Beer and Brewing Glossary


This page provides definitions of the beer and brewing terms that you might come across on this web site or in other places. If you are curious about the technical characteristics of a particular beer style as set forth by the Association of Brewers, please see the Beer Style Guidelines page.

  1. Abbey Beer - Belgian ales, often with the description "dubbel" or "tripel," brewed by Belgian monks or (more likely) patterned after or associated with beer traditionally brewed by Belgian monks. For example, the Chimay line of beers are brewed by the Trappist monks of the Abbaye de Notre-Dame de Scourmont. On the other hand, although the Norbertine monks of the abbey of Notre-Dame de Leffe have not brewed their own beer since the French Revolution, the large European brewing conglomerate Interbrew is currently licensed to brew abbey-style beers under the Leffe name.

     

  2. Acetelhyde - A chemical compound produced during fermentation that creates an undesirable apple flavor in beer.

     

  3. Acid Blend - A mixture of citric, malic and tartaric acids used to soften the residual sweetness of meads.

     

  4. Adjunct - Any fermentable product - other than malted barley - used for brewing.

     

  5. Aerobic - Any chemical process that requires oxygen.

     

  6. Ale - Broad term for any beer fermented with top-fermenting yeast.

     

  7. Alpha Acid - The hop flower resin that gives beer its bitterness. Measured in percentage by weight: 2-4% is low; 5-7% is medium; 8-12% is high. (Cross-reference "Beta Acid" below).

     

  8. Alpha Acid Unit (AAU) - A measurement of potential bitterness in hops calculated by multiplying the ounces of hops being boiled by their alpha acid percentage. For example, 2 ounces of hops with 5% alpha acid would yield 10 AAUs.

     

  9. Alpha-amylase - One of the two diastatic enzymes - the other being beta-amylase - that help convert the starches in grains into fermentable sugars.

     

  10. Altbier - Meaning "old," altbiers are German ales that were traditionally brewed by German brewers before the discovery and application of lager yeast in the 1840's. Altbiers are most commonly brewed today in and around Dusseldorf, Germany. They may have an intense hop bitterness but subdued hop flavor and aroma. Altbiers are brewed with an ale yeast but cold-conditioned ("lagered") during their maturation phase. They are full-bodied and bronze to brown in color. Very few authentic German altbiers exist in the United States although American craft brewers are making fine examples.

     

  11. American Light Lager - Style of beer typified by the barely potable swill produced by America's macrobreweries. American Light Lagers - as brewed by the macrobreweries - are almost completely devoid of any appreciable color or flavor. However, there is currently a renewed interest in exploring this style among homebrewers, so it is possible that true beer character can be developed through homebrewing to give this style of beer some honest legitimacy.

     

  12. American Pale Ale/IPA - Term used to loosely define beers produced by American brewers modeled after the traditional English styles. What makes them "American" are the typically higher hopping rates than the original English styles and the use of American-grown hops rather than the traditional English varieties.

     

  13. American Wheat Ale - Term used to loosely define beers produced by American brewers that contain a relatively significant amount of wheat in the grist. Wheat beers are becoming increasingly popular with American microbreweries and homebrewers, especially when brewed with fruit, such as raspberries or blueberries.

     

  14. Anaerobic - Any chemical process that does not require oxygen.

     

  15. Aroma - The smell of beer associated with malt and grain character. (Cross-reference "Bouquet" below).

     

  16. Attenuation - The percentage of sugars that the yeast consume during fermentation. If the fermentation went to 1.000 gravity, that would be 100% attenuation. Indicated by the difference between original and final gravity.

     

  17. Autolysis - The process in which yeast cells metabolize each other in a nutrient-depleted beer.

     

  18. Baltic Porter - Technically a lager, not an ale like the traditional British style of beer known as "porter," Baltic porters are very similar in flavor and aroma to imperial stouts. A great Baltic porter is Sinebrychoff Porter.

     

  19. Barley Wine - Strong, full-bodied ale with a reddish amber or copper coloring, sweet malty flavors, high alcohol content (6% to 12% ABV or higher) and a strong hop character. Some American brewers even use a wine or champagne yeast to produce a higher alcohol content. Barley wines are excellent beers for long-term storage if bottle-conditioned and treated properly as they generally improve with age. As with American Pale Ales and IPAs, American Barleywines tend to be hopped more generously than English Barleywines. Fine examples include Young’s Old Nick, Anchor Old Foghorn, Rogue Old Crustacean and Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Ale. The Belgians have even tried their hands at a barleywine-style Belgian ale named Kasteel Bière du Chateau.

     

  20. Barm - As a verb, to add or pitch yeast. (See also "Pitching" below). As a noun, the foam on top of fermenting beer or a glass of beer. (See also "Kräusen" below).

     

  21. Beer - Broad term for any alcoholic beverage made from the fermentation of sugars derived from barley.

     

  22. Belgian Lace - Term for the foamy residue left on the inside of a glass as beer is consumed.

     

  23. Belgian Strong Ale - Belgian ales ranging in color from gold to reddish-brown with possible light hop aroma. Called "strong" because they are higher in alcohol content than the average ale. Prime commercial examples are the Belgian beer, Duvel, and Jeanne d'Arc Belzebuth, which is brewed in France to 15% ABV!

     

  24. Beta Acid - A largely insoluble hop flower resin that contributes bitterness only when metabolized. (Cross-reference "Alpha Acid" above).

     

  25. Beta-amylase - One of the two diastatic enzymes - the other being alpha-amylase - that help convert the starches in grains into fermentable sugars.

     

  26. Bière de Garde - French country beer with mild maltiness and hop character. Brewers of Bières de Garde borrow heavily from Belgian brewing traditions, so this style is similar to the Belgian Saisons. Examples include Duyck Jenlain, Jeanne d’Arc Ambre des Flandres and Saint Sylvestre 3 Monts.

     

  27. Bitter - Well-hopped, aromatic English ales not as bitter as the name implies. Similar to the pale ales, the terms "bitter" and "pale ale" are often used interchangeably, depending on the brewery. They are classified into three sub-styles that become increasingly hoppy and alcoholically strong: ordinary, best and strong (or ESB). Bitters are popular British pub beers often cask-conditioned and served on draft. Excellent bottled versions include Fuller’s ESB, Young’s Ram Rod and Shepherd Neame Spitfire.

     

  28. Bock - Rich, malty, strong German lager brown in color with a sustaining quality. Originating in the area of Einbeck, Germany, bocks were traditionally consumed by German monks as a good source of nutrition and sustenance during their Lenten fast. "Bock" is also the German word for goat. "Doppelbocks," or double bocks, like Paulaner Salvator or Ayinger Celebrator, have an even more intense malt flavor and a higher alcohol content. The Boston Brewing Company (Sam Adams) even brews a rich, potent, extremely malty Triple Bock that is has a very port-like flavor and is not for the faint of palate. Lighter bodied "Weizenbocks," or wheat bocks, like Schneider Aventinus, are another variation of the bock.

     

  29. Body - The "mouth-feel" of beer. Beers with a fuller body are often referred to as "heavy."

     

  30. Bottle-Conditioned - Refers to beer whose carbonation has been produced in the bottle by the refermentation of living yeast existing in the beer.

     

  31. Bouquet - The smell of beer associated with hop character (Cross-reference "Aroma" above).

     

  32. Break - The phase during the boiling and cooling of wort when proteins precipitate.

     

  33. Brown Ale - Traditionally brewed in Southern England, these ales are typified by a sweet, full-bodied and moderately alcoholic composition typical of what beer was like for centuries: simple, wholesome and easy to brew at home. Brown ales are very similar to mild ales. English examples are very lightly hopped, while American interpretations tend to have a more pronounced hop bitterness, flavor and aroma. Examples include Newcastle Nut Brown Ale, Samuel Smith's Nut Brown Ale and Brooklyn Brown Ale.

     

  34. Burtonizing - The addition of gypsum or calcium sulfate in order to replicate the brewing liquor of Burton-on-Trent in England when brewing pale ales.

     

  35. California Common Beer - Also known as "Steam Beers," unique American style of beer which is a hybrid between an ale and a lager. Technically, California Common Beers are lagers brewed with a special yeast that can tolerate fermentation at ale yeast temperatures. The resulting beer is more like an ale than a lager. California Common Beers are dark straw to copper in color, medium in body and well-hopped in flavor and aroma. Steam Beers probably got their name at the turn of the century due to the use of a new source of brewery power - the steam engine. Anchor Brewing Company owns the name "Steam Beer," and produces the only commercial example still available of this nearly forgotten style. However, a Bavarian style of beer exists called "dampfbier" - literally, "steam beer" - but no commercial examples exist in America.

     

  36. Carbonation - The process of producing carbon dioxide in beer. Also called "conditioning."

     

  37. Carboy - A large glass bottle with a narrow neck at the top that may be used as a primary or secondary fermenter.

     

  38. Cask-Conditioned - Beer, like bottle-conditioned beer, that derives its carbonation from a natural refermentation in the wooden barrel from which it is dispensed. Cask-conditioned ales are pumped by hand pumps that force air, not carbon dioxide, into the barrel thereby forcing beer out. Because air is being pumped into the cask, there is an ever-present risk of oxidating the beer, so cask-conditioned beer should be consumed relatively quickly after tapping.

     

  39. Chill Haze - Cloudiness in the finished beer resulting from undegraded proteins and tannins that coagulate at cold temperatures. Considered a fault in many beers styles.

     

  40. Chlorophenals - Chlorine-based compounds that contribute an unpleasant chemical taste and smell. In beer, they are usually the result of using a chlorinated sanitizer.

     

  41. Cold-Break - The coagulation of proteins and other molecules when the wort is chilled.

     

  42. Conditioning - The process of producing carbon dioxide in beer. Also called "carbonation."

     

  43. Contract-Brewed - Business arrangement where a beer or brand is owned by one company, but brewed at another company's brewery. The situation arises most often where one brewery does not have sufficient space or money to expand its brewing operations. For example, the F.X. Matt Brewing Company - best known for their Saranac line of beers - brews beer under contract for Brooklyn Brewery.

     

  44. Cream Ale - Mild North American ale typified by a golden color and a full body. Cream ales are brewed with top-fermenting ale yeasts then cold lagered, or even blended with a lager, to obtain a smooth, clean flavor.

     

  45. Decant - To carefully pour bottle-conditioned beer so as to allow the yeast sediment to remain in the bottle rather than be poured into the beer.

     

  46. Decoction - To extract by boiling. In brewing parlance, the mashing process whereby a portion of the mash is removed, boiled, then returned to the main mash in order to raise the temperature. Decoction is primarily thought of as a German method designed to work with undermodified malts for consistent temperature control before the invention of the thermometer.

     

  47. Degrees of Extract - A measurement of specific gravity degrees yielded by one pound of fermentables in one gallon of water. For example, one pound of DME yields 1.044 degrees of extract when dissolved in one gallon of water.

     

  48. Dextrines - Unfermentable and flavorless carbohydrates that give body to beer.

     

  49. Diacetyl - A natural byproduct of yeast. It is most commonly recognized as a butterscotch or buttered popcorn flavor in the beer. To minimize the diacetyl attributes in beer, it’s recommended that the fermenting wort rest once the beer has reached terminal gravity for 48 hours at 62-70 degrees prior to crashing the temperature. This stage allows to yeast to reabsorb the diacetyl. Perceptible diacetyl aroma is considered a fault in most beer styles, but in beers such as pale ales where some diacetyl is acceptable, excessive amounts are not appropriate.

     

  50. Diastase/Diastatic Enzymes - Enzymes that convert the insoluble starches in grains into fermentable sugars during the malting process.

     

  51. DME (Dried Malt Extract) - Malted barley which is cooked down to a thick syrup then spray-dried into a powder form. All fermentable sugars necessary for brewing are already present. Instead of mashing whole grains to produce the wort, the brewer can simply mix malt extract with water. (Cross-reference with "Malt Extract Syrup").

     

  52. DMS (Dimethyl Sulfide) - A chemical compound produced during malting that produces a cooked corn or vegetable aroma. Perceptible DMS aroma is considered a fault in most beer styles, but in beers such as pilsners where some DMS is acceptable, excessive amounts are not appropriate.

     

  53. Dortmunder Export - Well-balanced, lightly-colored German lager maltier than a pilsner but drier than a Munich Helles.

     

  54. Dried Malt Extract (DME) - Malted barley which is cooked down to a thick syrup then spray-dried into a powder form. All fermentable sugars necessary for brewing are already present. Instead of mashing whole grains to produce the wort, the brewer can simply mix malt extract with water. (Cross-reference with "Malt Extract Syrup").

     

  55. Dry-Hopping - Addition of unboiled hops into a secondary fermenter to produce hop bouquet.

     

  56. Dubbel - Belgian Trappist/abbey style beer. Dubbels, or "doubles," are darker in color, sweeter in flavor and weaker in alcohol content than their counterparts, the Tripels.

     

  57. EBC (European Brewing Congress) - Widely used measurement of color approximately double the SRM and Lovibond scales. (See also "SRM" and "Lovibond").

     

  58. Eisbock - Eisbocks, or "ice bocks," are created by freezing doppelbocks after fermentation. The ice, and consequently some of the water from the beer, is removed, resulting in a bock even sweeter, heavier and stronger than a doppelbock. A commercial example is Kulmbacher Reichelbräu Eisbock.

     

  59. Esters - Compounds produced primarily during warm fermentations, principally by wild or top-fermenting yeast strains, that are responsible for fruity aromas in beer. These esters often suggest aromas of banana, cloves, apples and vanilla.

     

  60. Faro - An obscure style of Belgian lambic, pale to brown in color and refermented with candi sugar. The result is a lambic that is lactic, acidic and softly wine-like in flavor. Faros are difficult to find outside Belgium, but Boon’s Pertotale Faro is available in the United States.

     

  61. Fermentation - The conversion of sugars into alcohol and carbon dioxide by yeast.

     

  62. Festbier - Festbiers are technically any beer brewed to coincide with a holiday or festival, but they most often indicate that the beer is a "Märzen" or "Oktoberfest."

     

  63. Final Gravity - The specific gravity of beer after fermentation. The final gravity reading - taken with a hydrometer - is then compared to the original gravity reading to calculate the beer's alcoholic strength. (Cross-reference "Original Gravity" below).

     

  64. Finings - Substances, usually gelatin, Irish moss or isinglass, used to clarify beer by settling out suspended yeast and proteins.

     

  65. Finish - The feel and taste left in the mouth immediately after swallowing beer.

     

  66. Finishing Hops - Hops added in the final stages of a wort boil (or dry-hopped in the fermenter) for the purpose of lending hop flavor and/or aroma to the finished beer.

     

  67. Flemish Red Ale - Also called "Oud Bruins," Belgian or Flemish Red Ales are a style of Belgian ale which derives their name from the dark reddish-brown color it gains from the use of Vienna malt in the brewing process. Belgian red ales are typically matured for over a year in oak tuns where the beer is intentionally exposed to beer-souring bacteria resulting in a slightly sour, acidic beer. Although this style of beer is in decline with commercial brewers, great examples include Liefman’s Goudenband, Petrus Oud Bruin. Oud bruins are occasionally flavored with fruit, such as the case with the Liefman's Kriekbier and Frambozen.

     

  68. Flocculation - Refers to the clumping of yeast cells at the end of fermentation. Strains are separated into three main degrees of flocculation - High, Medium, and Low. An example of a highly flocculent strain would be an English Ale yeast, which will settle at the bottom of the fermentation tank. An example of a low flocculent strain would be a Hefeweizen yeast, which will remain to some extent in suspension even after fermentation is complete.

     

  69. Force-Carbonation - To forcibly dissolve carbon dioxide into fermented beer under pressure for kegging.

     

  70. Framboise - Belgian lambic flavored with fresh raspberries during maturation creating a further fermentation and a distinctly sour raspberry flavor. Top examples include Framboise Boon and Lindemans Framboise.

     

  71. Germination - The phase of the malting process where the grain kernel is soaked in water until it forms a tiny sprout. Germination initiates enzyme development and the preliminary conversion of starches.

     

  72. Grain Bill - The list of grains or adjuncts used in your beer.

     

  73. Green Beer - Beer that has been fermented but not fully matured.

     

  74. Green Malt - Malted barley that has been germinated but not kilned.

     

  75. Grist - The grains or adjuncts that have been crushed for mashing.

     

  76. Gruit - Mixture of herbs and spices that were used to flavor a beer before the use of hops. See the Beer History page for further discussion on gruit ales.

     

  77. Gueuze - Mixture of old lambics (2 - 4 years old) and young lambics (3 months - 1 year old) that are blended then refermented in the bottle for another year before being consumed. Gueuze Boon and Lindemans Cuvee Rene are great commercial examples.

     

  78. Gyle - The portion of unfermented wort that is reserved for or added to finished beer for conditioning/carbonation.

     

  79. HBUs (Home Bittering Units) - Another name for AAUs, HBUs are an approximate measure of the total alpha acids contributed to the beer obtained by multiplying alpha acid percentage by ounces of hops boiled for more than 15 minutes. For example, if 2 ounces of hops with 9% alpha acid percentage are boiled for more than 15 minutes, the beer would have 18 HBUs. This measurement only approximates actual bitterness, as hops boiled for 20 minutes contribute less bitterness than hops boiled for 60 minutes. (Cross-reference with "IBUs" below).

     

  80. Head Space - The distance between the beer and the top of whatever container it is in. For primary fermentation, larger head space is preferred to prevent the fermenting beer from blowing the top off the fermenter. For secondary fermentation (after the violent early stages of fermentation are over), as little head space as possible is recommended. The recommended head space for beer in bottles varies by the bottle - go by your own experience but approximately 1-1/2 inches should be sufficient for any given bottle.

     

  81. Helles - Also referred to as Munich Helles, this style of beer is a classic German beer hall favorite. "Helles" literally means "light," so a helles is light in color as well as medium in maltiness, smooth in body and lightly hopped.

     

  82. Hop Back - Piece of brewing equipment that is little more than a strainer containing fresh hops. After the wort boil, the wort is poured through the hop back to impart hop flavor and aroma to the beer.

     

  83. Hot-Break - Phase of brewing during the wort boil in which protein coagulates.

     

  84. IBUs (International Bittering Units) - The accepted worldwide standard for measuring bitterness in beer, also known as EBU, based on the estimated alpha acid percentage of the hops used and the length of time they are boiled. One IBU equals 1 milligram of isomerized alpha acid in 1 liter of wort or beer. IBUs may be calculated using a fairly simple formula. Ounces of hops times alpha acid times percent utilization (as a function of boil time) divided by 7.25 equals IBUs. For example, if we brewed with 1 and 1/2 ounces of 4.8% Fuggles boiled for 60 minutes and 3/4 ounce of 5.5% East Kent Goldings boiled for 15 minutes, the calculation would go as follows: 1.5 (ounces of Fuggles) times 4.8 (AA%) times 30 (when hops are boiled for 60 minutes, roughly 30% of the hop is used; see a conversion chart) divided by 7.25 equals 29.79 IBUs for the Fuggles. The same formula is used for the Goldings: .75 times 5.5 times 8 divided by 7.25 equals 4.56 IBUs. Therefore, the total IBUs for this hypothetical batch of beer is 34.35. (Cross-reference with "HBUs" above).

     

  85. India Pale Ale (IPA) - A sub-category of English pale ale that is well-hopped and stronger in alcohol content. India pale ales got their name due to its popularity with British troops stationed in India. The beer was brewed to a higher hop and alcohol content in order to better preserve the beer for the long ocean voyage from England to India. Notable English examples include Samuel Smith’s India Pale Ale and Fuller’s India Pale Ale. American interpretations tend to have a more pronounced hop flavor and aroma than their British counterparts. Prime American examples include Brooklyn East India Pale Ale and Victory Hopdevil IPA.

     

  86. Irish Red Ale - Ireland's answer to England's pale ales, Irish red ales get their name from the use of more crystal malt, which imparts a reddish hue to the beer. Irish red ales tend to be medium-bodied ales, hopped lighter than English pale ales and have a noticeable malty character. Carlow Moling’s Traditional Red Ale is an authentic commercial example, but Magic Hat Humble Patience is a good American interpretation.

     

  87. Kellerbier - Fruity, highly-hopped, dry German lager usually served on draft since it is unfiltered or minimally filtered.

     

  88. Klosterbier - Literally, "cloister beer," a general name for any German beer that was or had been brewed in a monastery or convent.

     

  89. Kölsch - Pale blond, light-bodied "old style" German ale originally brewed before the lagering revolution. Like altbiers, kölsches are ales brewed at appropriate ale temperatures then lagered for conditioning. Kölsches have a subdued malt flavor and moderate hop bitterness, flavor and aroma. Authentic German kölsch imports are difficult to find in the United States. However, Christian Moerlien and Saranac brew decent domestic examples.

     

  90. Kräusen - As a noun, the thick, foamy head of yeast that forms on top of the fermenting wort at the peak of fermentation. (See also "Barm" above). As a verb, the German technique of introducing actively fermenting beer to fully fermented beer to facilitate carbonation. Kräusening could make beer truly "all-malt," and therefore in compliance with the Reinheitsgebot (see below), by eliminating priming sugar. Not to be confused with the addition of "Speise" (See below).

     

  91. Lager - When used as a noun, broad term for any beer fermented with bottom-fermenting yeast. When used as a verb, literally means to cold-condition. In brewing parlance, to "lager" means to gradually lower a beer to near-freezing temperatures after primary fermentation. Once a temperature of 32-35 degrees is reached, the lagering phase often lasts for two to three weeks with top-fermented beers (ales) or one to six months for bottom-fermented beers (lagers). Lagering tends to produce a clean, crisp beer free of the fruity esters normally associated with ales.

     

  92. Lambic - Distinct Belgian beer spontaneously fermented with wild airborne yeast and bacteria that would ruin other styles of beer. True lambics are only brewed in the Senne valley south of Brussels, Belgium known to have the wild yeasts that will produce the distinct lambic style. All other lambics brewed outside this region are only lambic-style. Lambics are required by Belgian law to contain at least 30% wheat malt. They are light-bodied, cloudy yellow, very lightly hopped, and slightly sour in taste. Lambics are frequently flavored with cherries (kriek), raspberries (framboise), peaches (peche), black currants (cassis) or other fruits to create fruit lambics. Alternatively, young and old lambics are blended to create gueuze.

     

  93. Lauter Tun - Piece of brewing equipment used to separate spent grains from the wort through a straining process.

     

  94. Lautering - Separating wort from the spent grains (draff) after the completion of the mash by straining the wort then sparging (rinsing) the spent grains and hops.

     

  95. Liquor - Brewing term for the water used in brewing.

     

  96. Lovibond - A measurement of malt color used primarily in Great Britain. Similar enough and, therefore, interchangeable with the SRM scale. The scale ranges from 1 (lightest) to 550 (darkest). (Cross-reference "SRM" and "EBC").

     

  97. Lupulin - The powdery, yellowish substance in female hop flowers containing the resins and essential oils that give hops their flavor, bitterness and aroma.

     

  98. Malt - A cereal grain, usually barley, that has undergone a period of germination and kiln-drying. Starch-converting enzymes are activated during the malting process that turn insoluble starches into fermentable sugars.

     

  99. Malt Extract Syrup - Malted barley which is cooked down to a thick syrup. All fermentable sugars necessary for brewing are already present. Instead of mashing whole grains to produce the wort, the brewer can simply mix malt extract with water. (Cross-reference with "Dried Malt Extract").

     

  100. Malt Liquor - Style of beer known for its high level of adjuncts and slightly higher than normal alcohol content. Most malt liquors are considered cheap, low-quality beers, but the craft brewers at Dogfish Head have brewed a malt liquor style beer with top-quality, gourmet adjuncts.

     

  101. Malto-dextrine - A nonfermentable, tasteless carbohydrate that adds smoothness and mouthfeel to beer.

     

  102. Märzen - Also referred to as "Festbiers" or "Oktoberfests," Märzens are amber, malty Bavarian lagers traditionally brewed in March and aged until late September or early October. German examples include Spaten Oktoberfest and HB Oktoberfest. Fine American examples include Victory Festbier and Stoudt's Fest.

     

  103. Mash - As a noun, a mixture of crushed grains and hot water. As a verb, the process of mixing crushed grains with hot water to cause a conversion of starches to fermentable sugars by enzyme action.

     

  104. Maturation - The process of aging the beer after fermentation is complete to mellow and blend strong flavors. Maturation may be carried out at a variety of temperatures and in bottles, casks or tanks, depending on the style of beer.

     

  105. Mead - Honey wine. An alcoholic beverage made from the fermentation of honey dissolved in water. Meads may be combined with fruits (melomels), spices (metheglins) or nothing at all (traditional meads).

     

  106. Melomel - Mead made with fruit. Melomels made with apples or apple juice are called "cysers," while melomels made with grapes or grape juice are called "pyments."

     

  107. Metheglin - Originally, "metheglin" meant any spiced drink and included beer. Now, however, the term is only used to refer to mead made with spices or herbs.

     

  108. Mild Ale - Lightly hopped, slightly sweet, light-bodied, low-alcohol English ales darker in color than their cousins, the brown ales. Mild ales were meant for mass consumption without the effects of alcohol. Milds were traditionally mixed 9-to-1 with old ales to produce porters, which have since evolved into a distinct style all their own.

     

  109. Munich Dunkel - Dark lager malty in aroma and taste, but well-balanced by German hops. German and domestic examples include Spaten Export Dunkel and Penn Dark, respectively.

     

  110. Munich Helles - Pale, gold-colored version of munich dunkel. Although well-balanced, the emphasis is on a malty character rather then hop bitterness.

     

  111. Must - Unfermented honey-water mixture. The mead-making equivolent of wort.

     

  112. Nose - Term used to describe the overall smell of beer.

     

  113. Oktoberfest - Also referred to as "Märzens" or "Festbiers," Oktoberfests are amber, malty, full-bodied German lagers brewed in March and aged until late September. German examples include Spaten Oktoberfest and HB Oktoberfest. Fine American examples include Victory Festbier and Stoudt's Fest.

     

  114. Old Ale - "Old" as applied to a beer is a nebulous term, however, old ales are generally dark, medium-strong British ales. Stronger old ales occasionally border on being classified as barley wines. Some are aged up to a year before bottling and aged at least five years in the bottle. Commercial examples include Gale’s Prize Old Ale and Theakston Old Peculier.

     

  115. Original Gravity - The specific gravity of beer before fermentation. The original gravity reading - taken with a hydrometer - is then compared to the final gravity reading to calculate the beer's alcoholic strength. (Cross-reference "Final Gravity" above).

     

  116. Oud Bruin - Literally, "old brown." Also called Belgian or Flemish Red Ales, oud bruins are a tart West Flanders-style of Belgian ale which derives it name from the dark reddish-brown color it gains from the use of Vienna malt in the brewing process. Belgian red ales are traditionally matured for over a year in oak tuns where the beer is exposed to beer-souring bacteria resulting in a slightly sour, acidic beer. Great examples include Liefman’s Goudenband, Petrus Oud Bruin. Oud bruins are occasionally flavored with fruit, such as the case with the Liefman's Kriekbier and Frambozen.

     

  117. Oxidation - The negative effects of air on brewing ingredients, wort and fermented beer that lends stale, almond-like or wet cardboard tastes and aromas.

     

  118. Pale Ale - Classic British ale and the world’s most popular style of ale. Referred to as "pale" simply in comparison to their darker predecessors. Advances in science during the 1700's enabled brewers to have more control over the kilning and brewing process, thereby giving birth to lighter, cleaner beers. Pale ales are well-balanced beers - well-hopped, moderately malty, medium-bodied, and amber to reddish-brown in color. The quintessential British example is Bass Pale Ale. American examples tend to have a more pronounced hop bitterness and aroma. The American bnechmark is Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.

     

  119. pH - The relative measurement of alkalinity and acidity on a scale of 1 to 14 with 7 being neutral, 1 being most acidic and 14 being most alkaline.

     

  120. Phenols - Compounds that impart a frequently undesirable plastic-like or medicinal flavor to beer. Phenols are most often contributed by beer subjected to infection or improperly milled grains.

     

  121. Pilsener - Sub-style of lager originating in the Bohemian city of Pilsen around the middle of the 19th century. Czech pilsners are pale straw to deep golden in color with a clean maltiness and an intense, dry Saaz hop flavor and aroma. The quintessential example of a true pilsner is Pilsner Urquell from the Czech Republic. All subsequent pilsners are a knock-off of Pilsner Urquell. German pilsners have a slightly different flavor profile as more local German hops, such as Hallertauer, Tettnanger or Spalt, are used instead of the Czech Saaz. A good German pilsner is Jever. American pilsners purport to be lighter, blander versions of the Czech classic and are brewed by macrobreweries like Coors, Budweiser and Miller, but they don’t even come close. However, smaller American craft breweries have produced great examples modeled after the European originals like the Victory Prima Pils and Stoudt’s Pils.

     

  122. Pitching - Brewing term for the addition of yeast to unfermented wort.

     

  123. Plato - Measurement of the density of a liquid compared to water. Degrees Plato are a different scale of measurement than secific gravity.

     

  124. Porter - British style of beer that was originally a blend of inexpensive mild ale and expensive old or brown ale, this beer gained its name due to its popularity with the market porters of London's 18th and 19th century working class. First brewed in London in 1722. Porters are dark, medium-bodied beers brewed with large amounts of roasted malts balanced by a moderate hop bitterness. Porters were the predecessors of the stouts. Traditional porters are well-balances, whereas robust porters tend to exaggerate the roasted barley flavor and American porters are hopped at higher rates. Notable commercial examples include Samuel Smith's Taddy Porter and Anchor Porter.

     

  125. Primary Fermentation - Process of initial fermentation. Racking the beer into secondary fermenter for an additional fermentation will help increase attenuation and the clarity of the finished beer.

     

  126. Priming - The addition of sugars or unfermented wort to fermented beer for the purposes of producing carbonation through a secondary fermentation in the bottle.

     

  127. Priming Sugar - Any sugar added to fermented beer for the purposes of producing carbonation through a secondary fermentation in the bottle.

     

  128. Proteases/Proteolytic Enzymes - Enzymes that convert long, complex chains of proteins in grains into proteins that can be used by yeast as a nutrient and, therefore, aid the fermentation process.

     

  129. Quadrupel - Style of Abbey beer stronger than the Dubbels and Tripels. A "quadrupel" is only brewed in a handful of breweries around the world. The original was brewed by La Trappe, a Trappist brewery in the Netherlands, but domestic examples are brewed by Weyerbacher Brewing Co. and Avery Brewing Co.

     

  130. Rack - To transfer beer or wort from one vessel to another, usually by siphoning.

     

  131. Rauchbier - Literally, "smoke-beer," rauchbiers are German beers brewed with malts that have been cured over oak or beechwood fires. Beyond the smoky profile, rauchbiers are very similar to Munich dunkels. Rauchbiers are most often associated with Bamberg, Germany. The most common example is Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier, however, Rogue Smoke and Alaska Smoked Porter are good domestic examples of domestic smoke beers.

     

  132. Reinheitsgebot - Considered one of the world's first consumer protection laws, the Reinheitsgebot was a Bavarian beer purity law of 1516 strictly prohibiting the brewing of beer with anything other than malted barley, malted wheat, hops and water. Yeast was not yet discovered when this law was written. The law was in effect until the late 1980's when Germany became a member of the European Economic Community.

     

  133. Respiration - An aerobic and metabolic cycle which yeast performs prior to its fermentation cycle, during which oxygen is stored for energy and later use.

     

  134. Rest - A length of time the mash is kept at a particular temperature.

     

  135. Retorrification - Heating of the grist prior to mashing in in order to lessen the loss of heat in the mash liquor.

     

  136. Roggen - A rare German style of beer brewed from approximately 60% malted and roasted rye resulting in a dry, weizen-like brew with a slightly smoky, fruity and spicy flavor. The most common commercial example is Thurn und Taxis Roggen, however, a British interpretation is brewed by King & Barnes.

     

  137. Saccharification - The breakdown of complex carbohydrates into simple sugars that can be readily fermented by beer yeasts.

     

  138. Saison - Artisanal farmhouse ales brewed in Belgium and France during the winter or spring to high alcohol content which allowed them to be stored or enjoyed throughout the summer. They are yeasty, fruity, dry and slightly acidic in flavor. Saisons are refreshing and thirst-quenching despite having a relatively high alcohol content. Commercial examples include Saison DuPont and Saison de Pipaix.

     

  139. Schwartzbier - German for "black beer," schwarzbiers are dark lagers noted for their bitter-chocolate flavor. Although originating in Germany, black beers are also produced in Japan and Brazil. A German example is Kostritzer Schwarzbier, while Sapporo Black is a fine Japanese interpretation, and Xingu is the Brazilian version.

     

  140. Scottish/Scotch Ale - Scottish ales are typically low in hop bitterness, flavor and aroma and high in roasted malt flavor. This is a result of the fact that Scotland's climate and soil do not suit the cultivation of hops. They are reddish-brown, medium-bodied beers in varying degrees of strength resulting in four sub-categories: Scottish light (60 /-), Scottish heavy (70 /-), Scottish export (80 /-) and Scotch ale or "wee heavy" (90 /-). The "/-" is the symbol for a shilling, which refers to a former British unit of currency that denoted tax bands. Today, the symbol stands for alcohol strength. Scotch ales are occasionally brewed with peat-dried malts like those typically used in distilling Scotch whiskey. Good commercial examples of Scottish Ales come from Traquair, McEwan's and Belhaven. A peat-smoked ale is even brewed by Unibroue, a Canadian brewery noted for its Belgian-style beers, under the name of Raftman. Similarly, Adelscott is a whiskey-malt ale brewed by the French brewery Fischer.

     

  141. Secondary Fermentation - Process of additional fermentation. Racking the beer into secondary fermenter for an additional fermentation will help increase attenuation and the clarity of the finished beer.

     

  142. Sparging - The act of rinsing wort out of the spent grains with hot water after the mash.

     

  143. Specific Gravity - The measure of the density of a liquid as compared to water. Readings above 1.000 indicate a density higher than plain water. Adding fermentable sugars to water will increase density. Fermentation will decrease density. Therefore, taking specific gravity readings before and after fermentation (original gravity and final gravity readings) enable the brewer to approximate a beer's alcoholic strength.

     

  144. Speise - German for "food," the technique of introducing sterile, unfermented wort to fully fermented beer to facilitate carbonation. The amount of speise necessary depends on the original gravity of the beer. Beer with a higher original gravity (more fermentable sugars) requires less speise, where as beer with a lower original gravity (less fermentable sugars) requires more speise. Using speise for carbonation could make beer truly "all-malt" by eliminating priming sugar. Not to be confused with "Kräusening" (see above).

     

  145. SRM (Standard Reference Method) - A measurement of beer and grain color used by American brewers analogous to the Lovibond degrees. The scale ranges from 1 (lightest) to 600 (darkest). (Cross-reference "Lovibond" and "EBC").

     

  146. Starter - A small and usually weak wort used to build up small quantities of yeast to larger volumes for pitching into unfermented wort in the primary fermenter. The larger quantities spur a faster and more vigorous fermentation.

     

  147. Steam Beer - Also known as "California Common Beers," unique American style of beer which is a hybrid between an ale and a lager. Technically, Steam Beers are lagers brewed with a special yeast that can tolerate fermentation at ale yeast temperatures. The resulting beer is more like an ale than a lager. Steam Beers are dark straw to copper in color, medium in body and well-hopped in flavor and aroma. Steam Beers probably got their name at the turn of the century due to the use of a new source of brewery power - the steam engine. Anchor Brewing Company owns the name "Steam Beer," and produces the only commercial example still available of this nearly forgotten style. However, a Bavarian style of beer exists called "dampfbier" - literally, "steam beer" - but no commercial examples exist in America.

     

  148. Steep Tank - Vessel wherein barley is soaked at the beginning of the malting process.

     

  149. Steinbier - Literally "stone beer," German wheat ales whose name is taken from the local method of boiling the wort by dropping superheated rocks into it. This method of heating causes the sugars in the wort to crystallize on the stone. Then the stones are removed, allowed to cool and the beer is poured back over the stones so that the sugars can be fermented. The result is a beer with a sweet, smoky flavor.

     

  150. Step-Mash - A mash schedule that features upward steps in rest temperatures to accommodate a variety of optimum enzyme-operating temperatures.

     

  151. Stout - Stout as we know it today originated as a strong porter called "stout porter." Stouts are dark, malty beers with a strong roasted barley flavor suggesting roasted coffee. They can range in alcohol content from 3% to 10% ABV. There are four sub-styles of stouts: dry, foreign, sweet and imperial.

    • Dry or Irish Stouts - the original stouts - earned their name because they are slightly hoppier than other stouts. Dry stouts are occasionally labeled as "oyster" stouts because they have traditionally been paired with shellfish. The most popular commercial example is Guinness, but Murphy's, Caffrey's and Beamish all make versions just as good if not better.

    • Foreign Stouts are Irish stouts brewed with higher alcohol content and hop bitterness to withstand an ocean voyage from Ireland to the delivery site.

    • Sweet Stouts, including the Oatmeal Stouts and Milk Stouts, got their name from the sweetness the roasted malt brings. Oatmeal stouts are sweet stouts brewed with a bit of oatmeal. Oatmeal stouts are sweeter, smoother, stronger and more malty than Irish stouts. Notable Commercial examples include Young's Oatmeal Stout, Samuel Smith's Oatmeal Stout and Anderson Vally Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout. Milk Stouts gain their sweetness from the addition of lactose, or milk sugar, in the brewing process.

    • Imperial Stouts are slightly sweet stouts that come close to Barley Wine alcohol content. They are so named because they were traditionally exported from England to Czarist Russia beginning with Peter the Great. Notable commercial examples include Samuel Smith's Imperial Stout, Courage Imperial Russian Stout and North Coast Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout.

     

  152. Strike Heat - The temperature of the hot liquor when it is mixed with the grist in a mash.

     

  153. Tannin - Compounds naturally occurring in cereal grains that can contribute to haziness or astringent bitterness in beer.

     

  154. Trappist Ale - Refers generally to the many different styles of beer produced by Christian monks of the Trappist order. Only seven Trappist breweries in the world brew commercially. Six - Achel, Chimay, Orval, Rochefort, Westmalle, and Westvleteren - are located in Belgium, with the seventh - La Trappe - being located in the Netherlands.

     

  155. Tripel - Style of Trappist/abbey beer made using pale malts and higher hopping rates resulting in a beer paler, stronger and drier than the Dubbels. Prime Trappist examples include Orval, Westmalle Triple and Chimay Cinq Cents, while non-Trappist versions include Petrus Triple and the domestic Stoudt's Abbey Triple.

     

  156. Trub - Proteins, oils and tannins that precipitate out of wort during boiling. Removed completely by professional and sophisticated brewers. Less significant in homebrewing. Pronounced "troob".

     

  157. Ullage - Also known as "headspace" or "airspace," ullage is the area between the surface of the beer and its container occupied by air or gas.

     

  158. Vienna - Style of lager originating in Vienna, Austria in the mid-19th century. The style nearly died out in the late 1800's but was revived by expatriate Austrians who continued to brew the style in their new home of Mexico. Vienna is deep amber to garnet in color, predominantly malty in taste and moderate in strength and bitterness. Common commercial examples include Moretti Birra Rossa and Brooklyn Lager. Mexicans still brew Vienna style beers under the name Dos Equis and Negro Modela.

     

  159. Weizen - Literally, "wheat beer," but used interchangeably with "weisse" or "weissbier," meaning "Ivory" or "white beer," weizens are German wheat beers. They are brewed with an widely varying balance of wheat and barley malt, depending on the particular style of wheat beer being brewed, and a low hop content. This combination produces a light-bodied, refreshing ale with hints of apple, banana, clove and spices. Color can range from straw to brown, depending on the particular style. There are many sub-categories of German wheat beers; several of which are mentioned below:

    • "Hefeweizen," literally "yeast-wheat," is a light-bodied, unfiltered, cloudy, yeasty Southern German wheat beer. Good hefeweizens include Schneider Weisse, Tabernash Weisse and, surprisingly, Michelob makes a nice version.

    • "Kristall-Weizen," or "Kristall Weissbiers," are filtered German wheat beers. Good examples include Weihenstephan Kristall Weissbier and Franziskaner Kristallklar Weissbier.

    • "Dunkel," "dunkle," or "dunkles" in front of "weizen" or "hefe-weizen" denotes a dark wheat beer. Dark malts are used to create a darker color and toffeeish flavor. Notable examples include Franziskaner Dunkel Hefe-Weissbier and the domestic Weeping Radish Black Radish.

    • "Berliner Weisse" is light wheat beer with an intentionally sharp, sour flavor. Berliner weisses are typically sweetened with fruit (raspberry) or herb (woodruff) essences.

     

  160. Witbier - Belgian term meaning "white beer" denoting a Belgian-style wheat beer. Like their German counterparts, Belgian wheat beers are brewed with a sizeable portion of wheat in addition to the customary barley and hops resulting in a lighter-bodied, more refreshing beer. A special yeast is used and common additives include spices like coriander, cumin and orange peel. Witbiers are cloudy, very light in color and body and have a very refreshing quality. Prime commercial examples include Hoegaarden, Wittekerke, and Victory Whirlwind Wit.

     

  161. Wort - The unfermented sweet liquid that comes from mashing grains (or mixing extracts with water) and boiling hops.

     

  162. Yeast - Simple, single-celled microorganisms responsible for the fermentation process. Converts fermentable sugars in the wort into alcohol and carbon dioxide during fermentation.

     

  163. Zymurgy - The science/art of yeast fermentation.

 

 

 

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