Thursday Brew: IBU

So, today, I thought I would talk a little bit about IBU instead of looking at a new brew, just to spice it up a little bit.

What is IBU? Well, it stands for International Bitterness Units and refers to the bitterness level of a beer. IBU is typically measured on a 0-100 scale, where the higher the number, the more bitter the beer, and lower numbers are less bitter, or not bitter at all. As the link does mention, though, the bitter flavor of a beer can be affected by how much malt is in the brew. More malt makes a beer taste sweeter, even if its IBU is higher, such as in a Guinness.

That being said, IBU can be pretty helpful if you're trying to branch out in beer preferences, or want to try something new but similar to your favorites. My father uses an IBU chart of beer styles and their IBU range to find and try new beers that he should like, based on type of beer and the IBU it typically has. He recommends this to many people and calls it "knowing your number." He and my mom tend to like beers up to 20-25 IBU and knowing that helps them when choosing a new brew.

Now, I know that I like beers that are a bit more bitter, but I'm not terribly picky. I know that I prefer a beer that isn't overly thick, but make exceptions. In short: I like flavor. However, I am a huge fan of IPA, which tend to rank higher on the bitterness scale, while my husband favors amber ales and wheat beers (well, we both like ambers and wheats). American Amber ale tends to start around 25 IBU and can range up to around 40 IBU, whereas IPAS can range from 40 - for an American or English pale ale - all the way up to 100 for an imperial pale.

IBU is just one measurement though, and doesn't tell the full story about a beer's flavor. Since I'm not a brewer myself and only know what I've shared here about IBU, I thought I would share the IBU chart that I favor as it's been really helpful for me as I've branched out within the craft beer world. If you're looking to try something new and aren't sure where to begin, this chart is a good place to start.

Next week I'll be reviewing another brew (possibly coffee this time? We'll see!). Happy Thursday!