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General Category => General Homebrew Discussion => Topic started by: syncopadence on March 08, 2015, 09:12:59 PM

Title: Should I use a hop steeper? Why is my beer so bitter?
Post by: syncopadence on March 08, 2015, 09:12:59 PM
Ok, so please forgive my newbie ignorance, but will using a hop steeper make my beer less bitter? Also, do these only work with whole hops as opposed to pellets?  I'm just wondering because my stouts seem to be coming out too bitter, and I feel like it's because I'm just throwing the pellets into the boil.  I'm using 2 to 3 oz's of pellets, but seems to come out too bitter.  Can anyone shed some light on this for me?  Thank you in advance for any help!
Title: Re: Should I use a hop steeper? Why is my beer so bitter?
Post by: HoosierBrew on March 08, 2015, 09:18:48 PM
Ok, so please forgive my newbie ignorance, but will using a hop steeper make my beer less bitter? Also, do these only work with whole hops as opposed to pellets?  I'm just wondering because my stouts seem to be coming out too bitter, and I feel like it's because I'm just throwing the pellets into the boil.  I'm using 2 to 3 oz's of pellets, but seems to come out too bitter.  Can anyone shed some light on this for me?  Thank you in advance for any help!

By hop steeper, are you talking about a hop spider?  A lot of brewers throw hops in loosely, so that's not your problem. You're just adding too many IBUs into your beer. Do you use software to calculate your hop additions? You should post a recipe so we can help you.
Title: Re: Should I use a hop steeper? Why is my beer so bitter?
Post by: syncopadence on March 08, 2015, 09:24:20 PM
- 2-row Brewers Malt 10lb
- Briess Caramel 60L 1lb
- Muntons Chocolate 1lb
- 1oz cocoa nibs
- 3 small cinnamon sticks
- 1oz Fuggle, 1oz Williamette, and 1oz Nugget
- Safale US-5 dry ale yeast

I didn't add any secondary ingredients to the fermenter, all in the boil.  I can't remember what order I did the hops, but I think it was 60 mins, 45 mins, 30 mins.  I'm not sure what a hop spider, but a local brew shop has a steeper for hops.  And I don't use a software (mainly because I don't know of any), I just loosely go by tried and true recipes (although I do deviate).  Does this help?
Title: Re: Should I use a hop steeper? Why is my beer so bitter?
Post by: Stevie on March 08, 2015, 09:31:26 PM
How large of a batch? What are the alpha ratings of the hops? When are you adding the hops? All grain or extract? Are you using a recipe?

Doubt adding the hops right to boil is the cause.
Title: Re: Should I use a hop steeper? Why is my beer so bitter?
Post by: syncopadence on March 08, 2015, 09:39:32 PM
How large of a batch? What are the alpha ratings of the hops? When are you adding the hops? All grain or extract? Are you using a recipe?

Doubt adding the hops right to boil is the cause.

5 gallon batch, about 4.8 for Fuggle and Williamette & 12 for Nugget, 60 45 & 30 min, all grain, and I deviated from a recipe I saw to try and create some different flavors.  I asked a couple guys at my local homebrew shop and they both seemed to think it'd be good.   I definitely don't taste any of the chocolate or cinnamon, just turned out almost like a hoppy dark brown ale...
I guess what I'd also like to know (if this isn't too loaded of a question) is what are the biggest contributors to IBU's?
Does fermenting play a part? I let it ferment for a month and then bottled.
Title: Re: Should I use a hop steeper? Why is my beer so bitter?
Post by: Stevie on March 08, 2015, 09:43:31 PM
Biggest contribution is from the 45 and 60 min hops. A bit from the 30. Detail out the recipe. The amount is based on AA, amount, volume, gravity, and time.
Title: Re: Should I use a hop steeper? Why is my beer so bitter?
Post by: syncopadence on March 08, 2015, 09:50:48 PM
Biggest contribution is from the 45 and 60 min hops. A bit from the 30. Detail out the recipe. The amount is based on AA, amount, volume, gravity, and time.

Unfortunately I don't remember which hops I added at each of those time intervals, I just remember how much of what I used. But I'm just going to scratch that recipe.  Does higher alpha mean more bitter?
Title: Re: Should I use a hop steeper? Why is my beer so bitter?
Post by: Stevie on March 08, 2015, 10:03:14 PM
Yep
Title: Re: Should I use a hop steeper? Why is my beer so bitter?
Post by: syncopadence on March 08, 2015, 10:08:19 PM
Yep

Gotcha.  So ultimately in theory, leaving out the 12% nugget, or substituting it with a lower alpha hop, would yield a lower IBU beer?
Also, any idea why I don't taste any of the secondary ingredients? I added them during the last 15 minutes of the boil.
Title: Re: Should I use a hop steeper? Why is my beer so bitter?
Post by: Stevie on March 08, 2015, 11:58:02 PM
Without a recipe, it's all speculation.

As far as reducing bitterness, you can go either way. Less hops, or lower AA hops.

Most brewing books will have the formulas for calculating bitterness and software does a good job as well.
Title: Re: Should I use a hop steeper? Why is my beer so bitter?
Post by: syncopadence on March 09, 2015, 01:07:31 AM
Without a recipe, it's all speculation.

As far as reducing bitterness, you can go either way. Less hops, or lower AA hops.

Most brewing books will have the formulas for calculating bitterness and software does a good job as well.

Any recommendation on software?
Title: Re: Should I use a hop steeper? Why is my beer so bitter?
Post by: MikeMehal on March 09, 2015, 01:20:38 AM
Take a look at BeerSmith. Free trial.




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Title: Re: Should I use a hop steeper? Why is my beer so bitter?
Post by: riceral on March 09, 2015, 03:32:31 PM
I use BeerSmith and like it. I don't use it as gospel but have gotten good results using it.

Another option is Brewer's Friend   http://www.brewersfriend.com/homebrew/recipe/calculator/  and looks free. Full disclosure: I haven't used it but some in my local club use it and seem to like it.

Title: Re: Should I use a hop steeper? Why is my beer so bitter?
Post by: tonyjk70 on March 09, 2015, 04:04:54 PM
I would add the nibs and cinnamon at flame out and leave in for the first week of fermentation. Boiling will remove all the flavour and aromatic qualitys, think of it like your dry hopping.
Title: Re: Should I use a hop steeper? Why is my beer so bitter?
Post by: tonyjk70 on March 09, 2015, 04:17:11 PM
Also get a diary and write everything down, if you are using a friend or online recipe  ask for the method, most would be delighted someone I'd making a copy of their brew. Ps go get a book called How to brew. It's a Newbys dream come true it tells you everything. It's not a slight. buy the best information you will get when your new. It'll save you money and help you. I've only been brewing since 2013. But already made 11 brews. The last 3 all grain. So far my beers been well received and I've been told I should don't full time.
Title: Re: Should I use a hop steeper? Why is my beer so bitter?
Post by: syncopadence on March 09, 2015, 11:53:24 PM
Also get a diary and write everything down, if you are using a friend or online recipe  ask for the method, most would be delighted someone I'd making a copy of their brew. Ps go get a book called How to brew. It's a Newbys dream come true it tells you everything. It's not a slight. buy the best information you will get when your new. It'll save you money and help you. I've only been brewing since 2013. But already made 11 brews. The last 3 all grain. So far my beers been well received and I've been told I should don't full time.

Yeah I think I'm going to start keeping a log of my recipes and exactly what I'm doing; so far I haven't.  I'll look into that book, but I've also been using one called "The New Complete Joy of Home Brewing".  I've found tons of useful info in there, although some of it seems a bit outdated (published in 1991 I think).  With the help of everyone on here, the book, and a free trial of Beersmith I've been drawing up a recipe for an Oatmeal Brown Ale that looks like it's going to be good.
Title: Re: Should I use a hop steeper? Why is my beer so bitter?
Post by: syncopadence on March 09, 2015, 11:58:58 PM
I would add the nibs and cinnamon at flame out and leave in for the first week of fermentation. Boiling will remove all the flavour and aromatic qualitys, think of it like your dry hopping.

I was wondering about that.  So just put the ingredients in a muslin sack and take it out after a week?  Does opening the fermenter early disturb it at all?
Title: Re: Should I use a hop steeper? Why is my beer so bitter?
Post by: bboy9000 on March 10, 2015, 02:02:15 AM
I would transfer to secondary (something I rarely do) then add the nibs and cinnamon for a few days.  Just make sure fermentation is finished when you transfer.
Title: Re: Should I use a hop steeper? Why is my beer so bitter?
Post by: syncopadence on March 10, 2015, 04:39:25 AM
I would transfer to secondary (something I rarely do) then add the nibs and cinnamon for a few days.  Just make sure fermentation is finished when you transfer.
Would it be bad to add it to the primary? I don't have a secondary at the moment. But if it's ok for primary, at what point would you add it?
Title: Re: Should I use a hop steeper? Why is my beer so bitter?
Post by: isac777 on March 10, 2015, 05:36:36 AM
I would suggest writing down all your recipes for easiest duplication and w a stout I would skip a 60 min addition. Even some new "research" shows IPAs don't need a 60 min addition
Title: Re: Should I use a hop steeper? Why is my beer so bitter?
Post by: morticaixavier on March 10, 2015, 11:56:58 AM
I would transfer to secondary (something I rarely do) then add the nibs and cinnamon for a few days.  Just make sure fermentation is finished when you transfer.
Would it be bad to add it to the primary? I don't have a secondary at the moment. But if it's ok for primary, at what point would you add it?

that's fine. just make sure it's mostly/all the way done before you add them. it won't mess anything up to open the fermenter during active fermentation but the active evolution of co2 will scrub delicate volatiles out and those are your aromatics.
Title: Re: Should I use a hop steeper? Why is my beer so bitter?
Post by: one_seat on March 20, 2015, 08:47:18 AM
I'm a big fan of first wort hops and flame out hops I feel like they impart the flavor and aroma I want from my hops without too much bitterness but like others say different hops impart different bitterness and flavors. I tend to do a fwt, 10 min, and 5 min and if I want a good aroma I add some at flame out. I've had good results sticking to that schedule.
Title: Re: Should I use a hop steeper? Why is my beer so bitter?
Post by: JT on March 20, 2015, 10:34:04 AM
Have you ever taken pH readings of your mash and/or looked into your water content?
Title: Re: Should I use a hop steeper? Why is my beer so bitter?
Post by: mabrungard on March 20, 2015, 12:34:16 PM
I have found that the selection of the bittering calculation method also has a profound effect. It seems that most recipes and the IBU ranges presented in BJCP are most accurately duplicated when using the Rager equation (for me). I've studied the Tinseth equation and I know it more accurately models bittering contributions. But the more accurate Tinseth equation actually causes me to over-bitter my worts. So, consider that if your beers are more bitter than expected.

Another important aspect that can profoundly affect bitterness and its perception is water. If the water has too much alkalinity and the wort pH doesn't drop into a proper range, the bittering from the hops can be higher than expected and rough tasting. Don't ignore your water!
Title: Re: Should I use a hop steeper? Why is my beer so bitter?
Post by: euge on March 20, 2015, 03:23:49 PM
It may be that there is nothing wrong at all.

I can see a beer tasting too bitter just from the freshness aspect. Your average beer drinker is unused to how a beer tastes at 1,2,3 and 4 weeks out even, and perception of an acutely amplified hop character such as bitterness and/or flavor can be surprising and even unwelcome.

The good news is that hop bitterness fades and mellows fairly quickly and our personal taste changes as well.
Title: Re: Should I use a hop steeper? Why is my beer so bitter?
Post by: markpotts on March 20, 2015, 04:02:11 PM
Another important aspect that can profoundly affect bitterness and its perception is water. If the water has too much alkalinity and the wort pH doesn't drop into a proper range, the bittering from the hops can be higher than expected and rough tasting. Don't ignore your water!

This cannot be understated IMO.
I struggled during the first 12 months of my all grain brewing with beers that were harshly bitter, even when making traditional English styles that have very modest hopping rates compared to American style IPA's and such.
Once I got an understanding of alkalinity and mash pH my beers were transformed.....quite literally.