Bitterness Vs Sweetness

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Just wondering if there's some method of calculating the sweetness/bitterness balance. I know how to calculate the IBUs and the OG I'm expecting, but not sure how they go together.

For example, if I throw in 25 IBUs of hops into a wort with an OG of 1050, that would have more of an effect than a beer with an OG of 1070. How much IBU do you need to balance out the sweetness you get from the malt?

The reason I ask is that I did a Belgian Tripel, which I'm pretty happy with, but it has come out on the sweet side. I'm not sure how much more hops to throw in next time to balance it a bit better.

It is often dependant on style. If you do a search you should be able to find the IBU and OG guidelines for the style you are brewing. From there it is a case of fine tuning through experience, as IBUs do vary from brewer to brewer depending on calculation method and boil setup.
The maltiness will be affected by the ingredients you use but the sweetness will depend on the attenuation ie: how much residual sugar there is. This is pretty much dependent on the yeast you use & the conditions you ferment under. A packet of dry yeast will generally not convert as much sugar as a liquid yeast, especially in a high gravity wort.
If you buy Ray Daniel's book "Designing Great Beers" you will see the BU:GU ratio for different beer styles discussed.

A mild of OG 1050 would have no more than 25IBU tops, for a BU:GU of .5

Bitters may have a BU of 40 and a GU of 37 for a BU:GU ratio of over one
So, start keeping records, including BU:GU ratios

Now, on Christmass Day I will sip a bottle of my 12.1% spiced lager. This is a lovely beer but is a tiny bit too sweet: the yeast must have been clapped out from fermenting that much alcohol and the small amount of priming sugar I added when bottling in May is still mostly present, so the lager is a tad too sweet (that goes well with the spices, but next time I will stir a tsp of fresh yeast into the bottling bucket)

Jovial Monk
I used the White Labs Trappist. Attenuation was pretty good, but it was still a highish FG from memory.

I guess what I'm asking is if I put together a recipe, which is going to have an OG of say 1050, and IBU of say 20, assuming things like attenuation and extraction efficiency aren't a problem, will this beer be more sweet/malty or bitter?

I thought there might be some sort of scale. At one end, all malt and no hops would be on the sweet/malty side, on the other end, not much malt and a heap of hops would be on the bitter side.

The problem I had with looking at the beer style was that you were given a range for OG and IBU. If I ended up with the top end of the range for OG and the lower for IBU, I would have a sweeter beer than the other way around.

Thanks JM, the ratios are what I'm talking about. I guess its just a matter of logging them, and getting an idea of what suits my tastes. Experience makes a lot of difference.
Well, the OG, BU and BU:GU should ALL be in the specified range, ruling out cases like the one you mentioned.

Someone in this thread mentioned that dry yeasts do not attenuate as fully as liquid yeasts? Tosh! Piffle!

Some liquid yeasts (e.g. WY 1084 irish Ale) attenuate a bit less than others

A dry yeast like Danstar Nottingham will attenuate very fully, but pitch enough dry yeast, 1g/L, or pitch the usual 12g and aerate the wort really well. (I sell Nottingham in 23g packs and Windsor in 12g packs)

Also, with constant rousing of the yeast, any yeast can be made to be more attenuative.

Jovial Monk
Jovial_Monk said:
Someone in this thread mentioned that dry yeasts do not attenuate as fully as liquid yeasts? Tosh! Piffle!
I was referring to the usual K&K packet yeast (should have made that clearer) & I qualified the that comment was for high gravity beer. Drop a sachet of no name yeast into a 1080 wort & it'll struggle.
I was expecting about 75%, from the White Labs specs, which is pretty much what I got.

That raises another question. When looking at the sweet/bitter balance, should I compare the FG to IBU rather than OG, as a higher FG would imply more residual sugars.

And one last question, with the ratios, at what point roughly would you say you have gone from being sweet to bitter, or is that just a matter of taste?
Ok ken

yeah 7g of yeast of which 3g is still alive not a good attenuator
but 23g Nottingham in my OG 1074 Scotch ale got pretty good attenuation!

No, OG is the main parameter, Fg depends on too manyu parameters, incl the efficiency of your set up, the temp you mashed, HM evil crystal (;)) and other specialty malts yadda yadda

Jovial Monk

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