Decrypting ABV and IBU for Beers

In my previous blog post I wrote a short introduction to the world of beers and, as promised, I am back as well to show my visualisation about beers
beer viz.png
… But first, I will give you some context.
When I choose a beer, I usually search for something with more structure and character when I am in the mood to try something really good and something that gives me deeper thoughts about what I am drinking, even if there are times when I do not want to think too much and I prefer something simpler and softer.
Moreover, as a good practice, I tend to combine the “chosen” beer with the right food… and it is not always an easy matching (the same happens as well for the wines). So, the tendency should be this one: when you get into more complex/ tasty food try to choose a more complex / tasty beer to pair it, so I would go by concordance. The same, if you go for something lighter/ less tasty/ less complex, then go for a simpler / less complex beer.
But what is complex/ more tasty? How do you measure it?
Just to make it easier, we can consider two measures that are used to characterize a beer:
  • ABV which is Alcohol By Volume: this number simply lets you know what percentage of your beer is alcohol
  • IBU which is International Bitterness Units: it measures hop bitterness on a scale from 0 to 100

Basically, ABV and IBU are two factors to take into account when you choose a beer: do you want a lighter beer, i.e. with less alcohol? Do you want a sweeter beer, i.e. with lower IBU?

We will look at 4 different combinations in the viz [the suggestions of food pairing are limited, just to give an idea]:

  • less alcohol and less bitter: really light and fresh beers! You can have it with a salad or with some fish as well! Or just alone, it will be nice!
  • less alcohol and more bitter: light but with some character! Now, a salad would “die” with a strong/ bitter taste and also the fish… why not something spicy such as some mexican food? 🙂
  • more alcohol and less bitter: heavier but sweet beers! A pizza would be a perfect match here, the sweetness of the tomatoes and mozzarella pair perfectly with it but pizza is also a heavy dish, so makes sense to have something more rich in alcohol
  • more alcohol and more bitter: a beer with a strong character and more complex and interesting… A steak or a burger matches perfectly in this case!

Ok, what’s next then?

I got this dataset from my colleague and friend Benedetta and challenged myself to make a viz out of it… This dataset contains some US breweries and beers with both ABV and IBU, which actually (can) determine the choice of a beer. Before, I used Alteryx to check the data and actually I found that a couple of data were not right (IBU >100) and I just filtered them away and then I created my output ready for Tableau.

I created this viz to let people explore with a scatter the different beers and also to let people find out quickly extremes.

I hope you enjoyed it!


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