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New Beer Rule #2: IBUs and IQs

NEW BEER RULE #2: A beer consumer should not be allowed to drink a beer with IBU higher than her or his IQ.

HopsI like – OK, love – hops more than most people you know. But I understand the frustration expressed by some brewers about the attention that highly hopped high alcohol beers (sometimes called extreme) receive.

The 25th highest-rated Imperial/Double IPA at gets a 3.96. The top-rated Dortmunder/Helles gets a 3.71.

I happen to think that 25th-rated Double IPA, Pizza Port’s Hop Suey, is a great beer, so please don’t consider this an attack on beer ratings sites or hoppy beers.

In fact what should really rile sensible brewers is high scores given even the 100th or 200th ranked Double IPA (whatever that might be). MORE does not automatically make a beer better. It often produces an out of balance, lousy tasting beer. This isn’t really about IQ; it’s about common sense.

For reference
New Beer Rule #1.
– Wikipedia on International Bitterness Units (IBU) and Intelligent Quotient (IQ).

18 Responses to New Beer Rule #2: IBUs and IQs

  1. brewer a March 6, 2007 at 9:30 am #

    Oooh, oh I’ll vote for this one!

  2. Loren March 6, 2007 at 10:19 am #

    Come on Stan…it’s no shocker that Americans in general love bold statements. And geeks who review/rate love the big and bold stuff. Period (you’ve written about your distaste for the Top Beers on BA/RB before…).

    Of course you’ll find a handful that appreciate beers across all levels and styles…and maybe one day these will impact the “charts”. Until then? Just peruse and laugh while enjoying a beautiful Helles. And shower the brewers who make them with adoration while doing so. Maybe someone out there will hear you and agree, even if silently.


  3. Lew Bryson March 6, 2007 at 11:20 am #

    You have gotten disgustingly warm and cuddly lately. I don’t even know who you are any more, man…

    Stan: The New Rules rule! Someone’s gotta say this stuff, and if you don’t, who will?

  4. SteveH March 6, 2007 at 11:29 am #

    A beer consumer should not be allowed to drink a beer with IBU higher than her or his IQ.

    LOL!! Sing it loud and strong! In the meantime, I’ll have a Dinkle-Acker Pils in your honor tonight — yeah, those are hops, they’re just more balanced than you’re used to!

  5. Alan March 6, 2007 at 1:10 pm #

    I don’t know. I am having cross-border issues that bump into this and they may serve (as all my thoughts inevitably do) as an illustration of a more general truth.

    I was recently directed recently to a couple of Ontario craft brewers who were new to me (due to geography and our crappy distribution monopoly) and I shared them with the people to whom I play “beer elf.” These were a decent well made pale ale, a brown and a Vienna lager. The word back from the newbie – who I introduced beers like Thousand Island Pale Ale or Syracuse Pale ale to just a matter a months ago – was “boring”.

    Only a few weeks before the pale ale would have been a revelation. It makes me think sometimes that we get suckered one way or another or maybe both. Without the big and the bold we get blandification throughout the nation(s). But equally true is that the enemy of the great is always the excellent – so the big monsters when well made make the poor everyday pale ales of the world look just a little bit like a bit of a waste of time.

    So I cannot tie IQ and IBU as closely as that. There are other factors at play.

  6. Stan Hieronymus March 6, 2007 at 1:47 pm #

    Alan – I’m suddenly feeling schizophrenic, since I am usually the one arguing for big beers and allowing for experiments that may fail.

    Beyond the fact I didn’t mean the rule to be (totally) literal, I think there are too many drinkers who equate the numbers that describe beer – notably IBU and alcohol content, but they can get off on original gravity and even price (complaining while bragging) – with flavor and quality.

    Yes to big, hoppy beers. Yes to experimentation. But let’s reserve praise for the good ones.

  7. Alan March 6, 2007 at 2:05 pm #

    Oh dear. I think we may have a strict constructionist v. living tree legal interpretation rule thing breaking out already and you are only on rule #2. Maybe I was a touch too legal geeky in that last comment.

    But I get your point. A anyone who brags about the price of any beer one way or another is certainly missing the point, especially up here seeing as in Canada the most expensive beer is less than the worst wine available at the government store. Again, we should be hunting out and lobbying for “the finest” of all styles.

  8. tedo March 6, 2007 at 4:38 pm #

    Here’s my issue with the whole BIG Beer equals BIG BEER Ratings. I don’t see how you can compare a Double Imperial IPA with an IBU of 90 and an Alcohol content of 12% with a Kolsch with low IBU’s and an alcohol content of 4.5%. They are completely different beers and shouldn’t be compared to eachother. If that Imperial IPA is the best IPA then it should be rated high, if that Kolsch is the BEST example of a Kolsch then it should be rated just as high. Otherwise aren’t we comparing apples to oranges?

  9. Lew Bryson March 6, 2007 at 7:24 pm #

    But if we’re comparing a Kolsch and a Double Imperial IPA…we are comparing apples to oranges.

    Yes, I know we’re supposed to be comparing the DIIPA (hee, hee) to other DIIPAs and the Rheingoldwasser to the general run of Kolscherei, but I think that’s asking a lot of a rater who’s not doing anything but putting 1-5 numbers on beers he’s just sitting around home or the bar with, sipping and sampling and going WOW or Meh.

    I’ve seen this argument before, and I think it asks a lot more objectivity than most people have. Not us, of course…but most people.

  10. Stan Hieronymus March 6, 2007 at 7:58 pm #

    This is why I think assigning numbers to beer isn’t a good idea.

    And particularly compiling them. But that’s another battle.

  11. Loren March 7, 2007 at 6:07 am #

    “This is why I think assigning numbers to beer isn’t a good idea.”

    Takes the fun out of it too. I still take notes on beers I drink…and even send them off to brewers sometimes. But I don’t “score” them anymore. Words speak volumes.


  12. SteveH March 7, 2007 at 6:10 am #

    Kolscherei? Wow. 😉

  13. Stan Hieronymus March 7, 2007 at 7:04 am #

    Loren – I can see the value for an individual in keeping track of numbers. I like Fred Eckhardt’s 20-point scale.

  14. Sage April 6, 2007 at 9:15 am #

    Beer IQ is an inverse ratio to the ABV x quantity consumed, while Beer Enjoyment is a direct ratio to ABV x quantity consumed.


    BIQ=f-1(ABV x QC) and BE=ABV x QC

    Thus, when consumed in equal amounts, a Big Beer like a double IPA will always outscore a more subtle cousin like a Dortmunder/Helles.

    Beer ratings should be weighted to counter the sliding Beer IQ effect.

  15. Stan Hieronymus April 6, 2007 at 5:29 pm #

    A splendid addition to the rule.

    Thanks – Stan

  16. Tom April 11, 2007 at 6:44 am #

    Amen Stan.

    I think the “extreme beers” movement is really cool. Extreme does not necessarily mean good. It means extreme.

    I was at the Spring Beer Fest in Portland this weekend, and drank one of the beers that was generating buzz among the crowd, Bitter Bitch by Astoria Brewing (what a clever name. Ha ha ha.) Anyway, it was fine, but then I drank an IPA from Bellhaven, and thought “Wow, what a nice thing it is when someone sets out to make a highly drinkable beer”.

  17. Ilya Feynberg July 28, 2010 at 7:02 pm #

    So does this rule stand for EVERYONE?!?!

    If that’s the case…we’re a huge population of stupid mother******!


    Sent this rule off to a few friends though…they’re going to get a nice laugh out of this one! 🙂

    But in all seriousness, I’ve seen some less than bright folks enjoy some great beers.



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