One of the new terms I need to learn is the IBU number for beer. That stands for International Bittering Units. It’s a scale to determine just that, the bitterness of the flavor of the beer.
Bitterness is an integral part of the flavor of beer. It’s also one of the first things that puts the new drinker off of drinking beer. Out of that has arisen a variety of “light/lite” beers that are usually lower in alcohol (and therefore lower in calories) and inevitably lower in bitterness. Think of them as beginner’s beers. In the bad old days these would have been called “girl’s beers”. I call them beer for people who don’t like beer.
At the same time, I am not a fan of the modern day rush to the top of the IBU scale (which is 100. Theoretically it’s possible to exceed that number but why?). It’s actually made a lot of the beer web sites less than useful. Because so many of today’s afficianados only respect the more bitter flavors, more lightly hopped beers are consistently rated lower. I won’t generally rate higher IBU beers (like an IPA) because I know I won’t like it and therefore can hardly give it a fair rating.
It always used to drive me crazy when certain consumer magazines would downgrade sports cars because they didn’t perform like family sedans. It’s just idiotic and narrow minded.
I haven’t figured out where my tastes “top out” on the IBU scale. That will be part of the fun of the exploration.
So here are my latest samples. I’d try them all again with one exception.
- Blue Mountain Lager – A Virginia beer to start. Generally a nice beer but it tasted a little sharp to me. I would certainly give this another shot. IBU is 22.
- Shiner Bock – this is a legendary Texas beer. Don’t ask me to explain why. You might as well drink water. No flavor at all. Beer for people who don’t like beer. Never again. IBU is listed as 13. I don’t believe a word of it. Gave it my wife and daughter (neither of whom like beer) and they both thought it was fine. Seriously, no.
- Steinlager Classic- A New Zealand beer and thier #1 export beer. With great flavor, had it with a great burger and it was the perfect companion. Enjoyed it a lot. IBU ~25
- Legend Lager – another Virginia brewery. Another beer that I enjoyed and would try again. IBU 29
- New Belgium Fat Tire Amber Ale – A Colorado brew but curiously ne of the first new beers I tried when I arrived in VA. Hey, I was raiding a buddies frig, what can I say? I’ve had several beers done in the tradition of Belgium and generally like them. IBU 22
I’ve also had times when I routinely bought Foster’s and Red Stripe.
I also know that the hoppier beers don’t do much for me. As popular as IPAs are these days I do not like them at all. Hops up to a point is fine but only up to that point. So this should be an interesting journey.