What's the Deal with IBU?

IBU, or International Bitterness Units, if that number you see on tap signs, on the side of your beer can, and the thing you hear your hop head friend bragging about as he sips the latest double IPA. While we might all guess that based on the name it has something to do with how bitter the beer is - what does IBU really mean and how does it affect the taste of your beer, the style of beer, and everything else?

If we want to get technical, IBU measures the parts per million of isohumulones and other chemical compounds in a particular beer, which make up the acids found in hops that gives beer its bitter taste. However, there are a number of factors that go into how “bitter” a beer is and sometimes what is listed as a beer’s IBU, while scientifically accurate, this isn’t the whole story. A beer with a large malt profile, while also high in IBU, could be way less bitter and hop forward than a beer with a lower IBU that also a smaller malt profile. There’s also the element of extra added ingredients, such as coffee, spices, or fruit, that could give a higher or lower perceived bitterness while not affecting the IBU of the beer.


So why the heck do we use this scale if it isn’t even accurate to taste? Well, because we are humans and we like to categorize things, but also it generally helps the consumer get a better idea of how the beer is going to taste when they order it. While knowing styles and other factors is also important, a person who generally goes for Porters and Stouts which have a lower IBU and a low amount of hops in the beer is going to know that they probably shouldn’t order the IPA on the menu with an IBU of 75. The IBU scale generally starts at 5 and ends around 120, however the IBU limit is infinite and I’m sure there will be plenty of brewers trying to push the envelope in the future as the trend of bigger and bolder beers continues to grow.

While IBU helps give the beer drinker clues about what they’re about to drink, it also helps the brewers know that they are on track when brewing different styles of beer or producing large amounts of one of their mainstay beers. If the IBUs are out of whack or not what they’re expecting, they know that something has gone wrong and it’s time to go back to the drawing board. So while IBU might not tell you everything you want to know about your beer and the true bitterness of your brew is variable depending on other factors, it is an important tool for both the consumer and maker of the beer and it can help you up your beer knowledge as a whole making you seem smarter and way more cool in front of all of your friends.

Powell Expedition Lager: A Celebration of Exploration

On May 24th, 1869, ten explorers began their 900 mile expedition to explore the “great unknown” beginning in Green River, Wyoming and traveling through treacherous river systems to end in present day Lake Mead. This journey was led by John Wesley Powell and the men who made it through the 95 day trip are responsible for much of the earliest known maps and information about the Grand Canyon and the river systems that run through this once undiscovered portion of the West. This year marks the 150th anniversary of this incredible expedition, and in collaboration with the Arizona Historical Society and the Pioneer Museum we created a beer that celebrates this exploration and our continued education about this region of the world that we are lucky enough to call home.

The Powell Expedition Lager, is not only an ode to the men who went on that first journey to discover unknown lands, but it is also a brew that pays homage to the beers of the past. This Lager was brewed with Cascade hops, which is the quintessential American hop and is most like the wild American hops that would have been growing around the time of the first expedition. This beer was also brewed with Magnum hops for bittering and Pilsner, Vienna, Wheat, and Caramel Pils Malts. It has an IBU of 28 and an ABV of 4.5%, making it the perfect easy drinking Lager for any of your own adventures

kegging lager

This speciality Lager has an aroma of cereal grains, lime peel, and the subtle aromatics of sweet honey. It is light straw in color and has flavor notes of citrus peel and citrus fruit, lager and malt grains, with some bitterness in the finish that does not linger but instead finishes crisp like a good Lager should. The Powell Expedition Lager is perfect for both newcomers to craft beer and those who just want a legendary Lager that is light and refreshing. It is a great beer to drink after a long hike or a day exploring the Grand Canyon like John Wesley Powell did many years ago.

This beer will be released for the first time on May 23rd at the Beer Release Party at our Eastside Brewery location in Flagstaff from 4-7pm. It will then be at the event put on by the Arizona Historical Society at the Pioneer Museum in Flagstaff on May 24th to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the first expedition. This event is from 6-8:30pm and is free to the public. The Powell Expedition Lager will be on tap and there will be 150 commemorative pint glasses available for purchase as well.  Details for both events will be linked below, but be sure to come support both Historic and the Arizona Historical Society as we celebrate all things exploration with the Powell Expedition Lager!

Nobody Likes a Mall Crawler

Nobody likes a mall crawler…. We’re joking of course, but there is something to be said about those that build awesome rigs and don’t use them to go on awesome adventures. Here at Historic Brewing Company though we are all about adventures, the rigs that get us there, and the beer we pack with us to drink after we get to our incredible outdoor destinations.

Our latest beer, the Mall Crawler IPL, is a not only a collaboration beer with KC HiLiTES and OVRLND Campers, but it is also a celebration of all things outdoors, exploration, and adventure. The idea for this beer was inspired by Overland Expo West, a huge weekend long expo that combines seminars, a film festival, a trade show and more. This expo takes place in our very own hometown of Flagstaff from May 17-19th and brings in adventure enthusiasts from all over the world. Both of the companies we collaborated with on this beer will be at Overland Expo and create awesome products that you should definitely check out! (Their websites are linked below.)

The Mall Crawler IPL, an India Pale Lager, is a hybrid style between an IPA and a Lager. This balanced beer has the hop flavor of an IPA without being too aggressive, and the crisp clean finish of a lager. It has an IBU of 55 and an ABV of 5% and is straw in color. On the nose this beer smells slightly sweet, with a hint of pineapple, and some cereal grain fragrance. The flavor of this beer is quite similar to the smell, with a light tropical hop which compliments the malt, grain flavors. It finishes like a lager but also has a slight bitter lingering finish and as our Head Brewer Zack describes “it’s too drinkable”.

Reaching for Maibock

This beer was brewed as a straightforward mash infusion, and then lagered in cold temperatures for 3 weeks, but it is different from other IPLs we have brewed in the past because we brewed this beer with experimental hops. The hops we used in the Mall Crawler IPL come from Hopsteiner, a US based Hop company, and these hops are so new that they only have numbers for names. While we didn’t know exactly what we were going to think of these hops, we are really impressed by how they worked in this beer and we can’t wait to use them in a small batch IPA later on this year as well.

Mall Crawler IPL was brewed with the awesome guys from both KC HiLiTES and OVRLND Campers, and while they didn’t know each other before the brew, this beer has been the perfect tool to connect community and share inspiration for future projects and events. This beer  is perfect for the Lager drinker who wants to switch it up a bit, or an IPA drinker who just wants to session some beer. It’s an easy drinking, slightly hoppy, and wildly delicious beer that we can’t wait to share with everyone in town for the Overland Expo and just all of our local Historic fans as well. This beer will be released on the 10th of May and will be at all of our locations while it lasts so come grab a pint or two and show some support for local businesses and our collective love of getting outdoors and the rigs that get us there.

KC HiLiTES: https://www.kchilites.com/

OVRLND Campers: https://campovrlnd.com/

Recipe Feature: Salt River Beer Margaritas

We love a good reason to celebrate, and luckily for us there’s lots of holidays in May! Cinco De Mayo on May 5th is one of our favorite holidays to let loose, surround ourselves with friends and family, and mix up some awesome drinks. While grabbing a can of beer or pouring ourselves a pint is normally what we turn to first, Cinco De Mayo definitely calls for some tequila. Luckily we’ve found beer margaritas, which means we get to combine our favorite Arizona Lager with some good ole tequila and mix up a beer cocktail that will knock your socks off. Give this recipe a go, we bet it will be your new go to for Taco Tuesdays, Fiesta celebrations, or just anytime your life is calling for a bit of tequila and beer.


Salt River Beer Margaritas

In a shaker glass mix up:

-1 shot of tequila

-A splash of orange juice

-A splash of Triple Sec

-Juice of half a lime

Once that is combined pour the mixture into a 16 oz pint glass and fill the rest of the glass with Salt River Lager and mix together with a straw or spoon.

Salt the rim if you’d like or add some more lime for a garnish and enjoy!

Why Drink Arizona Wine?

Although Arizona wine has come a long way over the years, in both taste and recognition, it’s still not the first place that most people think of when it comes to top wine producing regions. So the real question is: why drink Arizona wine? What makes it special and why should it be at the top of your list when you go searching for your next bottle of wine?

While the Arizona wine industry was formed in the 1980’s, it took over twenty years before people really began using the region to produce grapes and understanding that amazing wine could be produced on Arizona soil. Most people when they think of Arizona immediately think of hot desert heat and cacti galore, but in fact this state in more varied in climate than most people know and there are a few regions in Arizona that have ideal climates for vineyards. The three most famous of those regions are Wilcox, Sonoita, and the Verde Valley. While there are a few other places in Arizona where wine can be and is produced, these three regions make up the large majority of wine acreage in the state.

Traveler on Shelf

The weather in these areas creates a microclimate with good temperatures, soil, and water that help produce grapes that turn into great wine. Each wine growing region in Arizona is slightly different because of the elevation, soil, typical weather, average rainfall, etc. Sonoita, located in Santa Cruz County, has been compared to the Burgundy region of France, and is home to some of the longest established wineries in Arizona. Wilcox, located in Cochise County, produces a wide variety of wines and the grapes produced here are used in wines all across the state. This region can be compared to the Rhone Valley in France, and the grapes grown in Wilcox are most known for being produced in soil rich in volcanic ash. Verde Valley grapes are similarly also produced in volcanic ash soil, giving them a complexity in flavor that bodes well to varietals such as Syrahs and Sangioveses.

Wineries and wine tasting rooms are popping up in major and small cities across Arizona, and Arizona wines are beginning to gain recognition and popularity among wine drinkers. This trend is not only exciting for those of us that like to drink and support local, but it is also bringing in tourism and excitement from other out of state wine lovers as well. This idea of drinking local, supporting the Arizona wine industry, and building even more excitement around this growing wine region, was what drove us to start the Grand Canyon Wine Company and our Tasting Room in Downtown Williams.

GCW Interior

The Grand Canyon Wine Company works with local Arizona wineries to produce our own wines, selected each year to reflect what has grown well in the region and what we want to showcase. In our Tasting Room, located on Historic Route 66, we not only feature our own wines but also many other Arizona wines. We have whites, reds, roses, sparkling, and everything in between that is produced within Arizona state lines. It’s our hope that by supporting and offering local wines to travelers from near and far that we can help everyone see why they should drink Arizona wine and why it should be one of the first places that comes to mind when you think of wine producing regions.

Blonde Stout - The Oxymoron of Beers

While “Blonde Stout” might sound contradictory and even a bit confusing, this beer style is worth exploring a bit more and definitely worth trying. Our Blonde Stout, named LA Face with an Oakland Booty, is full of all the flavors you’d expect from a dark Stout, but with the color and appearance of a Blonde Ale. This beer was first brewed by Historic Brewing Company back in 2017, and after much baggering by our managers we brought it back for you all to try.

This beer has an ABV of 7% and an IBU of 30 and was brewed with 2-row, oats, biscuit and bru malt, which gives this beer lots of malt flavor and depth. It has a strong aroma and flavor of coffee, hazelnut, and chocolate with a silky and full mouthfeel. LA Face is brewed like a traditional Stout, but does not have any roasted or chocolate malts added which typically make Stout style beers a dark, rich color. This Blonde Stout is a pale golden color but carries all the flavor characteristics of a dark beer, which makes it a real mind trick if you don’t know what you’re ordering.

LA Face

After the initial brewing process we added 8 lbs of local coffee, 10 lbs of cocoa nibs, and hazelnut extract to add even more flavor to this beer. You definitely smell the coffee and hazelnut in the aroma first, followed by a subtle chocolate roasted smell that makes you want to dive right into the beer. When you taste the beer you notice the sweet malt flavors first, followed by the strong coffee and nutty hazelnut flavors which round out into a dark chocolate finish.

The beer name LA Face with an Oakland Booty was inspired by Sir Mix a Lot, and just like the famous song we all know and love this beer will be your new jam. It’s an oxymoron for sure, but that just makes us want it even more. It’s full of delicious flavor and if you haven’t had a Blonde Stout before we can’t wait for you to try out this awesome style of beer. LA Face with an Oakland Booty is on tap now at our locations, so go seek out this tasty brew and see how many people you can trick with this light colored Stout.