Drinking a beer we’ve come up several times talking with our friends if and how bitter it is. We’ve tasted beers that are bitter. Some even do not even dare to drink them again, because of the impression it left them by the intense bitterness. So when we are talking about a beer and how bitter it is, always compare it with some other, more well-known and common.
In brewingthe bitterness of a beeris not measured in little, medium or long. This is a more general and philosophical conversation. In brewing we talk with numbers. Brewers and those involved in the industry, have an international code of communication which is based, simply, on a scale that calculates the amount of acid(ppm: parts per million or mg / L) of hops in beers. The scientific method of calculation is not difficult, but the tools which are required for the laboratory calculation are expensive.
The bitterness in beer is needed to balance the sweetness of malt. Few beers in the world are perfectly balanced. Using appropriate hops is required and therefore, apart from the selection of the hops to the desired aromas. Often we are using several different hops. An important role in the bitterness of the beer plays the sweetness of the malt. If for example we have an Imperial Stout and an American Barley Wine, we certainly have different beers in our glasses, but the degree of bitterness of beers can be exactly the same. The same applies between two other beers such as a Bavarian Weiss and an American Pilsner.
The unit of measurement for the bitterness of beer is called International Bitterness Units (IBU). In many reviews as well as some modern labels there is reference to a number of IBU. This explains the degree of bitterness of the beer. The smaller the number, the less bitter it is, but asthe number grows more bitter it becomes. Science has set as recognition of bitterness, in humans the 6 IBU. Anything beyond that becomes immediately apparent.
Following you can see some indicative IBU prices, for some known beer types, so as to have a “map” in your mind. It is a range in which beers are moving in order to be more or less bitter according to their kind.
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