So many op­tions for un­bri­dled hop­pi­ness

Central and North Burnett Times - - EASY EATING - For more go to myshout@news­re­gional­me­ MY SHOUT with Si­mon Ir­win

ONCE upon a time, the act of pick­ing up a six-pack on the way home was a rel­a­tively sim­ple task. The choice was mostly one of light, mid or heavy lagers from one of the ma­jor brew­ers, with some South Aus­tralian or Tas­ma­nian pre­mium lines avail­able for those who were of an ex­per­i­men­tal bent.

Dif­fer­ent story to­day. Pale ale, In­dia pale ale, Amer­i­can pale ale, Aus­tralian pale ale, New World pale ale, Golden ale, Sum­mer ale, gluten-free pale ale and or­ganic pale ale – and that is just some of the range in one aisle of my lo­cal bot­tleo – so where do we start?

There is, how­ever, some help at hand. We are used to see­ing al­co­hol con­tents ex­pressed as an al­co­hol by vol­ume per­cent­age or as a num­ber of stan­dard drinks per bot­tle when de­cid­ing how many of what to take to a ses­sion with friends. But there is an­other rating that, once you get used to it, can be re­ally help­ful – the In­ter­na­tional Bit­ter­ness Unit or IBU.

Hugh the Neigh­bour and I cot­toned on to this in about the mid­dle of last year when we fi­nally ad­mit­ted to one an­other that nei­ther of us had any idea what IBU meant, and so availed our­selves of Dr Google to rec­tify this gap in our ed­u­ca­tion.

IBU in­di­cates the rel­a­tive bit­ter­ness of a beer as mea­sured by the amount of iso­hu­mu­lone (which is the bit­ter bit of hops) in parts per mil­lion.

Put sim­ply, the big­ger the IBU num­ber the more the hops is go­ing to whack you in the mouth. This was ap­par­ent when HTN and I were try­ing the Gage Road Break Wa­ter Aus­tralian Pale Ale.

A pleas­ant enough drop, it is an un­fil­tered lighter style, boast­ing an IBU of 15, and sure enough it had a hint of bit­ter­ness be­hind a rounded malti­ness.

We con­trasted this to the Lit­tle Dove New World-style pale ale, which, with an IBU of 48 de­liv­ers the punch of hop­pi­ness ex­pected from an Amer­i­can-style pale ale.

So while this isn’t go­ing to tell you whether it is go­ing to taste any good, or keep a head in the glass, or whether it will give you a split­ting headache the next day de­spite only hav­ing a cou­ple (I am look­ing at you Crown Lager), it does take some of the guess­work out of try­ing a new brew.

The Break Wa­ter is worth a try too. Just re­mem­ber, IBU 15.

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