Brewing Terminology

Descriptor Description
Additive

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

Adjunct

Fermentable material used as a substitute for traditional grains, to make beer lighter-bodied or cheaper.

Aerobic

An organism, such as top fermenting ale yeast, that needs oxygen to metabolize.

Alcohol

Ethyl alcohol or ethanol. An intoxicating by-product of fermentation, which is caused by yeast acting on sugars in the malt. Alcohol content is expressed as a percentage of volume or weight.

Alcohol by Volume

Amount of alcohol in beer in terms of percentage volume of alcohol per volume of beer.

Ale

Beers distinguished by use of top fermenting yeast strains, Saccharomyces cerevisiae. The top fermenting yeast perform at warmer temperatures than do yeast's used to brew lager beer, and their byproducts are more evident in taste and aroma. Fruitiness and esters are often part of an ale's character.

Anaerobic

An organism, such as a bottom-fermenting lager yeast, that is able to metabolize without oxygen present.

Attenuation

Extent to which yeast consumes fermentable sugars (converting them into alcohol and carbon dioxide).

Barley

A cereal grain that is malted for use in the grist that becomes the mash in the brewing of beer.

Barrel

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.

Bottle-conditioning

Secondary fermentation and maturation in the bottle, creating complex aromas and flavors.

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 referred to as "lager yeast".

Brew Kettle

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

Brewhouse

The collective equipment used to make beer.

Brewpub

Pub that makes its own beer and sells at least 50% of it on premises. Also known in Britain as a home-brew house and in Germany as a house brewery.

Bright Beer Tank

See conditioning tank.

Bung

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. Real beer must use a wooden bung.

Carbonation

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

Cask

A closed, barrel-shaped container for beer. They come in various sizes and are now usually made of metal. The bung in a cask of "Real" beer or ale must be made of wood to allow the pressure to be relived, as the fermentation of the beer, in the cask, continues.

Cask-conditioning

Secondary fermentation and maturation in the cask at the point of sale. Creates light carbonation.

Chill haze

Cloudiness caused by precipitation of protein-tannin compound at low temperatures, does not affect flavor.

Conditioning

Period of maturation intended to impart "condition" (natural carbonation). Warm conditioning further develops the complex of flavors. 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.

Decoction

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

Dextrin

The unfermentable carbohydrate produced by the enzymes in barley. It gives the beer flavor, body, and mouthfeel. Lower temperatures produce more dextrin and less sugar. While higher temperatures produce more sugars and less dextrin.

Draft (Draught)

The process of 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.

Dry-hopping

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

EBC

European Brewing Convention. An EBC scale is used to indicate colors in malts and beers.

Enzymes

Catalysts that are found naturally in the 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.

Ester

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

Fermentation

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

Filter

The removal of designated impurities by passing the wort through a medium, sometimes made of diatomaceous earth ( made up of the microscopic skeletal remains of marine animals). Yeast in suspension is often targeted for removal.

Final specific gravity

Specific gravity of a beer when fermentation is complete (that is, all fermentable sugars have been fermented).

Fining

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

Grist

Brewers' term for milled grains, or the combination of milled grains to be used in a particular brew. Derives from the verb to grind. Also sometimes applied to hops.

Hand Pump

A device for dispensing draft beer using a pump operated by hand. The use of a hand pump allows the cask-conditioned beer to be served without the use of pressurized carbon dioxide.

Heat Exchanger

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

Hop back

Sieve-like vessel used to strain out the petals of the hop flowers. Known as a hop jack in the United States.

Hops

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

IBU

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

Infusion

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

Kräusening

The addition of a small proportion of partly fermented wort to a brew during lagering. Stimulates secondary fermentation and imparts a crisp, spritzy character.

Lager

Beers produced with bottom fermenting yeast strains, Saccharomyces uvarum (or carlsbergensis) at colder fermentation temperatures than ales. This cooler environment inhibits the natural production of esters and other byproducts, creating a crisper tasting product.

Lagering

From the German word for storage. Refers to maturation for several weeks or months at cold temperatures (close to 0°C /32°F) to settle residual yeast, impart carbonation and make for clean round flavors.

Lauter

To run the wort from the mash tun. From the German word to clarify. A lauter tun is a separate vessel to do this job. It uses a system of sharp rakes to achieve a very intensive extraction of malt sugars.

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, dextrins 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.

Maltose

A water soluble, fermentable sugar contained in malt.

Mash

(Verb) To release malt sugars by soaking the grains in water. (Noun) The resultant mixture.

Mash Tun

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

Mouthfeel

A sensation derived from the consistency or viscosity of a beer, described, for example as thin or full.

Original gravity

A measurement of the density of fermentable sugars in a mixture of malt and water with which a brewer begins a given batch.

Pasteurization

Heating of beer to 60-79(°C/140-174°F to stabilize it microbiologically. Flash-pasteurization is applied very briefly, for 15-60 seconds by heating the beer as it passes through the pipe. Alternately, the bottled beer can be passed on a conveyor belt through a heated tunnel. This more gradual process takes at least 20 minutes and sometimes much longer.

Pitch

To add yeast to wort.

Plato, degrees

Expresses the specific gravity as the weight of extract in a 100 gram solution at 64°F (17.5°C). Refinement of the Balling scale.

Priming

The addition of sugar at the maturation stage to promote a secondary fermentation.

Reinheitsgebot

"Purity Law" originating in Bavaria in 1516 and now applied to all German brewers making beer for consumption in their own country. It requires that only malted grains, hops, yeast and water may be used in the brewing.

Secondary fermentation

Stage of fermentation occurring in a closed container from several weeks to several months.

Sparge

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

Specific gravity

A measure of the density of a liquid or solid compared to that of water ((1.000 at 39°F (4°C)).

Top-fermenting yeast

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

Wort Chiller

See heat exchanger.

Yeast

A micro-organism of the fungus family. Genus Saccharomyces.