Glossary

acetic acid

The acid contained in vinegar, usually 3 to 6 percent, is the main volatile fatty acid in alcoholic beverages. You’ll find an appropriate amount in sour-style beers. You’ll taste an inappropriate amount in beers that have been exposed to contamination during the brewing process or in a pub’s tap lines.

acidity

Term referring to sour, tangy, or tart flavors derived from organic gases.

additives

Additives are a fact of life — if in fact your life includes beer, which we believe no good adult life should be without. Unfortunately, the word has taken on a nasty connotation over the years (thanks a lot, aspartame), so some shudder at the thought. But in truth, if it weren’t for additives, you wouldn’t have an iota of the variety of beer available today. Fact: You can even find additives in beers brewed according to the German Purity Law — aka Reinheitsgebot — which limits beers to four ingredients: barley, hops, water, and yeast. Microbrewers tend to use fewer additives than megabrewers, but you’ll commonly find additives that enhance chemical or flavor stability, regulate color or taste, or simply stabilize foam.

aeration

Modern brewing practices indicate that oxygen should be added directly to the wort after it had been cooled, helping to ensure healthy yeast, better attenuation, better (and faster) fermentations and, no surprise, a better-tasting beer.

aging

Aging is the deliberate brewing or distilling activity where a freshly brewed beverage is matured over a period as short as a week or several months. It is also the common impetus inspiring 9-to-5ers to quit their day jobs and devote themselves to brewing full-time.

alcoholic strength (ABV)

Alcoholic strength is created by the fermentable sugars in the beer wort and the extent to which those sugars are fermented by the yeast. The average (though not the allowable limit) of beer’s alcohol strength is between 4.8 percent and 5.2 percent alcohol by volume (ABV).

ale

One of the two broad group of beers (the other is lager), ale is brewed using the top-fermenting yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Brewed in warmer temperatures than lagers, ales typically boast a fruit-like ester.

amber ale

A style of ale similar to a pale ale, brewed with an amount of amber malt that gives the beer its characteristic copper or light brown hue.

Anchor Brewing

Oft considered America’s original craft beer, Anchor Brewing was founded in San Francisco, California, in 1896. Amidst a growing taste for mass-produced, heavily marketed light beers in the 1950s, Anchor floundered but ultimately stayed afloat, unleashing a range of unique, inspired, and seasonal beers would forever impact the genesis of craft brewing.

Anheuser-Busch

Large traditional American brewing company founded in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1852. It was acquired by Belgium brewing giant InBev in 2008.

aroma

The sense of smell imparted from a craft beer before, during, and after drinking, aroma evolves with time and temperature.

barley

Barley is the primary grain that is used as the source of carbohydrates for brewing beer. There are multiple new types of barley that influence the flavor of the beer.

barrel

A measurement for craft beer — and any beer — according to United States standards, equal to 31 U.S. gallons.

beer

A fermented beverage with various styles, tastes, and alcohol strength: aka, nectar of the gods.

beer spoilers

Micro-organisms that confound — and not for the better — the flavor, aroma, or appearance of a beer.

bitter

A particular type of pale ale — encompassing pilsners, blonde ales, nitro stouts and more — that traditionally has been associated with British pubs. In accordance with that tradition, bitters are typically served at temperatures between 38 and 45 degrees.

Black and Tan

A beer cocktail created by layering two types of beer — usually, a stout or porter with a pale ale or lager.

blonde ale

A style of ale, typically golden or blonde in color, which often has a lower alcohol strength.

Blue Moon Brewing Co.

A wholly owned subsidiary of MillerCoors that has given rise to a variety of craft — or craftlike — beers. (Some in the industry contend that, as a subsidiary of a multinational conglomerate, Blue Moon merely masquerades as an independent brewer.)

Boston Beer Company

One of the original and now one of the largest craft beer brewing companies in the United States. Founded in 1984.

Bottles

Although aluminum cans are credited with preventing beer from becoming tainted by either light or air, bottles are the most common beer-to-consumer delivery system.

Brewers Association

A national association of, for, and by brewers, the Brewers Association is (naturally) headquartered in Boulder, Colorado, and dedicates to promoting and protecting America’s independent and craft brewers.

brewmaster

The genius responsible for the production of beer at a brewery. Also known as “wizard.”

brewpub

A restaurant or brewery that sells 25 percent or more of its beer on-site.

brown ale

A particular style of ale that’s typically dark amber or brown in color.

Budweiser

An American-style pale lager, Budweiser is the mainstay product of Anheuser-Bush and one of the best-selling beers in ’Merica.

carbonation

The bubbly effect of carbon dioxide, which yeast produces along with alcohol as it feasts on sugars during the fermentation process. Carbonation has a significant impact on a beer’s flavor, aroma, and appearance.

carbon dioxide

The gas produced during the fermentation process, which creates carbonation within the beer. The same compound blamed for global warming.

contract brewing

A business relationship in which a microbrewery creates private label or white label beers for a customer.

Coors Brewing Company

Founded in Golden, Colorado, by Adolph Coors and Jacob Schueler, Coors today operates the single largest brewery facility in the nation — still in Golden, Colorado. Coors merged with Canada’s Molson and was renamed Molson Coors Brewing Company. Own Blue Moon.

doppelbock

A strong, hearty, malty style of German lager often referred to as a meal in a glass, doppelbocks usually boast a high ABV.

dry hopping

The practice of adding hops after the wort has cooled, maximizing the finished product’s floral hop aroma and flavor with minimum bitterness.

ethanol

A chemical compound naturally produced by the fermentation process of sugars and yeast. Although it is known to decrease anxiety, lift mood, and increase sociability, ethanol has a depressant impact on the central nervous system.

extracts

Concentrated flavors or wort used to accelerate the brewing process. E.g., Utilizing a malt extract allows brewers to skip skip the mashing process.

fermentation

The process whereby yeast converts sugar into alcohol.

fusarium

A common fungal disease that affects cereal grains, fusarium infests barley while it is growing in the field, causing it to shrink and discolor, and potentially contain dangerous mycotoxins.

gluten

A composite of proteins found in cereals, gluten can cause an unpleasant immune system reaction in people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.

Great American Beer Festival

An annual beer convention run by the Brewers Association and hosted in Denver Colorado, the GABF draws thousands of beer enthusiasts from around the world to sample several thousand beers, many of which are awarded medals in about 100 different categories.

growler

A container varying in size from 16 to 64 ounces that holds craft beer dispensed from a keg.

helles

A type of golden lager that originally hails from Bavaria; the word “helles” translates to bright or light.

hops

Along with other grains, hops are a primary ingredient in beer. Hops are the flowers, cones, or buds of the cereal grain and a major ingredient in determining a beer’s bitterness and aroma. It also acts as a preservative.

hydrometer

A device used to measure the specific gravity of wort and beer.

imperial stout

Legend has it that imperial stout got its legs, so to speak, when London’s Barclay Perkins brewery began exporting its dark, rich, and strong stout to the Baltic region, whereupon it made its way to — and gained favor from Russia’s Empress Catherine II.

India pale ale

A style of beer that generally boasts higher levels of alcohol and hops, both of which helped to preserve it on long journeys to the British colonies in India in the late 1700s, thus earning this style of ale its “India” moniker.

international bitterness units (IBU)

The measured value of the bitterness of beer, which comes from isomerized alpha acids — the primary acids derived from hops. The higher the IBU value, the more bitter the beer.

Irish stout

A style of ale characterized by a dark color and coffee and/or chocolate taste and aromas.

keg

A pressurized container for the storage of fully brewed beer. A standard American keg is one half-barrel, or 15.5 gallons.

kettle

The vessel in which wort is boiled.

kolsch

A type of lager that is usually light and tasty.

lager

One of the two broad group of beers (the other is ale), lager is brewed in cooler temperatures using bottom-fermenting yeasts. Most lagers originated from central Europe.

lautering

The method of separating wort from spent grain.

maibock

Although the alcohol level — generally 6.3 percent to 7.4 percent ABV — is similar to other bock beers, maibock tend to be lighter in color and hoppier in flavor.

malt

Along with water, hops, and yeast, malt is one of the key ingredients in virtually all beers.

malting

The process in which a raw grain is made ready for brewing by soaking, germinating, then drying the sprouted grain.

mashing

The start of the brewing process, in which the crushed grains are mixed with hot water and other cereal starches to convert them into fermentable sugar. Also considered unwanted sexual overtures by older men on younger women.

maturation

Also called conditioning, or lagering, maturation is the process after fermentation is technically complete, when the immature, or “green,” beer is removed to a separate tank, and yeast or other additives work to reduce undesirable compounds.

microbrewery

Small, independent brewery that produces fewer than 15,000 barrels per year of high quality, distinctive beer, usually for local consumption and distribution.

milk stout

Particular type of mild dark ale, which often has a creamy, burnt-sugar flavor, thanks to the addition of lactose.

Miller Brewing Company

An American beer brewing company headquartered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, recently part of the 2008 MillerCoors – Molson Coors joint venture until it was acquired by Anheuser-Busch InBev in 2016.

Molson Coors brewing company

Formed in 2005 following the merger of Coors Brewing Company of Golden, Colorado, and Canadian brewing company Molson.

New Belgium Brewing Company

An innovative, employee-owned craft brewery located in Fort Collins, Colorado, that is perhaps most famous for its flagship beer, Fat Tire Belgian-style ale. New Belgium was founded in 1991.

nitrogen

An inert gas often used to drive drafting systems, nitrogen produces much smaller bubbles than carbon dioxide, creating a thicker head and a creamier mouthfeel.

oatmeal stout

A style of stout made with oatmeal that is typically deep brown to black in color and characterized by earthy and nutty flavor profiles and, often, a velvety mouthfeel.

Oktoberfest

A German folk festival that celebrates Bavarian agriculture and plentiful beer.

pale ale

A specific type of ale known for its distinct pale hue and hoppy or bitter flavor.

pasteurization

The process invented by French scientist Louis Pasteur to kill microbes. In beer making, it is the process of heating beer to inhibit the growth of potential spoiling microorganisms and to prolong the shelf life of beer. One of the challenges of pasteurization is its impact on flavor and taste.

pilsner

A style of lager originally from the Czech Republic, pilsner tends to be a clear pale gold in color, somewhat hoppy, with a bright white head.

pint

The usual size of a beer pouring whose volume and capacity translates to one-eighth of a gallon.

porter

A style of ale that is typically dark in color, with a strong roasted malt flavor and aroma, and strikingly — and often confoundingly — similar to stout.

Prohibition

The distressingly dismal years between 1919 and 1933 when the distribution of alcohol was illegal in United States. There are still counties in the U.S. that are “dry”.

regional craft brewery

An independent brewery that produces more than 15,000 but fewer than 6 million barrels per year.

run-off

A term brewers use to describe the washing through, or extraction, of wort from a mash separator (e.g., mash tun, mash filter).

rice

A grain often used as an ingredient for beer.

rye

A grain often used as an ingredient for beer.

saison

A type of pale ale that translates to “season” in French, saison originated as a refreshing summer ale. It is traditionally highly carbonated with a fruity or spicy taste and (traditionally, not always currently) boasts a low alcohol content.

Scotch ale

Close in resemblance to a German bock, Scotch ales are a type of pale ale with strong malt-forward characteristics, often sweet in flavor, that occasionally introduce notes of peat or smokiness as a nod to its Scottish brethren, whisky.

shelf life

The amount of time that a beer remains stable. Due to oxidation and the fact that beer continues to age and change even after bottling, beer deteriorates — in flavor and body — when it exceeds its recommended shelf life.

shower beer

One of life’s greatest pleasures: A beer consumed while in the shower. Cans recommended. Obviously.

skunky beer

An unpleasant odor emanating from a freshly opened beer indicating some level of spoilage or flavor depreciation.

specific gravity

A numerical measure of a beer’s density. Specific gravity is also known as final gravity.

wort

A liquefied solution of extract that is made from grain intended for fermentation (by yeast) into beer.

yard

Three feet in imperial measurements, also the length of a beer beverage holder.

yeast

Yeast transforms wort into beer through the fermentation process. Ale yeasts are Saccharomyces cerevisiae; lager yeasts are Saccharomyces pastorianus.