Brewing Vocabulary

Brewing Vocabulary

The world of brewing can be confusing to navigate if you aren’t fluent in the language. With this list of common terminology, you can impress your friends and understand more about the brews you love!

Additive: enzymes, preservatives, and antioxidants added to a brew to make the shelf life longer. 

Alcohol by weight: Amount of alcohol in beer measured in terms of the percentage weight of alcohol per volume of beer. If a beer is 5% alcohol by weight, there are 5 grams of alcohol per 100 centiliters of beer.

Alcohol by volume: The amount of alcohol in terms of percentage of alcohol per volume of beer.

Ale: Beers brewed with top fermenting yeast strains. The top fermenting yeast perform at warmer temperatures than the yeasts used to brew lager beer, and they produce byproducts that alter the taste and aroma of the finished product. Fruitiness and esters are often part of an ale’s character.

All-Malt: A relatively new term that indicates that a beer is made of exclusively barley malt.

Anaerobic: Without the presence of air, an organism is able to metabolize to ferment the alcohol. 

Barrel: A unit of measurement. In Britain, a barrel is 36 imperial gallons or 1.63 hectoliters. In America, a barrel is 31.5 US gallons or 1.17 hectoliters.

Body: Thickness and mouth-filling property of beer.

Bottle Conditioning: In the bottle, a secondary fermentation process takes place creating complex aromas and flavors.

Bung: The stopper in the hole in a keg or cask that allows for filling and emptying. “Real” beer must use a wooden bung. 

Cask: A barrel-shaped container for beer that is closed. Most are made of metal and come in various sizes. 

Conditioning: A time period where beer is allowed to mature with natural carbonation. Warm conditioning develops complex flavors while cold conditioning gives a clear and round taste to the finished product. 

DMS: The taste and smell of sweet corn resulting from malt. It is caused by the short or weak boiling of wort, slow wort chilling, or bacterial infection. 

Dry-Hopping:  The process of adding hops directly to your fermenter or bright tank (keg).  Dry hopping adds aromas and flavors without adding any bitterness.   

Fermentation: conversion of sugar to ethyl alcohol and carbon dioxide through yeast.

Hogshead: Cask holding 54 imperial gallons.

Hops: Herb added to boiling wort or fermenting beer to give a bitter aroma and flavor. 

IBU: International Bitterness units. A system of indicating the hop bitterness in finished beer.

Keg: Equal to a half barrel (15.5 US gallons).

Lager: Beers made with bottom-fermenting yeast strains at lower fermentation temperatures than ales. The colder temperatures prevents the natural production of many byproducts producing a crisper taste. 

Pasteurization: Heating beer from 140-174 degrees Fahrenheit to stabilize it microbiologically. This process can be done in as little as 15-60 seconds, or for as long as over 20 minutes.  

Wort: The solution of grain sugars strained from the mash tun. It goes through four stages: “sweet wort,” brewed wort, fermenting wort, and beer. 

This list is far from comprehensive and there are many, MANY more terms to learn. If you still have questions about a term not described here, take a look at this extensive list: Have fun impressing your friends with your new-found brewer vocabulary!