The whole “Zero IBU” craze is really taking off, and Red Collar’s Rocket Dog is an interesting take on this emerging style of beer.
First thing’s first though, I should probably explain what a zero IBU beer is.
So, IBUs are International Bittering Units and they are used to measure hop bitterness in beer. Generally, breweries lack the sophisticated lab equipment to properly measure the alpha acids, polyphenols and other chemical compounds responsible for bitterness, so instead they rely on software to predict what the IBUs will be, based on the ingredients in the beer, and when they are added.
Hops added early in the brewing process will impart more bitterness. Zero IBU beers instead rely on hops added after the boil, usually in the later stages of fermentation in a technique called “dry-hopping.”
According to the software, this will give the beers zero IBUs, although technically that’s not quite true. Even if you don’t add any bittering hops to the boil, dry hopping will still result in some alpha acids making it into the beer.
What you will get, however, is gobs of fresh, juicy hop aroma and flavour, without nearly as much hop bitterness.
So far, most of the zero IBU beers we’ve seen in B.C. have been hop-forward styles like pale ales and IPAs. Port Moody’s Twin Sails Brewing was likely the first B.C. brewery to try out this style, with their Hot Take IPA, released in late 2016.
Rocket Dog is different, though. This is a dark session ale with more malt character than we typically see in a zero IBU beer. Instead of being about just the hops and only the hops, there’s actually some balance here, and that’s a really good thing! The malt character is subtle, but it’s there, offering caramel and nutty flavours behind the fruitiness and citrus notes of the hops.
Far from being out of this world, Rocket Dog is actually a down-to-earth session ale that’s light and crushable and full of personality. A good boy, indeed!
Rocket Dog by Red Collar Brewing (4.4% ABV, 0 IBU)
Appearance: Dark brown with brilliant clarity and a tan head.
Aroma: Citrus, melon, pine, toffee
Flavour: Citrus, pine, caramel, melon, grapefruit, subtle nutty malt character, lots of hop flavour but very little hop bitterness.
Body: Light bodied with a clean and dry hoppy finish.
Pairs with: Hot wings, lemon tarts, freeze-dried ice cream and tossing the Frisbee at the park.