We occasionally assume too much…like that the majority of our readers understand most of the beer terminology we use.
But we’ve built an empire on being sometimes wrong, so here’s a quick primer on a couple of beer acronyms we use all the time.
ABV – Alcohol By Volume
Unlike hard liquor which is measured by proof, beer’s alcohol content is most commonly measured by ABV— alcohol by volume. It’s not rocket science…this number simply lets you know what percentage of that beer you’re enjoying is alcohol.
Brewers take samples of beer as it ferments to see how much sugar the yeast is converting into alcohol. And since the amount of sugar in the mix impacts a beer’s eventual alcohol content, brewers sometimes tweak a batch to get to the final level of booziness they’re looking for.
Think of ABV as buzz management…When someone asks about a beer’s ABV…they’re commonly asking is how strong is this beer?
IBU – International Bitterness Units
There was a time when a beer’s IBU ranking wasn’t regularly included as part of a beer’s label.
But with the emergence of craft beer, a movement largely fueled on the West Coast IPA and hoppier beers than ever before, the international Bitterness Unit ranking became increasingly relevant.
And like the ABV ratio for those looking to enjoy a serious buzz, the IBU ranking is for some hopheads its own marketing tool.
SRM – Standard Reference Method
More commonly used by the professional brewers than by the everyday craft beer consumer is the SRM designation.
SRM, which translates rather archaically to Standard Reference Method, is basically a scale for measuring the color intensity of a beer…it’s more technical than that, but basically SRM registers a beers color from light to dark.
A Witbier might be in a 2-4 SRM range…a Pilsner anywhere from 2-7…An Amber Ale might range from 11-18… And Imperial Stouts could show up at 40 or higher.
IPA – India Pale Ale
We kid…we kid.
But if you really want the backstory of craft beer’s reigning style, you should check out What The Hell Is An IPA?