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Although I've been choosing wine more recently, typically, I'm a big-time beer drinker—what do you expect, I live in Portland, OR right now, which is a hub for such booze. The other night, though, after all my years of drinking beer, it dawned on me that I still have a hell of a lot to learn about the stuff, prompting me to do some research to figure out if I could better educate myself.
While I may never become a "Brewmaster" at a local, national or even my very own home brewery, at the very least, these 20 beer terms will help me sound a hell of a lot more intelligent the next time I talk to my bartender at the local watering hole—and, hopefully, they're beneficial for you, too.
- 20. Flights: A set of tasting glasses served in about 3-ounce glasses to test various beer samples.
- 19. Lager: Beers brewed with bottom-fermenting yeast and colder temperatures. Lagers are beers such as Peroni, Becks and Heineken, to name a few, and are associated with a crisp, clean flavor due to them being served cold.
- 18. Dry Hopping: Brewing technique that's the process of adding hops to a beer after fermentation.
- 17. Wet Hopping: Opposite of the aforementioned dry hopping, wet hopping takes recently picked, fresh hops to use during the beer-making process. In comparison, one ounce of fresh hops will taste less bittern than the same amount of dry hops.
- 16. Ale: Beers brewed with top fermenting yeast. Generally fermented at warmer temperatures than lagers and are served warmer, too.
- 15. Wort: A beer that's unfermented, which, in essence, contains the sugars being fermented during the brewing process.
- 14. Microbrewery: By definition, according to the Brewers Association, a microbrewery is a brewery which produces less than 15,000 barrels of beer per year, selling 75 percent of it off-site.
- 13. Body: The consistency and thickness of a beer, with the palate ranging from thin- to full-bodied.
- 12. Noble Hops: Traditional hop varieties of Europe that are known for their characteristic flavor and aroma. Generally, they're only grown in four small European regions:
- Hallertau in Bavaria, Germany
- Saaz in Zatec, Czech Republic
- Spalt in Spalter, Germany
- Tettnang in the Lake Constance region, Germany
- 11. Brewpub: A restaurant-brewery which sells at least 25 percent of its own beer on site, which is typically dispensed directly from the brewery’s storage tanks.
- 10. Sour: Sour beers are those that have an intentionally acidic, sour or tart taste, such as lambics.
- 9. Alpha Acids: The primary bittering agent in hops.
- 8. Cask: A large, barrel-shaped container used to hold beer, that's generally made of either iron-hooped wooden staves or stainless steel and aluminum.
- 7. Oxidized: When good beer goes bad. As beer ages, it tends to take on a stale flavor that's often described as tasting like “cardboard,” “wet paper,” or being “sherry-like.”
- 6. Craft Brewery: According to the Brewers Association, a craft brewery is broken into three categories:
- Small - Annual production of 6 million barrels of beer or less (approximately 3 percent of U.S. annual sales). Beer production is attributed to the rules of alternating proprietorships.
- Independent - Less than 25 percent of the craft brewery is owned or controlled (or equivalent economic interest) by an alcohol industry member that is not itself a craft brewer.
- Traditional - A brewer that has a majority of its total beverage alcohol volume in beers whose flavor derives from traditional or innovative brewing ingredients and their fermentation. Flavored malt beverages (FMBs) are not considered beers.
- 5. Bomber: A 22-ounce bottle of beer.
- 4. Specific Gravity: Refers to the measure of density of a liquid, specifically how much sugar is dissolved in the unfermented wort
- 3. IBU: International Bitterness Units. It isn't rocket science, guys, as the higher IBU results in more bitterness in taste. For instance, a pilsner might have 10 IBU, while an IPA is typically around 42.
- 2. Session Beer: A low-alcohol beer that has enough flavor for the drinker to have several pints of during a bar visit. Session beers typically refer to more mild and bitter beers, and have an ABV of under 5 percent.
- 1. ABV: Alcohol By Volume. It's important to know because, you know, the higher the ABV, the stronger the alcohol content in the beer you're sipping—which should always be enjoyed responsibly.
Lead image via Instagram/dsmbrewster