Beer Definitions

Ale:
Typically, a class of beer made with a top-fermenting yeast strain that is fermented at warmer temperatures. Ale fermentations are generally shorter than lager fermentations, and the yeast fermentation by-products are more pronounced in the flavor/aroma.
Alpha Acid:
Resin in hops that contributes to the bitterness of beer. The higher the alpha acid% in the hop, the more potential bitterness can be extracted from it.
Aroma Hops:
Hops usually added in the last 5 minutes of the boil to impart hop aroma. They do not contribute much bitterness.
Attenuation:
The decrease in original gravity that occurs during fermentation. A highly attenuated beer will be thinner in body than a beer with low attenuation.
Base Malt:
Malt such as pale malt, that serves as the “backbone” of the beer, as well as the main sugar source for fermentation.
Bittering Hops:
Hops used early in the boil to impart bitterness. They do not generally impart much flavor or aroma.
Bottle Condition:
Carbonating beer with an additional fermentation in the bottle.
Cold Break:
The coagulation of proteins during wort cooling.
Diacetyl:
Fermentation by-product that may lend buttery or butterscotch notes to beer. This is considered an off-flavor in excessive amounts in any beer, however it is considered an off-flavor in most lagers in any amount. Can also be caused by contamination.
DMS (Dimethyl Sulfide):
An off-flavor is excessive amounts that resembles the aroma or flavor of canned corn/cooked vegetables.
Dry-Hopping:
Adding hops to finished beer which provides hop aroma and flavor but no bitterness.
Esters:
The “fruity” flavor or aroma most commonly found in ales. Created from the interaction between acids and alcohol.
Fermentation:
In simple terms, the process of yeast breaking down sugars into alcohol and carbon dioxide.
Fermenter:
The vessel in which fermentation takes place, typically a glass carboy or food-grade plastic bucket for homebrewing applications.
Final Gravity:
The density of the wort after fermentation occurs.
Fining(s):
Use of irish moss or isinglass (or others) to clarify beer.
Flavor Hops:
Hops added to the boil within the last 20 minutes of the boil, imparting flavor and some aroma to the beer.
Flocculation:
“Dropping out” of yeast cells and/proteins that effects the clarity of the beer. Higher flocculation means clearer beer.
Fusel Alcohol:
Off-flavor/flaw in excessive amounts that contributes to an alcoholic harshness or “hotness” in the beer.
Hops:
One of the four main ingredients in beer. The flower or cone of a perennial vine that contributes to the bitterness, flavor, and aroma in beer. They are considered the “spice” of beer, and there are many varieties of hops that each impart different flavors, aromas, and bitterness levels.
Hydrometer:
Instrument that measures the density of liquid in comparison to the density of water. One can determine the alcohol % of a finished beer by comparing the original gravity and final gravity.
Infusion Mash:
Simplest procedure for conducting a mash in which crushed grain is mixed with hot water to arrive at a pre-determined rest.
IBU:
International Bitterness Unit. A measure of the bitterness in beer.
Kit:
Usually refers to a hopped malt extract.
Krausen:
Prounounced by some as “Kroy-zen”, and has two definitions. 1. A method to carbonate beer in which wort is added to the fermented/finished beer to carbonate. 2. The foamy head that develops during the initial stage of fermentation.
Lager:
A class of beer made with a bottom-fermenting yeast strain. Usually fermented at cooler temperatures than ale and lagered (stored cold) after fermentation to drive off yeast by-products, usually resulting in a “cleaner” character in the finished beer.
Lovibond:
Measurement with which malt and beer color is compared against. The higher the lovibond, the darker the color.
Malt:
Usually refers to malted barley. Any grain (rye,wheat,barley etc) that underwent the malting process.
Malt Extract:
A condensed/concentrated wort that is used by homebrewers. It is found in either a liquid or dry form.
Malting:
The process which basically consists of immersing or soaking grains in water until they germinate, then drying and kilning them in a way which develops the needed enzymes in malt for mashing later.
Mash:
Step in all-grain or partial mash brewing in which crushed grains/malt are mixed with hot water to rest at a pre-determined temperature or temperatures(if step mashing etc). The enzymes in the malt then convert the starches in the grain to fermentable and unfermentable sugars which the yeast will then consume during fermentation.
Original Gravity:
The density of the wort before fermentation occurs.
Oxidation:
Off-flavor in most beer styles which is caused by the introduction of oxygen to fermented beer. It produces a stale, cardboardy flavor and aroma.
Phenols/Phenolic:
Off-flavor in most beer styles (except weizens and some Belgian styles) which can manifest themselves as a medicinal/clovey/band-aid type flavor or aroma. High levels of phenols may be caused by contamination or tannins extracted from the grain husks.
Pitch:
Adding yeast to the cooled wort.
Priming:
Addition of a fermentable sugar to finished beer to carbonate the beer in the bottle. Corn sugar is a common priming sugar.
Rack:
Also referred to as “transfer.” To move beer from one vessel to another, usually through siphoning.
Saccharomyces Carlsbergensis:
Scientic name for lager yeast. Bottom fermenting yeast.
Saccharomyces Cerevisiae:
Scientific name for ale yeast. Top fermenting yeast.
Sparging:
Rinsing excess sugars from the grain after mashing.
Specialty Malts:
Malts used in lesser quantities in the mash that are usually used to impart flavor/color/aroma. Most specialty grains do not need to be mashed and can be steeped.
Steeping grains:
Used in extract brewing applications. It is the process of soaking grains (usually specialty grains) in water to extract color/flavor/aroma/body. Steeping differs from mashing in that there is no starch-to-sugar conversion.
Wort:
Basically, unfermented beer. You will have made wort after the mashing and sparging process. Liquid or Dry malt extract can be described as a concentrated wort. Pronounced “wert.”
Yeast:
One of the four main ingredients in beer. Yeast is a single-cell fungus which feeds on sugars produceded by mashing/malt extract, producing alcohol and carbon dioxide. Yeast is considered by many to be the most important ingredient in beer making.
Zymurgy:
The chemistry of fermentation with yeasts, especially the science involved in beer and wine making.

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