Learn About Beer
The National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA) has compiled a list
of terms used within the beer industry. You may also be interested in
downloading their Beer Types and Styles Guide or visiting the recipe-filled Cooking with Beer page.
Ale - A malt beverage brewed with (usually) barley malt and fermented at
relatively high temperatures (60-75 Fº) with top fermenting yeast,
which usually creates a fruity taste. Ales are produced with a wide
variety of colors, palates and alcoholic strengths.
Barley Wine - An English term for an extra-strong ale (implied to be as potent as wine).
Bitter - A well-hopped
beer similar to pale ale. The difference is essentially that pale ales
are bottled whereas bitters are usually only draught beers.
Bock - German word for strong beer. It is a lager, usually dark, made from
barley malt that usually displays a malty sweetness and relatively high
alcohol content while limiting the presence of hop bitterness. Bock
beers are traditionally served in autumn, late winter or spring.
Brown Ale - A reddish-brown colored ale known in England as a thirst-quencher
and displays hints of chocolate and fruity sweetness. American
versions are more alcoholic (due to increased malt) and more bitter
(due to increased hops) but they still display the basic features of
chocolate and fruit.
Draught beer that is neither filtered or pasteurized and has a
secondary fermentation and natural clarification in the cellar of the
pub. It is served at a cool temperature but not chilled in order to
fully exhibit all of its flavors.
Dopplebock - Double Bock. An extra strong (alcohol content) bock beer that is usually tawny or dark brown in color.
Hop - A climbing plant
much like a grape vine. Hops contain oils and resins that provide beer
with a bittering balance in taste and aroma to the sweetness of the
malt. Oils contribute to the taste and aroma with resins acting as
India Pale Ale - Commonly referred to as an "IPA," it is a stronger, hoppier version
of a pale ale. The term originates from the difficulties of British
brewers to make beer that could sustain the long voyage from England to
India in the 1700s. The solution was to add hops to already fermented
beer to act as a preserving agent. Hops are now not only added to
fermented beer (dry hopping) but are also boiled in the wort.
Lager - Any beer
fermented at low temperatures using bottom fermenting yeast and then
stored (lagered) in cool conditions in order to clear away
imperfections to ensure a clean taste. Usually golden in color but can
Lambic - Spontaneously fermenting style of beer brewed from malted barley and unmalted wheat and is unique to Belgium.
Light Beer - American term indicating a pilsner-style beer that is relatively low in calories and alcohol content.
Malt - Malt refers to
grains that have been soaked in water until they are partially
germinated (malted) and then kilned. This releases starches which are
turned into fermentable sugar. When yeast is added, these fermentable
sugars become alcohol and carbon dioxide. Malt also gives beer its
Pale Ale - An ale brewed with pale malts (lightly kilned) giving it an often
honey-like or caramel sweetness. They are often bronze or copper
colored as opposed to the dark brown or black of porters and stouts,
hence the term "pale ale." Some English brewers use this term to
describe their premium bitters.
Porter - A London style
of beer. It is a lighter-bodied companion to stout. Porters are
roasted-tasting dark brews that are bottom-fermented and stronger in
Stout - Originally a
"Stout Porter." It is a strong porter that is extra-dark, almost black
in color, due to the use of highly roasted malts.
Weisse/Weissbier - A German term for beer made with malted wheat.
Wort - The sweet liquid made from malted grains, boiling water and hops that yeast cells cause to ferment.
Yeast - Yeast cells love to eat sugar. In doing so, they cause the wort to
ferment, which produces alcohol and carbon dioxide. Yeast also conveys
its own flavor and can be used to give a fruity flavor to beer.