Author Topic: Smooth Bitterness in an IPA  (Read 168 times)

Offline rbowers

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Smooth Bitterness in an IPA
« on: March 18, 2018, 02:33:11 PM »
Curious to hear if anyone has ideas on creating a smoother bitterness in an IPA.  My attempts in the past, which I like (my wife not so much), come out on the harsher end.  Beers from New Belgium and Lagunitas for example seem to carry an inherent recognizable smoothness to them which I'd like to know how what factors to consider to drive towards that may generate that result.  I have tried using hops described as "smooth" (Magnum) but it doesn't quite get the desired result.

Is it a function of:
- Cl-:SO4 ratios in mash?- will higher Cl levels smooth out the bitterness or just mute it entirely?
- Residual Sweetness from higher FG or crystal malts that balance the bitterness differently.  I have made a cloyingly sweet IPA with too much crystal and I know that is not what I am after.
- Hop type? - other suggestions for smooth bittering hops?
- Specific yeast type?

Would just be interested to know what levers to toy with to inch towards a very smooth and drinkable IPA.

Offline denny

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Re: Smooth Bitterness in an IPA
« Reply #1 on: March 18, 2018, 04:15:58 PM »
I'd say it's all of those.  I'd start by reducing the sulfate level of your water and trying a "neutral" hop like Magnum for bittering.  Don't get too hung up on CL:SO4 ratio.  Absolute numbers are more important.
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Online jeffy

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Re: Smooth Bitterness in an IPA
« Reply #2 on: March 18, 2018, 05:56:52 PM »
Timing of the hop additions can make a difference as well.  A lot of the newer IPAs are adding all the hops very late in the boil.  You have to calculate more hops to get the IBUs, but I think it makes a smoother bitterness.  You may also try first wort hopping instead of a normal 60 minute boil addition.
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Offline mabrungard

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Re: Smooth Bitterness in an IPA
« Reply #3 on: March 18, 2018, 06:50:32 PM »
Without knowing what sulfate level was used previously, it may be premature to say that backing down that level is an answer. If the sulfate wasn’t at 200 ppm or more, backing it down probably isn’t the answer.

Is it possible the bittering level is too high for the residual malt level? If the recipe was originally formulated with Rager and then produced with Tinseth, I find that the bitterness is overstated.
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Offline klickitat jim

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Re: Smooth Bitterness in an IPA
« Reply #4 on: March 18, 2018, 10:05:07 PM »
Smooth bitterness... So, are you saying that you are happy with the amount of bitterness, it's just too rough? If so that sounds like a function of fine tuning all the control levers. Type of Hop, amount of Hop, when added, water profile, and probably more importantly, amount and type of flavor/aroma hops you are using, and when. All of these things play together or fight against each other. You can't change one lever without it interacting with another.

If I liked everything about my IPA except the bitterness seemed a bit rough, I would start by reducing my bittering charge. Then let's say the roughness went away but now it's not bitter enough. Then I would suspect the type of Hop I am bittering with is to blame. Or I'd suspect that what I'm thinking is "rough" is actually just too much. In my opinion it's no surprise that there is a trend away from sheer bitterness (high IBUs) to less bitterness more flavor. Merely hitting a calculated high IBU is not necessarily success.

If you could give us an example recipe of a beer that had too rough bitterness, including water profile, it might be easier to help dial you in.
« Last Edit: March 18, 2018, 10:18:48 PM by klickitat jim »

Offline Robert

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Re: Smooth Bitterness in an IPA
« Reply #5 on: March 18, 2018, 10:19:17 PM »
When it comes to hops, there is a myth that low CoH hops are smoother.  They're actually just less bitter, because cohumulone isomerizes 50% more efficiently than humulone.  The quality of bitterness the two acids give is identical.

 So you might try a higher CoH, higher total alpha bittering hop at a lower rate.  Then you could get a given level of BU with less vegetative matter in the boil.  Some harshness might just be from the other bittering substances in all that material.
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