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Over-Bittered Stoud

I recently made a coffee stout and did a bit of a blunder when hopping the beer, which resulted in a really high bitterness. I was wondering if anyone here knew if any of my ideas I’m about to list would work in balancing the beer…

  1. Could I dissolve lactose in boiling water, then add it in small amounts until the beer tastes a little more “right”? It’d be more like a coffee milk stout, but that’s fine, I’m just wondering if I can add lactose to a secondary.

  2. I bottle all my beers, so could I use something besides corn sugar as a priming sugar in order to have some residual sweetness? Something like honey or Belgian candi sugar? I’ve only used corn sugar, so I’m not sure how the other priming sugars impact the beer’s taste/sweetness.

  3. Should I just tell people it’s a cross between a coffee stout and black IPA? I actually don’t mind the bitterness, but I’m planning on giving this out to people who don’t have the most adventurous palates, so I’m not sure if this is a good option.

Any suggestions?


  1. Yes
  2. Honey will ferment completely and will not add any sweetness. I ASSUME Belgian candi sugar will also ferment completely.
  3. Bad news: you may have to drink it all yourself. Let us know how it works out.

More bad news- lactose won’t give you much sweetness. Taste a little dry- you’ll see unfortunately.
And yes, I can confirm that Belgian candy sugar is just dextrose, so will ferment completely.
Try the lactose, but I’m thinking you’ve got yourself a ‘Cascadian Dark ale’.
Good luck. Hope you can turn it into something drinkable.

Just had another thought- how about adding an unfermentable sweetner like stevia?

Thanks for the advice. I didn’t think of Stevia, just thought of Lactose in the unfermentables department.

I’ll sample it again when I check the gravity and think about it from there.


If you have the time, you could make a smaller batch identical to the first but without any bittering additon at all. Then blend the two to give you the appropriate bitterness.

Hop bitterness can fade a little over time so if you have the patience, wait a while. OTOH I have had some stouts that were bitter but excellent.

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