Beer Terms




Beer Glossary
This is a list of terms used when describing beers:

Abbey

Commercial Belgian beers licensed by abbeys. Not to be confused with Trappist ales.

Adjuncts

Materials, like rice, corn and brewing sugar, used in place of traditional grains for cheapness or lightness of flavor.

Ale

The oldest beer style in the world. Produced by warm or top fermentation.

Alt

Dark brown top-fermenting beer from Düsseldorf.

Alpha acid

The main component of the bittering agent in the hop flower.

Attenuation

The extent to which brewing sugars turn to alcohol and carbon dioxide.

Beer

Generic term for an alcoholic drink made from grain. Includes both ale and lager.

Bitter

British term for the pale, amber or copper-colored beers that developed from the pale ales in the 19th century.

Bock or Bok

Strong beer style of The Netherlands and Germany.

Bottle-conditioned

Beer that undergoes a secondary fermentation in the bottle.

Brew kettle

See Copper

Cask-conditioned

Beer that undergoes a secondary fermentation in the cask. Known as “real ale”, closely identified with British beers.

Copper

Vessel used to boil the sugary wort with hops.

Decoction mashing

A system mainly used in lager brewing in which portions of the wort are removed from the vessel, heated to a higher temperature and then returned. Improves ensymic activity and the conversion of starch to sugar in poorly modified malts.

Dry-hopping

The addition of a small amount of hops to a cask of beer to improve aroma and bitterness.

Dunkel

A dark lager beer in Germany, a Bavarian speciality that predates the first pale lagers.

Entire

The earliest form of porter, short for “entire butt”.

Ester

Flavor compounds produced by the action of yeast turning sugars into alcohol and carbon dioxide. Esters may be fruity or spicy.

Fining

Substance that clarifies beer, usually made from the swim bladder of sturgeon fish; also known as isinglass.

Framboise or Frambozen

Raspberry-flavored lambic beer.

Grist

The coarse powder derived from malt that has been milled or “cracked” in the brewery prior to mashing.

Gueuze

A blend of Belgian lambic beers.

Helles or Hell

A pale Bavarian lager beer.

Hop (Lat: Humulus Lupulus)

Herb used when brewing to add aroma and bitterness.

IBU

International Bitterness Units. An internationally-agreed scale for measuring the bitterness of beer. A “lite” American lager may have around 10 IBU’s, an English mild ale around 20 units, an India Pale Ale 40 or higher, an Irish stout 55 to 60 and barley wine 65.

Infusion

Method of mashing used mainly in ale-brewing where the grains are left to soak with pure water while starches convert to sugar, usually carried out at a constant temperature.

Kölsch

Top-fermenting golden beer from Cologne.

Kräusen

The addition of partially-fermented wort during lagering to encourage a strong secondary fermentation.

 Kriek

Cherry-flavored lambic beer.

Lager

The cold-conditioning of beer at around 0 degrees Centigrade to encourage the yeast to settle out, increase carbonation and produce a smooth, clean-tasting beer. From the German meaning “to store”.

Lambic

Belgian beer made by spontaneous fermentation.

Lauter tun

Vessel used to clarify the wort after the mashing stage.

Malt

Barley or other cereals that have been partially germinated to allow starches to be converted into fermentable sugars.

Mash

First stage of the brewing process, when the malt is mixed with pure hot water to extract the sugars.

Märzen

Traditional Bavarian lager brewed in March and stored until autumn for the Munich Oktoberfest.

Mild

Dark brown (occasionally pale) English and Welsh beer, lightly hopped. The oldest style of beer that once derived it color from malt cured over wood fires. One of the components of the first porters.

Milk stout

Stout made with the addition of lactose, which is unfermentable, producing a beer low in alcohol with a creamy, slightly sweet character.

Pilsner or Pilsener or Pils

International brand name for a light-colored lager.

Porter

Dark – brown or black – beer originating in London.

Priming

Addition of sugar to encourage a secondary fermentation in beer.

Reinheitsgebot

Bavarian beer law of 1516 (the “Purity Pledge) that lays down that only malted grain, hops, yeast and water can be used in brewing. Now covers the whole of Germany.

Shilling

Ancient method of invoicing beer in Scotland on strength. Beers are called 60, 70 or 80 shilling.

Sparging

From the French esparger, to sprinkle; Sprinkling or spraying the spent grains in the mash tun or lauter tun to flush out any remaining malt sugars.

Square

A traditional, open fermenting vessel.

Steam beer

American beer style saved by the Anchor Brewery in San Francisco.

Stout

Once an English generic term for the strongest (“stoutest”) beer in a brewery. Now considered a quintessentially Irish style.

Trappist

Ales brewed by monks of the Trappist order in Belgium and The Netherlands.

Union

Method of fermentation developed in Burton-tn-Trent using large oak casks.

Ur or Urtyp

German for original.

Weizen or Weisse

German for wheat or white beer.

Wort

Liquid resulting from the mashing process, rich in malt and sugars.