Beer Descriptors

Descriptor Description
Acetaldehyde

Green apple aroma, a byproduct of fermentation.

Alcoholic

Warming taste of ethanol and higher alcohol's.

Astringent

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

Bacterial

A general term covering off-flavors such as moldy, musty, woody, lactic acid, vinegar, or microbiological spoilage.

Bitter

Bitterness of hops or malt husks; sensation on back of tongue.

Body

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

Butterscotch

See diacetyl.

Diacetyl

A volatile compound in beer that contributes to a butterscotch flavor, measured in parts per million.

DMS

Taste and aroma of sweet corn; results from malt, as a result of the short or weak boil of the wort, slow wort chilling, or bacterial infection. -- Dimethyl sulfide, a sulfur compound.

Estery

Aroma or flavor reminiscent of flowers or fruits.

Fruity

Flavor and aroma of bananas, strawberries, apples, or other fruit; from high temperature fermentation and certain yeast strains.

Grainy

Tastes like cereal or raw grain.

Hoppy

Aroma of hops, does not include hop bitterness.

Light-Struck

Skunklike smell; from exposure to light.

Medicinal

Chemical or phenolic character; can be the result of wild yeast, contact with plastic, or sanitizer residue.

Metallic

Tastes tinny, bloodlike or coinlike; may come from bottle caps.

Musty

Moldy, mildewy character; can be the result of cork or bacterial infection.

Oxidized

Stale flavor of wet cardboard, paper, rotten pineapple, or sherry, as a result of oxygen as the beer ages or is exposed to high temperatures.

Phenolic

Flavor and aroma of medicine, plastic, Band-Aids, smoke, or cloves; caused by wild yeast or bacteria, or sanitizer residue.

Salty

Flavor like table salt; experienced on the side of the tongue.

Solventlike

Reminiscent of acetone or lacquer thinner; caused by high fermentation temperatures.

Sour/Acidic

Vinegarlike or lemonlike; can be caused by bacterial infection.

Sulfurlike

Reminiscent of rotten eggs or burnt matches; a by-product of some yeast's.

Sweet

Taste like sugar; experienced on the front of the tongue.

Tart

Taste sensation cause by acidic flavors.

Vinous

Reminiscent of wine.

Winy

Sherrylike flavor; can be caused by warm fermentation or oxidation in very old beer.

Yeasty

Yeastlike flavor; a result of yeast in suspension or beer sitting too long on sediment.