British Brewer

Recreating the perfect British Pint

06 April

Tips and Tricks: Check your hops alpha acid

This tip may seem obvious but I have only just started doing it. If you have a brew you like to make over and over this tip is essential in order to produce consistent quality and taste every time.

I recently re-brewed my Flowers Original Clone (updated the recipe to a Partial Mash).  In the original recipe we used 0.5oz (.25oz for  a half batch) of Target hops. The alpha acid for Target is typically in the 9-12% range. In the original recipe the hops I used had an alpha acid value of ~10%.

So when I came to re-brew 6 weeks ago I noticed my new batch of Target hops were 11%. So I decided to go back to BeerCalculus at Hopville (and my spreadsheet) and recalculate the IBU’s.  At 11% alpha acid for the bittering hops I calculated I needed to reduce the amount of the Target hops from 0.5 to 0.4oz. Good job I did because the ale is in the keg and it tastes absolutely fantastic 🙂



  • stephshanahan

    A Google search on Fuggles led me to your blog, and after reading through your archive I’d be interested in hearing what you have to say about the following…

    I brewed a porter a while ago using Fuggle and Target hops and it was delicious.  I had some leftover hops, and (foolishly) used them to brew a recipe in another style.  The result was off enough to make me wonder if screwed up badly enough to either infect or oxidate the batch.  I backtracked, checked my notes, brewed up the beer again with the right hops and I’m 95% sure the taste was the result of using the wrong hops for the style.  So my first question is this, have you or any of your readers made the same mistake and had similar results?

    Second, I’m trying to streamline my bottling process.  Now that I’m paranoid about oxidation issues, I’m rethinking my auto-siphon and whether or not to use a bottling wand at the end of the bucket spigot.  I notice you bottle direct from the spigot.  Do you tilt the bottle slightly and let the beer run down the side of the neck, or just keep the bottle upright and let it rip?  

  • Stephen C Jenvey

    Thanks for reading!

    I personally have made the same mistake. It can be a combination of flavor and old hops This post was the result of actually using the right bittering hop but failing to adjust the quantity due to a higher than expected acidity. Another common error.

    Hops play such an important role in the flavor of a beer. I did a big post on hops where I outline the different types of acid and the impact to an ales flavor. I also supply a spreadsheet I put together to help calculate the IBU’s for a given recipe.

    I also found this chart outlining the various hop flavor profiles also very helpful when planning which hops to use in a recipe.

    I do indeed bottle straight from the spigot and I tilt the bottle as I do. I have never had any issues with oxidation either. I do use beer caps with oxygen absorbers in the base of the cap also. As the CO2 is naturally produced the oxygen will be forced to the top of the bottle also. If you have a keg system you could also blast a jet of CO2 into the bottle before you pour.