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gophers6

Malty / Balanced / Hoppy flavor scale

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I totally do not understand how Mr. Beer's flavor scale of malty/balanced/hoppy works in relation to IBU.
I'm looking at their 180 recipes page. For instance Prince Ludwig Lager uses 2 HME's + Saez hops and has IBU of 40, and is called Balanced.
Good Witch Red uses 1 HME + Cascade hops and has IBU of 11, yet is called Hoppy.
I thought hops were used as bittering to balance the sweetness of malt. So if you have an IBU of 40, wouldn't that be hoppy compared to an IBU of 11?

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Ah, the problems with trying to mathematize taste impressions of beer!

Two of my biggest joys in life are mathematics and beer. I love the way that "numbers" can be used to help understand the brewing process and with how much science - quantitative science especially - has been developed to assist brewers in making better beer. But I also love the fact that, "at the end of the day" beer is really more than so much biochemistry. (Personally, I'm convinced that beer is somehow of divine origin, but we don't have to go there right now.) Sometimes the numbers say "This beer must be really hoppy" but the tastebuds say "MALT!" Sure, the scientists will keep asking why. And they'll no doubt find some fascinating reasons - some of which can be reduced to numbers. And yet Ninkasi will still have her secrets!

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I'll add that aroma plays a big part of taste. A beer with lots of hop aroma can have a big impact on how we perceive it on the palate. Try drinking coffee through a closed mug and straw sometime and then ask why it "doesn't taste right".

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I'll post my second favorite link here, knowing it will not fully answer your question.http://www.brewsupplies.com/hops-gravity.htm
Big Dave is spot on imo (as usual). As an econ major (I know, I'm way younger than 90% of this board) I'm caught in a similar catch 22. There's an obsession to quantify what is knowingly unquantifiable in order to make it workable. You can come up with a theory that's pure genius, but it's still very much a toss up as to whether or not it works.

The more malt you have in a beer, the more IBUs you'll need to balance it out. IBUs measure bitterness, though, not hoppyness. My favorite style of beer is an American pale ale; I enjoy its hoppyness quite a bit. IPAs, however, are not my thing. I can't pick up much hoppyness in most IPAs I try, I get a very malty taste and a bitter taste, but minimal hoppy taste and little blend of flavors. Many people, however enjoy them very much and I would bet perceive a different taste.

Investingdad makes a very good point as well. Food always sucks when you're sick and can't smell.

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The sense of smell is directly connected to the sense of taste. If you smell something you will taste it with your food while eating. Vice-Versa if you don't smell it you won't taste much, if any of it. For this reason if I know a restaurant is particularly smokey, even in the nonsmoking section, I won't eat there. So it only makes sense that hop aroma will affect the flavor of the beer. I am willing to bet that the aroma would be more subtle than actual flavor though.

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I must agree with everyone all around. I have posted several times on the minor frustration with IBU, GU:BU, and my personal perceptions of what is "Bitter". As you study this, you will find that even the literature subtly agrees that IBU is NOT really a measure of bitter...it is a measure of alpha acid utilization. (there is a more proper word than utilization that I cannot remember right now, but this works) I have personally decided that hop FLAVOR, devoid of alpha acid, e.g. 5 and 10 minute boils, are perceived by ME as bitter also. I can appreciate it, but it is a fine balancing act. For instance, I like Dead Guy Ale; But I realize, it is actually a hoppy brew. Now, if I just have dinner, then grab a Dead Guy (man, that just sounds WRONG), then I really enjoy it. But, if I have a nice Belgian first, then switch to the Dead Guy -- not as much. But the beer did not change. So, quite subjective.

The good news is, what this all means to us as brewers is that we need to experiment a lot and find out what our own preferences, and those of the folks we brew for, are. And be scientific...take tons of notes, and review them from time to time. Join a local brew club, and talk with other brewers who do NOT have a MB perspective...I think this is very important. Taste other folks brews...if all you are comparing yourself to is what you buy commercially, even the "Craft Ales", you are still not being fair to yourself.

I went a bit wide on the topic there, but the point is Malty/Balanced/Hoppy is a way of measuring taste, and you need to look at taste from many perspectives; which is precisely why that scale is not perfect.

Good Luck!!

Brew On!!

David

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