Best Science Lesson

IBU scales listed on beer menus

Staff Pick

In the mid '90s, Coors Brewing Co. ran an ad campaign for its Keystone Light, claiming it was the remedy for "bitter beer face," a condition apparently caused by craft beers that contained actual depth and flavor. In scientific terms, bitter is measured by the International Bitterness Units scale, which measures the parts per million of isohumulone in hops. Even though a slew of other factors determine where a beer falls on the IBU scale, in layman's terms, it's a good indicator of a beer's bitterness or "hoppiness." Preference is relative, with some people preferring a beer as smooth as Barry White while others are drawn to brew as hoppy as a white bunny. In the simplest terms, the higher a beer's IBU number, the hoppier it is, and since restaurants and breweries around the valley have been adding IBU numbers to their menus, you'll know before the first sip if you're getting a Barry or a bunny.

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