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Newbie question re hops

I purchased the deluxe brewing kit with glass carboys and am in the process of my first brew. It’s the Irish Red and is now in the secondary fermenter. I’m ready to begin the Smash American Session Ale. This calls for three hop additions to the boil:
1/2 oz. Simcoe - 60 min
1/2 oz. Simcoe - 15 min
1 oz. Simcoe - 5 min
then, a 1 oz. Simcoe dry hop at 5-7 days.

My questions are:
Since we are not crazy about really bitter beer, how bitter is this beer? We’re trying to learn to appreciate the bitter beers, but it will take awhile.

If this is a pretty bitter beer, how would I modify the hop additions to moderate the bitterness?

You need to look at the IBU rating for the beer. That does not appear to be very hoppy but if you want to back off a bit, move the hop additions closer to the end of the boil. 35minutes, 10m & 5 minutes. Then you will still get nice hop flavor with reduced bitterness.

Hop bitterness is a measurable number using International Bitterness Units (IBUs). Generally, anything above about 40 IBUs is “pretty bitter” to the uninitiated palate, below about 30 IBUs is moderate and not too bad on bitterness, and below 10 IBUs would be like a Bud Light level of bitterness. Maximum IBUs possible in any beer is about 80 to 90 IBUs, which of course is really, really bitter!

It’s pretty easy to calculate IBUs for any recipe, as long as you know the volume being brewed, ounces (oz) of hops, the timing of the hop additions, and the alpha acid percentage (AA%) of the hops. Google tells me that Simcoe hops have an average alpha acid of 13%, so I’ll use that for the following example calculation. These calculations are designed for pellet hops used in 5 gallons final boil volume, 60-minute boil, @ approximately 1.060 OG. I have designed this IBU calculation method (which I like to call “the Taylor formula”) to come super-close to what is calculated using the official “Tinseth” formula. What you need to calculate:

3.6 * oz * AA% = IBUs from bittering additions, with hops added @ about 60 minutes
1.6 * oz * AA% = IBUs from flavor additions @ 10-15 minutes
0.6 * oz * AA% = IBUs from aroma additions @ 5 minutes

Add all these together, and then add another +1.5 to the final total. Dry hops add zero bitterness (at least in theory).

So in your case, I’ll first assume that you are brewing 5 gallons. If not, then you need to multiply your result by 5 and divide by the volume in gallons that you are brewing. Not too difficult. I’m also assuming your AA% is 13%. You can fix this if it’s different. So, your calculation:

3.6 * 1/2 * 13 = 23.4 IBUs from bittering additions, with hops added @ about 60 minutes
1.6 * 1/2 * 13 = 10.4 IBUs from flavor additions @ 10-15 minutes
0.6 * 1 * 13 = 7.8 IBUs from aroma additions @ 5 minutes

Then add an extra 1.5, so the grand total is 1.5 + 23.4 + 10.4 + 7.8 =

43 IBUs for 5 gallons of this beer. If you’re brewing a smaller volume (V), you’ll get even more IBUs, at a ratio of 5/V.

That’s “pretty bitter”. If you want to reduce this, then I would suggest moving some of your bittering hops down to the 5-minute mark and knock the IBUs back into the 20s. Easy as that. After you run this calculation a few times, it becomes old habit.

You can also pump your recipes into good software such as BeerSmith or ProMash or StrangeBrew or a host of others, and they’ll do all these calculations for you.

Thanks dmtaylo2. Very good explanation. This is printed and goes into my brewing notes for future reference. I knew that bittering hops go in for a longer boil time but wasn’t sure how modify those additions to just reduce the bitterness while getting most of the flavor and aroma.

Happy to help. Brew on!

:cheers:

[quote=“dmtaylo2”]Happy to help. Brew on!

:cheers: [/quote]

I’m curious. How are the 3.6, 1.6, and 0.6 derived? I assume they are calculated somehow from the time of the boil, but how?

If memory serves, I picked them up from a table on John Palmer’s howtobrew.com. Whatever works! Yes, they have to do with time in the boil. You can probably look up the same table to figure out the factors for different boil times if 60, 15 and 5 aren’t what you do.

EDIT: Yeah… admittedly, I stole my knowledge from the following link. Multiply the factors in the table by 15 to get the magical factors of 3.6, 1.6, and 0.6, or come up with your own factors for your own boil times and gravities. I still find the calculation more accurate if you add 1.5 at the end though (Palmer doesn’t do this).

http://www.howtobrew.com/section1/chapter5-5.html

I figured I’d let the group know what I did. As suggested, I modified the hop additions as follows:

1/8 oz. Simcoe at 60 min.
1/4 oz. Simcoe at 15 min.
1 3/4 oz. Simcoe at 5 min.

Then,
1 oz. Simcoe dry hopped 5 days before the end of 2 week time in primary.
2 weeks in secondary.

I used fizz drops when going to bottle.

This beer has about the right amount of bitterness for our current taste. The hop aroma and flavor is through the roof!

There is quite a bit of variation in the carbonation level after two weeks in the bottle. That surprised me since I figured that fizz drops might give more uniform carbonation. The last 12 oz. bottle I poured was hard to keep in a 16 oz. glass. So far, it seems that there’s less sediment in the bottle.

If I were to repeat this kit, I’d probably bump the 60 min. hop addition to 1/4 oz.

Thanks for the update. Glad it turned out pretty well for you.

One thing that might cause overcarbonation is if you have little chunks of hops roaming around in your beer. Do you? And perhaps an even bigger thing would be if your priming tabs are just too big for your liking, or not all exactly the same size. I always prime in bulk for this reason, i.e., boil 5/8 cup table sugar per 5 gallons with a couple cups of water, cool, and add to the entire batch. Then you will get much more consistent carbonation.

[quote=“dmtaylo2”]Thanks for the update. Glad it turned out pretty well for you.

One thing that might cause overcarbonation is if you have little chunks of hops roaming around in your beer. Do you? And perhaps an even bigger thing would be if your priming tabs are just too big for your liking, or not all exactly the same size. I always prime in bulk for this reason, i.e., boil 5/8 cup table sugar per 5 gallons with a couple cups of water, cool, and add to the entire batch. Then you will get much more consistent carbonation.[/quote]

Actually, that’s what I’ve been thinking. I’m going to ditch the fizz drops and go back to bulk priming. At least if it’s stirred well, every bottle should get the same amount of sugar.

Whether there were “little chunks of hops roaming around”, I don’t know. The dry hopping was done to the primary, then siphon to the secondary for two weeks, then siphon to the bottling bucket. I didn’t ‘see’ anything floating around in the bottling bucket. I’m pretty careful siphoning and would rather lose a bottle of beer than transfer any sediment. Most of the batches I’ve done so far are on the dark side, so it’s hard to see much in the beer. The one exception is this Smash American Session Ale - I think I would have seen something floating around in this one.

Every beer I brew, I learn a little more. I know this - the next time I take a brewery tour, I’m going to have a lot of questions. All kinds of questions have come to mind since I started on this trek.

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