Zero IBU IPAs:Since The Veil

When it comes to crafting the perfect beer, hoppiness without bitterness has long been an impossible dream -- until now. Since The Veil Brewing Co. released their groundbreaking Zero IBU IPA, hops of all varieties can now be enjoyed without the distinct tang of bitterness. Dive into the revolutionary way this unique beer was crafted and explore the result of brewers tapping into their creative powers!

The concept of IPAs brewed without any bitterness may surprise some beer fans, but zero IBU (International Bitterness Units) IPAs are coming to dominate craft beer coolers. Zero IBU IPAs provide a hop-packed experience without the characteristic beer bitterness.

Since The Veil Brewing Co. burst onto the craft beer stage in 2016, the Richmond, Virginia brewery has perfected the practice of zero IBU IPAs. The brewery's efforts inspired other craft brewers to produce the same. Now that these beers are commonplace, consumers can enjoy their hoppiness without any of the bite.

Understanding IBU

IBU is shorthand for International Bitterness Units and is a way of measuring the bitterness of beer. The measurement results from the number of hops in a beer and how they balance with the beer's malt. IBU is defined by measuring alpha and beta acids during a brewing cycle. IPAs, which feature more hops than other beer varieties, tend to have higher IBU readings.

The hops used to make zero IBU IPAs are boiled in open top fermentation vessels without a “hop stand” where hops steep. Low temperatures and acidic additions at the beginning of fermentation cause the acids to unlearn their bitterness.

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Understanding Zero IBU IPAs

Zero IBU IPAs are not be confused with alcohol-free IPAs, which are beers reduced to non-alcoholic levels by brewing techniques. In those beverages, the bitterness of the hops can remain. These IPAs use hop rubbing techniques that produce the flavor and aroma of hops without the bitterness. This method of brewing hops leaves the desirable hop essence behind and does away with the IBU.

The taste of zero IBU IPAs is significantly different than traditional IPAs. These beers are more fruit-forward and lack any of the bitterness that is found in classic IPAs. Consumers could add different types of hops to the same brew to give them more complexity. For example, a brewery could combine Mosaic and Calypso hops to achieve the desired hop-forward taste without the bitterness.

The Popularity of Zero IBU IPAs

In 2015, The Veil Brewing Co. experimented with a zero IBU IPA and their success has made the variety more popular with craft beer drinkers. Nowadays, The Veil is not the only brewer that has zero IBU IPAs in their lineup. Breweries all over the country are rolling out their own versions of the beer. Some makers, such as Threes Brewing in Brooklyn and Oxbow Brewing in Portland, Maine, even brew zero IBU IPAs exclusively. Zer IBU IPAs have become an in-demand craft beer among beer drinkers that enjoy hop-forward flavors but don’t like the bitterness in their beer.

In addition to its hop-forward profile and the lack of bitterness, one of the benefits of zero IBU IPAs is that they do not require lengthy aging. An IPA with a lower IBU typically needs to be aged longer to allow the hops and malt to blend together properly. That extra time can add to the cost of production. Zero IBU IPAs, however, can go immediately to market.

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The Benefits of Zero IBU IPAs

Zero IBU IPAs have a few key benefits to consider:

  • Hop aromas are at the fore without any medium to come between the hop flavor and the pallet.
  • Using hop rubs offers brewers a means of preserving hops with low acidity.
  • Beers can be drunk fresh or bottle conditioned with no oxidation processes.
  • A wider variety of floral and fruity hop characteristics can be tasted without the bitterness.

Unique Flavour Characteristics

Zero IBU IPAs offer a unique flavor profile to craft beer connoisseurs. Some of the flavor combinations associated with these beers include:

  1. Pineapple and lime
  2. Lychee and tangerine
  3. Passion fruit and papaya
  4. Grapefruit and mango

Smooth bitterness and hop straight can be had together, especially if nitrogen is used instead of CO2, for example when pouring from a nitro tap. The resulting creaminess adds another dimension to the flavor profile.

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