Citric acid in IPAs

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Citric acid in IPAs

I've heard that adding citric acid at the end of the boil can help make the hops really pop. Has anybody tried experimenting with citric acid?

drew's picture
I haven't. I'm trying to

I haven't. I'm trying to think how specifically that would help beyond the usual sort of "brightening" effect acid has on our palates. i.e. does it have an impact; if it does - is it a general halo effect or is there a hop specific reaction happening. 

Thanks for the quick response

Thanks for the quick response. I'm also not sure though my gut reaction is that it is the generic " brightening " that acid has on out palates. From what I've heard you would only use it for big IPAs. The other thing I'm curious about, now that I'm thinking about it more, is wether or not it would help preserve the hop character over time.

drew's picture
Not sure about preservation -

Not sure about preservation - an antioxidant would be more likely to help that in my mind, but what do I know?

Well you know enough to write

Well you know enough to write a few books which is more than I can say.smiley

Pilamman's picture
If you're looking for an

If you're looking for an organic acid with antioxidant properties, let me introduce you to ascorbic acid, more commonly known as vitamin C. If you're already using citric acid, I'd suggest using half as much vitamin C; citric acid has two carboxyl groups whereas vitamin C has only one acid donor group. 

quirkzoo's picture
I know someone that always

I know someone that always uses acid malt in his IPA's. He does it to lower the pH of his mash, and I would assume this translates to a lower finishing pH, which he says emphasizes hop character more.

My T-Rex's name is Broccolisaurus

pweis909's picture
On the advice of another

On the advice of another homebrewer, I tried it. Not in a controlled side by side experiment. It wouldn't be a bad one to try, IMO. I believe the idea was essentially the acid brightening effect Drew mentioned, with the idea that citric may have a more appropriate flavor impact than, say, lactic or malic.


Richard C
Richard C's picture
How did it turn out? It seems

How did it turn out? It seems like this (citric acid vs ascorbic acid vs nothing) is something that could be tested by adding small amounts to the glass at serving tine. 

denny's picture
This idea has been around for

This idea has been around for many years.  I tried it maybe 12-15 years ago and found no change to the beer whatsoever.

Life begins at 60....1.060, that is!

Just came across this old

Just came across this old thread. I used to use Citric acid for all mash acidification but stopped after I noticed sweet-tart like qualities in some of the beers I was brewing (a flavor that reminded me of sour candies), resulting in a dumped batch. However, some of my favorite IPAs were ones I brewed with citric acid in the mash. It definitely didn't hurt anything and I believe it may have added a little something to the flavor of my IPA. Today I use lactic acid or acid malt for mash acidification, even in my IPAs.

Gerad Coles
Prairie Dog Brewing