Continuing this week with the Taphouse 101 mini-series exploring and explaining common beer terms, we talk about IBU.
International Bitterness Unit, or IBU, is the number derived from chemical measurements of bittering compounds in a beer. Technically IBUs are not the measurement of perceived bitterness, or what we taste in a beer. IBUs do however closely align with perceived bitterness and because of that have been adopted as a way to inform consumers of a beer’s bitterness.
The scale does not take into consideration other factors of beer that will change perceived bitterness. For example, an imperial stout may have an IBU number of 80 but due to a strong malt balance may be perceived as less bitter than a pale ale with an IBU number of 45.