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Common Beer Terms

Common Beer Terms

It’s important to speak a little BEER. Use this glossary of common beer and brewing terms to help you on your journey of beer discovery and enjoyment.

Enzymes, preservatives and antioxidants which may be added to beer to simplify the brewing process or to prolong shelf life.

Ethyl alcohol or ethanol. An intoxicating by-product of fermentation, caused by yeast acting on sugars in the malt.

Alcohol content
Alcohol content is expressed as a percentage of volume or weight.

Beers brewed with top-fermenting yeast strains. The top-fermenting yeast performs at warmer temperatures than yeasts used to brew lager beer.

Any top or bottom-fermented beer having an amber colour: between pale and dark.

The ability to metabolise without oxygen present e.g. bottom-fermenting lager yeast.

Aroma Hops
Variety of hop chosen for its bouquet.

Drying, puckering taste; can be derived from boiling the grains, long mashes, over-sparging or sparging with hard water.

A grain malted for use in the mash in the brewing of beer.

Bitterness of hops or malt husks; sensation on back of tongue. A bitter flavour in beer is from iso-alpha-acid in solution (derived from hops).

Black malt
Partially malted barley roasted at high temperatures. Black malt gives a dark colour and a roasted flavour to beer.

Thickness and mouth-filling property of a beer described as "full or thin-bodied".

Bottom-fermenting yeast
One of the two types of yeast used in brewing. Bottom-fermenting yeast works well at low temperatures and ferments more sugars leaving a crisp, clean taste and then settles to the bottom of the tank. Also called "lager yeast".

Brew Kettle
The vessel in which wort from the mash is boiled with hops. Also called a copper.

The stopper in the hole in a keg or cask through which the keg or cask is filled and emptied. The hole may also be referred to as a bung or bunghole.

Sparkle caused by carbon dioxide, either created during fermentation or injected later.

Sugar used to add colour and alcohol content to beer. It is often used in place of more expensive malted barley.

Chill haze
Cloudiness caused by precipitation of protein-tannin compound at low temperatures; it does not affect flavour.

Chill proof
Beer treated to allow it to withstand cold temperatures without clouding.

Period of maturation intended to impart "condition"(natural carbonation). Warm conditioning further develops the complex of flavours. Cold conditioning imparts a clean, round taste.

Conditioning Tank
A vessel in which beer is placed after primary fermentation where the beer matures, clarifies and is naturally carbonated through secondary fermentation. Also called bright beer tank, serving tank and secondary tank.

See brew kettle.

Craftsperson who hand-makes beer kegs from wood.

The unfermentable carbohydrate produced by the enzymes in barley. It gives the beer flavour and body.

Dispensing beer from a bright tank, cask or keg, by hand pump, pressure from an air pump or injected carbon dioxide inserted into the beer container prior to sealing.

The addition of dry hops to fermenting or ageing beer to increase its hop character or aroma.

Catalysts found naturally in grain. When heated in mash they convert the starches of the malted barley into maltose, a sugar used in solution and fermented to make beer.

Volatile flavour compound naturally created in fermentation. Often fruity, flowery or spicy.

A form of alcohol produced by yeast during fermentation.

Conversion of sugars into ethyl alcohol and carbon dioxide, through the action of yeast.

An aid to clarification: a substance that attracts particles that would otherwise remain suspended in the brew.

The removal of designated impurities by passing the wort through a medium, sometimes diatomaceous earth. Yeast in suspension is often targeted for removal.

Tastes like cereal or raw grain.

Brewers' term for milled grains, or the combination of milled grains to be used in a particular brew.

Heat Exchanger
A mechanical device used to rapidly reduce the temperature of the wort.

Herb added to boiling wort or fermenting beer to impart a bitter aroma and flavour.

Simplest form of mash, in which grains are soaked in water. May be at a single temperature, or with upward or (occasionally) downward changes.

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

Container for beer. Originally made of wood and available in a variety of sizes. Many breweries employed their own coopers to make their kegs.

Beers produced with bottom-fermenting yeast strains at colder fermentation temperatures than ales.

From the German word largen, to store. Refers to maturation for several weeks or months at cold temperatures (about 0 deg C).

Skunk like smell on beer; from exposure to light.

Brewer's term for water used in the brewing process, as included in the mash or used to sparge the grains after mashing.

Malt (ing)
The process by which barley is steeped in water, germinated, then kilned to convert insoluble starch to soluble substances and sugar. The foundation ingredient of beer.

Malt Extract
The condensed wort from a mash, consisting of maltose, dextrin's and other dissolved solids. Either as a syrup or powdered sugar, it is used by brewers, in solutions of water and extract to reconstitute wort for fermentation.

To release malt sugars by soaking the grains in water. A mash is the resultant mixture.

Mash Tun
A tank where grist is soaked in water and heated to convert the starch to sugar and extract the sugars and other solubles from the grist.

A water-soluble, fermentable sugar contained in malt.

Meads are produced by the fermentation of honey, water, yeast and optional ingredients such as fruit, herbs, and/or spices.

Heating of beer to 60-79°C/140-174°F to stabilise it microbiologically.

Pils (Pilsener)
Style of bottom-fermented light-coloured beer with a very pronounced taste of hops.

To add yeast to wort.

Beer purity law originating in Bavaria in 1520 and now applied to all German brewers making beer for consumption in Germany. It allows only malted grains, hops, yeast and water to be used in brewing.

The yeast material at the bottom of a bottle of conditioned beer.

Shelf life
The number of days a beer will retain its peak drinkability. Packaged beer is best drunk fresh.

To spray grist with hot water to remove soluble sugars (maltose). This takes place at the end of the mash.

Top-fermenting yeast
One of the two types of yeast used in brewing. Top-fermenting yeast works better at warmer temperatures and is able to tolerate higher alcohol concentrations than bottom-fermenting yeast. It is unable to ferment some sugars, and results in a fruitier, sweeter beer.

Any large vessels used in brewing.

The solution of grain sugars strained from the mash tun. At this stage, regarded as "sweet wort", later as brewed wort, fermenting wort and finally beer.

A micro-organism of the fungus family.

Yeast like flavour; a result of yeast in suspension or beer sitting too long on sediment.


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