Right. Quick brewing and beer knowledge lesson.
Bitterness in beer comes from the use of hops. Different hops contain different percentages of Alpha Acids. The higher the percentage, the more bitter the hop. The bitterness level of a beer is measured using the International Bittering Units scale (or IBUs or short). To do this they use fancy and expensive sounding equipment like a ‘spectrophotometer’.
For those playing along at home, your average watered-down piss (or ‘lager’) will have 5-15 IBUs, a crisp pale ale 30-50 IBUs, a heavy Imperial Stout 50-80 IBUs, and an Imperial IPA around 70-120. Much like when brewers decided to see who could brew the beer with the strongest alcohol percentage, it’s kind of become a competition between brewers to see who make the ‘bitterest’ beer.
There is however, a slight problem with this. The technical limit (and taste threshold) for IBUs is around 120. Once you go past this, you can’t really measure (or detect) the actual level.
But if there was one brewery that was prepared to blatantly overlook this fact, it would be Mikkeller. And thus, one beer tasting night the Mikkeller 1000 IBU Ultramate found its way into my hands.
The Ultramate is the ‘light’ version of the original 9.6% 1000 IBU, weighing it at just 4.9%. Because in Denmark, that is considered ‘light’. Awesome country that. Hop heads worldwide rejoiced at finding this beer, because like any good junkies they craved stronger and bitterer beers.
The beer pours a hazy orange, and looks rather non-threatening. It smells like it should – strong oily hints of pine, citrus, tropical fruit. Now imagine you’ve opened a fresh bag of hops. Take one of those hops out and just pop it in your mouth and start chewing. Feel that bitterness coat your mouth, sliding down the back of your throat. Feel it linger. It’s unpacked and is casually reading a trashy novel by the pool – it’s booked in for an extended stay.
This beer exists to serve one (noble) purpose. To horrifically decimate your palate. To attack your taste-buds with such highly-hopped force that they will spend the rest of the day curled up in the fetal position, begging for forgiveness and wondering exactly what the fuck they did to deserve such treatment.
Feel like a different beer soon after this one? Bitch please. Take your jokes elsewhere.