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Beer Glossary

As most brewers and beer geeks know, brewing has its own vocabulary full of peculiarities and terms that often are not very intuitive.  I have found it to be extremely useful to have a comprehensive glossary of acronyms, beer terms, and brewing lingo around for those times when you come across a phrase that stumps you or one that you used to know, but for the life of you, you just can’t remember what it means.

I tried to be a through and comprehensive as possible with this glossary.  I am sure that there are terms I don’t know or that I left of this list.  If you see one that should be included, by all means let me know and I’ll add it.  I wanted this list to help both beginners and advanced brewers so there are both common and somewhat obscure terms.

I didn’t feel the need to reinvent the wheel here.  A lot of people have spent a large amount of time and made great lists of beer-related terminology.  So, I fully admit to borrowing most of the definitions below from other sources.  At the end of the list, I show the sources that I acquired most of this information from.

% Bill – Percent of the total grain bill.  This is the percent of the total grain that this grain represents.

AA% – Percent Alpha Acid.  A measure of the amount of alpha acid in a type of hops.  Alpha acids give beer its bitter flavor. See Alpha Acid.

AAU – Alpha Acid Units.  Equals Alpha acid hops % * Weight (oz ) / Volume (gals).

Abbey Ale – Generally used to refer to any ale which has been brewed in the style of a Trappist Ale, but by a secular brewer.  See Trappist Ale

ABV – Alcohol By Volume. The measure of the amount of space the alcohol in a beer takes up as a percentage of total volume. This is the worldwide standard for measuring the alcohol content in beer. The United States traditionally used alcohol by weight (ABW) to measure alcohol content, but more and more American brewers are now adopting ABV.

ABW – Alcohol By Weight. The measure of the weight of alcohol as a percentage of total weight of the liquid. This standard is being used much less frequently recently. To convert ABW to ABV, multiply the ABW x 1.25. Conversely, to get the ABW from ABV, multiply the ABV x 0.8.

Adjunct – A loose definition refers to unmalted grains that are added to some beers to increase alcohol content and lighten the flavor. Common examples are flaked barley, rice, corn, maize, oats, etc. A more strict definition calls anything that is added to beer other than water, barley, hops, and yeast an adjunct.

Aeration – The process of introducing (dissolving) air into wort or beer.  Aeration of chilled wort at yeast pitching time is desirable, because yeast need oxygen to reproduce.  Aeration of wort or beer at any other time in the brewing or fermenting process is generally considered to be bad, since it can cause oxidation, which leads to stale flavors.

Aerobic – An organism, such as top fermenting ale Yeast, which needs oxygen to metabolize.

AHA – American Homebrewers Association.  Non-profit organization which promotes the hobby of homebrewing, and sanctions homebrew competitions.   Founded by Charlie Papazian, author of several books on homebrewing.

Airlock – A small device, designed to be affixed to the top of a fermenter.  An airlock allows the CO2 produced during fermentation to escape, without allowing airborne bacteria to enter the fermenter.  The most common type is called a three piece airlock, and consists of a small plastic chamber, a float which sits inside the chamber, and a dust cover.  The chamber is partially filled with liquid – plain water, sanitizing solution, or vodka, depending on how paranoid you are – and the CO2 bubbles out from underneath the float.  There is also a single-piece, “sideways S” type of airlock which is in fairly widespread use.

Ale – A beer which has been fermented warm (generally at 60°F or above), using ale yeast.  Ales usually have a more complex flavor than lagers, due to fermentation by-products which result from the warmer fermentation.  In historical times, the term ale referred to fermented malt beverages which were brewed without hops, with the term beer being used to refer to hopped malt beverages.  [In some states in the US, any beer over a certain strength must be labeled “ale” by law, regardless of whether it is technically an ale.   Hence the odd practice of putting the word “ale” on the labels of strong lagers (e.g. Doppelbocks) intended for the US market.]

All Grain Brewing – A method of brewing where pre-made malt extract powders or syrups are not used.  All of the fermentable sugars are obtained by mashing malt, and (possibly) other grain adjuncts.  All-grain brewing requires more equipment, and is more time-consuming than extract brewing, but gives you a great deal more control over the final product.  As a rough analogy, think of the difference between baking a cake from a boxed cake mix, versus baking a cake “from scratch”.

All-Malt – Often used in exchange for the term “craft brew”. It refers to beers made from 100 percent malted barley, malted wheat or malted rye. In contrast, non-craft brews may contain up to 60 percent rice or corn adjunct along with reduced quantities of malt.

Alpha Acid–A resin contained in the hop plant that is responsible for the bitterness in beer. When purchasing hops, the alpha acid content of the hops will be given as a percentage and printed on the package cover.

Alpha Amylase – One of the enzymes present in malt, capable of converting starches into sugars.  Alpha amylase breaks down starch into complex sugars and dextrins.  Complex sugars and dextrins are not fermentable by brewers yeast, and therefore will tend to increase the sweetness and body of a beer.  Mashing at the high end of the temperature range (154-162°F) will tend to favor alpha amylase activity.  Produces a variety of sugars, including maltose.  See also beta amylase.

Altbier – A dark German-style ale with medium to high hop bitterness.   Literally translated, means “old beer” – a reference to the fact that it is brewed the “old” (ale) way, as opposed to the “new” (lager) way.

Anaerobic – The ability to metabolize without oxygen present such as bottom-fermenting lager yeasts.

Antioxidant – An additive that prevents oxidation.

Apparent Attenuation (AA) – The percentage of sugars that have been converted to alcohol by the yeast. The measurement does not take into account the lower density of alcohol compared to water. See Real Attenuation

Aromatic Malt – A medium colored specialty malt which has been kilned at temperatures higher than for a pale (base) malt, but lower than for a roasted malt.   Sort of like an extra-dark Munich malt.  Color is typically around 20°L.   Contains starch, but probably not enough enzymes to convert itself (should be mashed with pale malt).

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

Attenuation – The percentage of sugar converted to alcohol and CO2 by the yeast.

Autolysis – After yeast finish fermenting, they typically fall to the bottom of the fermentation vessel.  Eventually — as they begin to starve — they may start to feed on each other, releasing unpleasant aromas and flavors into the beer.   For beers which will remain in the fermenter for an extended period of time (more than 2-3 weeks), the potential for autolysis can be reduced by using a secondary fermenter (i.e. two-stage fermentation), to reduce the amount of sediment present.

Balance – Refers to the overall harmony of flavors in a beer. More specifically, it usually refers to the levels of hops and malts. For example, if a beer’s taste is predominately malt oriented, it is said to be balanced toward malts.

Ball Lock – The most common type of keg fitting used on soda kegs, for the liquid and gas connections.  The quick-disconnect locks onto a groove in the keg fitting using a spring-loaded collar, and small steel ball bearings.

Balling – A scale of measurement used by professional brewers worldwide to measure the density of a liquid as compared to water.  Home brewers normally use Specific Gravity.

Barley – A cereal grain that is kilned creating a malt. Malts are one of the main ingredients in beer.

Barleywine – An exceptionally strong type of ale.  Barelywines tend to be very alcoholic, with a lot of sweetness from residual unfermented sugars.   Many are very hoppy as well, to balance the sweetness of the unfermented sugars.   The name derives from the fact that the alcohol content is comparable to that of wine.

Barm – Verb: the same as pitch.  Noun: the same as Kraeusen.

Base Malt – In all-grain brewing, the malt which provides the enzymes for starch conversion, and most of the fermentable sugars.  Base malt is always fairly light in color, because the high kilning temperatures used to produce darker malts would kill off the enzymes.

Batch Sparging – The full volume of sparge water is mixed into the mash. The grain bed is allowed to settle, and then the wort is drained off.

B-Brite – Active oxygenated cleaner. Cleans without the use of chlorine or sulfites. For washing bottles and equipment: vessels, air-locks, tanks, hydrometers, utensils, bottles, hoses. Works equally as well on glass, plastics, stainless-steel, aluminum. Effective in removing beerstone and other dried bottle mineral deposits.

Beet Sugar – A refined sugar which is produced from the juice of the sugar beet plant.  One of the two forms of common table sugar (the other one being cane sugar).  May be used as a source of fermentable sugars in some English and Belgian beer styles, and for bottle priming.

Berliner Weisse – A characteristically sour style of German wheat beer, fermented with a mix of “normal” yeast and lactic acid bacteria.

Beta Amylase – One of the enzymes present in malt, capable of converting starches into sugars.  Beta amylase tends to produce simple sugars, resulting in a more fermentable wort (drier beer).  A starch conversion rest towards the low end of the temperature range (131-150°F) will tend to favor beta amylase activity.  Produces maltose. See also alpha amylase.

Beta-Acid – Bitter acid of hops, but it is insoluble so it contributes little to the bitterness of beer.

Bière de Garde – France. Literally a beer for laying down, a Bière de Garde originally referred to a “top-fermented”, copper-coloured, bottle-conditioned brew of high strength, but the term has been so abused that it will probably be a filtered commercial product, “bottom-fermented” and any strength from 4.5- 7.5% ABV. These beers are sometimes sold in one of three different style: blonde or pale, ambrée or gold and brune or brown.

Biscuit Malt – A toasted malt, made by DeWolf Cosyns Malting (Belgium).  Should be mashed with pale malt.

Bitter – A sharp, tangy sensation that comes from hops in beer.

BJCP – Beer Judge Certification Program.  A non-profit organization which publishes beer style guidelines, sanctions homebrew competitions, and certifies beer judges.

Black (Patent) Malt – Malted barley which has been roasted until it is black (or nearly so) in color, using a special roasting device.  May be used in small amounts to impart color to beer, or in larger amounts to impart a dark brown or black color, and a sharp, roasted character.  Similar to roasted barley.  May be mashed or steeped.

Bock – A designation of strength, indicating that the OG of the beer was between 1.064 and 1.072.  Most commonly, used to refer to a strong, German-style lager beer, with moderate hop bitterness and minimal hop flavor and aroma.  The urban legend which claims that Bock beers are made from the sediment collected from the bottom of the fermentation tanks is exactly that — an urban legend, with absolutely no basis in fact.

Body – Refers to the thickness of a beer in your mouth. Can be described as Full, medium, or thin-bodied. For example, a stout should tend to be more full-bodied, while a pale lager should be thin-bodied.

Bohemian Pilsener – Bohemian is the original name of the lands which eventually became the Czech Republic.  Bohemian Pilsner, which has been popularised by Matilda Bay Brewing Company with their naming of a beer which is frequently mis-understood to be a style rather than a beer name by drinkers. Crisp, complex and well-rounded yet refreshing.

Boil – The obvious definition is bringing a liquid to a high enough temperature that it begins to evaporate. With regards to brewing, boiling causes isomerization (changing of the structure of molecules) of the alpha and beta bittering acids from hops which makes them water soluble. The longer hops are boiled (up to 75 minutes or so), the more isomerization occurs, and the more hop bitterness will be present in your beer.

Bottle Conditioning – The practice of naturally carbonating beer in the bottle.  At the homebrew level, this is most commonly accomplished by introducing a measured amount of additional sugar (corn sugar, cane sugar, or malt extract) at bottling time.  The residual yeast in the fermented beer ferments this priming sugar in the bottle, producing a small additional amount of alcohol, and CO2 (which carbonates the beer).

Bottle Priming – The practice of adding a small quantity of priming sugar directly to each bottle, at bottling time. See Bottle Conditioning.

Braggot – A mead in which some of the fermentable sugars come from malt; or, a mixture of ale and mead.

Brettanomyces – A yeast that gives beer a barnyard or horse-blanket flavor. Usually unwanted, this can be found in some Belgian beers to add flavor complexity.

Brewery Efficiency – How much of the full potential extract the brewery is typically able to realize in the mashing process. This should be charted and tracked to get an accurate estimate.  Equals (OG*1000)-1000)/(Total Gravity)/Volume of beer.

Brown Ale – As the name implies, an ale which is brown in color.   Malty, sometimes with a nutty character from roasted malt.  English versions are moderately hopped, American versions typically more heavily so.

Bung – A wooden plug for a beer barrel.

California Common – A style of beer which supposedly originated on the west coast of the US, in the 1800s.  Superficially similar to a Pale Ale, but with a unique character from the use of lager yeast at elevated (60s) temperatures.  Also called “Steam Beer” (but the only commercial brewery which can use the name “Steam Beer” is Anchor, because they have trademarked it.)

Caramel Malt – Malt which has been “mashed in the husk”, by being held at mash temperatures while still damp, then kilned (dried).  The temperature at which the kilning is done determines the degree of caramelization; more caramelization results in a darker color, and more intense flavor.  Caramel malt is similar to crystal malt, and many brewers treat the two interchangeably; but according to Noonan, it is less completely saccharified (i.e. still contains some starch), and has a more intense flavor.

Cara-Munich – A dark caramel malt, made by DWC (Belgium).  Color typically runs around 60°L.  May be mashed or steeped.

Cara-Pils – An extremely light caramel malt.  Color typically runs around 6°L.  May be mashed or steeped.

Cara-Vienne – A medium caramel malt, made by DWC (Belgium).   Color typically runs around 20°L.  May be mashed or steeped.

Carbonation – Refers to the amount of CO2 in a beer usually, measured in volumes of CO2.

Carbonator Cap – A ball lock quick-disconnect keg fitting which screws onto the top of a plastic soda bottle.  Allows beer (or any beverage, for that matter) to be force carbonated in a soda bottle, by attaching it to a CO2 tank.

Carboy – A glass or plastic container that looks like an office water-cooler bottle or a large jug. It is used by homebrewers for fermenting the beer.

Cask Conditioning – Instead of being filtered and stored in pressurized kegs, cask-conditioned beer is kept in a cask with its yeast and is dispensed using a special hand pump called a beer engine. This method is popular in England. Cask conditioned beer only stays good for about 3 months, unlike bottle conditioned beer.

Chill Haze – A haze which forms when beer is chilled.  Chill haze is the result of certain compounds (proteins and tannins) which precipitate (become insoluble) at cold temperatures.  Chill haze can be reduced through the use of finings (e.g. Irish moss), or through extended cold aging (which will cause the haze to settle out).

Chit Malt – Extremely undermodified malt, traditionally used by German brewers to get around the Reinheitsgebot’s prohibition against the use of unmalted grains.

Chocolate Malt – A dark roasted malt, commonly used in dark beers to impart color, and a roasted, chocolate/coffee character.  Color is typically around 400°L.  May be steeped.

Classic American Pilsner – The ancestor of the American Light Lager style, as it existed prior to Prohibition.  More flavor and body than an American Light Lager — closer to its Continental Pilsner roots, but with an American malt and hop character.  Frequently contains corn as an adjunct.

Closed Fermentation – The practice of fermenting beer in a closed fermenter, where the CO2 produced during fermentation is allowed to escape, but outside air is prevented from contacting the fermenting wort.  Closed fermentation is the method most commonly used by homebrewers in the US.  Some traditional British and Belgian breweries (and a few American micros as well) use open fermentation, where the fermenters are open to the air.

Cloying – A beer that is overly sweet to the point of being unpleasant.

Cold Break – Material which precipitates out of the wort when it is chilled, consisting primarily of proteins and tannins.  One of the components of trub.   Some experts claim that carrying at least some of the cold break over into the fermenter is beneficial, because it acts as a yeast nutrient.

Cold Filtering – An alternative to pasteurizing beer. In this process the beer is passed through a very fine filter that removes the yeast and halts the fermentation process.

Continental Pilsner – Generic term used to refer to various variations on the Pilsner style of beer, brewed in Europe.

Continuous Sparging – The wort is re-circulated and drained until about an inch of wort remains above the grain bed. The sparge water is gently added, as necessary, to keep the fluid at least at that level. The goal is to gradually replace the wort with the water, stopping the sparge when the gravity is 1.008 or when enough wort has been collected, whichever comes first.

Conversion Check – The brewer can use iodine (or iodophor) to check a sample of the wort to see whether the starches have been completely converted to sugars.

Cooling Loss % – As the wort cools in contracts (or shrinks).  The same mass will take up less volume.  This is the percentage that the wort will shrink from cooling.

Copper – An old term for the brew pot, which used to be made of copper.  Some brewers still use coppers.

Corn Sugar – Dextrose which has been manufactured using corn as the raw material.

Cornelius Keg – A tall, skinny stainless steel keg, typically 5 gallons in capacity, manufactured by the Cornelius company.  Probably the most popular system for kegging homebrew. Typically used by business to store soft-drinks.

Cream Ale – A variation on American Light Lager.  Fermented as an ale, but lagered.  Typically contains rice or corn as an adjunct.

Crystal Malt – Malt which has been “mashed in the husk” by being heated to saccharification temperatures while it is still wet.  The process is carried out in such a way that saccharification is complete, converting all of the starches into sugars.  The malt is then kilned (dried), causing the sugar to set into a hard, glassy lump inside the barley husk.

Dark Malt Extract – Malt extract which has been manufactured with a percentage of dark crystal and/or roasted malt, giving it a dark color and a caramel and/or roasted flavor.

Decoction Mash – A traditional German method of mashing, in which multiple temperature rests are employed.  The boost from one rest temperature to the next is achieved by removing a portion of the mash, boiling it in a separate vessel, then returning it to the main part of the mash.

Degree Plato – Used to express the concentration of extract (dissolved solids, mostly sugars) in a wort or beer as a percentage by weight. Thus 100 grams of a 12 degree Plato (abbreviated 12 °P) wort contains 12 grams of extract.  Equals (-463.37) + (668.72 x Original Gravity) – (205.35 x (Original Gravity ^ 2).

Deuteronomy Brewery 1426 – The home brewery founded by Jake McWhirter.  The name of the brewery is a reference to Deuteronomy 14:26 in the bible where God tells His people to buy alcoholic drink and enjoy it while worshiping Him.  The motto of the brewery is “Fine Beer Brewed to the Glory of God”.

Dextrin – The unfermentable carbohydrate produced by the enzymes in barley. It gives the beer flavor and body.

Dextrose – A form of glucose, so named because it is “dextrorotatory”, i.e. rotates polarized light in a clockwise direction.

Diacetyl – A compound produced by yeast as a normal product of fermentation. Some levels of diacetyl are acceptable in some beer styles, while in others it should not be detected at all. Diacetly can be detected as a buttery or butterscotch flavor.

Diacetyl Rest – Employing high temperatures at the end of primary fermentation to reduce diacetyl. VDKs, which are assimilated by yeast toward the end of fermentation, are responsible for off-flavors in beer. The diacetyl rest reinvigorates the yeast culture so that it metabolizes those byproducts that are excreted early in the fermentation, thereby removing them from solution. Important when brewing lagers.

Diastase (Diastatic) – Referring to enzymes in malt that convert starch to sugars and dextrins.

DME – Dry malt extract. A main ingredient in extract beers.  Adds fermentable sugars and sweetness.  Derived from malted grain.

DMS – Dimethyl-Sulfide.  A compound developed in beer during fermentation. In excess its aroma and flavor is similar to sweet corn.

Doppelbock – Most commonly used to refer to a very strong, German-style lager beer.  To be called a Doppelbock under German law, a beer must have an original gravity of at least 18ºP (specific gravity of 1.072).  Most Doppelbocks have names ending in -ator, in the tradition of Paulaner Salvator, which is widely acknowledged to be the “original” Doppelbock.  The term Doppelbock can also be used as a designation of strength, as with Schneider Aventinues (a Wheat Doppelbock Ale, or Weizen Doppelbock).

Dortmunder – Germany. A pale-coloured, export- type lager brewed in Dortmund, it has a distinctive malty character and is drier than a Munich beer. Most of the beers produced by the Dortmunder breweries (DAB, DUB, Dortmunder Hansa, Dortmunder Kronen, Dortmunder Ritter, Dortmunder Thier etc) are indicative of this style, unless otherwise described. Furthermore, the Gulpener brewery makes a reasonably successful Dutch Dort, while Alfa, also in Holland, a much sweeter and stronger Super-Dort.

Doughing-In – A rest at temperatures from 95-113°F is sometimes used by brewers for mixing the grist with the water to allow time for the malt starches to soak up water and time for the enzymes to be distributed.

Dry Hopping – The addition of dry hops during first or secondary fermentation to add a hoppy character to the beer without affecting the beers bitterness.

Dry Stout – A very dark ale, with a roasted (sometimes coffee-like) character.  Guinness Stout (draft) is the prototypical Dry Stout.  Contrary to popular belief, Dry Stouts are generally not very alcoholic, and some examples may even be lower in alcohol than a typical American “mega-brew”.

Dubbel – A dark, strong, malty Belgian ale.  Frequently has a pronounced fruity character, and also sometimes a clove/spice flavor (from warm fermentation with unique yeast strains).  One of the “Trappist” styles.

Dunkel – A dark, malty, German-style lager beer.  The word “dunkel” means “dark”, and is also sometimes used as an adjective, as in “Dunkel Weizen” (meaning dark wheat beer).

Düsseldorf – An Altbier brewed in the Düsseldorf area of Germany. A well balanced, bitter yet malty, clean, smooth, well-attenuated amber-colored German ale.

Eisbock – Germany. The Eiswein of the beer world, this is a Doppelbock that has gone through an “ice-machine”, which freezes out a significant proportion of the beer’s water content, thereby increasing its alcoholic strength and concentrating the flavour. The most famous producer of this style is Kulmbacher Reichelbräu whose Bayrisch G’frorns is big and blowsy, with an intense aftertaste.

English Bitter – A gold to copper colored ale, with pronounced hop bitterness.  The terms Ordinary Bitter, Best Bitter, and Strong Bitter are commonly used to refer to increasingly higher strength versions of Bitter.  Stronger versions may also be referred to as English Pale Ale.

English Sparging – The wort is completely drained from the grain bed before more water is added for a second mash and drained again. These worts are then combined.

Enzymes – Organic compounds which facilitate various reactions.   The enzymes which are most important in brewing are amylase enzymes (which convert starches into sugars), and proteolytic enzymes (which break complex proteins down into simpler proteins and amino acids).

ESB – Extra Special Bitter.  A type of English Pale Ale, typified by Fuller’s ESB.

Ester – Flavor compounds naturally created by yeast during fermentation that add fruity, flowery and/or spicy flavors to beer. Noticeable in ales.

European Bittering Units – Same as International Bittering Units. A measure of the bitterness in a beer. The bitterest beers can be over 100 IBUs.

Evaporation Rate – The percentage of a volume of water that evaporates off in 1 hour of boiling.  Determined by test for each brewing setup.

Extract Brewing – A simplified brewing process, in which most (or all) of the fermentable sugars come from malt extract syrups or powders.  Extract brewing is quite popular — especially among beginner to intermediate home brewers — because it requires less equipment and time.  If the malt extracts are very fresh, extract brewing can produce excellent beer; however, it does not afford the degree of control available with all-grain brewing.

Extract Points – Used to convert All Grain recipes to extract recipes.  An estimation of the total gravity provided by the base malt grain.  Equals Total Gravity (base malt) * Brewery Efficiency.

Extraction Efficiency – A measure of the percentage of the total sugars available from the malt which have been extracted.  Typically expressed as a percentage — i.e., an efficiency of 75% means that 75% of the available sugars have been extracted.

False Bottom – A perforated metal or plastic plate, at the bottom of a lauter tun.  The purpose of the false bottom is to hold back the solid part of the grain mash, while allowing the clear liquid (wort) to pass through.  During lautering, wort is drawn off from the area underneath the false bottom.

Fermentation – The process of sugars being converted to alcohol and CO2 by yeast.

Fermentation Lock – Same as Airlock.

Fermenter – Any vessel in which fermentation takes place.  In home brewing, fermenters are usually plastic buckets, or carboys (large jugs) made from either plastic or glass.  Commercial breweries typically use large stainless steel tanks.

FG – Final Gravity. The weight of a beer after fermentation (as a ratio with water). Depending on the particular style of beer, final gravities can range anywhere from 1.000 (the same as plain water) for a very light beer, to 1.030 (or more), for very strong, heavy beers.

Finings – Finings is a substance used to aid the clearing of beer, particularly real ale. Finings can include isinglass, bentonite, Irish moss, and others.

Finishing Hops – Fresh aromatic hops that are added to the wort during the final 1-5 minutes of boiling.

First Runnings – The heavy, sugar-laden runnings which come out of the lauter tun first, before sparging.  In a parti-gyle scheme, the first runnings are used to brew a very strong beer (e.g. a Barleywine), while the second runnings are used for a lower gravity beer.

Five Star – Popular brand of Iodophor.  If you keep your equipment clean between brews, Iodophor is a great sanitizer. (Your equipment will not be clean if you simply rinse after use. You must use a cleaner, such as TSP.) Iodophor is excellent for stainless steel- which Diversol will corrode- and all other beermaking equipment. Mixed properly and used in a spray bottle, Iodophor is almost magical in its convenience: there’s no waiting and no rinsing.

Flaked Maize – Corn which has been run between heated rollers.   The rollers break the kernels open, and the heat gelatinizes the starch, allowing flaked maize to be added directly to the mash without pre-cooking it.

Flanders Brown – Style of beer originating from the Flemish region of Belgium. The name literally translates as “old brown”, referring to the long aging process which can take up to a year. The extended aging allows residual yeast and bacteria to develop a sour flavor characteristic for this style. This style of beer is medium bodied, reddish-brown, and has a gentle malty flavor and no hop bitterness.

Flocculation – Refers to the clumping together of yeast once the sugar in a beer brew has been fermented into ethyl alcohol. Yeast flocculation can be classified as high, medium, or low.  Ale yeast strains are found in each category, while lager yeast are predominantly medium flocculators.  An English/London Ale strain would be a high flocculator, while an California/American Ale strain a medium flocculator. A Hefeweizen strain is an example of a low flocculator.  It is difficult to tell which category of flocculator is used to produce individual commercial beers, because most commercial beers are filtered before being bottled or kegged.

Force Carbonating – Carbonating beer by applying CO2.under pressure.  Most commonly done in soda kegs, but may also be done in plastic soda bottles, with the proper fittings (e.g. carbonator cap).  By force carbonating, the beer can be drinkable as soon as it finishes fermenting and falls clear, rather than having to wait 1-2 weeks for natural carbonation to develop after priming.

Foreign Extra Stout – A stronger version of Dry Stout.  Bottled Guinness is a Foreign Extra Stout.

Framboise – A Lambic fermented with raspberries.

Fructose – A simple sugar (monosaccharide), readily fermentable by brewers yeast.  Sucrose (table sugar) consists of a fructose molecule linked to a glucose molecule.

FWH – First Wort Hopping. The practice of adding hops to the kettle during lautering, allowing the hops to steep in the hot wort prior to the boil.  Proponents of this procedure claim that it provides a fine hop flavor and aroma, which is more pleasing than that obtained by the use of finishing hops.  Supposedly, the hop aroma and flavor compounds bind to other compounds in the wort, stabilizing them and allowing them to survive the boil.

Gelatinization – In mashing, the process of making starch soluble usually in reference to boiling the adjuncts.

Grand Cru – Belgium. An indistinct and misleading term widely used in Belgium for its greatest beers, its producers include Cantillon (a smooth, distinctive, vintage-dated Lambic beer), De Kluis (this Grand Crus is a paler, stronger version of the brewery’s basic Hoegaarden, a wheat beer flavoured with coriander and curaçao, which honeys well with age), Rodenbach (a selected bottling of the two year old beer used in the basic Rodenbach brew, which is a blend of old and new ales) and Slaghmuylder (called Stropken Grand Cru, a smooth, malty, “top- fermented” beer, although apparently not the spicy brew it used to be).

Grist – A dry mixture (flour like powder) of ground malts and adjuncts used in mashing.

Growler – Glass jug, typically 1/2 gallon capacity.  Commonly used by brewpubs and micro breweries in the US, to sell fresh draft beer for carry-out.

Gueuze – Belgium. A blend of old and young lambic beer, the yeast in the younger ale provoking another fermentation, resulting in a fizzy lambic that is usually sweet to one degree or another. Producers of this style include Eylenbosch (the Festival Supergueuze has an astonishing three years conditioning prior to bottling), Lindemans, Mort Subite (variable), St-Louis (particularly sweet), Timmermans (the best, unless you include Eylenbosh’s splendidly quirky Festival Supergueuze) and Vanderlinden (excellent Vieux Foudre Gueuze).

Gyle – The portion if unfermented wort that is set aside and reserved for or added to the finished beer for conditioning (carbonation).

HBU – Home Bitterness Unit. Equals Alpha acid hops % * Weight (oz ).  Commonly used when substituting one hop for another in order to keep the same level of bitterness.

Head Retention – The ability to hold a layer of foam on top of the beer.  A beer with good head retention will maintain some residual foam until the beer has been completely consumed, leaving “lacework” down the sides of the glass.

Headspace – The area at the top of a vessel (fermenter, bottle, or keg) which does not contain any liquid.  In general, the goal is to minimize headspace, to prevent oxidation of the beer by oxygen in the air.  Headspace in the primary fermenter is not a serious concern, because the CO2 produced by fermentation forms a protective blanket on top of the beer, and forces nearly all of the oxygen out of the fermenter.  The headspace in a bottle is also sometimes referred to as ullage.

Hefeweizen – A style of beer originally brewed in Germany; literally translated, means “yeast wheat”, i.e. a yeasty wheat beer.  Traditional German Hefeweizen has a fruity, spicy flavor, which is produced by the unique strains of yeast used — there is no actual fruit or spice added, as this would violate the Reinheitsgebot (German Beer Purity Law).  Many of the Hefeweizens brewed by American microbreweries do not use the traditional yeast, and have a much cleaner (some would say bland) taste.

Helles Bock – A pale colored Bock beer.

Hop Bag – A mesh bag in which hops may be placed.  The hop bag is then placed in the boiling kettle (or the fermenter, in the case of dry hopping).   Use of a hop bag helps contain the mess from the hops, but also reduces the efficiency with which hop bitterness, flavor, and aroma is extracted.

Hop Pellets – Hops which have been ground, then extruded into pellet form.  The most widely available form of hops.  Pellets are easy to store, and yield slightly more bitterness than whole or plug hops, since the pelletizing process breaks down the structure of the hops, making the alpha acids easier to extract.   Many brewers prefer plug or whole hops to pellets for finishing however, citing better flavor and/or aroma.

Hop Plugs – Whole hops which have been compressed into (usually) 1/2 ounce discs.  Sort of a compromise between whole hops and pellets.

Hop-Back – Device in which hot wort (after the boil, but prior to cooling) is run through a bed of whole hops.  This serves two purposes — it imparts hop aroma to the beer, and the hops also help filter out the hot break, clarifying the wort.

Hops – The dried blossom of the female hop plant, which is a climbing herb (Humulus lupulus). Hops closest relative is the cannabis plant from which marijuana is derived. Only the seed cones from the female vine are used in making beer. Hops are responsible for the bitterness in beer.

Hot Break – Material which precipitates out of the wort during the boil, consisting primarily of proteins and tannins.  One of the components of trub.   Hot break is generally removed prior to fermentation.

Hydrometer – A device for measuring the sugar content of beer wort, by determining its density.  There are several different hydrometer scales which are used; the most common one used by homebrewers is specific gravity; other commonly used scales are Plato, and potential alcohol.

IBU – International Bittering Units. A measure of the bitterness in a beer. The bitterest beers can be over 100 IBUs.

India Pale Ale (IPA) – A strong, hoppy Pale ale.  The style originated in Britain in the 19th century, and had a high alcohol content and hopping rate, allowing it to survive the long sea voyage to India.

Infusion Mash – A mashing technique in which a controlled amount of hot water is added to the grain, to achieve the desired mash temperature.

Iodophor – An iodine-based sanitizer.  Most of the Iodophors available to homebrewers should be diluted at the rate of 1/2 fluid oz. of Iodophor to 5 gallons of water before use.  When used at proper dilution levels, Iodophor is a “no-rinse” sanitizer — equipment can simply be allowed to drip dry.

Irish Moss – A form of dried seaweed, used to help clarify beer.   Irish moss is added to the kettle during the boil; it causes more of the dissolved proteins to precipitate out, in the form of hot break.  This means there are less proteins left in the finished beer, resulting in less chill haze.

Isinglass – A beer clarifier made from the swim bladders of certain fish.  Like gelatin, it causes yeast to settle out more rapidly.  Isinglass is the traditional clarifier for British cask ales, and is added at the end of fermentation.

Kölsch – Top fermented Vollbier that is only brewed in Köln (Cologne) and its vicinity. Pronounced Kuh(r)lsh with a hint of an r sound, not Kohlsch. A clean, crisp, delicately balanced beer usually with very subtle fruit flavors and aromas. Subdued maltiness throughout leads to a pleasantly refreshing tang in the finish. To the untrained taster easily mistaken for a light lager, a somewhat subtle Pilsner, or perhaps a blonde ale.

Kraeusen – The billowy, rocky, foamy head that develops on the surface of the wort during the first days of fermentation.

Kraeusening – Adding gyle instead f sugar for conditioning.

Kriek – A Lambic fermented with cherries.

Lager – Lager comes from the German word “lagern” which means “to store”. Lagers are made with “bottom-fermenting” strains of yeast which means that the yeast ferments at the bottom of the fermentation tank. Lagers are brewed for longer periods of time than ales and at colder temperatures. For more information, read The Difference Between Ales and Lagers.

Lager Yeast – Brewers yeast which typically works at temperatures below 60°F, scientific classification Saccharomyces uvarum (also sometimes referred to as Saccharomyces carlsbergenesis).  When used at cool temperatures, lager yeast produces the characteristically clean, crisp flavors normally associated with lager beers.  Nearly all lager yeasts are bottom cropping – that is, they tend to sink to the bottom of the fermenter as fermentation draws to a close.

Lambic – A traditional, sour Belgian ale, which is “spontaneously fermented” — that is, it is fermented with the naturally occurring airborne yeast and bacteria native to the Brussels area.  Some Lambics may be fermented with fruit (Kriek = cherries, Framboise = raspberries, etc.)  Sour beers which are brewed outside of Belgium, and/or using a commercial “Lambic” yeast culture, should be referred to as “pseudo-Lambic”, or “Lambic-style” beers, to distinguish them from the genuine article.

Lauter – The process of separating spent grains from the water into which the grain’s sugars have been extracted by the mashing process.

Lauter Tun – Used for the lautering process, this vessel is typically fitted with a false bottom that holds the grain bed during sparging.

Lees – Also known as “trub”, lees are the deposit of yeast and sediments at the bottom of the tank after fermentation.

LME – Liquid malt extract. A main ingredient in extract beers.  Adds fermentable sugars and sweetness.  Derived from malted grain.

Maibock – Essentially the same thing as a Helles Bock.

Malt Liquor – Essentially an extra-strong American Light Lager.   Also, in some parts of the US, any beer over a certain strength must legally be called “Malt Liquor”.

Maltose – The sugars that are derived from malts. These sugars interact with the yeast during fermentation to create alcohol and CO2.

Malts – One of the main ingredients of beer, malt is barley which has been steeped in water, allowed to germinate, and then heat dried which stops germination. The type of barley, the level of germination allowed and the temperature of drying all influence the resulting flavor of the malts.

Maris Otter – A type of British 2-row malt, prized for its plump kernels and refined flavor.  Since Maris Otter does not yield as well as other, newer strains, it is not grown in great quantities; this tends to make it significantly more expensive than “normal” 2-row malt.

Marzen – A gold to amber colored, malty, German-style lager beer, with moderate hop bitterness.

Mash Tun – The vessel that mashing occurs in.

Mashing – The process where the grist is added to hot water in order to extract the fermentable sugars from the malts. This process creates wort.

Mash-Out – The term for raising the temperature of the mash to 170°F prior to lautering. This step stops all of the enzyme action (preserving your fermentable sugar profile) and makes the grainbed and wort more fluid.

Max % Bill – The maximum recommended percent of the total grain that should be composed of the selected grain.

MCU – Malt Color Units. Provides a good approximation of the final color of beer given the grain gravities and weights.  Equals (Lbs Grain x Deg Lovibond) / Total Volume in US Gallons.

Mead – An alcoholic beverage produced by the fermentation of honey.   For a traditional mead, the honey is mixed with water.  In a fruit mead, the honey is mixed with fruit juice.  Mead is really more of a wine than a beer, since it does not contain any grain sugars. Mead can be broadly classified based on whether it is sparkling or still, and whether it is dry or sweet.

Melomel – A mead made with fruit juice.

Metheglin – A mead made with added spices or herbs.

Milk Stout – A sub-style of Stout characterized by a sweet taste.   The sweetness is usually achieved by the addition of lactose (a.k.a milk sugar), which is not fermentable by brewers yeast.  Because of the use of lactose, also sometimes referred to as Sweet Stout.

Modification – A measure of how far germination (sprouting) of the grain was allowed to progress during malting.  A malt with low degree of modification (referred to as undermodified malt) has been allowed a lesser degree of germination than a fully modified malt.  Undermodified malt typically requires at least a protein rest, and will benefit from a decoction mash.  Nearly all contemporary malts are fully modified. Describes the degree of breakdown during malting of the protein-starch matrix (endosperm) that comprises the bulk of the seed.

Molasses – A by-product of the production of white table sugar from sugar cane.  Molasses will impart a rum-like flavor if added to beer.

NHC – National Homebrew Competition.  An annual homebrew competition sponsored by the American Homebrewers Association.  Brewers submit entries to a first round judging in their geographic area; winners from the first round judging advance to a second round (national) judging.

Nitrogen Dispensing – The practice of dispensing beer using a mixture of carbon dioxide and nitrogen, instead of straight carbon dioxide.  This results in a lower overall carbonation level, since nitrogen is less soluble in beer.  When used in conjunction with a special “sparkler” attachment on the dispensing faucet, nitrogen dispensing results in a creamy, “draft Guinness style” head.

Noble Hops – The “classic” low-alpha hop varieties, prized for their aroma characteristics.  Saaz, Hallertau, Tettnanger, and (sometimes) East Kent Goldings are the most commonly recognized noble hop varieties.

Oatmeal Stout – A variation of Sweet Stout, in which unmalted oats are used for a portion of the grain bill.

OG – Original Gravity. The weight of a beer before fermentation (as a ratio with water).

Oktoberfest – A gold to amber colored, malty, German-style lager beer, with moderate hop bitterness.

ºL – Degrees Lovibond.  A measure of the color of beer. The Standard Reference Method (SRM) and EBC method have largely replaced it. To convert to SRM, multiply by a 1.35 and subtract .6.

Old Ale – A malty, very strong English-style ale.  Generally not as strong as a Barleywine.

Open Fermentation – The practice of carrying out the initial fermentation in an open vessel.  Some traditional English and Belgian breweries, and even a small number of contemporary US microbreweries, use open fermentation.  With the exception of Belgian Lambics, open fermentation requires the use of large quantities of healthy yeast, in order to overpower any undesirable microbes which may fall into the wort.

Ordinary Bitter – A gold to copper colored, low alcohol, low carbonation English-style ale.

O-Ring – A circular gasket, usually made of rubber.  O-rings come in different shapes and sizes.  On soda kegs, they are used to ensure a gas-tight seal on the main lid, the liquid and gas fittings, and between the dip tubes and the keg body.  O-rings will eventually deteriorate, and must be replaced occasionally.

Oud Bruin– Style of beer originating from the Flemish region of Belgium. The name literally translates as “old brown”, referring to the long aging process which can take up to a year. The extended aging allows residual yeast and bacteria to develop a sour flavor characteristic for this style. This style of beer is medium bodied, reddish-brown, and has a gentle malty flavor and no hop bitterness.

Oxidation – A chemical reaction, in which oxygen reacts (binds with) with other chemical compounds in the wort or beer.  Oxidation is usually undesirable, as it can result in stale, cardboard-like flavors.  In very high gravity beers (e.g. Old Ales and Barleywines), some oxidation is to be expected, due to the extended aging that these beers typically undergo.  Low levels of oxidation may even be desirable in these styles — in proper balance, it can lend a sherry-like character which some people find pleasing.

Pale Ale – A golden to copper colored ale of medium strength.   English examples tend to be maltier than American examples.  American Pale Ales tend to be slanted more towards hops, with a citrusy character (from American finishing hop varieties such as Cascades) being quite common.

Pale Malt – A base malt which has been kilned at somewhat higher temperatures than Pilsner malt.  The higher kilning temperatures result in a slightly darker color, and a richer flavor.

Partial Mash – A method of brewing in which a small mash supplies some of the fermentable sugars, with the balance of fermentable sugars contributed by malt extracts.

Pasteurization – Heating of beer to 140-174°F to stabilize it microbiologically (kill microorganisms).

Peated Malt – Malt which has been dried (kilned) using a peat fire.   May be used in Scottish ales, to impart a peat smoked character, similar to the smoky character that is characteristic of Scotch whiskey.

pH – A measure of the acidity or alkalinity of a solution.   Neutral pH is 7.0; values below 7.0 are acidic, while values above 7.0 are alkaline.  The scale is logarithmic — so a pH of 5.0 is not twice as acidic as a pH of 6.0, it is 10 times as acidic.

Phenol – The types of phenol found in beer can lead to a medicinal taste.

Pilsner – A pale colored lager beer of moderate strength.   Continental (European) versions are well-balanced, with noticeable malt character, hop bitterness, and the flavor/aroma of noble hops.  Pilsner Urquell (brewed in Czechoslovakia) is the original Pilsner beer.  The American Light Lager style is an adaptation (some would say bastardization) of the Pilsner style.

Pilsner Malt – A very light colored base malt, with a neutral flavor and high enzyme content.  Typically has enough amylase enzyme to convert a significant percentage of unmalted adjuncts.

Pitching – The process of adding yeast to the wort in the fermentation tank.

Polyclar – A beer clarifying agent, added after fermentation is complete.  Polyclar is essentially a form of powdered plastic (nylon); it works by attracting haze-forming compounds, and causing them to precipitate (settle) out of solution.

Poppet – A small, spring-loaded valve located inside a soda keg fitting.  The poppet is what seals the fitting when the hose fitting is removed.   Poppets are the most likely source of leaks on older soda kegs; replacements are available from various on-line vendors.

Porter – A very dark ale, characterized by the sharp, roasted flavor of Black Patent malt. Many beer historians consider Porter to be the style which eventually evolved into Stout.

Potential Alcohol – A hydrometer scale which can be used to directly calculate the alcohol content of the beer.  Subtracting the ending (after fermentation) potential alcohol reading from the starting (before fermentation) potential alcohol reading will yield the approximate alcohol content.

Protein Rest – During the mash, a protein rest is employed to activate proteases which break down proteins. The temperature range for this rest is 105F to 132F. Typically, it is the first or second step in mashing.

Proteolytic Enzymes – Enzymes in malt, which break proteins down into simpler proteins and amino acids.

PSI – Pounds per Square Inch.  A measure of gas pressure.

Quick-Disconnect – The mechanism which allows keg fittings to be connected and disconnected quickly and easily.  Consists of a keg fitting on the keg itself, and a mating connector on the gas or beer line to be connected to the keg.   When the quick-disconnect is not connected, spring-loaded valves in the keg fitting and connector prevent any liquid or gas from flowing.  When the quick-disconnect is connected, the mechanism causes both valves to open.

Rack – To siphon the beer from one vessel to another in order to separate the beer from the lees or trub.

Rauch Malt – Malt which has been smoked, usually over a beechwood fire.

Rauchbier – A smoke flavored beer, brewed using rauch malt.

RDWHAHB – Acronym for “Relax, Don’t Worry, Have A Homebrew”.   Phrase popularized by Charlie Papazian, in his New Complete Joy of Homebrewing book.

Real Ale – Ale which is dispensed in the manner of classic English pub ale, from an unpressurized cask.  The beer is served either via a gravity feed,   or via a beer engine, which draws the beer from the cask.

Real Attenuation – The real percentage of sugars that have been converted to alcohol by the yeast. This measurement takes into account the lower density of alcohol compared to water.

Real Extract – The final gravity of the beer, converted to degrees Plato and corrected to account for the lower density of alcohol compared to water. Equals (0.1808 x Plato Original Gravity) + (0.8192 x Plato Final Gravity).

Recirculation – After the grain bed has settled and is ready to be lautered, the first few quarts of wort are drawn out through the drain of the lauter tun and poured back in on top of the grainbed. The first few quarts are almost always cloudy with proteins and grain debris and this step filters out the undesired material from getting in your boiling pot.

Regulator – A device which is used to reduce the pressure of CO2 coming from a tank (typically around 800 PSI), to the pressure required to carbonate or dispense beer (typically 5 to 30 PSI).

Reinheitsgebot – German beer purity law, which was originally enacted in the year 1516.  The Reinheitsgebot states that beer may only contain water, malt, hops, and yeast.

Relief Valve – A pressure-activated valve, which protects against dangerous over pressurization in a system or device.  If the safe working pressure is exceeded, the relief valve “vents”, releasing the excess pressure.  The most common types of relief valves seen by homebrewers are on CO2 regulators, and soda kegs.

Residual CO2 – The volumes of CO2 present in the fermented beer prior to carbonation and conditioning.  This depends on the temperature in which the beer was stored during fermentation.  This should be accounted for when calculating the amount of additional carbonation that is needed.

Reverse Osmosis – A means of water purification, in which a special membrane is used.  The microscopic pores in the membrane allow water molecules to pass through, but remove impurities.  Reverse osmosis water from a properly functioning reverse osmosis unit is nearly as pure as distilled water.

Rice Hulls – The fibrous outer casing of the rice kernel, normally removed in processing.  Rice hulls are frequently added to mashes containing a high percentage of wheat or unmalted adjuncts, to help form the filter bed during sparging; this can help prevent a stuck sparge.

Roasted Malt – Malt which has been roasted at high temperatures, to impart a dark color and roasted flavor.  Chocolate malt and Black Patent malt are the two most common types of roasted malt.

Roggenbier – German Rye Beer. A dunkelweizen made with rye rather than wheat, but with a greater body and light finishing hops.

Russian Imperial Stout – A very strong, dark (nearly black), intensely roasty and malty ale.  So named because it supposedly was originally brewed (in England) for export to Russia.

Saccharification – A stage of the mashing process during which complex glucose chains are broken down into fermentable sugars, mainly maltose.  This occurs for Alpha and Beta Amylase at two different temperature ranges, however 153-155 °F is typically used as a compromise.

Saison – A type of Belgian Ale, pale in color, with a high carbonation level and an abundance of fruity esters.  May be spiced.

Sani-Brew (Diversol) – Diversol is effective both as a cleaner and as a sanitizer. Available under a variety of trade names, you’ll recognize Diversol because it is a chlorinated pink powder.

Schwarzbier – A very dark (almost black), somewhat roasty, malty lager beer.  Sort of like the lager equivalent of a Dry Stout.

Scotch Ale – A strong, malty Scottish Ale.  Typically has a caramel character, and usually has low hop bitterness, and little or no hop flavor or aroma.  May have a peat smoked character.

Scottish Ale – Malty ale, with low hop bitterness, flavor, and aroma.   May have some peat smoke character.

Second Runnings – The lighter, more dilute runnings which come out of the lauter tun after the addition of sparge water.  In a parti-gyle scheme, the first runnings are used to brew a very strong beer (e.g. a Barleywine), while the second runnings are used for a lower gravity beer (i.e. a small beer).

Session Beer – A moderate strength beer, which can be consumed in fairly large quantities (due to its low alcohol content), without totally wiping out the drinker.  Guinness Stout (draft) is a terrific example of a session beer.

SG – Specific Gravity. The ratio of the density (mass of a unit volume) of a wort/beer to the density of water.

Silica Gel – A hard, glassy substance made from specially processed silica (sand), which contains microscopic pores.  Sometimes used as a beer clarification agent; can also be used as a desiccant (moisture absorber), due to its extreme attraction for water.

Single-Stage Fermentation – The practice of carrying out the entire fermentation in a single vessel.  For beers which will be ready to bottle or keg within a couple of weeks (i.e. average gravity ales), a single-stage fermentation is all that is required.  See also two-stage fermentation.

Six Row Malt – Malt which has been made from six row barley.  Six row barley has smaller kernels, and (frequently) a higher enzyme, protein, and husk content than two row barley.  Six row malt may be desirable when brewing beers which contain large quantities of unmalted adjuncts — the high enzyme content aids conversion of the adjuncts; the adjuncts dilute the protein level; and the higher husk content helps prevent a stuck sparge (adjuncts are frequently sticky).

Smack Pack – An air tight package of wort that contains a smaller inner package of yeast. When you are ready to use it you “smack” the inner package and the yeast and wort mix with out exposing it to air.

Small Beer – A low gravity beer brewed from the second runnings of a mash, after the first runnings have been used to brew a stronger beer.

Sparge – Sparging is the rinsing of the grain bed to extract as much of the sugars from the grain as possible without extracting mouth-puckering tannins from the grain husks.

Special “B” – A very dark caramel malt made by DeWolf Cosyns of Belgium.  Will impart color, and a rich, caramel/toffee/raisin flavor if used in sufficient quantity.

Specialty Grains – Typically used to refer to any malts which are added to the grist (or steeped in the brewing water in extract brewing), to impart special colors and/or flavors.  Crystal/caramel, toasted, and roasted malts are specialty grains.

SRM – Standard Reference Method. The standard measure for degrees of color as related to beer and the grains used to brew it used by American brewers. To convert to °L add 0.6 and divide by 1.35.

Starch Conversion – In all-grain brewing, the process which converts starches in the malt into fermentable sugars.  Conversion occurs under the influence of amylase enzymes present in the malt, which chop up the large starch molecules into smaller sugar molecules.

Starch Haze – A haze in the finished beer which results from the presence of unconverted starch.  Starch haze differs from chill haze in that it is present regardless of whether the beer is chilled, or at room temperature.

Star San – he newest sanitizer available to homebrewers. Flavorless, odorless, no-rinse food grade sanitizer leaves a microscopic film on sanitized items that continues to protect your bottles and equipment even after they have dried. Will not effect the taste.

Steam Beer – A trademark of Anchor Brewing, used to refer to their flagship brand.  See California Common.

Steeping – The soaking of crushed specialty grains in hot (approximately 160°F) water, in order to extract fermentable sugars, color, and flavor.   Commonly done by extract brewers, to add character to the beer.

Step Infusion Mash – A grain mash in which multiple temperature rests are employed, and the temperature boosts from one rest to the next are accomplished by carefully measured additions of boiling water.

Stewing – The process by which crystal malts are produced.  Whole damp malt is heated to saccharification temperatures, allowing the amylase enzymes which are naturally present in the malt to convert the starches into sugars.  The malt is then kilned (heated), to dry it and impart color and flavor.

Stout – A very dark (almost black), very roasty flavored ale.   The dark color and roasted flavor is imparted by roasted (unmalted) barley, and/or roasted malt.  Believed to be a descendant of the original (historical) Porter style.

Strong Bitter – The strongest “grade” of English Bitter.

Stuck Fermentation – Occurs when the yeast become dormant before the fermentation has completed. There are several potential causes of a stuck fermentation-the most common are excessive temperatures killing off the yeast or a must deficient in the nitrogen food source needed for the yeast to the thrive.

Stuck Sparge – In all-grain brewing, the inability to get any liquid to flow through the grain bed during the sparge.  Generally only an issue with mashes containing a high percentage of wheat, or unmalted adjuncts.  Rice hulls can be added to the mash, to reduce the risk of a stuck sparge.

Sucrose – A disaccharide, consisting of a fructose and glucose molecule linked together.  Also known as common table sugar.  Most sucrose is made from sugar cane or sugar beets.  See beet sugar; cane sugar.

Sweet Stout – A sub-style of Stout characterized by a sweet taste.   The sweetness is usually achieved by the addition of lactose (a.k.a milk sugar), which is not fermentable by brewers yeast.  Because of the use of lactose, also sometimes referred to as Milk Stout.

Tannic – Having an astringent taste.

Temperature Rest – In all-grain brewing, refers to bringing the mash to a specified temperature, and holding that temperature for a specified period of time.

Toasted Malt – Malt which has been heated in an oven or kiln, to impart a toasted flavor.  Biscuit malt and victory malt are commercially available toasted malts.

Top Cropping – Yeast which tends to rise to the surface of the beer as fermentation progresses.  Top cropping yeasts were traditionally harvested for repitching by skimming them off the surface of the fermenting wort.  In some cases, top cropping strains will need to be “beaten” back into the wort periodically, to achieve complete fermentation in a reasonable period of time.  See also bottom cropping.

Total Gravity – A measure of the total gravity points contributed be a given weight of grain with a certain gravity.  Equals Grain Weight (lbs) * (Grain Gravity – 1) * 1000.

Trappist Ale – In its broadest sense, refers to any style of ale that is brewed in a Trappist monastery.  The most commonly seen sub-styles of Trappist Ale are Dubbel and Tripel; other beers which do not fit either of these styles may still be referred to as Trappist Ales, provided that they are still brewed at a Trappist monastery.   All authentic Trappist Ales are currently produced in Belgium or Holland.

Tripel – A pale, very strong Belgian ale.  High alcohol content is achieved without making the beer too sweet, by adding generous amounts of sucrose (cane or beet sugar) to the wort.  This can be done without the negative flavor impacts generally associated with the use of sucrose, because there is also a lot of malt present (remember, this is a high gravity style).  One of the “Trappist” styles.

Trub – Also known as “lees”, are the deposit of yeast and sediments at the bottom of the tank after fermentation.

TSP – Trisodium Phosphate. A water-soluble crystalline compound; used as a cleaning compound and as a water softener. Mix 1/4 of a cup in 4 litres of hot water and wash bottles or barrels.  Rinse well.  Stubborn stains may require soaking for 24 hours.

Turb Loss – The amount of boil lost due to the deposit of yeast and sediments at the bottom of the tank after fermentation.

Turbinado Sugar – Cane sugar which has not been fully refined.   Still contains some of the natural molasses, giving it a golden color, and a rum-like flavor.  Sometimes called raw sugar.

Two Row Malt – Malt which has been made from two row barley.  Two row barley has larger kernels, a lower protein content, and a lower husk content than six row barley.  This gives two row malt a slightly higher extract potential than six row malt, and makes it less prone to causing chill haze.  Most high quality brewers malts are two row malts.

Two-Stage Fermentation – The practice of racking the beer to a second fermentation vessel after activity begins to subside; this gets the beer off of the large sediment deposit that is typically present in the primary fermenter, and prevents the pick-up of off flavors from yeast autolysis.  The beer is left in the secondary fermenter until it has completely fermented out and fallen clear.  Two-stage fermentation is generally recommended for lagers and strong ales, where the beer is likely to remain in the fermentation vessel for some time prior to being bottled or kegged.   For normal strength ales, two-stage fermentation it is optional, but can still help reduce the amount of bottle sediment, by minimizing the amount of sediment carried over into the bottling bucket.

Ullage – The area at the top of a vessel (fermenter, bottle, or keg) which does not contain any liquid.  In general, the goal is to minimize headspace, to prevent oxidation of the beer by oxygen in the air.  Headspace in the primary fermenter is not a serious concern, because the CO2 produced by fermentation forms a protective blanket on top of the beer, and forces nearly all of the oxygen out of the fermenter.  The headspace in a bottle is also sometimes referred to as headspace.

Utilization – The percent of hop bitterness that is actually has effect on the beer.  Factors that affect this are boil time and gravity of beer.  This program uses the equation Utilization = 1.65 * 0.000125^(wort gravity – 1).  The utilization is multiplied by the AA% to determine the IBUS per Oz.

Victory Malt – A toasted malt, similar to biscuit malt.

Vienna Lager – An amber or light brown lager, with a light toasted character.

Weizen – A German-style wheat ale, with a fruity/spicy character imparted by unique yeast strains.  Unfiltered versions are generally referred to as Hefeweizen.

Weizenbock – A Weizen (German-style wheat ale) which has been brewed to Bock strength (OG of at least 1.066).

Wheat – The second most common grain used in beer brewing.   Malted wheat makes up at least 50% of the grist of traditional Weizen and Hefeweizen beers, and may also be added in lesser amounts in other styles (generally as an aid to head retention).  Unmalted wheat makes up a substantial percentage of the grist in Witbier and Lambic.

Wheat Malt – Wheat which has been malted (allowed to sprout, then dried).  Wheat malt does not have the outer husk that is present on barley malt.   Therefore, it must either be mashed with barley malt, and/or a lautering aid (e.g. rice hulls) must be added, to prevent a stuck sparge.

Wild Yeast – Any yeast other than the yeast that is intentionally introduced by the brewer.  Some wild airborne yeasts can have drastic negative effects on the beer — some will impart phenolic (or other) off flavors; others may “hyper attenuate” (i.e. ferment the beer down to a much lower FG than is desired).

Witbier – A pale, cloudy beer, brewed with a high percentage of unmalted wheat (and sometimes oats), and spiced with coriander and orange peel.

Wort – Created by mashing, wort is liquid malt extract that is ready for the fermentation tank where yeast will be added.

Wort Chiller – A heat exchanger which is used to rapidly reduce the temperature of the wort, after the boil.

Yeast – Single celled organisms of the fungus family that are responsible for converting the sugars contained in malt into alcohol and carbon dioxide. Saccharomyces Cerevisiae is used to make ales and Saccharomyces Carlsbergensis is used to make lagers.

Yeast Energizer – A brewing additive which is typically produced by extracting the “guts” of yeast cells in a centrifuge.  Provides essential nutrients to the yeast.  Since barley malt already contains all of the nutrients that yeast need, yeast energizer is generally unnecessary when brewing beer.  It may be more helpful in wines, ciders and meads (fruit juices and honey do not contain the level of nutrients that barley does).

Yeast Nutrient – A brewing additive which adds free amino nitrogen (FAN), a substance which is essential for good yeast health.  Think of it as fertilizer for your yeast.  As with yeast energizer, should not be necessary for beer wort, since malt already contains all of the essential nutrients for your yeast.

Yeast Starter – Essentially a small, mini-batch of beer, the sole purpose of which is to give your yeast culture a contaminant-free environment in which it can build up their strength and numbers.

Zymurgy – The science of fermentation. Also a magazine of the American Homebrewers Association.


The Complete Joy of Homebrewing Third Edition – Charles Papazian

3 Comments leave one →
  1. April 12, 2013 9:49 pm

    your site is amazing I found it because our first post on our site is a video called the brewmaster about you….ITs soo good.
    Can I repost your glossary on our site I will give you all credit and a link to your blog. We are just launching and I would like your input and blessings to repost some of your content. I am a Christian and have just read so much great stuff you have posted. The spirit is moving me thank you !

    • philippians1v21 permalink*
      April 13, 2013 8:18 am

      Thank you so much, Don. That means a lot to me. Please feel free to use whatever you find of value. It is my hope to help brewers as well as fellow brothers and sisters in Christ as much as I can. I love your new site. Can I link to it? That video about the master brewer moved me. It is terrific. His story is so similar to mine. Our journeys a very similar. Thanks again and God bless. Keep in tough.


  2. May 4, 2013 1:55 pm

    Jake thank you so much I really appreciate you letting me repost your glossary and perhaps some of your other great content. I really want to be a classy passionate resource for brewers and beer lovers. Id like to create a directory of breweries and really good food and beer establishments. There seems to be some incredible bar b que joints/eateries with incredible craft beers opening up here in So Cal. This is gonna be a fun project. I would very much appreciate a link back to and I will also link to your site.

    I look fwd to having a beer with you someday. I have really been getting into IPA’s. They make me Hoppy !
    God bless you and I will be in touch sharing ideas and content with you.


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