Beer School

What is IBU?

What is IBU? How is a beer’s bitterness measured? Should I drink a beer with a high or low IBU? Find the answers to this and more in this article about the International Bitterness Unit.

What is IBU?

If you’re a beer drinker, you’ve probably noticed the abbreviations “ABV, SRxM and IBU” on beers or beer cans. And even in our Beer Guides! These beer acronyms are a key part in describing a beer. In this article, we are going to focus on the bitterness of beer or IBU.

Read more: 3 Need-to-Know Beer Acronyms: ABV, IBU and SRM

What is IBU?

The IBU of a beer is a number that measures a beer’s bittering compounds (hops), like isomerized and oxidizeds alpha acids, polyphenols and more chemicals that make your beer bitter.



What does IBU stand for?

IBU stands for International Bitterness Unit used for measuring how bitter a beer is.

What is IBU scale?

The IBU scale that typically goes from 1 to 100, however, it can exceed far beyond 100–like… a thousand. Don’t believe us? Check out some of the hoppiest beers ever brewed.

What is a low IBU?

A low IBU would be a number less than 20. This contains little to no presence of hops in the beer–meaning the beer probably isn’t very bitter. If you’re not a huge fan of hoppy or bitter beers, try to find a beer with a lower IBU.

What IBU is considered bitter?

A beer with an IBU of over 45 is considered to be a bitter beer.

What is the IBU of…

Typically, each beer style has a certain “IBU range” – if you like hoppier, more bitter beers, you’d try a beer with a higher IBU, like:

Bitter beer Styles: High IBU Beers
Low Bitterness Beer Styles: Low IBU Beers

If bitterness isn’t quite your thing, try a light or crisp and clean beer with a lower IBU like,

  • Light lagers, which typically range between 5 – 10 IBU
  • Hefeweizen – < 15 IBU
  • Gose – <12 IBU
Medium Bitterness Beer Styles: Medium IBU Beers

Some beers can go both ways or fall somewhere in the middle, like:

Now that you’ve learned about the bitterness of beers, take that knowledge and find a beer style or flavour profile you like!

How to Find a Beer You’ll Actually Like


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