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Overpowering bitterness in kegged beer

Last week (6 days ago) I kegged an admittedly very hoppy American double IPA (85 IBU’s, ~9% abv) that has all of a sudden become very bitter.

Two days ago (4 days after kegging), I tested about a 10 oz. glass of the beer and it was fantastic. It had a very nice hop nose, a nice fruity middle with a dry hoppy/bitter finish. I enjoyed it very much.

This evening (6 days after kegging) I had a full pint and it was bitter from front to back–almost overpoweringly so. Does anyone have any explanation as to why this might have happened? It has been sitting at 12 psi essentially the entire week. I did not use any priming sugar and just relied on the carbonation from the CO2 bottle to carbonate the beer.

I practiced pretty stringent sanitation procedures. The keg is a 5 gallon corny. I bought it from the local homebrew store. I washed it a number of times using hot soapy water. I gave it an overnight soak in PBW and sanitized it prior to kegging the beer.

Does anyone have any explanations or solutions? Is this just a by-product of carbonating homebrew using the pressure from a co2 bottle? Will it subside in time?

Thanks so much in advance. :cheers:

Its unlikely that anything infection related happened that quickly under cold storage. If you cleaned and sanitized as you say you should be fine. Some people claim to prefer the character of natural carbed beer compared to force carb, but I question the scientific validity. CO2 is CO2. Most commercial brewers force carb, and they do just fine. Increased carbonation can change your perception of hop flavor and bitterness, and overcarbed beer can have a harshness to it. Could be you would just prefer a lower level of carbonation? What temp is your keg? If its in an unregulated refrigerator, its probably very close to freezing, and 12psi will get you around 2.9 vols, which is more carbonation than I generally prefer.

I’ve also noticed that beer seems to become more bitter after it has been carbonated. I’ve concluded that this is carbonic acid, which is formed as CO2 goes into solution. It adds bite, which I think accentuates the bitterness present in beer.

I typically force carbonate to 2.2-2.4

Thanks for the responses. Is it reversible? Can I just lower the pressure in the keg which hopefully over time reduce the carbonation in the beer? Or do I just have to live with it for this batch?

I don’t think your anywhere near carbed to saturation. I find with 12 PSI @ 38f it takes usually around 2 weeks time to be at correct carb of my typical 2.5 volumes for “normal” gravity beers for higher gravity I find it takes slightly longer. At a weeks time my beer would be well under 2 volumes. So I think your simply tasting low carbed wort.

At any rate depending on beer and hop types/ blends sometimes I find its great initially and then about a month into a fully charged keg it goes into a weird overbitter stage and I think what went wrong. So I move around that particular keg and most times when I come back to it in a few weeks it seemed to have melded into a much better beer from first tapping even. Especially an IIPA will meld nicely within 2-3+ weeks time I am guesstimating.

Carb definitely accentuates bitterness. A well-carbed beer can come across as more bitter than the same beer with less carb. My only other stab in the dark would be… are you sick, having allergy symptoms or had you just eaten anything unusual or spicy when you tasted the beer at the 6-day mark? I know that there have been days when my tastebuds are just not open to beer and I taste a new beer that I just put on tap and think, OMG, what is WRONG with this beer?.. only to have the beer turn out fine when I sample it again a couple of days later. Otherwise, I’m out of thoughts.

True. It will also taste more bitter the colder it is served.

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