Talk Like A Beer Connoisseur: Cracking The Code On Brewing Terms

How-To Guides

Three men talking while enjoying beers in a bar

Beer is among the most enjoyable beverages that anyone can indulge. But, do you understand the beer lingo that you hear during your craft beer drinking session?

Beer connoisseurs know the language of their favorite drink better than anyone else. They can tell you about malt content, hops used in the brewing process, alcohol percentage, beer slang, and more without skipping a beat.

How does one become fluent in this language? How do you talk like a true beer aficionado?  Read on for some key terms to help you get started in talking like a beer expert!

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How to Talk Like a Beer Connoisseur: Key Terms

Beer Types / Styles

Various types of beer in different glasses

  • Ale

Ales are a type of beer that has been around for centuries. The top-fermenting yeast used during the fermentation process gives them more flavors, which can include fruit characteristics like raisins and currants.

Among the most famous ales include pale ale, Indian pale ale (IPA), brown ale, and more.

  • Imperial

Imperial beers refer to any style brewed with an extra dose of grains and hops, resulting in higher alcohol content and a more robust flavor than regular brews. "Imperial" is sometimes also called "double" or "strong."

  • IPA

India pale ale is a category of beer that’s known for its prominent hop flavor and robust bitterness. The name originates from the time when this beverage was shipped to the British troops based in India.

During that time, it was also known that the ale was preserved during shipment because of its hop content.

  • Lager

Lager and ale are the main types of beer. Lager beers are usually light-colored and highly carbonated as opposed to their ale counterparts. It's produced by using bottom-fermenting yeast, which gives lagers their signature crisp and clean taste.

  • Pilsner

Pilsners can be the thirst-quenching beer that you need. Pushing aside any preconceived notions about what this style of beverage should taste or look like, its refreshing and palate-cleansing properties make for one delicious brew!

Its characteristics are mainly due to the Saaz hops it is made with that give the pilsner quite a spicy taste.

  • Porter

Porter is a style of beer that has an interesting flavor due to the barley used. The dark color comes from roasting, which caramelizes it when brewing over hot fires or boilers with coals.

Today's versions are typically low on hops to give way to smoky flavors like chocolate and burnt sugar.

  • Stout

Stout is among the darker beers, almost black in color and filled with rich flavors. It has an unusual creamy foam that has a toasty taste as you drink it. This makes this style of beer enjoyable for all types of people who enjoy captivating flavors from start to finish.

The variety of stouts is vast. You can find oatmeal stout, milk, and lactose-based imperials, to name just a few!

Beer Descriptors

Mugs with Fresh Tasty Beer on Table

  • Appearance

The first thing you experience when getting a beer is how it looks. You see the beer glass in front of yourself and take in all its beauty - from color, clarity, carbonation, and cleanliness.

This is one of the reasons why using an appropriate glass for different styles of brews is essential.

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  • Aroma

The aroma of the beer is always a mainstay when it comes to drinking. After you take in the appearance, your brain should be scanning the intricate aromas of the delicious beverage.

Hold your nose up to the beer glass so close that you can feel a draft with each breath. Take in all of those wonderful smells, and notice how many different aromas there. It could be fruity, floral, spicy, vegetal, etc.

  • Body

The term "body" in the world of beer refers to a sensation felt on one's palate, which reflects how full they're feeling and if their mouth is coated with sticky residue after drinking. The viscosity and density can also be an indicator for this measure.

  • Dank

The word "dank" has been linked to the IPAs with hop flavors. Those who enjoy these types of beers have attributed this term as meaning pungent or funky.

  • Head

The head on your beer is the frothy foam that forms when bubbles of carbon dioxide rise to the surface. The ingredients for this delicious creation are wort protein, yeast, and hop residue - all are produced during fermentation!

  • Mouthfeel

The mouthfeel pertains to the textural attributes of beer that create a tangible sensation in your mouth and can be felt with physical lips as you drink the beverage. These sensations will vary between different varieties.

  • Notes

Notes are one way to refer to a beer's flavors. A great way to appreciate the subtleties in beer flavor is by swirling it around your mouth and taking note of any flavors that may be present.

As you gulp your beer, pay attention to how it tastes in contrast with other beers. You may notice that some flavors are more distinctive than others.

  • Overall Impression

This is the summary of your impressions of the different aspects and flavors after tasting the beer. At this point, you're going to recall your drinking experience and assess it in general. You can do it by finalizing your verdict or scoring the brew.

Beer Ingredients / Additives

Various beer ingredients in sacks and baskets

  • Adjunct

In the brewing industry, adjunct refers to any addition that supplements the main ingredient used in a particular beer. Some of the most common examples of adjuncts include corn, rye, rice, and oats. 

  • Esters

Esters refers to the sweet, fruity flavors that a brew develops during fermentation. They can vary in flavors and aroma between pears or bananas. They're usually found at very high concentrations; and sometimes, they create a solvent-like flavor too.

  • Hops

Hops are the green cone-shaped flowers, or “inflorescence” as they're also called. In each flower are found some yellow pods that produce bitterness and aroma for beer's flavor profile.

  • Malt

Malt is a grain that has been specially prepared for the brewing process and provides the sugar source as well as starch for beer fermentation. It's essentially what makes beer possible, and without it, there would be no alcohol or carbon dioxide.

  • Phenols

Polyphenols are the compounds found in beer, which contain one or more aromatic rings and two hydroxyl groups attached to each ring. Polyphenols, which can be derived directly from malt and hops, are one of the components that give beer its signature flavor!

  • Wort

It's a solution of malt and hops, created through mashing up grains with hot water. It is basically the sweet product that is ready to be fermented to turn into beer. One could say that wort is unfermented beer.

  • Yeast

With a little help from yeast, you can have all the fun at your next party with this single-cell organism that's responsible for fermentation. It does this by digesting simple sugars like glucose or maltose into carbon dioxide gas and alcohol for us to enjoy.

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People

Brewmaster At Work

  • Beer Connoisseur

Beer connoisseurs can identify the aroma of different beers by their smell. They take time before drinking any kind of beer and compare it with what they tasted in their mouth, where texture, coloration, as well as head all come into play for determining quality levels.

  • Brewmaster

A brewmaster is in charge of making sure that all aspects and processes related to beer are on point. A comprehensive understanding of brewing techniques is required, including selecting ingredients for your unique recipe as well as overseeing the fermentation process.

  • Cicerone

As the world becomes ever more specialized, many people are now seeking out experts in specific fields. Cicerones are one of the professionals who can help you find that great beer for your itinerary and taste buds!

The Cicerone Certification Program is a way for beer professionals to improve their skills and elevate the experience of consumers. Candidates have to undergo certain activities, including an exam, so they could hone their beer knowledge and skills.

As you go through the journey, you can get four levels of certification: Certified Beer Server, Certifed Cicerone, Advanced Cicerone, and Master Cicerone, which is the topmost certification or level.

Measurements

Home Brew beer hydrometer

  • ABV

Alcohol by volume is a measurement of how much ethanol (alcohol) there is in beer. Beer bottles, cans, and kegs all have their own specific ABV values which are used to determine what percentage that particular beverage contains compared with other similar-sized containers.

Fermentable sugars in beer can affect the alcohol content. These byproducts of fermentation create more ethanol which makes strong beer.

  • IBUs

The International Bitterness Units (IBUs) are a way to quantify how bitter your brew tastes. It's denoted simply with numbers that provide real reference points with regards to parts per million (ppm) measured during specific beer-making processes.

The intenseness of bitterness in craft beers varies from one person to another. Some might be able to perceive up to 120 IBUs while others only get 80 or 90. Meanwhile, there is a whole other group who can't tell the difference with anything above 30!

  • Gravity

Gravity refers to how much sugar has been dissolved in your wort or beer, which will affect both its strength and flavor intensity after fermentation has occurred. Brewers measure gravity with two different tools: specific gravity (SG) and degrees Plato (DP). 

Brewing Tools and Beer Products

Craft beer equipment at a brewery

  • Airlock

An airlock is a piece of homebrewing equipment that is used to maintain an anaerobic environment inside your fermentation vessel. It prevents bacteria and oxygen from getting into your vessels and allows carbon dioxide to be released outside.

  • Bung 

A bung is quite similar to an airlock in terms of purpose. It's also a device that allows natural carbon dioxide buildup from the fermentation container to escape and at the same time prevents air from entering your barrel while it ferments. Others simply call it a stopper.

  • Carboy 

A carboy is a vessel made of glass or plastic and is a great way to ferment your beer at home. It has been used for centuries and can still be found in breweries today! It is used with a rubber stopper and a fermentation lock.

  • Crowler

The crowler is an excellent way to enjoy your favorite beer in style. It is a 32-ounce aluminum vessel that you fill yourself with beer. It keeps beers fresh until it's time for a shot, and opens just like any other can does!

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  • Foam on Beer System (FOB)

A FOB is a way to eliminate beer wasted and increase your profits. When the keg's foam passes into a FOB, it shuts off flow until another tap has been pulled on for new suds!

  • Growler

A growler is a great way to transport draft beer or craft beers. They come in glass, ceramic, or stainless steel bottles or jugs.

  • Keg

A keg is a large metal vessel that holds beer for distribution to bars, pubs, and restaurants. it usually has a capacity of 114 liters.

  • Kegerator

The kegerator is a mix between a keg and a refrigerator that is usually to dispense and keep any carbonated beverage cold. A kegerator is a fantastic piece of equipment for enjoying beer at home and wants to branch out into other alcoholic favorites.

Processes

Close up of raw beer production

  • Attenuation

In a beer-making process, attenuation refers to how much sugar is converted into alcohol and carbon dioxide during the fermentation process. A higher attenuation means more conversion has occurred.

  • Bottle conditioning 

Bottle conditioning is a process where sugar is added to the beer in its bottle which the yeast will ferment. This starts the second fermentation process. As it ferments, carbon dioxide will be released and will give the beer its natural carbonation.

  • Carbonation

Carbonation is the phenomenon wherein yeast naturally produces carbon dioxide, along with alcohol, in the process of eating sugar. But if too much sugar is added to your brew, it could lead to over-carbonation.

  • Fermentation

Fermentation is when the yeast converts wort to beer. The yeast used turns the sugar content into ethyl alcohol and carbon dioxide gas, giving you both your alcoholic content as well as bubbles.

  • Filtering

When it comes to brewing, filtering is an essential process for removing solids from liquid. The effectiveness of this depends on how fine or coarse the porous medium is. However, there's no question that most beers you buy at your local store have been filtered in some capacity.

Slang Terms

Various cans and bottles of beer in a grocery shelf

  • Beached Whale

This beer terminology refers to that one beer you couldn't finish the night before and you regret opening it just because someone suggested it.

  • Beer Haul

This means bringing a variety of beers to quaff and enjoying by yourself or with friends and family.

  • Bottle Bomb

Over-carbonation is what causes bottle bombs. They explode before you can even open them, leading to beer waste and mess.

  • Cadillac

This is what craft beer lovers like to call an automated brewery that's made in Germany.

  • Crispy Boi

It is what beer geeks like to call a beer that is made to be crisp and clean. Also, this term refers to a guy who is fond of drinking crisp beers only.

  • Crushable

Crushable is an average beer with low-to-medium alcohol by volume that has tons of flavor that will make your tongue and tummy happy all night long!

  • Drain Pour

Some people put a beer down the drain if they have to because of how bad it tastes, although others just drink them anyways.

  • Gusher

Gusher is a type of beer that immediately spurts out when you open it. It does this because its carbonation is exceedingly high. It's quite similar to a bottle bomb.

  • Haze Bro

Haze Bro is a name given to a young, craft beer drinking enthusiast who only enjoys hazy or unclarified beer, like New England-style IPAs.

  • Hophead

A hophead is another term for a beer enthusiast.

  • Shelf Turd

These beers are commonly found at your local liquor or grocery store that many people don't buy because they're undesirable.

  • Tallboy

It is a tall can that holds 16 fluid ounces, and it is the known standard vessel of today's beers by many craft brewers.

  • Tick

This onomatopoeia means to mark a beer off your must-drink beers list.

  • Whale

It is a famous slang term among beer lovers that means an extremely rare beer and sought after by many beer drinkers. They call the rarest the "white whales."

Conclusion

If you want to take your love for beer to a whole new level, consider talking like a beer connoisseur. The next time you're serving beer either from beer towers or beer pitchers, you'll be able to understand and converse with people more smoothly.

We hope this post is an excellent opportunity for you to brush up on your beer knowledge. How many key terms did you know? Are there any we missed? Let us know in the comments below!

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