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Craft Brewing Terms and Terminology from A-Z

by Tim Brunicardi on December 21, 2018

Beer Taps

Do you know your ABC's? How about the ABC's of craft brewing?

Check out our compilation of some of the terminology you're sure to see whether you're just experimenting with new brews or interested in a career in craft brewing.


Ale is distinguished by use of top fermenting yeast strains, Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Fruitiness and esters are often part of an ale's character.


Barley is the seed of a grain, a main ingredient used in brewing beer. However, it must be malted before brewing.


Carbonation occurs naturally due to the carbon dioxide produced during the fermentation process. The amount of carbonation present in each different beer style is what ultimately defines that beer. While pale lagers, such as Budweiser, have a very crisp and sharp carbonation; however others, like stouts, have a much smoother texture and carbonation.


Dry-hopping is the addition of dry hops to fermenting or aging beer to increase its hop character or aroma.


Estery is the aroma or flavor reminiscent of flowers or fruits.


Fermentation is the conversion of sugars into ethyl alcohol and carbon dioxide through the action of yeast.


Grist is a term for milled grain(s).


Head retention is a measurement of the amount of time (in seconds) it will take for the foam at the top of the beer (1 inch) to reside.


International Bitterness Units (IBU) is the system of measurement that indicates the hop's bitterness in finished beer.


Jammy means a beer is wealthy with preserved fruit flavor.  


Krug is the only beer glass with a handle. Typically, this glass is very heavy and sturdy and is also called a mug or seidel.


Lager is a type of beer. Lagers are made with "bottom-fermenting" strains of yeast that are fermented at cooler temperatures than ales and stored for longer periods of time.


Malt is produced after the barley has been processed. The barley must steep in water and go through a germination period. After, it must be dried in kilns to stop germination.


Noble hops is the unofficial, yet widely used designation for several hop varietals from Germany: Hallertauer Mittelfruh, Hersbrucker, Tettnanger and Spalter, and one varietal called Saaz from the Žatec region of the Czech Republic.


Oxygenation is the addition of oxygen in the wort. This is done to help provide the yeast with oxygen for a healthy fermentation.


Porter is a very dark, top-fermented brew.


Quaff means to drink deeply.


Reinheitsgebot, also known as the "Purity Law," originated in Bavaria in 1516 and is now applied to all German brewers making beer for consumption in their own country. This law requires that only malted grains, hops, yeast and water may be used in the brewing.


Session beer is a low-alcohol beer that's flavorful enough to hold your interest for several pints during a drinking session. Originally referring to the British pub styles like milds and bitter, session beers have come to mean anything under about 5% alcohol.


Turbidity refers to the haziness or murkiness of the beer.


Units of bitterness is another term for IBU or International Bitterness Units. 


Vertical describes the tasting of two or more vintages of one beer. Most people taste in the order of newest to oldest vintage. Consult the bottle label or brewery’s website for “drink-by” dates or aging recommendations.


Wort is the solution of grain sugars strained from the mash tun. At this stage, regarded as "sweet wort", later as brewed wort, fermenting wort and finally beer.


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Yeast is the unicellular celled organisms of the fungus family that are responsible for converting the sugars contained in wort into alcohol and carbon dioxide.


Zymurgy is a branch of applied chemistry that deals with fermentation processes (as in wine making or brewing).


Want to learn more than just the ABC's of craft brewing?
Apply for the Hocking College Fermentation Science program today.

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