Ballard
Beer Blog

Beer 101


Beer is amazingly intertwined with the history of civilization. It has been theorized that the reason humans first decided to settle and grow crops instead of going out and finding them was so they could brew beer. One of the things that never ceases to amaze me about beer is how just a few ingredients can create such a wide variety of flavors. With a good balance of water, yeast, hops, and malt you can be drinking anything from a pale lager to a very dark stout. There's something for every palette.

In Ballard we're lucky to be able to draw on great craft beer tradition and have a plethora of breweries that offer almost unlimited variety. My hope with these pages is to help you navigate the craft beer waters a bit and help you learn a little bit more about the beer you're drinking along your Ballard craft beer journey.

While hopping from brewery to brewery you'll see a few numbers and stats that you might not be familiar with. I've tried to describe some of those below followed by links to the Hops and Styles section that will give you more information about the specific ingredients of beer.

IBU (International Bittering Units)

This is a measurement that will tell you how bitter the beer is relative to other beers. It's based on the amount of alpha acids the hops impart on the final beer. The higher the number, the more bitter the beer. You'll find everything from 10 IBUs in something like a light lager to 90+ in the Double IPAs.

Gravity (OG - original gravity, or degrees Plato)

The text-book definition of gravity is the density of the beer before it starts the fermentation process (the unfermented beer is called the wort). There are multiple systems at work for measuring gravity, but what the measurement tells you is how many dissolved solids there are in the beer, primarily sugar. During the fermentation stage the yeast will eat those sugars and turn them into glorious alcohol. So what gravity helps tell you is how alcoholic the beer will be.

SRM (Color)

A beer's color is measured on the Standard Reference Method (SRM) scale which was developed by the American Society of Brewing Chemists. The higher the number on the SRM scale, the darker the color. Something like a 2 is very, very light while 60+ is a dark, black, stout.