Beer Terms & Definitions

Abbey Ale
Beers with a monastic brewing heritage, although now often produced under license by secular brewers.

ABV
Alcohol by volume – the percentage of alcohol in a finished beer.

Adjuncts
Additions to the mash, such as wheat, flour, rice, corn, maize, or sorghums; these are usually employed for reasons of cost or to make a beer lither in body.

Ale
The name derives from Anglo-Saxon ealu, which is originally a malted alcoholic drink with added herbs and spices to clarify, season, or preserve it. Up until the introduction of hops to Britain, the words “beer” and “ale” were interchangeable. Afterward, “beer” came to mean just the hopped variant.

Alpha Acid
The component in the hop that produces bitterness. The higher the alpha acid, the more bitter the hop.

Alt
The top-fermented, cold-conditioned beer of Düsseldorf, which is amber or copper in color.

Aroma Hops
Hops that are low in alpha acid and added to the boil in latter stages to impact flavor.

Attenuation
The degree to which fermentable sugars are changed into alcohol and carbon dioxide by yeast during fermentation. The more attenuatuon, the drier and stronger the beer.

Barley
A cereal crop whose grain is part germinated and kilned. This produces malted barley, which is used in the first step of brewing.

Barleywine
Strong, warming ale that appeared in the United Kingdom at the end of the 19th century.

Beer
Derived from the Anglo-Saxon word beor, the berm “beer” was interchangeable with “ale” until the appearance of hops. “Beer” denotes a beverage produced by fermented grain, chiefly malt, which has been hopped.

Bière de Garde
The beer of northern France, once brewed on farms and packaged in champagne style bottles, usually amber in color and over 6% ABV.

Bitter
Top-fermenting beer that emerged at the end of the 19th century in the United Kingdom and was mainly sold on draft in pubs, where it is still enjoyed.

Bittering Hops
Hops high in alpha acid that give bitterness to the beer. They are added at the tart of the boil. Also called “copper hops” and “kettle hops”.

Bock
Strong, bottom-fermented, lagered beer that supposedly has its origins in the northern German brewing town of Einbeck. Dopplebock is a stronger version, which is occasionally superseded by the even more powerful Eisbock.

Bottom Fermentation
Fermentation that takes place at a low temperature, with yeast sinking to the bottom of the vessel. Generally used for lagers and also known (perhaps more accurately) as “cold fermentation”.

Brown Ale
As the name suggests, dark amber or chestnut in color; those of northern England tend to be stronger than their sweeter counterparts in the south.

Burtonisation
A brewing process that began in the 19th century in which mineral salts similar to those found naturally in Burton-on-Trent’s local water are added to the brewing liquor by other brewers eager to replicate Burton’s beers.

Cooper
The person who makes and repairs the wooden cask in which beer has traditionally been kept. A rarity today.

Copper
Brewing vessel in which the wort is boiled and hop and other flavors are added. Also called the kettle.

Decoction Mashing
The method of mashing used for lager brewing where some of the worst is taken out, heated up, and added back to the mash. Supposed to help with converting starch into malt sugar.

Dortmunder Export
Bottom-fermented lager beer that is drier, slightly stronger, and less bitter than the average pilsner or Helles; was once popular with the industrial workers of Dortmund but is a style that is harder to find and define these days.

Double IPA
Stronger, hoppier version of India Pale Ale.

Dry Hopping
The practice of adding a handful of hops (or hop pellets) to beer in the cask.

Dubbel
Darker version of an abbey ale, usually 6 to 7 percent ABV.

Dunkel
Dark wheat or lagered beer.

Esters
Volatile flavor compounds produced by the work of the yeast on fermenting beer. They often produce a fruity complexity in both aroma and taste.

Extreme Beer
American craft brewing phenomenon that is represented by brewers experimenting with techniques as diverse as wood-aging beer, using triple amounts of hops, or adding various combinations of fruit, vegetables, and spices in the mash tun. The brewing equivalent of BASE jumping.

Framboise/Frambozen
Raspberry-flavored lambics or our bruin beers; a mainstay of Belgian beer.

Geuze
A blend of young and older lambic, which produces a sprightly champagne-like freshness; different spellings refer to the French (geuze) and Flemish(gueuze) variations.

Gose
Top-fermented wheat beer with spices and salt in the mix, a specialty of Leipzig.

Grist
Crushed or milled barley malt ready to be mashed.

Helles
The Bavarian answer to pilsner, a fresh-tasting golden beer with a soft maltiness.

IBU
International Bittering Units, a scale that measures the bitterness of beer.

Imperial Stout/Porter
Extra strong versions of stout and porter, with the latter famously being exported from the United Kingdom to imperial Russia at the end of the 18th century.

India Pale Ale
Beer that is heavily hopped and high in alcohol to withstand the journey from Britain to India by sea. First brewed in the 19th century, it found fame in the Indian Raj and has been expertly revived in recent years.

Kellerbier
German beer that is served unfiltered straight from the cellar.

Kilning
The process where the partially germinated malt is dried in massive malting kilns.

Kölsch
Gold-colored beer that is produced with top-fermenting yeast in and around the city of Koln.

Krausen
Th process that takes place during lager maturation (or lagering) where partially fermented wort is added to the brew to boost the secondary fermentation.

Kriek
Lambic that has had cherries added.

Lager
German term for a whole family of bottom-fermenting beers that have been matured (lagered).

Lagering
Period of maturation for lager (in German lager means “to store”). Supposed to have originated in the 15-century Bavaria when beers were stored in cool caves where the lower temperature encouraged a slower fermentation.

Lambic
Spontaneously fermented beer whose traditional home is in the Pajottenland area around Brussels.

Marzen
Beer originally brewed at the end of the brewing season in March and tapped in September; darker in color than Oktoberfest beers.

Marsh
Process here milled malt is steeped in hot liquor in a mash tun for the purpose of extracting fementable sugars. This is aided by sparging (or spraying) the mash with hot water to get out all of the femerntable sugars. Mainly used in British brewing.

Mild
Lightly or mildly hopped ales that are mainly dark in color.

Old Ale
Beers brewed for winter months, which were matured for some time and developed vinous traits; more modern interpretations are called “winter warmers,” which are sweeter.

Original Gravity
Unit of measurement of the strength of a beer, based on the amount of dissolved fermentable malt sugars present in the worst after the mash has taken place. Water is defined as having an original gravity of 1,000, so a beer with an original gravity of 1,040 (the usual amount for ordering bitter) is approximately 4% denser than water.

Oud Bruin
Flemish beers that receive long period of aging, usually in oak casks, also known as “Old Brown”.

Pale Ale
Originally in the late 19th century, the name comes from the practice of using pale malts in the grist. In the United Kingdom it usuall refers to bottled beers, thogh it has been revived by U.S. craft brewers to mean amply hopped (though not as much as an IPA).

Pasteurization
Treating filtered beer with hear for the purpose of killing off any remaining yeast cells. Once beer is brewed, it can be left to continue its secondary fermentation or it can be filtered and pasteurize before being bottled, canned, or kegged.

Pilsner
Pale, bottom-fermenting beer with subtle, spicy hop notes.

Session Beer
Beer that is not too strong in alcohol (usually between 3.6% and 4% ABV), which enables drinkers to have several pints without getting drunk.

Steam Beer
Traditionally a bottom-=fermenting beer that has matured at ale temperatures.

Stock Ale
Strong beer that was traditionally aged and used for blending with younger, weaker beers.

Stout
After porter, stronger versions were called “stout porters”, and the dark beer style has since taken on a life of its own; various permutations include Irish dry stout, milk stout, and oatmeal stout.

Top Fermentation
Fermentation that takes place at 59-68 degrees Fahrenheit (15-20 degrees Celsius). Not all sugars are fermented, which results in a fruitier, sweeter beer that those that undergo bottom fermentation. Also known as “warm fermentation”.

Trappist
Beers produced at seven Trappist monetarists, six of them in Belgium and one in Holland.

Tripel
Blond and high in alcohol, with Westmalle’s Tripel often seen as the model.

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