Have you ever been to a craft brewery or bar where the beer menu proudly displays beers with IBUs (International Bitterness Units) higher than 100? You might be curious about what that means and whether it’s important for enjoying great beer.
IBU is just one way to describe the bitterness of beer. While it’s often used to measure a beer’s intensity, it doesn’t tell you everything about the quality of that bitterness. For example, a beer with 50 IBUs in a 1.048 Hefeweizen would taste far too bitter, while the same number in a 1.090 imperial stout would leave a syrupy sweetness on the tongue. Plus, IBUs say nothing about the aroma or flavor of a beer.
The bitterness-to-gravity ratio (BU:GU ratio) is a better way to gauge a beer’s bitterness level and how it will taste. This ratio takes into account a beer’s original gravity and gives a better idea of the beer’s balance. For example, a Bavarian-style wheat beer should have a ratio close to 0.25, while an imperial stout should be closer to 0.8.In summary, IBUs are just one part of the language used to describe beer, and they don’t tell you everything about a beer’s taste and quality.
When you’re choosing a beer, it’s worth considering the IBUs, but keep in mind that a beer’s balance depends on a variety of factors. So, next time you’re out enjoying a beer, take a moment to appreciate its unique flavor and aroma, and don’t get too hung up on the IBUs!