IBU: A Guide to Beer Bitterness

When it comes to , there are many factors that contribute to its overall taste and character. One of the key elements that beer enthusiasts often consider is the bitterness level, which is measured in International Bitterness Units (IBU). The IBU scale is used to quantify the amount of bittering compounds, mainly derived from , in a beer. Understanding the IBU chart can help you choose a beer that suits your taste preferences.

IBU is a numerical value that indicates the perceived bitterness in a beer. It is important to note that IBU does not measure the actual amount of hops in a beer, but rather the perceived bitterness. This is because different hops varieties have varying levels of bittering compounds, and the process can also affect the perception of bitterness.

On the lower end of the IBU chart, you'll find beers with a mild to no hops presence. These beers typically have an IBU rating of less than 20. They are often described as smooth and easy-drinking, with a focus on sweetness rather than bitterness. Examples of beers in this range include light lagers and wheat beers.

Moving up the scale, beers with an IBU rating between 20 and 45 have a mild to pronounced hops presence. This is the most common range for commercial and craft beers. These beers strike a balance between malt sweetness and hop bitterness, resulting in a well-rounded flavor profile. Many popular beer styles, such as pale ales, IPAs (India Pale Ales), and amber ales, fall within this IBU range.

For those who enjoy a more intense bitterness, there are beers with an IBU greater than 45. These heavily hopped beers can taste quite and are often preferred by hop enthusiasts. Double IPAs and some imperial stouts are examples of beers that can reach higher IBU levels. However, it's worth noting that the perception of bitterness can also be influenced by the beer's content and malt sweetness.

While it's possible to find beers with IBU ratings above 100, they are relatively rare. Beers in this range are often brewed as experimental or novelty brews, pushing the limits of bitterness. These beers can be an acquired taste and are usually enjoyed by those who appreciate extreme flavors.

It's important to remember that IBU is just one aspect of a beer's overall flavor profile. Other factors, such as malt sweetness, alcohol content, characteristics, and aroma, all play a role in determining the taste of a beer. Therefore, it's always a good idea to consider the IBU in conjunction with other factors when choosing a beer.

The IBU chart provides a useful reference for understanding the bitterness level of different beers. Beers with lower IBU ratings tend to be smoother and less bitter, while those with higher IBU ratings can offer a more intense and hop-forward experience. By considering the IBU along with other factors, you can find a beer that suits your personal taste preferences. So next time you're at the beer aisle, take a look at the IBU chart and discover your perfect brew.

ibu beer chart

What Is A Good IBU For Beer?

A good International Bitterness Unit (IBU) range for beer typically falls between 10 and 80. However, it's important to note that individual preferences may vary. The IBU is a measurement used to quantify the bitterness of beer, which is primarily derived from hops. Beers with lower IBUs, around 10 to 20, tend to have a milder bitterness, making them more approachable for those who prefer a less bitter taste. On the other hand, beers with higher IBUs, ranging from 40 to 80, have a more pronounced bitterness that appeals to those who enjoy a strong hop flavor. It's worth mentioning that extreme bitterness levels, above 80 IBUs, are less common and may be reserved for specialty or experimental brews. Ultimately, the ideal IBU for a beer depends on personal preferences and the style of beer being brewed.

What Is The IBU Of IPA Beer?

The International Bitterness Units (IBU) of an India Pale () beer can vary greatly depending on the specific brand and recipe. IPAs are known for their strong hop flavor and bitterness, which is achieved by using a higher amount of hops during the brewing process.

The average IBU range for an IPA beer is typically between 40 and 70. However, it is not uncommon to find IPAs with a higher IBU, reaching up to 100 or even more. These higher IBU IPAs are often referred to as “double IPAs” or “imperial IPAs” and are known for their intense hop bitterness.

It's important to note that the perceived bitterness of a beer can also be influenced by other factors such as the malt sweetness and alcohol content. Additionally, individual taste preferences can play a role in how bitter a beer may seem to someone.

The IBU of an IPA beer can vary but is generally between 40 and 70, with some IPAs reaching higher levels of bitterness.


The IBU beer chart provides a valuable tool for understanding and comparing the bitterness levels of different beers. The International Bitterness Units (IBU) scale ranges from 5 to 120, with most beers falling between 10 and 80 IBU.

The chart reveals that beers with lower IBU ratings, below 20, typically have little to no hops presence and offer a milder taste. These beers are often preferred by individuals who prefer less bitterness in their brews.

On the other hand, beers in the common range of 20 to 45 IBU showcase a mild to pronounced hops presence. This range is popular among beer enthusiasts and offers a balanced bitterness that is not overwhelming.

For those seeking a more intense and bitter taste experience, heavily hopped beers with IBU ratings greater than 45 are the way to go. These beers can provide a bold and bitter flavor profile that is appreciated by hop lovers.

It is worth noting that while there are rare beers that exceed 1000 IBUs, the vast majority of beers fall within the 5 to 120 IBU range. Therefore, the IBU beer chart serves as a useful reference point for understanding the bitterness characteristics of different brews.

Ultimately, the IBU beer chart allows consumers to make informed choices based on their personal preferences for bitterness in their beer. Whether you enjoy a milder taste or prefer a hop-forward experience, the chart provides a helpful guide to navigate the wide variety of beers available in the market.

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Thomas Ashford

Thomas Ashford is a highly educated brewer with years of experience in the industry. He has a Bachelor Degree in Chemistry and a Master Degree in Brewing Science. He is also BJCP Certified Beer Judge. Tom has worked hard to become one of the most experienced brewers in the industry. He has experience monitoring brewhouse and cellaring operations, coordinating brewhouse projects, and optimizing brewery operations for maximum efficiency. He is also familiar mixology and an experienced sommelier. Tom is an expert organizer of beer festivals, wine tastings, and brewery tours.