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Looking for a good, quality beer that has low IBU (low bitterness)

I would love to find a regular, good quality beer like Sam Adams Boston Lager, but that one that is not as bitter as Sam Adams (it has IBU of about 30).

I am aware of the wheat bears and Belgian-style witbiers and I like those, but they have a different, if not peculiar taste. I would hope to find a regular non-wheat beer that has a bitterness level similar to that of the wheat beer (IBU below 20).

I tried Leffe Blond recently - that was not bitter, but it was way too syrupy for my taste.

I know that bitterness is something most beer drinkers enjoy. But I do not.

Would appreciate any suggestions.

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  1. Hmm so no bitter beers, no sweet beers and no wheat beers...

    What about Maibocks? You might still consider them too sweet but they are worth a shot as their malt presence is dominant and even though they are higher hopped then a standard Bock, their bitterness level is still pretty low in most examples of the style. In the same vein Oktoberfests might be perfect for you but of course they dont make these year round. Perhaps Kolsches in the summer but some of them have at least a moderate level of bitterness. What about reds and browns? They are often moderately hopped and have a mild pleasing taste with no weird esters or spices and tend to be fairly dry. Do you like dark beers? Dry porters may fit the bill.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Insidious Rex

      A porter the OP could lean towards is Yuengling- not overly aggressive or bitter in flavor, easy to drink. Schwartzbiers (like Kostritzer) and Dunkels (like Hoffbrau) as well. Brown Ales are another definite avenue to pursue, for sure (I'm thinking Samuel Smith's Nut Brown) if they are not opposed to checking out darker beers.

    2. These aren't what I'd call 'low IBU' beers, but they are nicely balanced and may be more your speed: Munich Helles Lagers, and you can easily get some really good ones in the NYC area. The beauty of them is that they aren't 'too' anything, but have a great malt and hop presence. Look for Augustiner Edelstoff, Weihenstephaner Original or Hacker-Pschorr Munich Gold. Victory Lager (NOT their Prima Pils) from Pennsylvania is also brewed in that style, but a definite notch below their imported cousins in my eyes, but worth checking out if you want something locally made.

      1. Brooklyn Lager should be a good one for you.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Josh

          I would guess that both SABL and Brooklyn Lager are around the same IBU's (with the latter a touch more alcoholic) but I find Brooklyn much hoppier, when fresh. Tho' I wouldn't call it more bitter, necessarily (but then "bitterness" isn't something I'd find in the Boston Lager, either).

          Of course, I usually only drink either when on tap and, in the case of Sam Adams, only in places where it's the best of a bad selection, and those often don't taste very fresh (and sometimes down right stale, flat and/or sour). I think the concept of "Well, it's only the craft beer on tap, it must be fresh because of a rapid turnover" is faulty. It's more likely that in those bars, it's just "too expensive" and not consumed much at all.

          1. re: JessKidden

            I like the Brooklyn Lager in cans. It's yet to disappoint.

            1. re: Josh

              Even tho' I'm only 50 or so miles from Brooklyn (several hundred from Utica, however) the NJ distributors don't really push the cans (one told me they only try to sell them to golf courses, minor league baseball stadiums and other types of venues that don't allow glass bottles). At the one retailer I know that does order them, they weren't particularly fresh when I found them and 6 months later it's still the same batch on the shelves. Never saw the Summer Ale cans, either.

              A shame- they'd certainly be in my regular summer rotation if the were fresh. Many retailers have the same attitude about the 500ml cans of Pilsner Urquell- the break the 4-pks up to sell as singles [P/U dropped their bombers apparently] but seldom have 4's or cases for sale.

              But, my comments about Brooklyn Lager was not to suggest I find it disappointing, only that anyone who might find SABL "too bitter" wouldn't care for BL for the same reason.

        2. I think an Irish Red Ale might fit the bill. They are very low in bitterness and have a sweetness that isn't cloying at all, just pleasant. Smithwick's is a decent example that you can find in most half decent bars. Good session ale.

          1. Belhaven Scottish Ale - Rich roasty and low hop profile.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Chinon00

              That is a nice one. Low alcohol, too.

            2. Hmm, not sweet and not bitter. How about some Cantillon Gueze?

              5 Replies
                1. re: Josh

                  The OP stated "I would love to find a REGULAR, good quality beer . . ."
                  Somehow I don't think that gueuze is considered "regular" by any standard.

                  1. re: Chinon00

                    Plus, this particular Gueuze (Cantillon) as sourness in spades...

                    1. re: Chinon00

                      True, true. I just can't help myself sometimes.

                  2. re: joshekg

                    I took regular to mean to be drunk regularly.

                  3. I’ve been working on the same issue… I just don’t like the bitterness that can be associated with most beers… I also like clear beers… that removes malt from the equation as well. I like something that will go with whatever I’m eating and if I’m in the mood to chug a full glass down in one or two gulps on a hot summer day… it’s possible.

                    Through my research, I learned that beers from south of the boarder (Mexico) typically are low in hops. I spent the 2011 summer sampling as many Mexican, Central and South American beers that I could find locally (Austin, TX). Surprisingly… it’s true, Mexican beers can be a lot less bitter than American beers… there were some where the bitter hoppy taste was present… but for the most part I found clear, clean, crisp beers from south of the boarder. Give’em a shot!

                    I have a similar problem with dry wines… I do not like dry wines… sorting through these has been more difficult.

                    8 Replies
                    1. re: llogar

                      If you don't like malt and bitterness, are you sure you like beer?

                      Budwieser is down to what, 12 ibus these days?

                      Try Michelob Ultra, Coors Light, Bud Light, but not Miller Light - as that may be too much flavor and bitterness for you.

                      Flavored seltzer may be what you are looking for as well - I personally can't get enough.

                      1. re: LStaff

                        I love beer...

                        I drink unsweetened flavored selzer and plain old club soda all day long when alcoholic beverages aren't an option. Corona Lite is quite good as well.

                        Thanks for the tips... if I have to pick a beer flavor... then I would lean towards the malt flavor... but not heavy, thick and sweet... just a mild malt. I enjoy the wheat beers as well.

                        1. re: LStaff

                          During my research, I also learned of a terminology used to describe what I think us lightweights are looking for. The blend, brew, style is referred to as “farmers”. From what I gather… this would be a style of beer that the average everyday farmer could chug without taking a breath at the close of a long day out in the fields. They were looking to be refreshed and… perhaps not over taken by richness or bitterness.

                          Living in Austin TX, we are consumed with everything TexMex… this made the whole testing of Mexican beer to be fun and sometimes easy when showing up to a bar… since the town caters a lot to the Hispanic flair… they often have a good selection of beer from south of the boarder.

                        2. re: llogar

                          Your comment makes no sense, sorry.

                          Clarity is achieved through a variety of means, regardless of the malt bill. Almost all beer is made from malt.

                          I'm not sure what kind of research you did - sounds like maybe you just bought a lot of beer and drank it, while reading nothing about it whatsoever.

                          All beer has hops, for the most part, and there's nothing particularly special about Mexican beers in this regard. Mexican beers tend to be lagers, and stylistically lagers aren't hopped as aggressively as styles like IPA. However there are a number of other beer styles that are also not hopped aggressively, like porters, stouts, and ESBs.

                          There are numerous American breweries making beers that aren't particularly hoppy. To say Mexican beers are categorically less hoppy than American is to grossly oversimplify matters.

                          Lore, lore, lore. How I hate lore.

                          1. re: Josh

                            I’m trying to learn… I suppose I would be classified as a neophyte. I’ve done some research on beer but can hardly say I know more than 1/100th of a thimble. I think I did hear that hops aren’t a requirement… that they were added when sailing across the ocean from continent to continent was taking place. As I thought I understood, they ended up being a preservative. Then I think I understood that they were not favored by the populous in the beginning… that the people were not keen on the bitterness. Then low and behold, an acquired taste for hops began and the rest is history.

                            At first I was all over the globe with my purchases… based on word of mouth… I found that the broad approach made it difficult for me to focus… so when I heard the lore on Mexican beer… I placed my focus t here. A funny story about a Mexican beer that I tried happened when I was talking to a tech support person from south of the boarder… he recommended the beer with the picture of the “rooster” on it. He said it was very popular and that I should try it. I searched high and low using the name that he gave me and finally found out that it is imported under a different name… when I found the bottle with the rooster on the front of it. Then just to be sure I had it right, I researched the beer using the imported name to confirm it was the same beer.

                            So, I am trying… I just used to guzzle down beer(s) growing up not knowing why I didn’t like some… then when I had a low hops beer and went wow, then the search was on. I don’t think I have enough years left in my life to become an expert anything.

                            1. re: Josh

                              I agree... my comment didn't make sense... I shouldn't have thrown malt into the clarity equation... I like malt and I know it used in the beer making process... I suppose it's better said that I'm not keen on dark, thick or overly sweet/malty styles.

                              What makes dark beer dark?

                              1. re: llogar

                                Dark kilned malt
                                Dark beers are not usually thick. Guinness has less calories than most of those Mexican beers you're drinking

                            2. English Dark Mild is a style that's low in hop bitterness. It's a light brown ale so it carries some chocolate and slight roasted character but overall very drinkable style.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: Chinon00

                                Thanks, I'll give it a try... I've been wanting to try something with a chocolate overtone.

                                1. re: llogar

                                  Pick up a copy of beer for dummies or randy mosher's Tasting Beer to learn more about the history of beer and the different flavor profiles.

                              2. Also agree that it would be helpful to know if you like dark beer, as some porters and stouts can be very smooth.

                                But some widely distributed beers I think of that are not wheat and are lower in IBUs:
                                Shiner Bock
                                Fat Tire
                                Abita Amber

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: bte576

                                  How about Saranac Lager. Not as hoppy as SA or Bklyn, and you should be able to find it localy

                                2. If you have a local brewpub I would see if they have a blonde ale available. These tend to be fairly light in body and color with limited hop bitterness and an easy malt signature. I like them when Im not looking for something heavy and I want that nice fresh straw crispness with still enough frutiness to it to be a recognizable ale.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: Insidious Rex

                                    Thanks to everybody who provided suggestions. It should keep me busy for awhile. The beer for dummys book wouldn't hurt and finding a local pub that has a huge selection might be a great way to spend some down time sampling.

                                    1. re: llogar

                                      Yes...sample away, by all means.
                                      In the end, it's the best way to find your beer nirvana.

                                  2. you might like some of the unibroue styles. i really don't like bitter styles either, and try to stay away from beers that get too sweet. my boyfriend loves the fin du monde (19 ibu), and my favorite is the don de dieu (10.5). they are fairly high abv, but don't taste too alcoholic. enjoy!

                                    1. Ok well, HOPS are critical in beer, and they contain alpha acids which make beer bitter. I certainly do not mean to be a jerk but, if you don't like bitter, sweet or wheat you maybe don't like beer ?
                                      Certainly the traditional German beers mentioned elsewhere such as Kolsches will be less bitter, but any weissbeir or Weizen is going to be a "wheat" beer, Dunkles included.
                                      I think you may be suffering from over-caft beer. This new trend in the market to blast the heck out of every recipe with Hops. IPAs being the best example. Hops are a natural preservative, and the original IPAs (India Pale Ales) like Taj were designed to survive the long ship journey from India by adding extra Hops for preservative properties. The taste caught on. I personally like them, others may not.
                                      I think I know what you mean about the sweet and wheat though. Please don't rule out wheat beers though based on Bluemoon, shocktop, or any other miserable american wheat. Do yourself a favor and sample some of the German Weizens including the dunkles. You may find you even like the traditional heffeweizens like the Franziskaner or Spaten. They are not as sweet and wheat nasty as the american wheats that, I agree, can taste like a liquid loaf of wonder bread at times.

                                      9 Replies
                                      1. re: dashmatrix

                                        IPA was shipped to India, not from.

                                        There are plenty of nice wheat beers made in the United States.

                                        1. re: Jim Dorsch

                                          And dude I really didn't read his whole post, but have you ever had an American Wheat beer that tasted like liquid wonder bread?

                                          1. re: Chinon00

                                            I don't recall having such a beer, but I haven't had Wonder Bread lately, so I can't be sure.

                                          2. re: Jim Dorsch

                                            I wonder if he's referring to this beer http://www.avinashphotography.com/img... when he writes "...the original IPAs (India Pale Ales) like Taj..." That's the only well-known "Taj" branded beer I know of that is well-distributed in the US.

                                            1. re: JessKidden

                                              Sorry no.
                                              Recipe: Imperial Taj Pale
                                              Brewer: Randy D - 234875
                                              Asst Brewer:
                                              Style: Imperial IPA
                                              TYPE: All Grain
                                              Taste: (35.0)

                                              Recipe Specifications
                                              Boil Size: 7.43 gal
                                              Post Boil Volume: 6.76 gal
                                              Batch Size (fermenter): 6.50 gal
                                              Bottling Volume: 6.50 gal
                                              Estimated OG: 1.081 SG
                                              Estimated Color: 12.3 SRM
                                              Estimated IBU: 117.2 IBUs
                                              Brewhouse Efficiency: 68.00 %
                                              Est Mash Efficiency: 68.0 %
                                              Boil Time: 60 Minutes

                                              Amt Name Type # %/IBU
                                              9 lbs Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM) Grain 1 45.0 %
                                              3 lbs Munich 10L (Briess) (10.0 SRM) Grain 2 15.0 %
                                              2 lbs Caramel/Crystal - 15L (15.0 SRM) Grain 3 10.0 %
                                              1 lbs Caramel Malt - 40L (Briess) (40.0 SRM) Grain 4 5.0 %
                                              1 lbs Carapils (Briess) (1.5 SRM) Grain 5 5.0 %
                                              12.0 oz Wheat - White Malt (Briess) (2.3 SRM) Grain 6 3.8 %
                                              12.0 oz Wheat, Flaked (1.6 SRM) Grain 7 3.8 %
                                              8.0 oz Honey Malt (25.0 SRM) Grain 8 2.5 %
                                              2 lbs Extra Light Dry Extract (3.0 SRM) Dry Extract 9 10.0 %
                                              1.75 oz Galena [13.10 %] - Boil 60.0 min Hop 10 55.5 IBUs
                                              1.00 oz Warrior [14.60 %] - Boil 60.0 min Hop 11 35.4 IBUs
                                              1.00 tbsp 5.2 Stabilizer (Boil 60.0 mins) Water Agent 12 -
                                              1.00 oz Centennial [10.40 %] - Boil 20.0 min Hop 13 15.3 IBUs
                                              1.00 Items Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 15.0 mins) Fining 14 -
                                              2.00 oz Cascade [6.90 %] - Boil 5.0 min Hop 15 6.1 IBUs
                                              1.00 oz Centennial [10.40 %] - Boil 5.0 min Hop 16 5.0 IBUs
                                              1.0 pkg California Ale V (White Labs #WLP051) [7 Yeast 17 -
                                              2.00 oz Cascade [5.70 %] - Dry Hop 14.0 Days Hop 18 0.0 IBUs
                                              2.00 oz Centennial [10.40 %] - Dry Hop 14.0 Days Hop 19 0.0 IBUs

                                              Mash Schedule: Single Infusion, Medium Body, No Mash Out
                                              Total Grain Weight: 20 lbs
                                              Name Description Step Temperat Step Time
                                              Mash In Add 22.49 qt of water at 163.7 F 152.0 F 60 min

                                              Sparge: Fly sparge with 3.97 gal water at 168.0 F
                                              kegged 10-21-07

                                              make it yourself.

                                              1. re: dashmatrix

                                                Ah, OK. Of the original IPA brewers and other UK brewers who were involved in the export trade to India in the 19th century, I'm familiar with most of them -Hodgson, Bass, Worthington, Barclay, Allsopp, etc., - but "Randy D - 234875" is a new one on me.

                                                1. re: JessKidden

                                                  LOL! Right!
                                                  And also...while it may yield a decent result, that recipe is a LOT more complicated than any IPA needs to be.
                                                  Methinks Randy D - 234875 was just cleaning out his cupboard and decided to call it IPA. ;-)

                                                  1. re: The Professor

                                                    I know right... My favorite IPA is a single grain, single hop. Real Ale's Firemans 4.

                                                    Recipe: AHS Real Ale Fireman's #4
                                                    Style: Blonde Ale

                                                    Recipe Specifications
                                                    Boil Size: 6.57 gal
                                                    Post Boil Volume: 5.98 gal
                                                    Batch Size (fermenter): 5.50 gal
                                                    Bottling Volume: 5.50 gal
                                                    Estimated OG: 1.050 SG
                                                    Estimated Color: 3.5 SRM
                                                    Estimated IBU: 31.5 IBUs
                                                    Brewhouse Efficiency: 75.00 %
                                                    Est Mash Efficiency: 78.4 %
                                                    Boil Time: 60 Minutes

                                                    Amt Name Type # %/IBU
                                                    10 lbs Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM) Grain 1 100.0 %
                                                    1.50 oz Crystal [4.30 %] - Boil 60.0 min Hop 2 22.5 IBUs
                                                    1.00 oz Crystal [4.30 %] - Boil 15.0 min Hop 3 7.5 IBUs
                                                    0.50 oz Crystal [4.30 %] - Boil 5.0 min Hop 4 1.5 IBUs
                                                    1.0 pkg Dry English Ale (White Labs #WLP007) [10 Yeast 5 -

                                                    Mash Schedule: Temperature Mash, 1 Step, Light Body
                                                    Total Grain Weight: 10 lbs
                                                    Name Description Step Temperat Step Time
                                                    Saccharification Add 12.50 qt of water at 161.4 F 150.0 F 60 min
                                                    Mash Out Heat to 168.0 F over 10 min 168.0 F 10 min

                                                    Sparge: Fly sparge with 4.90 gal water at 168.0 F

                                                    10lbs of 2 row, and 3 doses of Crystal.

                                                    1. re: dashmatrix

                                                      Why does your favorite IPA's recipe state that it's a "Blonde Ale"?

                                        2. Have you tried Pranqster from North Coast Brewing? My wife is IBU-averse - she loves this beer. I'm all over the spectrum when it comes to beer, and I really like this one as well.


                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: bulavinaka

                                            If you want to go to an extreme, try Death march from Prism. 5 different types of malts, no hops, and flavored with star anise.