IBUs (International Bittering Units) are widely shared, on tap lists, websites, apps, and beer labels. Breweries even tout the IBUs of their more aggressively bitter IPAs as a way to entice hopheads, who in turn brag about their heavily IBU-laden conquests. Despite the pervasiveness of the term, there seems to be a great deal of misunderstanding as to what an IBU actually is.
Simply put, an IBU is a measurement of the amount of isomerized alpha acid in a beer. Alpha acid is one component of hop resin and isomerization is the rearranging of a compound’s molecular structure without adding or subtracting any of those molecules. Isomerization will occur in beer brewing when heat is applied. This restructuring of the molecular arrangement of alpha acids allows the alpha acids to release all their bittering, flavor, and aroma into the beer. Therefore, the earlier hops are added during the boil, the more bitterness will be extracted. Adding hops late or even after the boil (a process called “dry hopping) will mainly add aroma.
Different hop varieties have different levels of alpha acids, measurable as a percentage of the total weight of the hop resin. A low alpha acid hop might only have 3 or 4% alpha acid while others might range as high as 17 or 18%. Obviously, these high alpha acid varieties are capable of delivering much higher IBUs. Almost all beers will have some IBUs. A light American lager like Budweiser only has a few whereas imperial IPAs can range north of 100.
So there you have it - IBUs are a fairly objective measurement of the amount of isomerized alpha acid in a beer. Where things get tricky, however, is that measuring the isomerized alpha acids in a beer doesn’t indicate perceived bitterness. In other words, knowing the IBUs in a beer won’t tell you how bitter the beer actually tastes. There are other mitigating factors, namely the malt bill and the use (if any) of adjuncts. Malt and adjuncts provide flavors that balance out the bitterness of hops. Therefore, a beer with a massive malt bill like an imperial stout might actually have more IBUs than a typical IPA but it won’t taste anywhere near as bitter because the huge malt profile drowns out the hoppiness; the hops in an imperial stout are merely providing balance, they’re not actually detectable. Only knowing the IBUs in a beer and nothing else is akin to only knowing the number of grains of salt in a bowl of soup - it doesn’t really inform you how salty the soup tastes.
I guess what I’m saying is don’t get too hung up on knowing the IBUs in a beer. It may serve as a rough guide but won’t actually indicate how bitter the beer is. Instead, I’d encourage you to ask questions and engage in conversations with beer lovers like the folks who work at Jungle Jim’s. A good beer geek will help steer you in the direction of something that serves up just the level of bitterness you’re searching for. Cheers!
Italy seems an arbitrary place to land after the holidays, but hey, why not? It’s certainly where we’d love to rest up and recover from the craziness of December. Some prosciutto, pasta, and a bottle of one of these wines, maybe under the Tuscan sun… who’s with me?
By Kevin Keith
While the still wines of Franciacorta have roots some centuries old (referenced by Virgil and Pliny the Elder and in print as far back as 1277), the sparkling wines of Franciacorta began in 1957, when a young winemaker named Franco Ziliano, while working for Berlucchi, first produced a wine called Pinot di Franciocorta. Ultimately, the renown that proceeded led to the proclamation of DOC status in 1967 and DOCG status in 1995.
Franciacorta is recognized for producing sparkling wines made in the Metodo Classico or classic Champagne method, using mostly Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grape varieties as opposed to say Glera, as is the grape for making Prosecco. Franciacorta pretty much emulates Champagne in virtually every way. Pinot Bianco (Pinot Blanc) is the only other recognized grape permissible in the region, which boasts declared vineyards extending around 5400 acres.
We’ve a few great Franciacorta available in our stores and you should check one out next time you’re looking for Champagne or sparkling wines.
The mad dash to get out before the Christmas rush led to some prize allocations arriving right up to the night Santa would be coming down our cellar’s chimney. Check out these late arrivals:
The controversial WIne Spectator Top 100 list could (and should) be thought of this way: a year’s greatest hits. These babies came out throughout the course of the year, and at the end, it’s time to go Kasey Kasem on everyone and count ‘em down. Yes, it’s a bit arbitrary, and yes, there are always more than a few snubs, but hey, at least it ain’t the Grammy’s, right? Here were some of the experts’ faves:
For those who have been following along with us the past couple of years, it should come as absolutely no surprise that January’s Hot Sauce of the Month comes to us from one of the most consistently delicious purveyors of hot sauce around, Bravado Spice Co.
And like any company trying to stay ahead of the curve, Bravado Spice Co. has brought something new and exciting to the shelves - Serrano & Basil Hot Sauce. While Serrano is a common enough pepper, found in some of our favorite hot sauces, it’s rarely given the spotlight.
Serranos can range from 5,000-23,000 Scoville Units, so they can pack a punch. Fresh and “green” tasting, serranos are crisp, bright, and flavorful. So pairing them with something as pungent, aromatic, and equally flavorful like basil just makes sense.
The end product? It’s awesome. Lots of flavor, super aromatic, this is a truly unique sauce that works well on pizza and pasta - as well as anything else you might use your favorite sauces for.
We hope everyone had a safe and fun New Year’s. Stop in and see us soon to get your 2018 off to a spicy start!
Keep it flavorful, and keep it hot.
Jungle Jim’s “Pepperologist”
Bonus Pepperologist Pick!
Happy New Year! The Holiday Season is a wrap and we in Gourmet Galeria wants to thank each of you who visited with us. We enjoyed seeing many of our long-time customers and meeting new shoppers. We thank you for your patronage and loyalty.
Now for our big announcement. You don’t have to wait for our Spring Cleaning Sale to save in Gourmet Galeria. We’ve kicked off the New Year with a Winter Sales Event! Come shop with us and save BIG throughout Gourmet Galeria. You’ll find special buys on Wilton Armetale Gourmet Grillware, Epoca 20-quart Stock Pots, selected pieces of Swiss Diamond Cookware, selected barware and tabletop, and more. Many of us have shopped til we’ve almost dropped, but you really want to put this sale on your must-do list. When January ends, so will the Winter Sales Event. Remember the early bird and the worm!
The temperatures have dropped, but that (usually) doesn’t stop us from thinking about all the big, bold flavors we might normally enjoy during the spring and summer. So when Blues Hog BBQ started hitting our shelves again recently, we couldn’t help but get excited!
A customer favorite as much as it’s one of ours, these award-winning sauces have been sorely missed, but we’re happy to be able to offer them again. And trust us, your chicken, pork, ribs, and whatever else you want to use this sauce for are going to be all the better for it.
Starting off, we have a trio of BBQ sauces to make your next protein focused meal sing. Check ‘em out!
Thanks for a great year, everyone! Keep it flavorful, and keep it hot! We’ll see you in 2018!
Jungle Jim’s “Pepperologist”