Beer vocabulary


Beer vocabulary

Glossary for those wanting to learn and understand the language of beer and brewing, and not get lost in the world of beer terminology. Balanced for beginners and not only.


AA, alpha acids – a source of bitterness derived from hops, by their isomerization during cooking.


ABV, Alcohol by volume – content of alcohol by volume, expressed as a percentage, describing the strength of beer.


Beer geek – a person crazy for everything that is related with beer. He is interested not only in the taste of beer, but in the beer history, new hop varieties and even beer bottle labels. Do not confuse him with a beer snob – this term has a negative connotation.


Beer – weak natural alcoholic drink. Is produced by the fermentation of malt wort usually barley, and sometimes other cereals, with yeast, and the addition of hops.


Carbon dioxide, carbonation. Indicates the amount of carbon dioxide dissolved in the liquid. This is a reason for the release of bubbles in beer induced by metabolic yeast performance, or carbon dioxide compressed due to artificial saturation.


Secondary fermentation – after primary fermentation, beer is decanted into another container, leaving the old yeast and sediment, and allowing it to ferment further. Often additional spices, such as fruits, herbs, or hops, are added at this stage. During this process isomalt, i.e. sweet substances are remaining in the wort, breaks down (ferments). See more in Bottle maturation. Also see in Maturation.


Bottom-fermenting – part of lager brewing process using the yeast of Saccharomyces carlsbergensis family. This type of yeast facilitates fermentation at a low temperature, and after completing the work it settle to the bottom of the container (hence the name of the bottom fermentation beer), producing clean, refreshing beer. Also see in Lager yeast.


Hops. Blooms from a female plant of hop, from the Humulus Lupulus family.


Dry-hop, dry-hopping. Dry-hopping, when dry hops are added to beer during secondary fermentation. It provides a powerful aroma without any bitterness.


Late-hopping. Adding hops in the boiling wort in the last minutes of the cooking process, emphasising the hop aroma in beer.


Hop oils – essential oils used to provide a specific flavour. Aromatic oils in dried hop cones are lost during cooking, therefore hops are added at the end of cooking or to the hot wort to give aroma for the beer. Aromatic hops tend to have a higher concentration of aromatic oils.


Top-fermenting – part of the ale or wheat beer brewing process, fermentation at higher temperatures using Saccharomyces cerevisiae species of yeast. Due to its small size of cells yeast rises up together with carbon dioxide and grows at the top of the wort – hence its name. Also see Ale yeast.


Aging means long term storage of beer under appropriate conditions (cool, dark) to improve its taste. Some types of beer are matured up to one year, while others (lambics, porters) can be aged up to 15 years or more. Also see Secondary fermentation.


Bottle-conditioning is a process where beer is bottled, while it still contains sweet fermentable substances and yeast. This extends the shelf life of beer, as well as its flavour improves with time (matures). The result is the so-called living (unpasteurized) beer. Also see Secondary fermentation.


Diacetyl – natural substance occurring during fermentation. Mostly felt and described as a test of butter or toffee in beer. It is tolerated to some extent in some types of ales, but is not desirable in other types of beer (lager), and may even gain clues of rancidity. Diacetyl dominance signals of poor brewing technique and also can mean bacterial contamination.


Dimethyl sulphide, DMS – resemblance to the test of cooked vegetables (cabbage, corn). Like diacetyl in ales, dimethyl sulphides are common in light lagers. In other beer types DMS is the lack of taste and can be caused by poor brewing practices or bacterial infection.


Ale yeastSaccharomyces cerevisiae yeast species used in the production of ales. Ale yeast has a higher fermentation temperature, in the environment of 10-25° C they create sharper and more complex ester flavours.


Ale – top fermentation beer, made with Ale yeast. See top fermentation. Also see Ale yeast.


Ester –natural chemical compound produced at high temperature and providing fruit and spicy flavours/aromas to beer (strawberry, banana, clove). Tolerated in certain amounts in certain beer types.


Fermentation – a scientific term to describe the process of fermentation in which the sweet malt substances are converted into alcohol and CO2 (carbon dioxide) with the help of yeast. See Top and bottom fermentation.


Filtration – a process for removal of the remaining yeast and other cloudy particles from beer.


IBU (International Bittering Units) – standard scale unit of beer bitterness measurement representing the intensity of hops.


Beer brewing copper, brewkettle – a tank for boiling wort with hops during the production of beer. Copper tanks were used in older times, nowadays they are mainly made of steel.


Body, texture, density – texture or viscosity in the mouth, consisting of proteins and malt dextrin, which have not been fermented.


Craft beer – this far, we have no unambiguous Lithuanian translation, and also no universally accepted definition. Some producers tend to assign craft beer only to small and independent breweries. Meanwhile for us it is not important whether beer is brewed, but the final result is important. Therefore, craft beer for us means beer made by brewing enthusiast using natural and high-quality materials, combined with the tradition and genius. This is not a mass-produced beer but the work of art of the brewing master.


Lager – family of bottom fermentation of beer types. Examples – from black beer (such as Schwarzbier) to a more well-known golden pilsner. See Bottom fermentation. Also see Lager yeast.


Lagering – maturation for not less than four weeks of 1-5° C in an environment where beer becomes transparent and balanced out.


Lager yeastSaccharomyces carlsbergensis species of yeast used to produce lagers. Lager yeast usually “work” at 7-15° C, creating more transparent beer with less expressive esters.


Wild yeast – yeast varieties naturally present in the environment, rather than artificially produced. They are used for lambic beers in Belgium. See Spontaneous fermentation.


Mash, malt mash – homogeneous dough mass resulting from the ground it corn/malt mixed with water. See Mashing.


Yeast – a large family of single-celled fungal micro-organisms with some species being active substances used in beer brewing. Yeast is used for the production of beer in order to convert sugar to alcohol and carbon dioxide, as well as provide additional taste and flavour for beer during this conversion.


Barley – the most popular cereal culture use in the production of beer. Most preferred beer barley varieties are those rich in starch. Barley cultures highly differ in different countries. See Malting.


Wort – sweet liquid, a product obtained after dissolving sweet malt substances and separating the used grain (draining water). Wort is heated and cooled, then yeast is added to start fermentation.


Unmalted materials – can be used in the production of beer (up to 30% in Lithuania). Natural malt in small amounts can be used for taste, flavour or colour. Different malts give different qualities to beer – oats gives the body strength, wheat gives excellent texture, rye adds depth and gives aftertaste of nuts, and rice and corn are used to improve the taste.


Pasteurization – beer processing at extreme heat, thus expanding its shelf life.


Mashing – mash mixing process in which starch substances in cereals (barley, wheat, etc.) are turned into fermentable sugar substances during hydrolysis (dextrin and maltose). During the process mash is heated, then wort is drained from the mash. See Wort, also Mash.


Reinheitsgebot – German beer purity law, requiring the use of only malt, hops, yeast and water in the production of beer.


Malt – mix of grounded cereals (both malt and other grain) used for making wort after mixing it with hot water. Most of the malt is made of wheat and barley.


Malty – beer with a bright malt aroma/flavour. Malty flavours include caramel syrup, molasses, smoke, roasted, fried aromas, similar to coffee and earth.


Malting – the process of grain humidification, germination, and suspension of sprouting by heating or drying in the open. Malting converts insoluble starch in barley or other grains to sugary substances that can be fermented. Sometimes malt is additionally roasted or even burnt.


Colour – indicator of wort or beer colour. Two different scales are used: the Standard Reference Method (SRM) and the European Brewery Convention (EBC). For every beer it is important to comply with the colour depending on its type.


Spontaneous fermentation – beer fermentation, resulting from the effects of special type of wild yeast. Lambic beers are produced in Belgium in this way. See Wild yeast.


Gravity, specific gravity, S.G. – a measure of wort indicating its thickness (solids content).