A-Z of Beer
We should perhaps call this the A to S of beer. As if turns about, not a ton of terminology between S and Z aside from brand names. You will find some brand names referenced, but rather than just a list of beers, here you will find a few key words that you may hear when talking about, reading about, or purchasing beer and ale. We’ll try to keep our brand examples simple and straight forward for these purposes, selecting samples that are easy to find and purchase should you think the description sounds tasty. We don’t need to go deep underground here. No one likes a snob. Shall we?
ABV – I KNOW this little number has to do with how saucy this beverage is going to make me/how many of these I can drink with lunch and still go back to work, but what does it mean? It stands for alcohol by volume and it’s actually determined by a fairly complicated measurement process utilizing a tool called the hydrometer and other math-y things. For all intents and purposes, this is basically the percentage of alcohol in a given amount of liquid. The liquid being your beverage.
Aroma – See “smell.” You use your nose for this.
American IPA – If you have been in a brewery or a bar that has something besides Miller Lite on tap, you have probably heard the letters IPA. It stand for India Pale Ale. It’s hoppy and it’s delicious. If you are wondering what hops taste like, scroll on down to section H. Most American IPA’s, modelled after their English counterparts, are even more hoppy, often featuring floral or citrus notes. Popular Choice: Stone IPA, Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale
Belgian Amber – Similar to English or American Ambers, with the spice of a Belgian yeast. They traditionally have a, you guessed it, amber color and warm clean taste. Popular Choice: New Belgium’s Fat Tire Amber Ale (this one is a bit hoppier than other Belgian Ambers, but is readily available, reasonably priced, and tasty).
Braggot – This is pretty much mead made with honey and malt. Updated versions add hops and more carbonation than their predecessors. Example: the retired Magic Hat Braggot. It was tasty, but you can’t have it. But go ahead and go down that google hole starting with Magic Hat. You will find some tasty surprises.
Bourbon Barrel – These are words that make me happy. Aging in a bourbon barrel adds a full, robust flavor and muted sweetness to an ale. Popular Choices: Revolution Brewing Straight Jacket
Carbonation – Carbonation is the infusion of carbon dioxide into a liquid. CO2 is a by-product of fermentation and occurs naturally. TIP: to preserve carbonation keep your beer at a good temp – too cold will make your beer flat, too warm and you will release y our carbonation before all those happy little bubbles get to your tongue.
Dampfbier – Bavarian style barley ale, it’s not very hoppy. Not brewed stateside, but you will hear breweries reference it in their descriptions.
Dry-hopped – The act of adding hops to the brew both during boil and in the tank. Adding hops after fermentation is done really adds mostly to the aroma more than the taste.
Extra Pale Ale – you will find a few different takes on the ERA, some taking it to be a lighter version of the pale ale, some considering it extra hoppy pale ale. A few to try: Summit ERA, Flying Fish Brewing Company XPA
Grisette – a golden ale with its origins in France and southern Belgium. Lower alcohol content, usually golden or blonde in color. Try your friends’ home brew – this on is pretty home brew friendly.
Hops – the flower of the hop plant. Hops balance out the sweetness of the malt. They can add a bitterness, a mint flavor, a floral note, or a bit on the citrus-y side depending on the beer. You will find some hoppy beers with a clean astringent taste. The cooler the wort (wet, hot, malt mash – more on that later) is when the hops are added, the less bitter the hops will make your brew.
India Pale Ale –The IPA varies in taste and color, but all are marked by their high hops usage as well as a typically higher ABV. Try: Sierra Nevada Celebration, Lagunita IPA, Ballast Point Sculpin.
Juniper – Juniper berries pack a very unique, dry punch that happens to compliment hops quite nicely. Try – Samuel Adams Juniper IPA, New Belgium Sahti Ale, Rogue Juniper Pale Ale
Malt – a grain that has been steeped, germinated, and dried. Used for brewing and distilling. This is the base flavor for your beer.
Mexican Lager – You know this one. We all know this one. Much like water, but more yellow. BUT DON’T JUDGE ME IF I WANT TO DRINK IT WITH MY TACOS.
Milk Stout – dark and creamy, high bodied and usually sweet. Ex: Stone Brewing Company’s Stone Coffee Milk Stout
Nitro – Nitro beers are creamier than plain ole CO2 (still has Cos present of course). These are not usually a hoppy beer, but bars get more and more creative with the brews they decide to put on nitro tap all the time. You will have to find these on tap. If you are in Austin, Texas you can find some at Craft Pride for a nitro Texan experience.
Single Malt – Think Pilsner. There is one malt, as the name would imply. These are simple and straightforward.
SMaSH – This is a single malt AND a single hop. This gives the brewer the opportunity to emphasize the flavors of the featured ingredient. It’s a little easier on the wallet if you are brewing at home.
Wort – The cracked malt grains are steeped, and slow heated. This malt mash is the wort (it’s pronounced wert). Wort contains the sugars that will be fermented by the brewing yeast to produce alcohol.
Post by JW Jones