Short for “Alcohol By Volume”, the ABV tells you what percentage of the beer is alcohol. If a 500ml beer has an ABV of 5%, then it contains 10ml of pure alcohol. If a 500ml beer has an ABV of 10%, then you better drink it with food or it could be the start (or end) of a pretty wild night out.
One of the most common beers to be produced in the United States is the APA, or American Pale Ale, which is essentially a riff on the English Pale Ale but made with American ingredients. Well-balanced, flavourful and not as aggressive or high in alcohol as an IPA, an APA is a pretty safe bet if you're dithering over a beer list. For a benchmark example of the style, Try the Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.
As a consumer you don't really need to know this one, but if you’re getting into brewing or hanging out with beer nerds, it’ll come up. IBU stands for “International Bittering Units”, and is a scale of 0-100 to measure the bitterness of beer. A light-bodied lager might have around 8-20 IBU, while a hoppy IPA will usually have an IBU between 60 and 100. Beers with higher IBUs tend to have a fuller body with more sweet malt needed to balance the bitterness, while those with low IBUs tend to be lighter in both body and alcohol.
The favourite style among many craft brewers (and drinkers, my Mum included), IPAs are those big, hoppy beers that people seem to love or hate. IPA stands for India Pale Ale, and the style evolved in the UK in the late 18th century when pale ale was brewed with more malt and hops to preserve the beer during the long voyages from Britain to India. Over the years they’ve grown increasingly hoppy, with IPAs like Epic Armaggedon proving more than adequate at surviving the long voyage from the supermarket to my house.
The Double IPA, sometimes labeled an IIPA (Imperial IPA), is an IPA only bigger. It’s hoppier, maltier, and more likely to make you forget what all of the above acronyms stand for. If you're brave enough, try the Tuatara Double Trouble.
Brought to you in association with the Brewers Guild of New Zealand. For more information on New Zealand brewers, breweries and beer, visit brewersguild.org.nz