You’re about to become a little more knowledgeable today.
This page contains information that’s going to make you more “beer-educated” than the person sitting next to you in our taproom. Heck, maybe the most educated. Unless you’re sitting next to Jeremy. Then you’re screwed.
First off… Why am I doing this?
Simple. We get a lot of people through our taproom asking us basic beer questions. And I think most people that come to RockPit want to know more about beer.
We get questions like “What are IBU’s?” or “Why aren’t there any IBU’s in this IPA?” or “Y’all have any Bud Light?”
Bud Light? Uhhh….
The other questions are great and show an interest in knowing more about beer.
So, I figure if I can send you bite-sized chunks of info over the next few months/years/decades our customers, like you, will be way more knowledgeable than any other in the world.
Grand vision? Sure. But one that I think you’ll gladly help me see through.
Further, the next time you look at a tap list, you’ll be able to find a more suitable beer for your taste just by reading today’s email.
You ready to get your knowledge on? Cool, let’s get to it.
What are IBU’s?
IBU is an acronym for International Bittering (or bitterness) Units. Put your nerd hat on, it’s about to get technical…
“International Bitterness Units are a chemical measurement of the number of bittering compounds, specifically isomerized and oxidized alpha acids, polyphenols, and a few other select bittering chemicals, that make your beer taste bitter. The IBU correlates well, in most cases, with the sensory bitterness of beer, and this is why brewers use it. Almost all the beer you’ll ever drink will have a measured IBU between five (which is a very low measured bitterness) up to 120 (which is a very high measured bitterness). Most beer falls in a narrower range within these parameters (between 15-80ish), but that’s the gist of it”
Basically, it means “How bitter is this beer going to be?”
However, that’s not always the case. You’ll see stouts with high IBU’s but won’t get much bitterness out of them. That’s because stouts use more malt, which creates more sugar and masks the bitterness.
So, don’t freak out when you see a Russian Imperial Stout with the same (or more) IBU’s than the IPA on the tap list. Your taste buds won’t be inundated with bitterness.
So now that you know what IBU’s are, what should you expect in terms of IBU’s? Let’s look at some beer styles and what their IBU’s should be.
- Pale Ale (like our H.L.’s Pale Ale): 20-40 IBU’s. H.L.’s has 35 IBU’s.
- Sweet Stout (like our Blackstrap Con Leche): 20-40. Blackstrap has 30 IBU’s.
- American IPA (like our Cackler IPA): 40-70. Cackler has 68 IBU’s.
- Berliner Weiss (like our Yudu Yuzu): 3-8: Yudu Yuzu has 1 IBU.
Congrats! You now know what IBU’s are and what they mean when you look at a tap list! And the next time one of your friends asks “What’s IBU mean”, you’ll happily respond “Oh, that’s International Bittering Unit….”
Hope you’re able to handle the praise that will be showered upon you.
Next week I’ll answer the question of why some Hazy / New England IPA’s have very low IBU’s and aren’t bitter whereas a typical IPA has higher IBU and tastes bitter.
Oh and if you REALLY want to take your knowledge of beer to the next level, we have “make your own beer” classes at RockPit (taught by Orlando Homebrew Supplies). Nothing teaches you the ins and outs of beer like brewing your own beer. And they are VERY beginner friendly.
Also… “Brewer’s Anonymous”, a homebrew club, meets once a month in our brewery. You’ll be able to rub shoulders with some of the top homebrewer minds in Central Florida and pick their brains about all things beer. And they all bring beer to sample. For free.
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