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Beer Glossary


Abbey: A monastery, which for our purposes, has something to do with beer making.

ABV: Alcohol by volume.

ABW: Alcohol by weight

Bitterness: Sharp taste produced by hops, used to balance the sweetness of the malt.

Cask or Bottle-conditioning: Beer is put into kegs (casks) or bottles with still-active yeasts before fermentation has finished, sometimes with the addition of new fermentables (sugars) so it may naturally carbonate and cask condition under pressure prior to being dispensed for consumption.

Diacetyl: Refers to an acid made up of two vinegar molecules, which, when present in beer, can create a "buttery" or "butterscotch" quality. This is not always a desired thing.

Dry Hopping: The addition of hops to beer after it has fermented. This is to give the beer a floral or aromatic quality.

Esters: The fruity flavors and aroma in beer, usually associated with ales and produced by higher fermentation temperatures.

FG: Finishing gravity. A measurement of the density (weight) of fermented beer. Indicates both the residual sweetness and, with the Original Gravity (OG) the alcohol content of the beer. "High gravity" beer means strong.

Hefe: (German) Means "with yeast". Applies to unfiltered, or bottle conditioned beers.

Hops: A climbing vine ( Humulus lupulus) that produces flowers or "cones" which contribute bitterness and aroma in beer. Hops also act as a natural preservative and help clarify the beer during the brewing process. Active ingredient: alpha acid.

IBU: International bitterness units. A measurement of the bitterness of beer, contributed by hops. One IBU = 1 mg. Isomerized hop oils per liter of beer.

Lagering: (German) means "to store". Applies to the aging or cold cellaring of certain beers. Both ales and lagers can be lagered. But just because a beer is lagered does not make it a "lager". That’s about yeast.

Malt: Malting is a process in which grain (barley/wheat/etc.) is lightly sprayed with water to begin germination, and then is dried. This activates enzymes necessary to release the sugars trapped in the kernel. Malt is the main ingredient in beer. It is the coffee bean in coffee.

OG: Original Gravity. A way of measuring the dissolved solids in a liquid. In beer, it is a measure of sugars, using water as a starting point (1.000). The original gravity of an average beer is 1044, and it finishes at about 1010, giving it a 4.2% alcohol by volume.

Yeast: A little creature you and I can't see with the naked eye, but they're doing good things, I assure you. They eat the sugars released by the malted grains, converting them to alcohol and CO2. They are the magic in beer making. So from now on, be kind to yeasts.

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