Common Beer Terms

Common Beer Terms

Craft beer isn’t just something you grab out of the fridge and chug. There’s care put into recipes like never before, and understanding the basics is the first step to appreciating the range of flavors you’ll encounter. Soak up some beer knowledge by learning about these common terms.

Location Types

Brewery

An establishment that produces beer commercially.

Brewpub

A location where beer is brewed and served on the premises, usually accompanied by a restaurant.

Taproom

A business dedicated to serving beer on tap.

 

Descriptors

ABV

The amount of alcohol in beer, a percentage also known as Alcohol By Volume.

IBU

A system that analyzes the hop bitterness levels in a finished beer product, also known as International Bitterness Units.

Body

Body is a common descriptor of the thickness and mouthfeel of a beer: Light, Medium or Full.

Dark Beer and a Combo Board at The Commons Brewery

 

Ingredients

Hops

The flowers of the hop plant are used for flavoring and stabilizing beer. Bitterness is the most common flavor, but they can also be zesty or citric. Aroma also plays a big part with hops, I recommend you smell your beer before taking the first sip. Certain varieties of hops are used more heavily per region, while others are used to make certain styles of beer. I’m fond of hops from the Northwest: Amarillo, Cascade, Centennial, and Willamette (to name a few). Another favorite are Noble Hop varieties (Hallertau, Tettnang, Spalt, and Saaz), grown specifically for their low bitterness and strong aroma (used in beers like pilsners, lagers, dunkels, or märzens).

Grains

Barley is the most common grain used in the brewing process, but oats, rye, and wheat are also prominent. Grains attribute largely to flavor and appearance of beer.

Malts

Processed grains that are used for simple sugar, an ingredient used in fermenting beer to create alcohol. They’re often used for flavor, color, and the lightness of a beer. A couple of my favorite malts are chocolate and caramel.

 

Carbonation

CO2

Carbon dioxide carbonation is the most common. It’s the part of a beer that gives it fizz and some additional bitterness.

Nitro

Nitrogen gives beer smaller bubbles than CO2, creating a smoother mouthfeel.

Cask

Unfiltered beer that is sealed in a cask to allow for secondary fermentation, creating a smoother mouthfeel. It’s served at a warmer temperature than traditional CO2 beers.