Glossary of Beer Terms

To keep you in the know about brewing and beer terminology…

…thanks to the guys over at Brew-Monkey.com

AAU - Alpha Acid Units. A measurement of bitterness. AAU = hop AA% x Ounces added to the boil. This formula does not consider wort gravity, boil time and so on.

Abbey - Belgian ale, brewed in a commercial secular brewery.

ABV - Alcohol by volume. This is a measurement of the percent of alcohol present in a volume of liquid. To obtain this number take the original gravity and subtract the final gravity then multiply the answer by 131.25. One pound of fermentable sugar is approximately equal to 1% ABV in a 5 gallon batch. ABV = ABW x 1.25.

ABW - Alcohol by weight. This is a measurement of the percent of alcohol present in a volume of liquid. The percent is the number of grams of alcohol in 100 centiliters (e.g. 5%ABW equals 5 grams of alcohol/100 cl) – ABW = ABV x .80

Acetaldehyde - A by-product of fermentation. It is recognized by an aroma of green apple.

Acid rest - A stage of the mashing process where phytase converts phytic acid to phosphoric acid to acidify the mash.

Adjunct - An unmalted fermentable ingredient, like honey or sugar. It is used to increase the alcohol or add to the flavor. Adjunct grains, like corn or rice, can be added to lighten the flavor of the beer.

Alcohol - A byproduct of fermentation. It is produced when yeast consumes the fermentable sugars. Alcohol is what causes intoxication. In the case of beverages we are talking about ethyl alcohol or ethanol (CH3CH2OH).

Ale - Ales are beers made with top fermenting yeast. They typically are fermented between 68-75°F. Ales absorb some of the byproducts from the fermentation which cause can a fruity or estery nose or flavor.

Alpha Acid - These come from the soft resin of the hop flower. They are made of humulone, ad-humulone and co-humulone.

Anaerobic - An organism that can live with out atmospheric oxygen.

Aroma Hops - Hops added at the end of the boil that add to the aroma of the beer.

Astringent - A dry, sometimes harsh taste which comes from errors in using the grain.

Attenuation - The percent of sugars consumed by yeast during fermentation.

Autolysis - The self digestion of a cell’s body by its own enzymes.

Balling - A scale for measuring the specific gravity of a solution. Created by Carl Joseph Balling.

Balthazar - A bottle, 12 liters in capacity.

Barley - A cerel grain that is malted and used in the mash for making beer.

Barleywine - A high alcohol, quite malty, English style beer. Alcohol levels are usually between 8.5% and 12% ABV.

Barm - Liquid yeast appearing as froth on fermenting beer.

Barrel - A unit of measurement used by brewers in some countries. In Britain, a barrel holds 36 imperial gallons (1 imperial gallon = 4.5 liters), or 1.63 hectoliters. In the United States, a barrel holds 31.5 US gallons (1 US gallon = 3.8 liters), or 1.17 hectoliters.

Becher - Similar to a pub glass, but thinner walls and they stop angling out about 2/3 of the way up the glass and become straight at this point.

Berliner Weisse - A regional beer of northern Germany, pale, top-fermented, and made with wheat.

Biere de garde - French term that applies to a strong, bottle-conditioned ale that is designed to be laid down when fermenting.

Bittering Hops - Hops added to the boil with 45 – 60 minutes left. These are responsible for the bitterness of a beer.

Bock - A very strong lager traditionally brewed in winter to celebrate the coming spring. Full-bodied, malty, well-hopped.

Body - The feel of thickness of a liquid in the mouth.

Bottle Conditioning - Beer bottled without removing the yeast or having been pasteurized. Yeast and sediment are present in the bottle. Beer packaged this way can grow more complex over time.

Brew Kettle - The vessel that the boil takes place in.

Brewpub - A pub that makes its own beer and sells at least 50% on premesis.

Bright beer - Finished beer that is prepared to be bottled or kegged and served. The last stage in the brewing process before packaging.

Brown ale - A British-style, top-fermented beer which is lightly hopped and flavored with roasted and caramel malt.

Bung - A rubber or wood stopper that seals the bunghole.

Bunghole - A hole in a barrel, keg, or cask from where liquid is drawn.

Candi sugar - Candi sugar is made by superheating and then cooling a highly concentrated sugar solution. Pale candi syrup is much darker than sucrose or invert sugar syrup. Belgian brewers prefer to use candi sugar, in either solid or syrup form, because it contributes to good head retention in a high-gravity, lightly hopped beer.

Cane sugar - Sucrose, or white table sugar is a highly fermentable sugar, usually refined from sugar cane or sugar beets. In brewing, cane sugar is sometimes used as an adjunct because it is cheaper than malt. It lightens the color and body of the beer, boosts the alcohol content, and can add a cidery taste that is considered not true beer flavor.

Caramel malt - A sweet, coppery malt which imparts both color and flavor to beer. Gives a golden color and a nutlike flavor to beer. Used frequently in darker ales

Carbonation - The “fizz” or effervescence in a liquid. The carbonation is a byproduct of yeast eating fermentable sugars (which releases carbon dioxide) if this happens in a closed container the beer reabsorbs the carbon dioxide in the form or carbonation. Carbonation can be also forced into a beer by adding pressurized carbon dioxide in a closed vessel.

Carboy - What homebrewers call the container that the fermentation takes place in. Usually made of glass and can come in a few different sizes, with the most popular being 5 gallons.

Cask - A container for beer that is sealed. They can be wood or metal.

Cask Conditioned Ale - See cask conditioning. – It is usually poured via gravity or a hand pump, not via CO2. It may seem flat compared to “regular” beers. The beer is also called living beer as the yeast is still active in the brew.

Cask Conditioning - After ale has gone through primary fermentation, then run through a filter. It is transferred into a cask where more yeast is added and a secondary fermentation takes place. A fining material is added to settle out the yeast.

Centrifugation - A clarification method using centrifugal force to strain and clarify the wort during its cooling stage and the finished beer prior to racking.

Chalice - These are typically for Belgian abbey and trappist style beer. They can have a look of royalty about them. They can be more “V” shaped with either straight or an inward curving top, sometimes rimmed with a precious metal. The stem is thick and the length is usually rather short.

Chill Haze - A cloudiness that appears in beer when it gets cold. It is a result of proteins and polyphenols combining as a result of hydrogen bonding. The haze disappears as the beer warms up.

Chill Proof - By adding certain clarifiers to beer, it prevents chill haze by precipitating out the haze causing agents.

Chocolate malt - Malted barley that has been roasted to a deep brown color. It gives a nutty, toasted flavor to beers as well as deep reddish brown color.

Cold filter - As an alternative to pasteurizing, beer can be passed through a filter fine enough to remove the suspended yeast and so stop fermentation. Preserving more beer flavor than pasteurization, cold-filtered beers are often incorrectly called “draught”.

Craft beer - Beers made by small, independent brewers with only traditional brewing ingredients such as malt, hops, yeast and water, and brewed with traditional brewing methods.

Crystal malt - When fresh malt is carefully dried at warm temperatures, some of the starches are converted to sugars which crystallize within the grains. When these crystal malts are used in brewing, they add sweetness, body and a reddish gold color to the beer.

Decoction - Exhaustive system of mashing in which portions of the wort are removed, heated, then returned to the original vessel.

Dextrin - The unfermentable carbohydrate produced by the enzymes in barley.

Diacetyl - A natural byproduct of yeast. It can have the flavors of butter or butterscotch.

DMS - Dimethyl Sulfide. – A sulfur compound that can be a desired flavor in lagers, but not in ales. DMS can be created by bacterial infection, which has the smell of cooked cabbage. DMS is also created during the boil and is removed by vaporization. If the wort is not cooled quickly then it will dissolve back into the wort.

Dortmunder - A gold-colored, bottom-fermented beer from Dortmund, Germany’s largest brewing city.

Dosage - The adding of yeast right before the bottle conditioning of a beer. This is also done with champagne.

Double bock/dopplebock - A stronger bock beer, though not necessarily double the strength. The original of the style was brewed by the Italian monks of the order of St. Francis of Paula in Bavaria to help them though their Lenten fast

Double Magnum - A bottle, 3.0 liters in capacity.

Draught/draft - Beer that is served from the cask, keg or barrel. Draught can be pasteurized, filtered or cask-conditioned, but bottled or canned beer is not, by definition, draught. The word means “drawn” or pulled from the cask by a pump.

Dry beer - In the late 80’s, Asahi Brewery of Japan refined a brewing process that fermented virtually all the sugars in their beer. Described as having less aftertaste, it actually had almost no taste at all. It sold well, though, so major breweries around the world began brewing “Dry Beers” of their own

Dry Hopping - Adding hops after the boil or even in the cask to increase hop aroma and flavor. This is most often seen in various types of ales, but not in lagers.

Dry stout - The Irish version of stout, slightly more bitter and higher in alcohol than the English sweet stout.

Dunkle - This is a term used mainly in describing German wheat beer. It means dark – in contrast to Helle or pale.

Estery - Aroma or flavor or fruit or flowers in beer. This can be caused by certain yeast strains or higher temperature fermentation.

Ethanol or Ethyl Alcohol - Colorless liquid at room temperature. It has a boiling point of 78°C and freezes at -114°C at 1 atmosphere. It is intoxicating and flammable. This is the alcohol in alcoholic beverages.

False Bottom – A perforated bottom that prevents grains in a lautertun from being collected with the wort when the mash has fully converted.

Fermentation - The reaction of the yeast consuming the sugars in wort in the case of beer. This process creates ethyl alcohol and carbon dioxide.

Final Gravity - The specific gravity after fermentation has taken place.

Fining - Materials added to beer during secondary fermentation to help settle out the yeast and other particulates. These materials can be isinglass, gelatin, Irish moss, and others.

Finishing Hops - Hops added near the end or after the boil to add aroma and flavor. They do not tend to add bitterness.

Firkin - Unit of measure. 1 Firkin = 9 Imperial Gallons.

Flocculation - The clumping, gathering or fallout of yeast cells after fermentation. Different yeast strains have different levels of flocculation.

Flute - Typically seen with champagne. Beer flutes have shorter stems than champagne flutes. The mouth has a smaller diameter than the mid section to hold in carbonation.

Goblet - Goblets can resemble a fishbowl. Typically they have a round bowl and come in various sizes. They are somewhat like a brandy or cognac snifter. Use these for high alcohol sipping beers.

Grist - A term for milled grain(s).

Gueuze - A blend of aged and young lambic ale.

HBU – Home Bitterness Units. See AAU.

Hard Cider - Fermented beverage made from apples.

Heat Exchanger - A device to rapidly cool wort. Usually copper tubing that has cold water running through it. Sometimes 2 tubes, one inside the other, with wort going through one and cold water going through the other.

Hefe - German word for yeast.

Helle - This is a term used mainly in describing German wheat beer. It means pale – in contrast to Dunkle or dark.

Hogshead - A cask that holds 54 imperial gallons.

Hops - Hops come from the Humulis Lupulus plant or vine. It is the female flower that is used in brewing. They come in several forms, whole, pellet and plug. Hops are what makes beer bitter. There are volumes written on hops, if you are interested, there is plen

Hydrometer - A device that measures specific gravity (SG) of a liquid. Hydrometers are usually calibrated for measurements at 60°F. If what you are measuring is not at this temperature, you should use a hydrometer correction table. Approximately the correction amount is (Temperature-1.8)x.03 (e.g. (77°F-1.8) x .03 = 2.2 take the FG and add 2.2 to get the calibrated SG)

IBU - International Bitterness Unit. It is a number that denotes the bitterness of the beer. The higher the IBU the more bitter the beer. IBU = Ounces of Hops x AA% x Utilization% / Gallons x 1.34

Imperial - 1. A bottle, 6 liters in capacity.
2. A beer which is stronger than the typical base style. I have most often seen it described as 20 gravity points higher than the BJCP style guidelines.
3. A pint glass of 20 ounces.

Infusion - Soaking or steeping grains in water or wort to transfer the flavors from the grain.

IPA - India Pale Ale. A strong, hoppy Pale ale. The style originated in Britain in the 19th century, and had a high alcohol content and hopping rate, allowing it to survive the long sea voyage to India.

Jeroboam - There are several sizes of Jeroboams: 3.0L, 4.5L and 5.0L. Typically the 3L size is used for sparkling wine, and the 4.5L is for red wine.

Keg - A large metal (stainless steel) vessel that contains beer. They come in several sizes, 2.5 gallon, 5 gallon, 7.75 gallon and 15.5 gallon. Import kegs come are usually 13.2 gallons (50 liters).

Kilderkin - Unit of measure. 1 Kilderkin = 18 Imperial Gallons

Kolsch - Looks like a cylinder. The kolsch glass has straight sides and is tall. Holds 12 oz.

Krug - The only beer glass with a handle. Typically very heavy and sturdy. They can have different textures and come in different sizes. Also called a mug or seidel.

Lager - Beer made with bottom fermenting yeast. Lager is fermented at lower temperatures and usually takes longer to ferment than ales. Since the fermentation is at low temperatures, the yeast byproducts are reduced and a cleaner more crisp beer is the result.

Lagering - The process of aging beer at low temperatures, usually under 50°F. This process takes anywhere from a weeks to months.

Lambic - A traditionally Belgian brew that is typically sour. It is usually fruit flavored (peach, raspberry, cassis, cherry) and fermented with wild yeast and several types of bacteria.

Lauter - To drain the wort to the mash tun.

Lauter Tun - A vessel where mash settles and grains are strained out of the sweet wort.

Light Struck - The result of exposure of beer to light and heat. It is recognizable by a skunky smell.

Liquor - The brewer’s word for water used in the brewing process, as included in the mash or, used to sparge the grains after mashing.

Lovibond - A measurement of color. The scale starts at 0 (zero) and goes to over 500. The higher the number the darker the color.

Lupulin - A yellow resinous powder found on the female hop cone that contains the bittering principle used in making beer.

Magnum - A bottle, 1.5 liters in capacity.

Malt - (noun) Grain that has been malted. (verb) The malting process consists of wetting the grain and allowing it to germinate. During the germination, some of the starches in the grain get converted to sugars while others become simple soluble starches and other enzymes. The grain is then dried and tumbled to knock the beginnings of roots off. The grain is then kilned to dry it thoroughly and carmelize some of the sugars like in crystal malt or blacken it like a black patent malt.

Malt Extract - Sweet wort that has been reduced to a syrupy liquid or dried into a powder.

Malt Liquor - A legal term in the U.S. for fermented beverages with alcohol that is higher than normal – or around 7-8%.

Maltose - Water soluable, fermentable sugar from malt.

Marie-Jean - A bottle, 2.25 liters in capacity.

Mash - (verb) – Release of sugars from grains into water. (noun) The mixture resulting from mashing.

Mead - A beverage made from fermented honey.

Meilgaard, Morten - Author of Sensory Evaluation Techniques and creator of the Beer Flavor Wheel.

Methuselah - A bottle, 6 liters in capacity, typically used for sparkling wine.

Microbrewery - A brewery that produces less than 15,000 barrels per year.

Mouthfeel - How a beer feels in the mouth. Usually describes as thin or full.

Mug, krug, seidel - The only beer glass with a handle. Typically very heavy and sturdy. They can have different textures and come in different sizes.

Nebuchadnezzar - A bottle, 15 liters in capacity.

Noble Hops - Hallertauer Mittelfruh, Tettnanger Tettnang, Spalter Spalt, and Czech Saaz are the 4 main noble hops. There are others that can be considered noble, but they were bred from noble hops. These are Perle, Crystal, Mt. Hood, Liberty, and Ultra.

Original Gravity - The specific gravity of the wort before yeast is added.

Oxygenation - The addition of oxygen in the wort. This is done to help provide the yeast with oxygen for a healthy fermentation.

Pasteurization - Heating food or liquid to high temperatures to kill bacteria and other microorganisms. This also kills yeast. Developed by Louis Pasteur (1822-1895).

Phenolic - A medicinal taste caused by volatile phenol compounds.

Pilsner - 1. A beer style. Typically crisp and refreshing, with a light to medium body and a clear, light to deep gold appearance.
2.These also are tall, somewhat thin walled, sloped glasses with a solid base. Their capacity is usually 12 oz.

Pin - Unit of measure. 1 Pin = 4.5 Imperial Gallons.

Pint glass - Probably the most common beer glass. Straight, thick sides at a slight angle making the mouth of the glass larger than the base, typically holds 16 oz. You may also come across an Imperial Pint glass. These hold 20 oz. have somewhat thinner sides and a bulge about 3/4 of the way up the glass. These also come in 10 oz. half pint sizes. Also called a pub glass.

Pitching - Pitching yeast is basically adding yeast to wort. This is done around 70°F. Pitching when the wort is too warm or too cold will kill the yeast.

Plato Degrees or Degrees Plato - A method or different scale for measuring sugar in wort. It is an updated rendition of the Balling scale.

Pokal - A pokal is a European pilsner glass with a stem. Can look similar to a tulip without the flare at the top or similar to a chalice with a smaller less angular bowl. Holds 12 oz.

Primary Fermentation - Vigorous fermentation where the yeast cells multiply and feed on the fermentable sugars in the wort thus releasing carbon dioxide.

Priming - Addition of sugar to promote a secondary fermentation.

Pub glass - Probably the most common beer glass. Straight, thick sides at a slight angle making the mouth of the glass larger than the base, typically holds 16 oz. You may also come across an Imperial Pint glass. These hold 20 oz. have somewhat thinner sides and a bulge about 3/4 of the way up the glass. These also come in 10 oz. half pint sizes. Also called a pint glass.

Racking - Transferring the wort into another container. Beer is racked from the primary fermenter to the secondary fermenter.

Real Ale - See cask conditioning

Reboboam - A bottle, 4.5 liters in capacity.

Reinheitsgebot - The German Purity Law of 1516 that states the only 4 ingredients that can be included in beer are water, malted barley, yeast and hops.

RIMS - Recirculating Infusion Mash System – brewing setup that is quite popular among homebrewers.

Saccharification - A stage of the mashing process during which complex glucose chains are broken down into fermentable sugars, mainly maltose.

Saccharomyces carlsbergensis - Lager or bottom fermenting yeast.

Saccharomyces cerevisiae - Ale or top fermenting yeast.

Saccharomyces uvarum - Lager or bottom fermenting yeast. Also known as Saccharomyces carlsbergensis.

Salamanzar - A bottle, 9 liters in capacity.

Scotch Ale - A top-fermented beer of Scottish origin. Traditionally strong, very dark, thick and creamy.

Secondary Fermentation - After primary fermentation, which can be very active the beer is “racked” into another vessel for secondary fermentation. This helps remove some of the expired yeast which may give off negative flavors if left in. Secondary fermentation also helps with cl

Seidel - The only beer glass with a handle. Typically very heavy and sturdy. They can have different textures and come in different sizes. Also called a mug or krug.

Sparge - The recovery of sugars by spraying hot water on the grain bed.

Specific Gravity - The measure of density of a liquid or solid compared to water. Water has an SG of 1.000 at 39°F.

Stange - is a taller, thinner version of the pilsner glass. Holds 12 oz. Also called a stick.

Steam Beer - A beer produced by hybrid fermentation using bottom yeast fermented at top yeast temperatures. Fermentation is carried out in long shallow vessels called clarifiers, followed by warm conditioning and krausening. The style is indigenous to America and was first produced in California at the end of the 19th century, during the Gold Rush.

Stick - This is a taller, thinner version of the pilsner glass. Holds 12 oz. Also called a stange.

Terminal Gravity - The specific gravity of the wort after fermentation has ended. Sometimes called final gravity.

Trappist - A beer brewed within a Trappist monastery, under the control and responsibility of the monastic community. Only 6 breweries (5 in Belgium and one in Holland) can use the appellation “Trappist”: Chimay, Orval, Rochefort, Westmalle, Westvleteren and Achel.

Tulip glass - The tulip glass looks somewhat like a tulip – go figure. It can have a stemmed base and roundish bowl, which thins out about 1/2 way up the glass then flares out slightly. It can also be similar in style to a pint glass, but has the tulip flare. Holds 16 oz.

Wheat beer glass - These are tall, somewhat thin walled, sloped glasses with a solid base. They are typically 1/2 liter in capacity. They resemble a pilsner glass, only taller.

Willibecher - Similar to a pub glass, but thinner walls and they stop angling out about 2/3 of the way up the glass and become straight at this point. Also called a becher.

Wit - “White” beer. It is a cloudy wheat beer, spiced with corriander and orange peel.

Wort - Wort is beer before it becomes beer. After you boil the ingredients together that mixture is called wort.

Wort Chiller - A device to rapidly cool wort. Usually copper tubing that has cold water running through it. Sometimes 2 tubes, one inside the other, with wort going through one and cold water going through the other. Also called a heat exchanger.

Yard - As the name suggests – it is about 3 feet long. They are awkward and can be quite fragile. They hold almost 3 pints. They also come in half yards.

Yeast - Yeast is what makes the alcohol in beer. Yeast eats the sugars in the wort and gives of alcohol and carbon dioxide.

Zymurgy - The branch of chemistry dealing with fermentation.

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