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The Beer Friends write, review, and discuss Craft Beer as fans instead of experts.  They share their unique voice and affinity for craft beer through multiple platforms and offer a range of media to join their craft beer conversation.



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Filtering by Tag: hops

New York City Craft Beer Events for the Week of March 20, 2011


March Madness is fast upon us and we have some craft beer to keep you company while watching all the games.  If you happen to feel empty and wanting the minute-to-minute thrills of bracket competition  in between rounds then you should check in to The Beer Friends to vote on our own March Madness Tournament - Beer Style.  Whichever event we see you out at this week we expect to see you buried face first into your personal-internet-device as you continuously update to see who is leading the nations most important beer competition.  Vote early and vote often to help us decide what is the best beer in the country. Tuesday, March 22 - East Coast versus West Coast IPA Challenge @ Rattle n' Hum, Manhattan:

The Beer Friends have often discussed how American Craft Breweries often prove their worth by brewing a great IPA. It stands as a benchmark that solidifies you as a notable member of the American craft beer community.  Well, then what better way to judge an East Coast v West Coast competition then going head to head with IPA's. Expect a wide selection of hoppy brew from your favorite east coast and west coast breweries including cask offerings, barrel aged and rare releases that only the craft beer gurus at Rattle n' Hum can get their hands on.  East Coast verse West Coast? Let's let the hops decide!

Rattle n' Hum is located at 14 E 33rd Street between Madison and 5th Avenues, Midtown, Manhattan.

Take the 6 train to 33rd. Walk West.

Tuesday, March 22 - Avery Brewery Event @ The Pony Bar, Manhattan:

Avery has long been know in and out of Colorado as a brewery that pushes the boundaries - making some of the hoppiest, maltiest, bad-assiest brews around.  They will be making their Pony Bar debut this Tuesday in full force - taking over all the taps and bringing some of their rarest pours.  Expect the Holy Trinity, Demon and Dictator Series to be hanging out - with a few of the rarer brews only available in 5 oz. pours, due to their extreme awesomeness.  Extreme Awesomeness.

The Pony Bar is located on the Northwest corner of 45th Street and 10th Avenue, Hell's Kitchen, Manhattan.

Take the A/C/E to 42 St.-Port Authority.

Thursday, March 24 - Midwest Beer Night @ Barcade, Brooklyn:

When you walk by random people in the street do you say hello?  If someone bumps into you on the subway do you smile and wish them a good day?  Are you 24 and already married with three kids?  Do any of these things scare the crap out of you as the hard-ass New Yorker that you are?  Well then, this event is the event for you.  Whether you're from the Midwest or wonder what it means when someone "smiles" at you in a "friendly way" in public, we can all agree that they know how to brew some decent craft beer.  Expect your favorite suds from the following Midwest breweries: Arcadia, Atwater Block, Erie, Founders, Goose Island, Jolly Pumpkin, Kuhnhenn, Leinenkugel, Nebraska, Point, Schlafly and Two Brothers.

Even the most bad-assed, sarcastic New Yorker will be friendly as a Nebraska corn farmer after having one from each brewery.

Barcade is located at 388 Union Avnue, between Ainslie and Powers Streets, Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

Take the L to Lorimer Street.

Thursday, March 24 - Empire Brewery Tasting @ Dive Bar, Manhattan:

Empire Brewery will be making a big appearance Thursday night at Dive Bar on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.  They'll be featuring 7 draft lines of Empires brews.  No specific names have been released yet but we can only hope that we get some Cream Ale, Black Magic Stout, Deep Purple, ESPA and many others.

Dive Bar is located at 732 Amsterdam Avenue between 95th and 96th Streets, Upper West Side, Manhattan.

Take the 1/2/3 or the B/C to 96th Street.

Thursday, March 24 - Bear Republic Tap Takeover @ Bierkraft, Brooklyn:

Bierkraft continues their plentiful weekly events by hosting one of California's strongest and hoppiest breweries - Bear Republic - this Thursday.  They say to expect some rare and not so rare stuff.  You know, here at the Beer Friends, we would care if they only poured Racer #5 and Hop Rod Rye - we'd drink em' up and have two of each.  Expect hops and California style in your favorite Brooklyn beer mecca.

Bierkraft is located at 191 5th Avenue between Union and Sackett Streets, Park Slope, Brooklyn.

Take the D/N/R to Union Street.

Friday, March 25 - Sunday, March 27 - Cask Ale Festival @ Rattle n' Hum, Manhattan:

Cask Ales are those elusive brews that every craft beer fan claims to love but rarely orders.  It's time we fix that.  Jump on in to a deep (15 - 20 line) selection of popular and not so popular craft ales at Rattle n' Hum this weekend.  You have 3 days, starting Friday, so we're pretty sure you can go from a novice to an expert by Sunday.  Even if you don't leave with any increased knowledge, you're brain will forgive you and your taste buds will love you.

Rattle n' Hum is located at 14 E 33rd Street between Madison and 5th Avenues, Midtown, Manhattan.

Take the 6 to 33rd.

We hope to see all of you out at the events this week!  And remember the Beer Friends Final Four starts today with the Midwest Bracket and continues with the rest of the regions throughout the rest of the week.  Make sure you check in every day to vote in the new regions and in the new rounds!

NYC Beer Events - Week of 10/24


Hola Beer Amigos.  As October winds to a close the temperatures will continue to drop and the wind will start to pick up blowing that pre-winter chill right through to our bones.  A good remedy for the precursory signs of winter is to step into your local NYC Craft Beer Bar and grab the last of the fall brews or, if you're lucky, the first of our winter style favorites. Tuesday, October 26 - Harpoon Brewery Night @ The Pony Bar, Manhattan: One of our favorite beer bars will be hosting Harpoon Brewery this Tuesday.  The Pony Bar will be pouring 15 lines worth of our favorite Harpoon brews - Single Hop ESB and the Oyster Stout as well as several selections from the 100 Barrel Series ('10 Glacier Wet Hop!?) and Leviathan line (Triticus!? Imperial IPA!?).  This Beer Friend also saw a sixer of Winter Warmer at the grocery store recently -  I'm not totally sure if it's this years or if the store was just trying to get rid of last years that they didn't sell, either way look for it up on the Pony Menu Board when you head on over this Tuesday.  It'll really help fight against the cold.

The Pony Bar is located at 637 10th ave (on the NW corner of 45th st.), Manhattan

Tuesday, October 26 - Hoppy Halloween $10 Tuesday Tastings @ Jimmy's No. 43, Manhattan: Okay, I admit it - I'm a hop-head.  In fact, I think 'hop-head' is too light of a term.  I'm a hop-aholic.  A hop-addict.  I have a hop-dependency.  I'll be getting my fix this Tuesday at the newest installment of the $10 Tuesday Tasting's at Jimmy's No. 43.  For $10 you'll get tastings of 6 beers that feature 6 different hop varieties.  Go to Jimmy's, learn about the different hop varieties and drink quality hop-head beer while you're learning.

Jimmy's No. 43 is located downstairs at 43 E 7th  St. (between 2nd and 3rd Ave), Manhattan

Wednesday, October 27 - McNeill's Lovers Support Group @ The Double Windsor, Brooklyn: To keep going on the topic of addiction, McNeill's Brewery has realized that they have a large group of dedicated followers and has kindly begun a support group to fill our craft beer needs.  The Double Windsor has given up 6 of their 7 taps to McNeill's and will be featuring some great brews - Blonde Bombshell, ESB (my personal McNeill's favorite), Pullman's Porter, Firehouse Amber, Warlord Double IPA and McNeill's newest family member: a West-Coast styled IPA dubbed Sunshine IPA.  McNeill's has quickly become Beer Friends reliable favorite for delicious, quality craft beer.  If you need a little bit more McNeill's in your life, don't worry - the support group is here for you.  Oh and did I mention the best part besides the beer?  Showing up is automatic entrance into the Support Group and members get $4 drafts until 3 AM.  How's that for a perk?

The Double Windsor is located at 210 Prospect Park W (between Bartel Pritchard Sq & 16th St), Brooklyn, NY 11215

Thursday, October 28 - Kelso of Brooklyn Night @ The Black Swan, Brooklyn: Was the Black Swan supposed to be connected in some way to the ugly duckling?  Did the ugly duckling grow up to be a black swan?  Do black swans have any relationship to black sheep?  Are black sheep really all that bad or did they just get a bad rap?  If you are also feeling swamped with swan questions that you need answered then you can probably find your answers by heading to The Black Swan on Bedford Ave in the Clinton Hill neighborhood of Brooklyn.  They'll be featuring Kelso of Brooklyn's brews which you can get for the very reasonable price of $5 a pint all night long.   They'll probably be able to answer all your swan and sheep questions as well.  Or not.  Probably not at all actually.  However, Kelso's beer will still taste great.  Sheep and Swans don't really matter anyways when you have beer.

The Black Swan is located at 1048 Bedford Ave (between Clifton and Lafayette), Brooklyn, NY 11205-4884

Saturday, October 30 - Great Divide Tasting Event @ GRAB Specialty Foods, Brooklyn: Yeti, Samurai, Hibernation and Titan will be offered up for your tasting pleasure at GRAB Specialty Foods in Brooklyn.  Thought I'd throw this event in here since The Beer Friends recently visited Great Divide on our Colorado Brewery Tour and we featured them as a Brewery of the Week not so long ago.  Great Divide brews some of the best beer in Colorado and we're lucky to have them readily available out here in NYC.

GRAB Specialty Foods is located at 438 7th Avenue (between 14th and 15th street), Brooklyn, NY 11215

This Beer Friend would also like to offer up an apology and make a correction on the previous NYC Craft Beer Events posting.  Sorry GRAB Specialty Foods, when I don't do my research adequately and just glance and see that your cross streets are all numbers and no names I just assume Manhattan.  GRAB Specialty Foods is located in the fine City of Brooklyn, NY.

Stay warm this week all you Beer Friends out there and enjoy your NYC Beer Events!  See ya at the bar!

Brooklyn Brewmaster Release: Detonation Ale

Beerfriend Paul

image A Brooklyn Brewery Brewmaster’s Reserve release party in the Prospect Park Audubon Center at the Boathouse with a beer that’s described “BLAST!’s big brother?”

Well, if I have to…

Let’s start with the description, Brooklyn BLAST! is an imperial IPA that is a favorite around the beer friends.  We had run into it a few times, but it really got our attention at the Brooklyn Brewery Event @ Barcade.  It was on Cask that night and really got our attention.  After that night, anytime it was on tap we would get at least one.  So this new member of the Brewmaster’s Reserve rotation already has a lot to live up to.

It should now come as no surprise that Detonation lived up to all the hype.  I am an unapologetic hop head and this beer gives me what I want; it has 7 different types of hops. This beer is big, it’s hoppy, and it’s delicious.  As hoppy as this beer is, it is a bit of a departure from what you may expect from an IPA.  It’s incredibly sweet and it leaves you with a citrus flavor at the end of each sip that I find incredibly refreshing.

Approach this beer with enthusiasm and caution.  The 9.2 ABV combined with the drinkability of this beer mean that it will have not problem living up to it’s name.  It should start hitting bars over the next couple weeks and stick around for a month or 2.  Do yourself a favor and don’t waste time.  Much like all of Garrett Oliver’s creations, this beer is worth seeking out.

Thank you again to everyone at Brooklyn Brewery for putting together an awesome event.  If you live in the New York area and have a chance to get out to a Brooklyn Brewery Brewmaster’s release party, you should make it a point to go.  They are professionals and they certainly know how to throw a party.






Harpoon Night at Blind Tiger: Hangover Edition


Hello Beer Friends Nation!  Good Beer Month continues into August with Harpoon Brewery at the Blind Tiger NYC.  Harpoon Brewery is from Boston and a favorite of the two Red Sox fans in the Beer Friends.  Tonight should be fun with a few common pours, a few 100 Barrel series pours and a few from the Leviathan series! Beer! Brad 1st - Harpoon Leviathan Baltic Porter 2008: Honestly hard to get past the alcoholic taste on this one.  At 12 percent I knew it was high but most times the harshness is cut by another favor - not this time.

Graham #1 - Harpoon Landbier.  This German lager is a light, easily drinkable session beer from Harpoon's 100 Barrel Series. Tan in color, slight malt aroma and very light body, this easy to take down 6 of lager is not compromising on taste. It's got a burst of malt flavor that stays with you through a clean finish. If this was in sixers it'd b perfect for a summer day outside.

Paul's 1st - Landbier: This is a delicious session lager. It's hard to disagree with Graham's assessment about how often this beer could be consumed. I would love to drink this beer after work on a cool late summer day.

Brad #2 - Leviathan Imperial IPA; I love this beer.  The regular IPA is too light for me but this one does well with the 4 (Chinook, Centennial, Simcoe, an Amarillo) Hops used. Easy to drink and spicy enough to feel it, plus the 10 ABV is hidden under the hops taste which is fantastic.

Graham Número Dos - Harpoon Single [Delta] Hop ESB: Using a new hop variety with this one gives it a different hop character than the regular ESB. Easily drinkable with an herbal aroma and a bronze color, this brew has an earthy hop flavor to it that is delicious.

Paul's 2nd - Belgian Pale Ale (cask): I am already a big fan of this beer and having it out of the cask doesn't disappoint.  It's very light and sweet, the Belgian part of it gives the pale part of it a lot of flavor.  It's very easy to drink and the lack of carbonation from the cask makes it really smooth.  It's cloudy out of the cask and looks more like apple cider.  This was my favorite of the night and I was looking forward to it as soon as I saw it on the menu.  I only wish it came in a larger glass...

Brad #3 - Harpoon Leviathan Triticus: Triticus is Latin for "wheat" and this is a dark wheat wine-style ale and is delicious.  Slightly sweet and easily drinkable, this was the winner of the night for me.

Graham Number Trois - Harpoon Bohemian Imperial Pilsner: This brew is  part of the 32nd release of their 100 Barrel Series. It is definitely a bog beer with the 9% ABV and the increased malt sweetness. The hops are even more pronounced. It is definitely an "assertive but not overly aggressive beer" as Harpoon describes it, however it leaves me wanting it more aggressive. When ordering it I more wanted a punch-in-the-face mugging in the park imperial pilsner not a brisk walk through the hop/malt tourist part of the park.

Paul's 3rd - Munich Dark: This dark lager has a great bite to it.  It starts smooth but quickly jumps out and let's you know it's there.  This would be a great beer for late summer or early fall. Honestly, it would be a pretty good beer anytime, but it was a hot day in NYC today and I think I'm in a certain mindset... a hot, dehydrated mindset.

Graham 4th - Harpoon Triticus: Wheat Wine. I'm not sure what that conjures up in your mind...perhaps a barley wine style brew made with wheat malts instead of barley. High in alcohol taste with a sweet malt that will hope to overpower the 12% ABV. Well take that notion, drop the sugary malts, keep the ABV and add a boatload of roasted and burnt malts that blow this brew out of the water. This one drinks like a coffeeish, dark flavored imperial stout. Bit don't let it fool you, it's still 11.1% ABV.

Harpoon Blind Tiger FrontHarpoon Blind Tiger Back

The Beer Historian: The Myth of the IPA


Myths are a great part of the human existence.  They can be found in almost every culture and usually play a role in teaching social norms, moral boundaries and precious life lessons.  Sometimes they are also just made up answers to questions where the real answer is unknown or boring.  Since alcohol is inextricably linked to human existence there is no surprise that people have been crafting beer myths for centuries and we proudly continue to do it today. There is a fine style of beer out there that is enjoyed by millions around the globe:  the India Pale Ale, otherwise known as the IPA.  The IPA is an improvisation on the Pale Ale, which is traditionally lighter in color and body because it is made from Pale Malts.  It is also sparingly hopped, giving the beer a lighter flavor.

The IPA is a beer that is made with the same pale malts but  brewed with a higher yield of hops giving it a much more bitter flavor.  The bitter taste can range from being coppery to floral and all the way to citrus, reminiscent to a grapefruit.  However the taste range was not always as diverse.

The story starts all the way back in 18th century England.  The English Empire was flourishing in trade around the globe, from America to India.  Englishmen were ferried to far off places in search of new merchandise to trade and new fortunes to make.  Being in places as far away as China, however, was hard for the average Englishmen and he often missed the comforts of home.  Especially the beer.  To keep their merchants and foreign occupiers happy, England started shipping their world famous ales and porters to far off places.

Unfortunately what arrived was stale, skunked and undrinkable.  Distraught and destroyed the English merchants, soldiers, generals and statesmen wondered if this was to be their fate.  No beer?  NO BEER?  Is it even worth running a grand empire of untold wealth, power and fortune if you can’t even toast your successes with a native brew?  Obviously not.  Hell, if you said you’d give me 10 million dollars but I couldn’t have another beer for the rest of my life, I’d have to go with the beer.  I mean, what would I buy with the money if not more beer?

Fortunately England’s best brewers were on the job.  From London to the Liverpool, from Oxfordshire to York brewers were trying to decipher the mystery of how to get good English Ale to the far reaches of the Queen’s Empire.  Finally they figured it out! Eureka! Nature’s preservatives can help! Add more hops!  Hops, flowering vine plants with a bitter flavor, contain natural acids that act as preservatives.  Alcohol is also a preservative and, throughout its many forms, is used to clean wounds, sterilize instruments and kill harmful bacteria, mold and virus.  This has to work!

Surely enough, six months and a trip around Africa later, a bitter pale ale, containing more alcohol than its predecessor, arrives in India where it thrives among the Englishmen and Indian natives alike and right there, the IPA is born.

What a great story.  A tale of beer—uh, I mean sheer determination, human’s overcoming the odd’s that nature throws at them to pursue an indulgence that is rightful to human existence.  Except it’s probably not true.  Nope, not at all.  A fanciful tale that gives us answers to the question of how an IPA was initially created, but ultimately it has little truth to it.

The truth is that beer-brewing recipes have always been tinkered and experimented with, fulfilling the quest by any chef or brewer to develop new and invigorating tastes.  The India Pale Ale originated in 18th century England but was not the result of beer spoiling due to long travel, rather the success of new taste on the familiar pale ale in a new market.

A man named George Hodgson is credited with brewing the first India Pale Ale, however it was initially called an October Pale Ale.  His October Pale Ale, or October Beer, was brewed with more hops, making it slightly more bitter than it’s Pale Ale cousins.  After brewing it was meant to cellar, or keep in a cask in a cellar at constant temperature, for two years.  When done cellaring it was mostly drank by ‘landed’ classes, or classes of people who owned land.  After awhile the taste spread and other breweries became interested in brewing a beer akin to the October Beer of Hodgson.   The October Beer was so successful that the East India Company sent several shipments to India where it flourished.

At some point Hodgson lost his brewery and the October Beer was no more.  The English had grown so accustomed to drinking the beer that they cried for Hodgson’s India Pale Ale.  The name here referred to the October being a popular export to India but became the commonly used name for the style.  Several breweries, including Bass, took up brewing Hodgson’s hoppy brew to quench Europe (and India’s) thirsty demand.   The East India Company once again began exporting the beer to India, where it continued to flourish among customers, and the name India Pale Ale stuck.

There are records that indicated beers were being brewed as IPA’s throughout England by the mid-1800s and with IPA labels in the Americas right before the turn of the century.  The style continued to increase in hoppiness throughout the years and became much hoppier than porters or any other ale.

Looking back on the myth, there are shrouds of truth that people still hang on to.  For example, the IPA was rumored to have “benefitted exceptionally from the conditions of the voyage.”  This is probably due to the temperature and lack of light where the casks were held in the hull of the ship.  This probably turned into the part of myth where, due to the hardships of the voyage more hops and alcohol were required as preservatives and more time for fermentation elapsed, rather than the voyage itself accentuating the tastes of the brew.

Others still claim that regular beer would have spoiled on such a trip without the extra preservatives, but it is also documented that many porters and ales made it to India in great condition and the hoppier pale ale was exactly what Southeast Asia wanted.

Sorry that the story may not be as exciting as you thought.  Successful business and marketing ideas are not always the most exhilarating tales but I think it’s kind of cool that an IPA wasn’t an accident.  It’s what brewers and beer drinkers wanted, planned and intentionally created.  It has a kind of Free Will ring to it, rather than a happenstance theme.  If it was just luck then there was a chance that it would have never happened at all and I frankly don’t think I could survive in a world without IPA’s.  Even if you offered me 10 million dollars.

Beer Review 05: Fort Collins Rocky Mountain IPA

Phil Foleen

Greetings Friends of Beer!  This week we take on the Fort Collins Brewery Rocky Mountain IPA.  Rocky Mountain since they're in Colorado.  I don't know if it's the altitude or the snow, but they seems to have a handle on how to blend a damn near perfect IPA.  Check out the video for the details! [youtube=]

Sixpoint Night at Barcade in Williamsburg

Corporate Kerouac

What a great night in Brooklyn last night for The Beer Friends.  We got there early and took advantage of all the rare pours.  All 3 Gorilla Warfare pours were awesome.  This Beer Friend’s favorite was the Coffee Hopped Cask pour, but I wouldn’t kick any of the three out of bed.  Also, an incredible treat for us was the Hops of Love.  I was amazed that one brewery could have two IPA’s that each have such different personalities.  I certainly hope that Sixpoint brings this one out a little more often. Here is our night (now in chronological order) at Barcade.  If you were there early, let us know what you think of our impressions.  For those who got there late, see what you missed…


Hello and welcome to the second straight night of live blogging by the Beer Friends! Tonight we took the long journey out to Williamsburg to visit a great bar - Barcade. Around 24 taps of Sixpoint with a few cask pours... Should be fun so stay tuned!

6:28pm - First Beers: Brad tries the 2010 Sixpoint Gorilla Warfare- this porter is brewed with coffee from Gorilla Coffee and has a slightly different taste each year. This is one of my favorites, the smooth slight coffee taste goes down amazingly smooth with a little grounds taste on the aftertaste... This beer never disappoints.

Graham started with Bengali – Great as always.  Went on to Glazer. Interesting flavor at the start that I just can’t peg and a real mellow finish.  This is a pale ale of a unique kind…

Paul had a Bonehead Ale.  It’s a sweet amber ale, there is a kick at the beginning but it finishes soft.  Very light on flavor, could have a few of these in a row and not thing about it.

6:50pm - Second Round Graham- Third round actually Brad... Hops of Love is an extremely well balanced IPA. I don't know to say it any better than this: I have hops of love for Hops of Love!

6:56pm - Paul's second round is the cask pour of the "Coffee Hopped" Gorilla Warfare. The description says this particular GW was hopped with an extra batch of fresh ground coffee, and it tastes like it. I would drink this in the morning with my eggs.

7:02pm - Brad's second round - Sixpoint Express 2008 is a Belgian Quad that has a slight bite, finishes smooth and leaves with a slightly bitter aftertaste.

7:22pm - Paul's Third Round - Hops of Love... What a great IPA. This is like the successful older, more reserved, sister of Bengali Tiger. She's smart and sweet, but she's got the kink where it counts...

8:02pm - Brad's Third Round - Hops of Love (seems to be a popular one) - Sixpoint's Hops of Love is a great floral/citrus-y IPA... Light and refreshing yet enough of a kick to be a tasty beer-looks like we have a winner!

8:02:50pm - Paul's fourth round...ish -Mason's Black Wheat: This is an American wheat, of which I am usually critical, but this dark wheat has something to it. It is a dark beer and it smells that way, but it's sweetness overpowers leaving a very mild wheat beer. Another very strong pint from Sixpoint.

8:03pm - Graham's Fourth Round - 2008 Sixpoint Gorilla Warfare - A coffee porter with few equals. Age it a year or two and get something real special. May not pop up again for awhile (if ever again) but if you ever have the opportunity then you should jump on it!

Six Point Night at BarcadeSix Point Night at Barcade BackPage

IBU's: What's an eeebooo? and why does it matter anyway?

Phil Foleen

IBUs, or "International Bittering Units" is the number breweries use to indicate the bitterness of the beer you are drinking.  But what is it?  Why does it matter?  Can you use it?  click through to find out.

So I see IBU 40 on my beer, what does that mean?

Well let's take a step back and talk about hops.  Hops are the reason in the brewing process that gives beer it's bitterness, those wonderful little flowery pieces of nature that give us that great part of the beer flavor.  When beer being brewed hops need to be added as a necessary portion of the brewing process, but how much get added you ask?  that depends on what type of beer you are trying to brew.  The more hops you add the bitterer your beer will be.

Hops add what are know as isomerized alpha acids, that's the bitter taste you get, and according to the  IBU Wikipedia page a Bittering Unit is "1 milligram of isomerized alpha acid per liter"  or for you math whizzes out there it's literally on part per million.  if you want to calculate you own IBU there's a handy formula located on the Wiki, as well as good article on

That's some pretty potent stuff, and more more you have the bitterer you get.  IPAs for example will be around 40 to 60 IBUs.  An interesting note from the articles is that the more malt that is used to brew a beer the higher an IBU rating will have to be to get that bitterness across.  Malts apparently are the base to the hops acidity and balance the flavor, so a beer with a higher malt content will tend to have a higher IBU rating.  So you might have a Stout or Porter for example could have a higher IBU rating than an IPA, but you wouldn't know it by tasting it.

So that's an IBU for you in a nut shell.  It ends up being an excellent way to navigate inside of a taste profile that you enjoy.  There are a number of scales around telling you the approximate IBU rating you can expect from each type of beer which should give you a jumping off point to try something new.  A short list I found here, and can give you an idea of what your shooting for if that hops flavor is what you like.