Tasting: April 2, 2014
Style: Imperial Red Ale
Beer #: 526
Beer might be the only product in which the brand names insinuate a possible negative experience by using the product. Do I want to cause permanent damage to my tastebuds with the likes of Palate Wrecker, Ruination and now Tongue Buckler? Would you buy a laundry detergent named Thread Burner? or a pair of scissors named Puncture Wound?
Of course, it’s all tongue in cheek – or rather tongue in palate. It’s meant to play up a popular aspect of beer – bitterness. While bitterness isn’t a popular flavor experience in general – it can be a tastebud treat when balanced off with a complementary flavor. Think sweet and sour. To me, there is nothing better than a high bitterness beer with a brawny sweet malt base.
Bitterness in beer generally comes from high alpha-acidic hops or roasted grains in darker beers. The term IBU or International Bitterness Units measures the amount of bitterness in beer and typically ranges from zero to one-hundred. Although difficult to measure beyond one-hundred, many brewers push their numeric ratings to imply maximum bitterness.
Some IBU examples:
An American Lager like Budweiser has a low IBU of around ten.
A pale ale like Sierra Nevada’s Pale Ale has an IBU of thirty-seven.
An IPA like Union Jack has an IBU of seventy-five
Tongue Buckler reports an IBU of 108 and has an alcohol by volume of 10%. Again, the high ABV indicates that quite a bit of malt was used and possibly some residual sweetness remain to balance out the experience. Red ales gain their color by slow roasting caramel malts.
Tongue Buckler is advertised as having the aroma of dried figs, lime, spruce and burnt sugar with hop influences that lend resinous blood orange and grapefruit flavor. I certainly get the signature caramelized sugar and crisp grapefruit hops. I don’t peg this as being as bitter as the IBU would indicate but of course, it’s rich with that caramelized sweetness to soften out the bitterness.
I’ll peg Tongue Buckler at 89 points.