It has come to my attention that I may get overly excited when talking about beer and use jargon that may not be understood by the average beer drinker. This bothered me because beer is for everyone, and it should be approachable by all.

I definitely don’t want to scare anyone away or come off as “Mansplaining.” However, I also don’t want to dumb down the experience. That’s why I thought I’d share some common terms you might come across on this and other beer blogs.

First, let’s start with the basics. Beer is the product of brewing and fermentation of starches, mainly cereal grains. During the brewing process, the fermentation of the starch sugars in the wort produces ethanol and carbonation in the resulting beer. While there are hundreds of beer styles with more being invented all the time, there are only two types of beer: ale and lager.

Ales are beers fermented with top-fermenting yeast and are typically fermented at warmer temperatures than lagers. They are often served warmer, and the term ale is sometimes incorrectly associated with alcoholic strength. On the other hand, lagers are any beer fermented with bottom-fermenting yeast at colder temperatures. They are often associated with crisp, clean flavors and traditionally fermented and served at colder temperatures than ales. Lagering beer in cold cellars for periods ranging from a few weeks to years improves clarity and flavor.

Another term you might come across is Reinheitsgebot, the “German beer purity law” passed in 1516, which stated that beer could only contain water, barley, and hops. Yeast was later added after its role in fermentation was discovered by Louis Pasteur. Thankfully, since 1993, a new, more liberal German beer law has been in effect.

Adjuncts are any unmalted grain or other fermentable ingredient used in the brewing process, which are typically either rice or corn and can also include honey, syrups, and numerous other sources of fermentable carbohydrates. They are more commonly found in mass-produced light American lager-style beers.

IBU, or International Bitterness Units, is the measure of bittering substances in beer. Light lagers typically have an IBU rating between 5-10 while big, bitter India Pale Ales can often have an IBU rating between 50 and 70. Bittering in beer generally (but not always) comes from hops, which are the flowers of the hop plant. They are used primarily as a bittering, flavoring, and stability agent in beer, to which they impart floral, fruity, or citrus flavors and aromas.

Mouthfeel refers to the consistency, thickness, and mouth-filling property of a beer. It ranges from thin- to full-bodied, and textures one perceives in a beer include carbonation, fullness, and aftertaste. “Juicy” refers to the aroma and taste of the beer being reminiscent of fruit juice, usually tropical, citrus, or stone fruit. These flavors and aromas can be affected by things like yeast and grains but typically come from the variety of hops used. “Big” refers to a beer that is atypically high in alcohol and/or flavors.

I hope this helps you understand some of the terminologies you might come across on beer blogs and that you can talk like a beer nerd now too. Remember, beer is for everyone, and we should all be able to enjoy it without feeling intimidated by unfamiliar terminology.




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