Sunday, 12 May 2013

The Hopometer - Visualising beer strength and bitterness

This week's blog post is a team effort and is all about beer! My wife Heather (@highline_online) is, like me, a big craft beer fan so we decided to collaborate on this viz all about beer strength and bitterness. Plus Heather has much better design skills than me.....

Below are a bunch of mostly very hoppy beers (I love me some hops) plotted by their alcohol content and bitterness as measured in International Bittering Units (or IBUs). Introducing The Hopometer.....

Most of the beers come from a list of the top 100 most bitter beers in the world compiled by And to give some perspective we've also added some of favourite slightly less hoppy beers, along with some popular mass market 'beers'. Are any of your favourites on the viz?

We had to strip out some beers from the top 100 because the massive amount of clustering between 8% and 10% alcohol and 100 and 130 IBU's was making things a bit crowded. And we used a log scale for the same reason. You'll see in this range the beers are mostly from the US, and Double or Triple IPA's dominate in that section.

Here's what says about IBU, I particularly like the Example...

IBU - International Bittering Units
This is a measure of the actual bitterness of a beer as contributed by the alpha acid from hops. Because the apparent bitterness of a beer is subjective to the taste of the drinker and the balancing malt sweetness of the beer this is not always an accurate measure of the "hoppiness" of a beer. But, generally speaking, beers with IBUs of less than 20 have little to no apparent hops presence. Beers with IBUs from 20 to 45 are the most common and have mild to pronounced hops presence. Beers with IBUs greater than 45 are heavily hopped and can be quite bitter.
Not knowing that the barleywine had an IBU of 68, Rachel took a big swig from the glass then twisted up her face as the hops assaulted her taste buds.

For more info on IBU's the are loads of places to look on the web, but this is a good start
All that vizing has made me thirsty.....

Sources:,, general googling....

Quick shameless plug. Heather runs a record label Highline Records, and this is the latest release by The Ralfe Band:


  1. It's shocking how many of these I have had. Love the use of the background image here. Really cool viz!


  2. Thanks Dan. I've got a bit of work to do to catch up....

  3. It's actually a cool and useful piece of info. I am glad that you simply shared this useful info with us. Please keep us up to date like this. Thanks for sharing, You can also check out this

  4. very impressive visualization, the concept is great. What is the infographic software you used to create these? was it creately


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