Monday, October 15, 2007

Hopping up

The Chicago Tribune in a recent story examined the trend toward heavier hops flavor in American craft beers. Since the craft-brewing market was born in the 1970s, the definition of what's hoppy has changed. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, the story notes, was once considered an extremely hops-flavored beer, with an international-bitterness-unit rating of 37. The Tribune had a panel try seven beers for its story, and the least-hoppy, Two Brothers' Heavy Handed IPA, one had an IBU rating of 62 - most were 90 or higher.

For what it's worth, the methods brewers use to get more hops flavor into their beers also wind up increasing the alcohol content too. Unfortunately for us in Alabama, that means the hoppiest beers are illegal here. Of the seven brews mentioned in the Tribune story, only one came in under our state's 6-percent alcohol-by volume cap - Heavy Handed, the least bitter of the bunch.