Ask Mr. Wizard

Fine-Tuning Bitterness Post-Fermentation


Mike Figuray — Woodbridge, Illinois asks,

I’ve often wondered if there is an easy way to adjust bitterness post fermentation. I’ve read about a few techniques (Isomerized hop extracts, boiling hops in a small volume of water/starter wort, adjusting water profile, blending, etc.) and I’ve also read all the reasons why some of these may not work.

I’m mostly interested in adding something to the keg (Hop extracts or boiling a small volume of water/wort and adding it). If my beer did not hit the bitterness, I’m most likely just going to roll with it rather than brew another batch and go through the trouble of blending. I also use a sulfate-heavy water profile for my hoppy beers already so adding more probably won’t get me what I am looking for. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the best ways to go about this.

At times it is helpful to review why some brewing problems are not so easy to fix and discuss how to prevent these problems in the future. Under-hopped beers are an example
Response by Ashton Lewis.