In addition to our beer style of the week and as part of our education series we will be looking at the terminology of beer. Many of you will have seen IBU listed on the side of your favourite craft beer. Some will know what this means, some will know what it stands for but not what it relates to while some may to too busy enjoying the beer to read the label! So read on if you want to be enlightened….
IBU stands for International Bittering Units which is a scale used to calculate how much bitterness is in a given beer. The IBU scale factors in the bittering potential from the hops added to a beer. A standard Lager will have 8-20, Pale Ales 25-40, and IPA’s can be 40-100+ IBU’s. While you may see some beers listed 100+ IBU’s there is actually a saturation limit to how much hop oils can be in solution. There is also ongoing discussions as to what is actually the upper limit to what the human taste can perceive. People claim we cant really taste much beyond 80-100 IBU’s. Here’s a little twist though. A really malty sweet beer can have a really high IBU number but not taste as bitter as a smaller beer with a lower IBU. Balance can be key.
So as you find the beers that you enjoy the most you may well also discover they fall into a certain IBU range. Until next time….