Beer Dictionary


Vocabulary and terminology on brewing, glass ware, and beer...


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Alpha Acid Units. A measurement of bitterness. AAU = hop AA% x Ounces added to the boil. This formula does not consider wort gravity, boil time and so on.


ABV (Alcohol By Volume)

Alcohol by volume. This is a measurement of the percent of alcohol present in a volume of liquid. To obtain this number take the original gravity and subtract the final gravity then multiply the answer by 131.25. One pound of fermentable sugar is approximately equal to 1% ABV in a 5 gallon batch. ABV = ABW x 1.25.


ABW (Alcohol By Weight)

Alcohol by weight. This is a measurement of the percent of alcohol present in a volume of liquid. The percent is the number of grams of alcohol in 100 centiliters (e.g. 5%ABW equals 5 grams of alcohol/100 cl) – ABW = ABV x .80



A by-product of fermentation. It is recognized by an aroma of green apple.


Acid Rest

A stage of the mashing process where phytase converts phytic acid to phosphoric acid to acidify the mash.



An unmalted fermentable ingredient, like honey or sugar. It is used to increase the alcohol or add to the flavor. Adjunct grains, like corn or rice, can be added to lighten the flavor of the beer.



A byproduct of fermentation. It is produced when yeast consumes the fermentable sugars. Alcohol is what causes intoxication. In the case of beverages we are talking about ethyl alcohol or ethanol (CH3CH2OH).


Alpha Acid

These come from the soft resin of the hop flower. They are made of humulone, ad-humulone and co-humulone.



An organism that can live with out atmospheric oxygen.


Aroma Hops:

Hops added at the end of the boil that add to the aroma of the beer.



A dry, sometimes harsh taste which comes from errors in using the grain.



The percent of sugars consumed by yeast during fermentation.



The self digestion of a cell’s body by its own enzymes. Excess yeast cells are created and feed on each other producing rubbery or vegetal aroma.





A cerel grain that is malted and used in the mash for making beer.



A high alcohol, quite malty, English style beer. Alcohol levels are usually between 8.5% and 12% ABV.



Liquid yeast appearing as froth on fermenting beer.



A unit of measurement used by brewers in some countries. In Britain, a barrel holds 36 imperial gallons (1 imperial gallon = 4.5 liters), or 1.63 hectoliters. In the United States, a barrel holds 31.5 US gallons (1 US gallon = 3.8 liters), or 1.17 hectoliters.



Similar to a pub glass, but thinner walls and they stop angling out about 2/3 of the way up the glass and become straight at this point.


Berliner Weisse

A regional beer of northern Germany, pale, top-fermented, and made with wheat.



The bitterness of a beer is caused by the tannins and iso-humulones or 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.


Bittering Hops

Hops added to the boil with 45 – 60 minutes left. These are responsible for the bitterness of a beer.



The mixing together of different batches of beer to create a final product.



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



A 22oz bottle of beer.


Bottle Conditioning

Beer bottled without removing the yeast or having been pasteurized. Yeast and sediment are present in the bottle. Beer packaged this way can grow more complex over time.



A type of yeast and more specifically a genus of single-celled yeasts that ferment sugar and are important to the beer and wine industries due to the sensory flavors they produce.Brettanomyces, or "Brett" colloquially, can cause acidity and other sensory notes often perceived as leather, barnyard, horse blanket and just plain funk. These characteristics can be desirable or undesirable. It is common and desirable in styles such as Lambic, Oud Bruin, several similarly acidic American-derived styles, and many barrel-aged styles.



A restaurant-brewery that sells 25% or more of its beer on site. The beer is brewed primarily for sale in the restaurant and bar. The beer is often dispensed directly from the brewery's storage tanks. Where allowed by law, brewpubs often sell beer "to-go" and /or distribute to off site accounts.


Bright Beer

Finished beer that is prepared to be bottled or kegged and served. The last stage in the brewing process before packaging.



A rubber or wood stopper that seals the bunghole.



A hole in a barrel, keg, or cask from where liquid is drawn.




Candi Sugar

Candi sugar is made by superheating and then cooling a highly concentrated sugar solution. Pale candi syrup is much darker than sucrose or invert sugar syrup. Belgian brewers prefer to use candi sugar, in either solid or syrup form, because it contributes to good head retention in a high-gravity, lightly hopped beer.


Cane Sugar

Sucrose, or white table sugar is a highly fermentable sugar, usually refined from sugar cane or sugar beets. In brewing, cane sugar is sometimes used as an adjunct because it is cheaper than malt. It lightens the color and body of the beer, boosts the alcohol content, and can add a cidery taste that is considered not true beer flavor.



The “fizz” or effervescence in a liquid. The carbonation is a byproduct of yeast eating fermentable sugars (which releases carbon dioxide) if this happens in a closed container the beer reabsorbs the carbon dioxide in the form or carbonation. Carbonation can be also forced into a beer by adding pressurized carbon dioxide in a closed vessel.



What homebrewers call the container that the fermentation takes place in. Usually made of glass and can come in a few different sizes, with the most popular being 5 gallons.



A container for beer that is sealed. They can be wood or metal.


Cask Conditioning

After ale has gone through primary fermentation, then run through a filter. It is transferred into a cask where more yeast is added and a secondary fermentation takes place. A fining material is added to settle out the yeast.



A clarification method using centrifugal force to strain and clarify the wort during its cooling stage and the finished beer prior to racking.


Chill Haze

A cloudiness that appears in beer when it gets cold. It is a result of proteins and polyphenols combining as a result of hydrogen bonding. The haze disappears as the beer warms up.


Chill Proof

By adding certain clarifiers to beer, it prevents chill haze by precipitating out the haze causing agents.


Cold Filter

As an alternative to pasteurizing, beer can be passed through a filter fine enough to remove the suspended yeast and so stop fermentation. Preserving more beer flavor than pasteurization, cold-filtered beers are often incorrectly called “draught”.


Craft Beer

According to the Brewers Association, an American craft brewer is small, independent and traditional:

  • Small: Annual production of beer is less than 6 million barrels.  Beer production is attributed to a brewer according to the rules of alternating proprietorships.  Flavored malt beverages are not considered beer for purposes of this definition.
  • Independent: Less than 25% of the craft brewery is owned or controlled by an alchoholic beverage industry member who is not themselves a carft brewer.
  • Traditional: A brewer who has either an all malt flagship or has at least 50% of its volume in either all malt beers or in beers which use adjuncts to enhance rather than lighten flavor.




Decoction Mash

Exhaustive system of mashing in which portions of the wort are removed, heated, then returned to the original vessel.



The unfermentable carbohydrate produced by the enzymes in barley.



A natural byproduct of yeast. It can have the flavors of butter or butterscotch.



Dimethyl Sulfide. – A sulfur compound that can be a desired flavor in lagers, but not in ales. DMS can be created by bacterial infection, which has the smell of cooked cabbage. DMS is also created during the boil and is removed by vaporization. If the wort is not cooled quickly then it will dissolve back into the wort.



The adding of yeast right before the bottle conditioning of a beer. This is also done with champagne.


Double Magnum

A bottle, 3.0 liters in capacity.


Draft Beer

Beer that is served from the cask, keg or barrel. Draught can be pasteurized, filtered or cask-conditioned, but bottled or canned beer is not, by definition, draught. The word means “drawn” or pulled from the cask by a pump.


Dry Hopping

Adding hops after the boil or even in the cask to increase hop aroma and flavor. This is most often seen in various types of ales, but not in lagers.





Aroma or flavor or fruit or flowers in beer. This can be caused by certain yeast strains or higher temperature fermentation.



Colorless liquid at room temperature. It has a boiling point of 78°C and freezes at -114°C at 1 atmosphere. It is intoxicating and flammable. This is the alcohol in alcoholic beverages.



Any beer produced for the express purpose of exportation. For example: export-style German lagers or export-style Irish stouts.




False Bottom

A perforated bottom that prevents grains in a lautertun from being collected with the wort when the mash has fully converted.



The reaction of the yeast consuming the sugars in wort in the case of beer. This process creates ethyl alcohol and carbon dioxide.


Final Gravity

The specific gravity after fermentation has taken place.



Materials added to beer during secondary fermentation to help settle out the yeast and other particulates. These materials can be isinglass, gelatin, Irish moss, and others.


Finishing Hops

Hops added near the end or after the boil to add aroma and flavor. They do not tend to add bitterness.



Unit of measure. 1 Firkin = 9 Imperial Gallons.



The clumping, gathering or fallout of yeast cells after fermentation. Different yeast strains have different levels of flocculation.



Typically seen with champagne. Beer flutes have shorter stems than champagne flutes. The mouth has a smaller diameter than the mid section to hold in carbonation





Growth of a barley grain as it produces a rootlet and acrospires.



Goblets can resemble a fishbowl. Typically they have a round bowl and come in various sizes. They are somewhat like a brandy or cognac snifter. Use these for high alcohol sipping beers.



Tasting or smelling like cereal or raw grains.



A term for milled grain(s).




Heat Exchanger

A device to rapidly cool wort. Usually copper tubing that has cold water running through it. Sometimes 2 tubes, one inside the other, with wort going through one and cold water going through the other.



A cask that holds 54 imperial gallons.



The art of making beer at home. In the U.S., homebrewing was legalized by President Carter on February 1, 1979, through a bill introduced by California Senator Alan Cranston. The Cranston Bill allows a single person to brew up to 100 gallons of beer annually for personal enjoyment and up to 200 gallons in a household of two persons or more of legal drinking age. Learn more from the American Homebrewers Association.



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. Some of the best known are Brewer's Gold, Bullion, Cascade, Centennial, Chinook, Cluster, Comet, Eroica, Fuggles, Galena, Goldings, Hallertau, Nugget, Northern Brewer, Perle, Saaz, Syrian Goldings, Tettnang, and Willamettes. 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.



A device that measures specific gravity (SG) of a liquid. Hydrometers are usually calibrated for measurements at 60°F. If what you are measuring is not at this temperature, you should use a hydrometer correction table. Approximately the correction amount is (Temperature-1.8)x.03 (e.g. (77°F-1.8) x .03 = 2.2 take the FG and add 2.2 to get the calibrated SG)





International Bitterness Unit. It is a number that denotes the bitterness of the beer. The higher the IBU the more bitter the beer. IBU = Ounces of Hops x AA% x Utilization% / Gallons x 1.34



Soaking or steeping grains in water or wort to transfer the flavors from the grain.



A gelatinous substance made from the swim bladder of certain fish that is sometimes added to beer to help clarify and stabilize the finished product.





There are several sizes of Jeroboams: 3.0L, 4.5L and 5.0L. Typically the 3L size is used for sparkling wine, and the 4.5L is for red wine.





A large metal (stainless steel) vessel that contains beer. They come in several sizes, 2.5 gallon, 5 gallon, 7.75 gallon and 15.5 gallon. Import kegs come are usually 13.2 gallons (50 liters).



Unit of measure. 1 Kilderkin = 18 Imperial Gallons



Looks like a cylinder. The kolsch glass has straight sides and is tall. Holds 12 oz.



The only beer glass with a handle. Typically very heavy and sturdy. They can have different textures and come in different sizes. Also called a mug or seidel.





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



A microorganism/ bacteria. Lactobacillus is most often considered to be a beer spoiler, in that it can convert unfermented sugars found in beer into lactic acid. Some brewers introduce Lactobacillus intentionally into finished beer in order to add desirable acidic sourness to the flavor profile of certain brands.



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.



The process of aging beer at low temperatures, usually under 50°F. This process takes anywhere from a weeks to months.



To drain the wort to the mash tun.


Lauter Tun

A vessel where mash settles and grains are strained out of the sweet wort.


Light Struck

The result of exposure of beer to light and heat. It is recognizable by a skunky smell.



The brewer’s word for water used in the brewing process, as included in the mash or, used to sparge the grains after mashing.



A measurement of color. The scale starts at 0 (zero) and goes to over 500. The higher the number the darker the col



A yellow resinous powder found on the female hop cone that contains the bittering principle used in making beer.





A bottle, 1.5 liters in capacity.



Grain that has been malted. (verb) The malting process consists of wetting the grain and allowing it to germinate. During the germination, some of the starches in the grain get converted to sugars while others become simple soluble starches and other enzymes. The grain is then dried and tumbled to knock the beginnings of roots off. The grain is then kilned to dry it thoroughly and carmelize some of the sugars like in crystal malt or blacken it like a black patent malt.


Malt Extract

Sweet wort that has been reduced to a syrupy liquid or dried into a powder.


Malt Liquor

A legal term in the U.S. for fermented beverages with alcohol that is higher than normal – or around 7-8%.



Water soluable, fermentable sugar from malt.



A bottle, 2.25 liters in capacity.



Release of sugars from grains into water. (noun) The mixture resulting from mashing.



A beverage made from fermented honey.


Meilgaard, Morten

Author of Sensory Evaluation Techniques and creator of the Beer Flavor Wheel.



A bottle, 6 liters in capacity, typically used for sparkling wine.



A brewery that produces less than 15,000 barrels per year.



How a beer feels in the mouth. Usually describes as thin or full.


Mug, Krug, Seidel

The only beer glass with a handle. Typically very heavy and sturdy. They can have different textures and come in different sizes.





A bottle, 15 liters in capacity.


Noble Hops

Hallertauer Mittelfruh, Tettnanger Tettnang, Spalter Spalt, and Czech Saaz are the 4 main noble hops. There are others that can be considered noble, but they were bred from noble hops. These are Perle, Crystal, Mt. Hood, Liberty, and Ultra.





A farm-based facility where hops are dried and baled after picking


OG (Original Gravity)

The specific gravity of the wort before yeast is added.



The addition of oxygen in the wort. This is done to help provide the yeast with oxygen for a healthy fermentation.



Stale, winy flavor or aroma of wet cardboard, paper, rotten pineapple sherry and many other variations.





A general term for the containers used to market beverages. Packaged beer is generally sold in bottles and cans. Beer sold in kegs is usually called draught beer



Heating food or liquid to high temperatures to kill bacteria and other microorganisms. This also kills yeast. Developed by Louis Pasteur (1822-1895).



A medicinal taste caused by volatile phenol compounds



Unit of measure. 1 Pin = 4.5 Imperial Gallons.


Pint Glass

Probably the most common beer glass. Straight, thick sides at a slight angle making the mouth of the glass larger than the base, typically holds 16 oz. You may also come across an Imperial Pint glass. These hold 20 oz. have somewhat thinner sides and a bulge about 3/4 of the way up the glass. These also come in 10 oz. half pint sizes. Also called a pub glass.



Pitching yeast is basically adding yeast to wort. This is done around 70°F. Pitching when the wort is too warm or too cold will kill the yeast.


Plato Degrees

A method or different scale for measuring sugar in wort. It is an updated rendition of the Balling scale.



 A pokal is a European pilsner glass with a stem. Can look similar to a tulip without the flare at the top or similar to a chalice with a smaller less angular bowl. Holds 12 oz.


Primary Fermentation

Vigorous fermentation where the yeast cells multiply and feed on the fermentable sugars in the wort thus releasing carbon dioxide.



Addition of sugar to promote a secondary fermentation.



A law instituted by the Eighteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (stemming from the Volstead Act) on January 18, 1920, forbidding the sale, production, importation, and transportation of alcoholic beverages in the U.S. It was repealed by the Twenty-first Amendment to the U.S. Constitution on December 5, 1933. The Prohibition Era is sometimes referred to as The Noble Experiment.


Pub Glass

Probably the most common beer glass. Straight, thick sides at a slight angle making the mouth of the glass larger than the base, typically holds 16 oz. You may also come across an Imperial Pint glass. These hold 20 oz. have somewhat thinner sides and a bulge about 3/4 of the way up the glass. These also come in 10 oz. half pint sizes. Also called a pint glass.



The hollow at the bottom of some bottles.





To drink deeply.





Transferring the wort into another container. Beer is racked from the primary fermenter to the secondary fermenter.



A bottle, 4.5 liters in capacity.



The German Purity Law of 1516 that states the only 4 ingredients that can be included in beer are water, malted barley, yeast and hops.



The gummy organic substance produced by certain plants and trees. Humulone and lupulone, for example, are bitter resins that occur naturally in the hop flower.



Recirculating Infusion Mash System – brewing setup that is quite popular among homebrewers.





A stage of the mashing process during which complex glucose chains are broken down into fermentable sugars, mainly maltose.



A bottle, 9 liters in capacity.


Secondary Fermentation

After primary fermentation, which can be very active the beer is “racked” into another vessel for secondary fermentation. This helps remove some of the expired yeast which may give off negative flavors if left in.



The only beer glass with a handle. Typically very heavy and sturdy. They can have different textures and come in different sizes. Also called a mug or krug.



The recovery of sugars by spraying hot water on the grain bed.


Specific Gravity

The measure of density of a liquid or solid compared to water. Water has an SG of 1.000 at 39°F.


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.



is a taller, thinner version of the pilsner glass. Holds 12 oz. Also called a stick.



This is a taller, thinner version of the pilsner glass. Holds 12 oz. Also called a stange.



Reminiscent of rotten eggs or burnt matches; a by-product of some yeasts or a beer becoming light struck.





A group of organic compounds contained in certain cereal grains and other plants. Tannins are present in the hop cone. Also called "hop tannin" to distinguish it from tannins originating from malted barley. The greater part of malt tannin content is derived from malthusks, but malt tannins differ chemically from hop tannins. In extreme examples, tannins from both can be perceived as a taste or sensation similar to sampling black tea that has steeped for a very long time.


Terminal Gravity

The specific gravity of the wort after fermentation has ended. Sometimes called final gravity.


Top Fermintation

One of the two basic fermentation methods characterized by the tendency of yeast cells to rise to the surface of the fermentation vessel. Ale yeast is top fermenting compared to lager yeast, which is bottom fermenting. Beers brewed in this fashion are commonly called ale or top-fermented beers.



Wort particles resulting from the precipitation of proteins, hop oils, and tannins during the boiling and cooling stages of brewing.


Tulip Glass

The tulip glass looks somewhat like a tulip – go figure. It can have a stemmed base and roundish bowl, which thins out about 1/2 way up the glass then flares out slightly. It can also be similar in style to a pint glass, but has the tulip flare. Holds 16 oz.





At the outset of lautering and immediately prior to collecting wort in the brew kettle, the recirculation of wort from the lautertun outlet back onto the top of the grain bed in order to clarify the wort.





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 his hard (higher PH), Edinburgh for its pale ales, Dortmund for its pale lager, and Plzen for its Pilsner Urquell (soft water lower PH).



Wort is beer before it becomes beer. After you boil the ingredients together that mixture is called wort.


Wort Chiller

A device to rapidly cool wort. Usually copper tubing that has cold water running through it. Sometimes 2 tubes, one inside the other, with wort going through one and cold water going through the other. Also called a heat exchanger.





As the name suggests – it is about 3 feet long. They are awkward and can be quite fragile. They hold almost 3 pints. They also come in half yards.



Yeast is what makes the alcohol in beer. Yeast eats the sugars in the wort and gives of alcohol and carbon dioxide.





The branch of chemistry dealing with fermentation.