Deconstructing Beer Labels
Evidently, craft beer is slowly taking over the world. And craft breweries around the world are experimenting with various beer styles to keep things exciting.
However, beer labels tend to vary from brand to brand. While there are a few standard terms you would expect a label to mention, some labels can be extremely detailed and at times pretty mysterious too.
While the basic information on a label would obviously include the brewery or brand name and the style of beer, there are some terms every beer drinker must know.
- ABV: Alcohol by Volume is the standard way of measuring the alcohol amount in beer. It is measured in terms of percentage volume of alcohol per volume of beer. In India, most lager beers have 4-6% ABV.
- IBU: International Bitterness Units refers to the bitterness of the hops — the most common bittering agent used in beer. The more the IBU number, the hoppier is the beer. Most lagers in India have it in the bracket of 6-15 IBU while craft breweries like Gateway Brewing Co makes a 50 IBU India Pale Ale while Arbor Brewing Co in Bangalore has a whopping 80 IBU India Pale Ale on tap!
- Imperial: The term comes from the days of the Russian imperial court, where they would drink custom brewed strong beer. A label with Imperial means it’s a stronger version with intense flavors, heavier body and higher ABV. Terms like double, extra, extreme, extravagant usually have the same implication.
- Bottle Conditioned: Most beers get their fizz like soda and any other aerated drink, where CO2 is forced into a tank of beer. Bottle conditioned beers do not go through this and get their carbonation from yeast fermenting sugar inside the bottle. Such beers usually have some live or dead yeast which settles at the bottom. Weather you pour the beer carefully leaving the sediments out or mix the sediments before you drink is a personal preference.
- Dry Hopped: This implies that extra hops here are added after fermentation of beer. Because the hops are not boiled, more flavours and aromas are imparted in the beer with less bitterness.