Interesting...My wife just doesn't like "dark" beers that taste "molasas-y". I've had her try things like a dark bitter that's definitely not that flavor, but she just can't get past her perception that it's going to taste like that, so it's the impression she gets. It would be interesting to take a beer she really likes (Blonde Ale, Mexican Lager, etc) and give her one that's dyed dark, but otherwise tastes the same. I'd bet she wouldn't like the darker one.
     
  8. jmcnamara

    jmcnamara Well-Known Member

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    I once gave a friend a pale stout. He loved it even though he only drinks light, non hoppy beers

    Anyway, back to topic
     
  9. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    Get your hands on some Sinamar - it's malt extract made from black malt - and dye a Coors Light brown. Give it to some unwitting friends or other consumers but make sure it's in a clear glass so they can see the colors or even better, stage a triangle test using only casual drinkers. Hmm, that's a potential beer experiment, will have to bounce that off our homebrew club. I'd bet the "dark" beer would be perceived as more malty, thicker, and heavier than the original, even though they're the exact same beer....

    Aside into wine country: Behavioral economists have done similar tests with sophisticated wine tasters, sommeliers and the like. They dye a white wine red and give it to the tasters to evaluate. Tasters describe white and red wines using different terms but when they get the white dyed red, they start describing it using red wine terminology. I'd bet it wouldn't be different for beer.
     

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