Skip to main content


Connect with the local beverage industry. Trade news, trends and insights.

On Premise Advice: International Bittering Units (IBUs)

By January 7, 2013Rhode Island, Top News

Len Panaggio, Beverage Consultant

By Len Panaggio, President, Newport Harbor Corporation

In my travels, I have come across more and more bars and restaurants offering large beer and draught selections.

Many of the operators are now listing the alcohol content of each beer, which is a good thing as some of the beers out there are between nine and 12-percent alcohol content. Often, consumers aren’t aware of how potent what they’re drinking can be! In this information world we live in, I think it is important to provide our guests with as much knowledge as possible.

Along the same vein, is the IBU (International Bittering Unit) content of beer. Beer gets its bitterness from hops, which can be muted by an increase in the malt used. So more hops, less malt equals a bitter beer.  With the meteoric rise of IPAs, I think it is the right time to list the IBU of beers.

The IBU runs on a scale of 0-120, 0 having no bitterness, 120—beware! Beers with less than 20 IBUs have no apparent hop presence (think industrial lagers). Those 20-45 are the most common and include golden ales, pale ales and porters. Those greater than 45 are noticeably bitter – IPAs and barleywines.

On a recent trip to the Red Hook Brewery in New Hampshire, the beer list included the alcohol content and corresponding IBU. This certainly helps consumers make the right decision and therefore have a good experience.

I urge all bar and restaurant owners who have fabulous beer lists with the alcohol content listed, to also include IBUs. I think now is the time to make this a standard practice. After all, pleasing our guests is our ultimate goal. And, that pleasure will translate into increased, repeat business in the New Year.

Prost! Happy New Year!

« | »

Leave a Reply