THE FIRST STEP IN BECOMING AN OFFICIAL BEER GEEK IS KNOWING THE TERMINOLOGY. HERE WE'LL PROVIDE YOU WITH A GROWING LIST OF COMMON BEER & BREWING TERMS TO ADD TO YOUR DAILY VOCABULARY.

 

Ales

Ales are beers fermented with top fermenting yeast. Ales typically are fermented at warmer temperatures than lagers, and are often served warmer. The term ale is sometimes incorrectly associated with alcoholic strength.

 

Lager
Lagers are any beer that is fermented with bottom-fermenting yeast at colder temperatures. Lagers are most often associated with crisp, clean flavors and are traditionally fermented and served at colder temperatures than ales.

 

IBU(International Bitterness Units)

The measure of the bittering substances in beer (analytically assessed as milligrams of isomerized alpha acid per liter of beer, in ppm). This measurement depends on the style of beer. Light lagers typically have an ibu rating between 5-10 while big, bitter India Pale Ales can often have an IBU rating between 50 and 70 or higher.

 

SRM Standard Reference Method (Standard Reference Method) 
An analytical method and scale that brewers use to measure and quantify the color of a beer. The higher the SRM is, the darker the beer. In beer, SRM ranges from as low as 2 (light lager) to as high as 45 (stout) and beyond.

 

Water
One of the four ingredients in beer. Some beers are made up by as much as 90% water. Globally, some brewing centers became famous for their particular type of beer, and the individual flavors of their beer were strongly influenced by the brewing water’s ph and mineral content. Burton is renowned for its bitter beers because the water is hard (higher PH), Edinburgh for its pale ales, Dortmund for its pale lager, and Plzen for its Pilsner Urquell (soft water lower PH).

 

Barley
A cereal grain derived from the annual grass Hordeum vulgare. Barley is used as a base malt in the production of beer and certain distilled spirits, as well as a food supply for humans and animals.

 

Hops
A perennial climbing vine, also known by the Latin botanical name Humulus lupulus. The female plant yields flowers of soft-leaved pine-like cones (strobile) measuring about an inch in length. Only the female ripened flower is used for flavoring beer. Because hops reproduce through cuttings, the male plants are not cultivated and are even rooted out to prevent them from fertilizing the female plants, as the cones would become weighed-down with seeds. Seedless hops have a much higher bittering power than seeded. There are presently over one hundred varieties of hops cultivated around the world. Apart from contributing bitterness, hops impart aroma and flavor, and inhibit the growth of bacteria in wort and beer. Hops are added at the beginning (bittering hops), middle (flavoring hops), and end (aroma hops) of the boiling stage, or even later in the brewing process (dry hops). The addition of hops to beer dates from 7000-1000 BC; however hops were used to flavor beer in Pharaonic Egypt around 600 BC. They were cultivated in Germany as early as AD 300 and were used extensively in French and German monasteries in medieval times and gradually superseded other herbs and spices around the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Prior to the use of hops, beer was flavored with herbs and spices such as juniper, coriander, cumin, nutmeg, oak leaves, lime blossoms, cloves, rosemary, gentian, gaussia, chamomile, and other herbs or spices.

 

Yeast
During the fermentation process, yeast converts the natural malt sugars into alcohol and carbon dioxide gas. Yeast was first viewed under a microscope in 1680 by the Dutch scientist Antonie van Leeuwenhoek; in 1867, Louis Pasteur discovered that yeast cells lack chlorophyll and that they could develop only in an environment containing both nitrogen and carbon.

 

Adjunct
Any unmalted grain or other fermentable ingredient used in the brewing process. Adjuncts used are typically either rice or corn, and can also include honey, syrups, and numerous other sources of fermentable carbohydrates. They are common in mass produced light American lager-style beers.

 

Body
The consistency, thickness and mouth-filling property of a beer. The sensation of palate fullness in the mouth ranges from thin- to full-bodied.

 

Mouthfeel
The textures one perceives in a beer. Includes carbonation, fullness and aftertaste.

 

Bitterness
In beer, the bitterness is caused by the tannins and iso-humulones of hops. Bitterness of hops is perceived in the taste. The amount of bitterness in a beer is one of the defining characteristics of a beer style.

 

Lace
The lacelike pattern of foam sticking to the sides of a glass of beer once it has been partly or totally emptied.

 

Head Retention
The foam stability of a beer as measured, in seconds, by time required for a 1-inch foam collar to collapse.

 

Bomber
A 22-ounce bottle of beer.

 

Growler
A jug- or pail-like container once used to carry draught beer bought by the measure at the local tavern. Growlers are usually ½ gal (64 oz) or 2L (68 oz) in volume and made of glass. Brewpubs often serve growlers to sell beer to-go.

 

Session Beer
A beer of lighter body and alcohol of which one might expect to drink more than one serving in a sitting.