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Extremes of the BJCP Guidelines 2008

Friday, December 12th, 2008

The Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) puts out a set of style guidelines for beer, mead, and cider. Across the categories of beer there is a wide variation in average alcohol content, bitterness, and color. This article examines the average for OG, FG, ABV, IBU and SRM for the beer categories and reports the maximum and minimum values found and the accompanying styles.

Alcohol By Volume (ABV) :

Highest, 11.5%:
5. BOCK D. Eisbock

Lowest, 2.85%:
9. SCOTTISH AND IRISH ALE A. Scottish Light 60/-

International Bittering Units (IBUs) – Higher numbers represent a more bitter beer.

Highest, 60 for a tie between:
14. INDIA PALE ALE (IPA) C. Imperial IPA

19. STRONG ALE C. American Barleywine

Lowest at 0 for:
20. SOUR ALE D. Straight (Unblended) Lambic
21. SOUR ALE E. Gueuze
22. SOUR ALE F. Fruit Lambic

Standard Reference Method (SRM) – Measure of color on the Lovibond scale, higher means darker:

Highest, 40 for a tie between all the Stouts:
13. STOUT A. Dry Stout
13. STOUT B. Sweet Stout
13. STOUT C. Oatmeal Stout
13. STOUT D. Foreign Extra Stout
13. STOUT E. American Stout
13. STOUT F. Russian Imperial Stout


Lowest at 2 for the following:
1. LIGHT LAGER A. Lite American Lager
1. LIGHT LAGER B. Standard American Lager
1. LIGHT LAGER C. Premium American Lager
2. PILSNER A. German Pilsner (Pils)
15. GERMAN WHEAT AND RYE BEER A. Weizen/Weissbier
16. BELGIAN AND FRENCH ALE A. Witbier

17. SOUR ALE A. Berliner Weisse

Original Gravity – OG, how much fermentable sugar is present:

Highest, 1.130:
9. SCOTTISH AND IRISH ALE – E. Strong Scotch Ale

Lowest, 1.028:
1. LIGHT LAGER A. Lite American Lager
17. SOUR ALE A. Berliner Weisse

Final Gravity – FG, how much sugar is left behind (how sweet the beer is):

Highest, 1.056:
9. SCOTTISH AND IRISH ALE – E. Strong Scotch Ale

Lowest, 1.001:
1. LIGHT LAGER A. Lite American Lager

Extreme brewers, even a few breweries, have successfully pushed far past theses ‘guidelines’. For example, Dogfish Head’s 120 minute IPA pushing 21% alcohol by volume! It would be difficult to calculate IBU’s for a 5 gallon batch of beer that was brewed with several pounds of hops, but at that point who is counting?

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