Author Topic: Is an IBU and IBU?  (Read 1011 times)

Offline BrodyR

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Is an IBU and IBU?
« on: March 09, 2015, 02:55:45 PM »
Is there really such a thing as a smoother bitterness or is an IBU an IBU?

I've been doing some reading and it seems there is some disagreement about the character of FWH vs a single 60m charge vs continuous hoping vs whirlpool hoping. An example is how many sources tell you FWH smoothes everything out then others (I think it was an episode of the Jamil show but I could be wrong) say blind taste tests prove otherwise.

Lately I've been brewing with a single high alpha charge at 60m (sometimes FWH) then saving all my flavor and aroma hops for a 170f hop-stand and 2 dry hop additions but wondering if I could do better.

So, essentially, what I'm asking is if anyone is aware of a blind taste test with identical brews hopped differently being compared? If I had the capacity I'd love to brew up a bunch of basic pale ales comparing different hopping regimes.

Offline Stevie

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Re: Is an IBU and IBU?
« Reply #1 on: March 09, 2015, 03:07:09 PM »
Didn't Basic Brewing Radio do this test? I think Denny may have as well sometime in the past.

Offline denny

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Re: Is an IBU and IBU?
« Reply #2 on: March 09, 2015, 03:16:21 PM »
There can be a difference between what you measure and what it tastes like.  What it subjectively measures is not necessarily what it objectively tastes like.

I did the study you're asking about and Jamil was involved also.  I'd say the results are not clear cut, but I still use FWH on a majority of my beers becasue I think it does make a difference.  Here's q link to the study...start on pg. 29

http://www.ahaconference.org/wp-content/uploads/presentations/2008/DennyConn.pdf
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Offline BrodyR

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Re: Is an IBU and IBU?
« Reply #3 on: March 09, 2015, 04:09:19 PM »
There can be a difference between what you measure and what it tastes like.  What it subjectively measures is not necessarily what it objectively tastes like.

I did the study you're asking about and Jamil was involved also.  I'd say the results are not clear cut, but I still use FWH on a majority of my beers becasue I think it does make a difference.  Here's q link to the study...start on pg. 29

http://www.ahaconference.org/wp-content/uploads/presentations/2008/DennyConn.pdf

Thanks for the link, interesting stuff. So the takeaway is inconclusive but FWW takes so little effort why not? I would love to throw a hop burst or whirlpool brew in the mix.

Offline erockrph

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Re: Is an IBU and IBU?
« Reply #4 on: March 09, 2015, 05:02:32 PM »
An IBU is simply a lab value that is used as a surrogate indicator for the bitterness of a beer. There is a lot more going on in your mouth than a single spectroscopy value can report. While I don't necessarily buy into the whole low cohumulone = smoother beer argument, I do feel that not all IBUs are created equal. Or to restate that a bit, that the taster's palate will not necessarily perceive the same bitterness experience with two beers that measure the same IBUs in a lab.

I sent a massively all-whirlpool hopped IPA to a lab to be measured for IBUs. It came back at 98IBU, but it didn't taste like more than 60IBU to my palate -and smoothly bitter at that. I can't say for sure what was going on. It could have been that the massive fruit hop flavor skewed my perception, or there could be some chemical changes going on. But I do feel pretty strongly that whirlpool hops do not seem as bitter to my tongue.
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Offline denny

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Re: Is an IBU and IBU?
« Reply #5 on: March 09, 2015, 05:04:58 PM »
Thanks for the link, interesting stuff. So the takeaway is inconclusive but FWW takes so little effort why not? I would love to throw a hop burst or whirlpool brew in the mix.

That's pretty much my thinking.  I _think_ it makes a difference and it's so easy to do that it falls within my "pragmatic" framework.  As soon as I can find time, I want to do a similar study with whirlpool hops.  How much bitterness do they contribute, exactly what compounds, etc.
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Offline denny

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Re: Is an IBU and IBU?
« Reply #6 on: March 09, 2015, 05:09:30 PM »
An IBU is simply a lab value that is used as a surrogate indicator for the bitterness of a beer. There is a lot more going on in your mouth than a single spectroscopy value can report. While I don't necessarily buy into the whole low cohumulone = smoother beer argument, I do feel that not all IBUs are created equal. Or to restate that a bit, that the taster's palate will not necessarily perceive the same bitterness experience with two beers that measure the same IBUs in a lab.

I sent a massively all-whirlpool hopped IPA to a lab to be measured for IBUs. It came back at 98IBU, but it didn't taste like more than 60IBU to my palate -and smoothly bitter at that. I can't say for sure what was going on. It could have been that the massive fruit hop flavor skewed my perception, or there could be some chemical changes going on. But I do feel pretty strongly that whirlpool hops do not seem as bitter to my tongue.

That's kinda illustrated by the analysis I got from Steiner about FWH...

Beer     Iso-alpha-acids   Alpha-acids    Humulinones
A (FWH)       24.8          3.5       1.9
B (60)      21.8          4.7       1.8

The alpha-acids are not bitter though they contribute to bitterness units value. The humulinones are oxidized alpha-acids and are slightly bitter.

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Offline HoosierBrew

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Re: Is an IBU and IBU?
« Reply #7 on: March 09, 2015, 05:29:44 PM »
An IBU is simply a lab value that is used as a surrogate indicator for the bitterness of a beer. There is a lot more going on in your mouth than a single spectroscopy value can report. While I don't necessarily buy into the whole low cohumulone = smoother beer argument, I do feel that not all IBUs are created equal. Or to restate that a bit, that the taster's palate will not necessarily perceive the same bitterness experience with two beers that measure the same IBUs in a lab.

I sent a massively all-whirlpool hopped IPA to a lab to be measured for IBUs. It came back at 98IBU, but it didn't taste like more than 60IBU to my palate -and smoothly bitter at that. I can't say for sure what was going on. It could have been that the massive fruit hop flavor skewed my perception, or there could be some chemical changes going on. But I do feel pretty strongly that whirlpool hops do not seem as bitter to my tongue.

+1.  IBUs are just a number.  Picture 50 IBUs of Magnum vs 50 IBUs of Columbus.  Or 100 IBUs in IIPA vs 100 IBUS in a barleywine.  I agree that whirlpool hops don't seem as bitter, especially sub 180F.
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Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: Is an IBU and IBU?
« Reply #8 on: March 09, 2015, 05:38:33 PM »
An IBU is simply a lab value that is used as a surrogate indicator for the bitterness of a beer. There is a lot more going on in your mouth than a single spectroscopy value can report. While I don't necessarily buy into the whole low cohumulone = smoother beer argument, I do feel that not all IBUs are created equal. Or to restate that a bit, that the taster's palate will not necessarily perceive the same bitterness experience with two beers that measure the same IBUs in a lab.

I sent a massively all-whirlpool hopped IPA to a lab to be measured for IBUs. It came back at 98IBU, but it didn't taste like more than 60IBU to my palate -and smoothly bitter at that. I can't say for sure what was going on. It could have been that the massive fruit hop flavor skewed my perception, or there could be some chemical changes going on. But I do feel pretty strongly that whirlpool hops do not seem as bitter to my tongue.

+1.  IBUs are just a number.  Picture 50 IBUs of Magnum vs 50 IBUs of Columbus.  Or 100 IBUs in IIPA vs 100 IBUS in a barleywine.  I agree that whirlpool hops don't seem as bitter, especially sub 180F.

Here you go. For all the cohumulone discussion.
http://www.barthhaasgroup.com/johbarth/images/pdfs/2009_BWI_Cohumulon.pdf
« Last Edit: March 09, 2015, 05:42:08 PM by hopfenundmalz »
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Offline HoosierBrew

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Re: Is an IBU and IBU?
« Reply #9 on: March 09, 2015, 10:22:11 PM »
Here you go. For all the cohumulone discussion.
http://www.barthhaasgroup.com/johbarth/images/pdfs/2009_BWI_Cohumulon.pdf

Good article. Another long held belief that seems to be inaccurate.
Jon H.

Offline reverseapachemaster

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Re: Is an IBU and IBU?
« Reply #10 on: March 10, 2015, 04:39:16 PM »
In my experience there is a difference. 50 IBU of FWH, 50 IBU of hop bursting and 50 IBU of early boil additions do not seem the same to me in the same beer. They are all good practices that have their place in different styles. I would worry less about the estimated IBUs to a recipe than how the hops are arranged in the recipe to create the best bitterness and flavor/aroma for the recipe.
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Offline erockrph

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Re: Is an IBU and IBU?
« Reply #11 on: March 10, 2015, 05:02:05 PM »
In my experience there is a difference. 50 IBU of FWH, 50 IBU of hop bursting and 50 IBU of early boil additions do not seem the same to me in the same beer. They are all good practices that have their place in different styles. I would worry less about the estimated IBUs to a recipe than how the hops are arranged in the recipe to create the best bitterness and flavor/aroma for the recipe.
My mantra with any brewing calculation is that the best use is to give a baseline for a recipe so you can compare apples-to-apples for dialing it in. Once you brew a recipe, then you have an idea of what 50 IBU's taste like for that given recipe and you have a target to adjust from.
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Offline HoosierBrew

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Re: Is an IBU and IBU?
« Reply #12 on: March 10, 2015, 05:25:50 PM »
In my experience there is a difference. 50 IBU of FWH, 50 IBU of hop bursting and 50 IBU of early boil additions do not seem the same to me in the same beer. They are all good practices that have their place in different styles. I would worry less about the estimated IBUs to a recipe than how the hops are arranged in the recipe to create the best bitterness and flavor/aroma for the recipe.
My mantra with any brewing calculation is that the best use is to give a baseline for a recipe so you can compare apples-to-apples for dialing it in. Once you brew a recipe, then you have an idea of what 50 IBU's taste like for that given recipe and you have a target to adjust from.

+1 to both posts.  Knowing (or being able to figure out) the method of hopping from a recipe or brewery is at least as important as the actual IBU number.  Example -  there are lots of otherwise good brewery sourced recipes whose boil additions might calculate to, for example, 45 IBUs , yet the beer is listed on their site , and commonly thought to be, say 68 IBUs.  Obviously, the brewery is intentionally picking up several more IBUs in the whirlpool, which can be accounted for fairly accurately.
Jon H.

Offline Joe T

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Re: Is an IBU and IBU?
« Reply #13 on: March 10, 2015, 06:43:00 PM »
I think cacao nibs add some bitterness and, although I've only used them in the keg, boiling them almost certainly would.

Offline ynotbrusum

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Re: Is an IBU and IBU?
« Reply #14 on: March 11, 2015, 11:31:38 AM »
I think for early additions an IBU may be just an IBU, because the aromatics of the hop are boiled off, but with hop bursting or hop stands, you experience more of what the hop has to offer.  I also think that FWH additions have less subjective harshness compared to a 60 minute addition and I have nothing but my palate to back that up...so go figure.  In the end it goes back to Dennyism number one - try it all out and go with whatever route you prefer best that involves the least amount of effort for the greatest amount of satisfaction (or something like that!)
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