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Craft Beer Jargon Glossary

General Beer Terms Explained

To some a beer is simply a beer, but to expert craft beer drinkers it is so much more. If you’ve ever found yourself at a brewery eavesdropping on the conversation next to you where they discuss their wet-hopped whale with an ABV and IBU of whatever, leaving you thinking to yourself what gibberish are they speaking, well then you have come to the right place! Here are 50 fun craft beer terms to give you a strong beer vocabulary and help you understand your fellow craft beer drinkers.

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z


A

ABV

Stands for “Alcohol By Volume,” which is the percentage of alcohol present in a volume of liquid.


Adjunct

Any fermentable ingredients like corn or rice, which are used to supplement or replace malted barely in the brewing process. This is usually done to save on costs or lighten beer flavor and is how big name lagers are brewed and also why they taste so bland.


B

Beached Whale

The beer you couldn’t finish and regret opening from the night before when someone suggested opening just one more beer. Some devoted craft beer drinkers refuse to dump the beer and will drink it warm the next morning.


Beer Haul

Bringing home a truckload of beer to enjoy.


Body

The thickness of the beer in your mouth. A light bodied beer resembles water and full bodied beer feels more like syrup.


Bottle Bomb

Bottles that explode before being opened due to over carbonation causing you to make a mess and lose beer in the process. Another term for this is a gusher.


Bottle Conditioning

Beer that is bottled without removing the yeast, allowing fermentation to continue in the bottle, which can cause the beer to grow more complex over time.


Bung

Used to define the round hole in the side of a cask or older style keg where it is filled with beer, as well as the wood or plastic stopper fitted to fill the hole.


C

Cadillac

A fully automated brewery, usually made in Germany.


Cask

A barrel shaped container for holding beer. They were originally made of iron hopped wooden staves, but are now most widely available in stainless steel and aluminum.


Cenosillicaphobia

The fear of having an empty glass.


Cicerone

A sommelier, but for beer that comes in three levels, certified beer server, certified cicerone, and master cicerone.


Closer

The final beer of the night that seals and ends the night as a success.


Crowler

A unique can/growler hybrid that is becoming increasingly popular at certain bars and breweries.


D

Dank

A description for hoppy beers that have sticky, resiny, marijuana-like characteristics.


D.E.A.D. Time

Stands for “Drop Everything And Drink.” When everyone in the brewery stops to taste samples of beer going in the canning line immediately before it runs. This acts as a measure of quality control.


Dry Hopped

Adding hops to the brew after the boil, or even in the cask to increase the hop aroma and flavor. This practice is seen often in ales, but not in lagers.


E

Esters

Aromas and flavors of fruit and flowers in the beer caused by specific yeast strains or high temperature fermentation.


F

Fronters

The beers you put in the front of your fridge before hosting a party in order to block access to the better selection of craft beers in the back.


G

Glasswhale

A rare piece of glassware designed for serving beer.


Graveyard

The surplus or stack of empty bottles that follow a craft beer drinking session.


Gravity

A measure of beers density that is important to brewing. When the final gravity is consistent, that means the yeast is done working, and you can now calculate the amount of alcohol in the beer.


Growler

A jug made of glass that customers can purchase with beer and bring back to refill at a later time. These usually hold a half-gallon or 2 liters of beer.


H

Head

The proper name for the foam that forms on top of your beer when poured.


Hophead

Someone who appreciates highly hopped beers such as IPAs.


I

IBU

Stands for “International Bitterness Unit.” The higher the IBU number is, the more bitter your beer will be.


Imperial

A beer that is stronger than the original base style. Some beers may be called doubles or triples instead of imperial but they are similar connotations.


K

Keg

A large metal vessel that hold beer. Comes in several sizes which are, 2.5 gallons, 5 gallons, 7.75 gallons,13.2 gallons(import kegs) and 15.5 gallons.


L

Light Struck

The result of light and heat exposure to the beer giving it a skunky smell. Some craft beer drinkers also refer to this as a skunked beer.


Lupulin

The gland of the hop plant that is full of flavor and essence you taste and smell in your favorite pale ales and IPAs. Alpha hop acids, beta hop acids, and essential hop oils reside here.


M

Mash

This is the mixture of malts and hops that come from the brewing process of soaking malts in hot water, releasing sugar which will later be fermented to create beer.


N

Ninkasi

The ancient Sumerian goddess of beer.


Noob

Someone new to the craft beer scene. Do not put down a noob who is learning, but also don’t be the noob that acts like they know more than they actually do.


O

Oasthouse

A facility where hops are dried and baled after they are picked.


Octanes

Beers with a high ABV that is usually above 10%.


P

Phenol

A chemical compound that can give unique aromas to beer. It can arise from smoked malts, fermenting techniques, yeast strains, or chlorine present in the water that is being used to brew.


Punt

The hollow section at the bottom of some beer bottles.


Q

Quaff

To drink very deeply.


R

Rotator

A dedicated tap at restaurants or bars where seasonal or special release beers are rotated. These are the beers most intriguing to craft beer lovers.


S

Safety beer

The beer you bring to a party or event just in case you don’t like the beer that is being served. It is typically better than your average beer, but still shareable.


Session/Sessionable

Beer with a lower ABV, that is usually under 5%, allowing you to drink several in a session without getting wasted.


T

Ticking

The craft beer lovers sport of looking for new beers just for the sake of “ticking them off your list,” and saying you’ve tried them.


Trappist:

A Catholic order of monks and nuns who happen to be really good at brewing beer. Originally, they were made for the community members and to sell to fund the monasteries operations. Only 11 monastery breweries exist today with six in Belgium, two in Netherlands, and one in Austria, Italy, and the US.


U

UBI:

Stands for “Unexplained Beer Injury,” which began in Britain when people began coming to the emergency room too intoxicated to explain how they sustained their injuries.


W

Wet-hopped

Once a year during the fall you can get fresh-off-the-vine hops to brew with before they are dried, giving the beer more nuanced and earthy flavors. Hops are often dried after harvesting in order to lengthen their shelf life and make them usable year-round.


Whale

Rare and sought after craft beers produced in extremely limited quantities with very limited distribution. The term refers to Ahab and his incredibly long search to find Moby Dick.


Wort

The liquid created by the mash process which is basically sugar water waiting to be hopped and fermented into beer. Simply put this is unfermented beer.


Z

Zymurgy:

The branch of chemistry that deals with fermentation.


Zythologist

A beer enthusiast who possesses knowledge of ingredients, pouring techniques, beer pairings, and more.


Zythology:

The study of beer and the beer making process.


Now you’re ready to start some fun craft brewery conversations and put your new knowledge to use. If the opportunity doesn’t arise then just spit some fun facts at your friends, but be sure not to come off as a noob, we gave you the basics, not a Cicerone certification.