Adding bitterness to already brewed beer

Discussion in 'Homebrewing' started by homebrew311, Jan 26, 2013.

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  1. homebrew311

    homebrew311 Poo-Bah (2,242) May 19, 2008 Illinois
    Beer Trader

    So I screwed up. Brewed up a big barleywine (King Henry clone) last week, and I bought all of the ingredients way ahead of time. When it came to brew day, for whatever reason, I grabbed only one oz of the bittering hops and one ounce of the aroma hops from the freezer when the recipe called for two. Well today I realized I still had an oz of each (Shit!) in the freezer. I was shooting for 50 IBUs and upon this realization, my brew is at 25 IBUs. I am fearing that this will be a sugary sweet mess. I'm fine with my beer being under 50 IBUs, but just wondering if anyone has had success adding bitterness via hop tea. I know dry hopping probably won't achieve what I'm going for. Suggestions are welcome.
  2. homebrew311

    homebrew311 Poo-Bah (2,242) May 19, 2008 Illinois
    Beer Trader

    I found the product isohop which I am considering trying out. Anyone have experience with it?
  3. TheMonkfish

    TheMonkfish Initiate (0) Jan 8, 2012 Chad

    I'm guessing that a Randall would not suit the bill. Any isomerized alpha acid solution should get you there - at this point it's probably a matter of finding the right "dosage" for your finished beer volume that will get you close to the desired IBUs. I know that the syringes they sell on some of the homebrewing sites are pretty small doses, so I imagine you could get pretty close.

    As for screwing up, yep - I've forgotten to take FG readings in both of my last two batches! Been there.

  4. LostTraveler

    LostTraveler Initiate (0) Oct 28, 2011 Maine

  5. VikeMan

    VikeMan Meyvn (1,351) Jul 12, 2009 Pennsylvania
    Beer Trader

    If you are looking to basically double your IBUs by using the hops you have left, a hop tea might not cut it. You would have to boil the remaining hops for a long time in a large volume of water to extract, isomerize, and dissolve enough alpha acids. And then you'd be seriously diluting your beer.

    And don't be fooled by a calculator telling you you can get 'X' number of IBUs by boiling your hops in a quart (or some other small volume) of water/wort. IBUs are relative to the volume the beer. So for example, 50 IBUs in a quart would become about 2.4 IBUs when that quart is dumped into a 5 gallons of beer. Also, when dealing with relatively large amounts of hops in very small amounts of wort, the mechanics of extraction/isomerization/dissolution of the AA's becomes less efficient, so you're very likley to get less than what the calculator tells you, even before taking dilution into account.
  6. scurvy311

    scurvy311 Disciple (350) Dec 3, 2005 Louisiana

    What about hopshot from northern brewer? Could you boil the aproprite amount of the contents of a hopshot syringe in a quart of water for a period of time and add that to the fermenter? I don't know. I'm asking.
  7. billandsuz

    billandsuz Disciple (311) Sep 1, 2004 New York

    if you boiled half of your hops you won't get half the bitterness. the ratio of hops boiled to bitterness extracted is not linear. so you won't have the 50 IBUs you were expecting, but likely wont be 25 IBUs either.

    yes, your barleywine wont be balanced, though its not like a barleywine is a perfect balance of hops and malt anyway. i do not think there is very much that can be done without causing more problems than benefit. bottle it, let it sit forever and a day.
    you wont make the same mistake twice though!
  8. VikeMan

    VikeMan Meyvn (1,351) Jul 12, 2009 Pennsylvania
    Beer Trader

    Technically true. But on the scale we're talking about, i.e. a couple of ounces in a (presumably) 5 gallon batch, and nowhere near the high IBU range where the formulas start to break down, it will be pretty close to linear.
  9. kjyost

    kjyost Meyvn (1,175) May 4, 2008 Manitoba (Canada)

    It still needs to be isomerized, just like hops.
  10. VikeMan

    VikeMan Meyvn (1,351) Jul 12, 2009 Pennsylvania
    Beer Trader

  11. peter831

    peter831 Initiate (0) Dec 2, 2012 California

    Went through this a while back, used the morebeer iso and it made the beer better,

    used it twice actually, once for an ipa and other time for an imperial red, finally tossed the ipa, drank most of it but found if I am only drinking one beer a day it was not going to be mine, but I still have 4 gal of the red in a keg, wife will not drink it any longer. My son thinks its okay, so i fill boomers for him when he visits.

    but you cant make a silk purse out of a sows ear or something like that, adding $20 to to cost of a batch to make it less than bad is not worth it in my opinion.

    finally brewed a great ipa two weeks ago, yipee. Dealt with one of the underlining issues, my water. Very hard and the pH was way high, way to much bicarb. Used food grade phos acid.
  12. homebrew311

    homebrew311 Poo-Bah (2,242) May 19, 2008 Illinois
    Beer Trader

    I found some isomerized hop extract for 12 bucks. If this beer was smaller (ie less expensive in raw product cost) I would just let it be. But, since I put 24 lbs of grain into this 5 gallon batch, I want to correct the bitterness. I will taste it when it's done fermenting out to see how sweet it is. The hop tea is a good idea, but it sounds tough to dial in the exact ibus. I will chalk it up as an expensive mistake and a learning experience and will post updates on the progress. Thanks for the input.

    Here's the product I will try...

    Much cheaper than the other isohop I saw.
  13. HerbMeowing

    HerbMeowing Aspirant (270) Nov 10, 2010 Virginia

    For starters...No shitting in the freezer!

    Otherwise...your BW may just be SOL.
  14. CASK1

    CASK1 Disciple (336) Jan 7, 2010 Florida

    Brew another 5 gallon batch with 75 IBUs, then blend.
  15. reverseapachemaster

    reverseapachemaster Aspirant (244) Sep 21, 2012 Texas
    Beer Trader

    You do have some options.

    You could add brett and let it ride for a while. Brett will chew through the residual sugars and make it more dry although if you used a lot of caramel malts or caramelized the first runnings I don't think brett will completely fix your problem but will help. (You could pitch a sour mix if you wanted to sour it instead of just using brett).

    Additionally, you could blend beers to increase the bitterness. Two gallons of 100 IBU beer would blend together with your five gallons of 25 IBU beer for overall just shy of 50. It's the expensive option but the one that is going to give you the result closest to what you intended, minus having more beer.You could rack off the cake to secondary, add the new wort to the cake to ferment out and then blend together for bulk aging and/or bottling.

    You could also blend in the glass with a DIPA to cut the sweetness. DIPAs tend to be fairly dry so both the bitterness and dryness would help temper the sweetness of the barleywine. That's your easiest option.

    You could also boil hops for 90 minutes and add that hop tea to your beer but I think you would still end up having to add a lot and really water down the beer. It would make more sense to go ahead and make two more gallons of the recipe but extremely bitter and blend the two together.
  16. homebrew311

    homebrew311 Poo-Bah (2,242) May 19, 2008 Illinois
    Beer Trader

    I actually like the idea of brewing the beer again with a high bitterness content and blending to taste. Considering I am planning on doing bourbon soaked oak chips, I could oak one and blend to taste. Intriguing. Thanks again for the input.
  17. homebrew311

    homebrew311 Poo-Bah (2,242) May 19, 2008 Illinois
    Beer Trader

    Well I actually just pulled a gravity sample. It's been fermenting for a week and the gravity has gone from 1.116 to 1.042. The sample actually wasn't sickening sweet like I expected. I threw in a dash of bourbon to get a sense of how it would go with the beer and it tasted damn good. I think for the foreseeable future, I'm just going to let this one sit. I expect the gravity to go down at least a few points. Thanks again for all the input.
  18. pweis909

    pweis909 Poo-Bah (1,620) Aug 13, 2005 Wisconsin
    Supporter Subscriber

    Another possibility to consider in calculating the cost-effectiveness: you could brew another batch that is more bitter and you could blend them. You could blend them prior to packaging (in a secondary, in a keg, or in the bottling bucket) or you could blend them in your glass.

    Here's a couple examples from my recent experiences:
    • I tried to brew a stout that had a cascade hop presence to it. The stout came out fine but it lacked the hop presence. So I brewed a black IPA. I kegged these separately and now I have the option of serving the stout the way it came out or juicing it up with some of the IPA to approximate the beer I intended.

    • I brewed a biere de garde that seems a little sweet, but not intolerably so. I bottled half of it and blended the other half with a sour, figuring it might be interesting somewhere down the road. But when I open a bottle, I have the option of drinking it straight, if I am in the mood for something sweet, or mixing it about half and half with a drier farmhouse ale that I also have bottled, to cut the sweetness.

    If you have the equipment to get another batch going, it may be worth considering. You could spend 12 bucks trying to doctor the bitterness in 1 batch of beer, or spend ~30 bucks (obviously depends on the recipe) to make another batch of beer that could increase the diversity of the beers you drink.

    Lastly, remember that some brewing mistakes are not worth trying to rescue -- ask me about the bottles of mead I poured down the drain this weekend. However, your mistake sounds totally fixable with the iso-extract or possibly the approach I am suggesting.
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