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Beer 101

How to Review a Beer

Beer tasting is not all about getting a buzz, though that can be a good side effect. Please check out these articles on Beer Advocate for information on how to taste and review a beer. And always drink responsibly!

Tasting – http://beeradvocate.com/beer/101/taste

Reviewing – http://beeradvocate.com/articles/637

Pouring – http://beeradvocate.com/beer/101/pour

Glassware – http://beeradvocate.com/beer/101/glassware


ABV (Alcohol By Volume) –Expressed as percentage of the total volume, ABV is the amount of alcohol (ethanol) contained in an alcoholic beverage.

IBU (International Bitterness Unit) – Brew masters use a spectrophotometer to measure the amount of bitterness in a beer. Hops are responsible for the bitter flavor.

Degrees Plato is a term used in the brewing industry to express the concentration of extract in wort or beer as a percentage by weight. 100 grams of a 12 degree Plato (12º P) wort contains 12 grams of extract which is mostly sugars.

Specific Gravity is sometimes referred to as relative density as a ration of the density of one substance to another standard substance. The most commonly used standard substance for solids and liquids is water. At 4º C (39.2º F) water has a density of 1.000 kg per cubic liter. A good example is Ethanol which 0.78, meaning it is 0.78 times as dense as water.

Original Gravity (OG) is the specific gravity in degrees Plato measured before fermentation.

Final Gravity (FG) or Apparent extract (AE) is the specific gravity measured after fermentation, usually expressed as degrees Plato.

The International Bittering Units scale (IBU) provides a measurement for the bitter flavor of beer. Beers with higher IBU numbers will be more bitter than those with lower numbers. To determine this involves using a spectrophotometer to extract the bitterness under acidic conditions into a solvent and reading the absorbance in the U.V. range of 275nm. This number is then multiplied by 50 for the IBU value. Technically it is not possible to pass 100 IBUs, but alas some proceed to try. The taste threshold is generally limited to 100 IBU.

The Standard Reference Method or SRM ( Some use AA or Lovibonds) is a system the brewing industry uses to measure color intensity, or darkness of a beer. Again, a spectrophotometer is used to measure the absorbance of light in a particular wavelength (430 nanometers) as it passes through a sample inside a cuvette (size 1/2-in.). The number is then multiplied by ten for the SRM value.

For more on beer terminology please visit: http://beeradvocate.com/beer/101/terms