Get a Leg Up on Beer Marketing Hype
Breweries and their advertising agencies are not above tossing around a few little-known terms to impress their consumer base. Most of it is just hyperbole, but it wouldn’t be a bad idea for beer drinkers to brush up on their brewer-ese.
Attenuate: To make thin; to dilute. With regard to fermentation, this term refers to the yeast’s consumption of fermentable sugars, transforming them into alcohol and carbon-dioxide.
Barrel: A standard liquid measure in the brewing industry, equivalent to 31 U.S. gallons.
Base grain: The major source and contributor of fermentable sugars, flavor, and overall beer character.
Bottle-conditioned: Aged and naturally carbonated in the bottle (by priming or re-yeasting), as in homebrew.
Carbon dioxide: The inert natural gas produced by yeasts during the fermentation process.
Cellar temperature: Also known as British cellar temperature: 55° F. Considered by many to be optimum serving temperature for Stout and other Dark Ales.
Conditioning: Maturation of beer; a slow process of clarifying and carbonating.
Conversion: Changing starches to sugars, as in the mashing process.
Dry hop: The addition of hops directly to a vat of fermenting beer with the intent of imparting additional hop aroma to the finished beer.
Fermentation: The natural conversion of sugars to ethanol and carbon dioxide gas by yeast.
Finishing hops: Hops that are added to the kettle late in the boiling process, intended to imbue hop aroma rather than hop bitterness in the beer.
Gravity: Density or thickness of a liquid; a measure of the fermentable sugars in beer.
Grist: Milled grain prepared for mashing.
Hops: The “flowers” of the hop plant that are used in brewing beer. Hop bittering acids offset the sweetness of the malt flavor.
IBUs: International Bittering Units; a measurement of hop bitterness in beer.
Kilning: The application of heat to stop germination during the malting process and to roast dried grain to various degrees of darkness.
Kraeusening: The process of adding a small percentage of fresh young wort to an already fermented beer, which induces a secondary fermentation and produces natural carbonation.
Lactose: Milk sugar unfermentable by beer yeast. Often used to make Sweet Stout.
Lauter(ing): From the German word that means to clarify; separating the wort from the grain by using a straining apparatus (a lauter tun).
Malt: Grain (barley, wheat) that undergoes the malting procedure.
Mashing: The process of infusing malted grain with hot water to extract the soluble sugars and proteins needed to make beer. The syrupy-sweet liquid that results from mashing the grain is called wort.
Noble hops: Varieties from Germany and central Europe, including Hallertauer, Tettnanger, Styrian, Saaz, and Spalt.
Protein: Complex organic molecules found in all living things. Proteins break down and precipitate during the mashing, boiling, and cooling phases of the brewing process.
Real Ale: Unpasteurized and cask-conditioned Ale; beer aged “in the wood.”
Session beer: Light-bodied, low-alcohol beer conducive to large-volume consumption.
Specialty grain: Grains that you use to add flavor and color enhancements to beer without adding measurable fermentable sugars. Without specialty grains, few individual beer styles would exist.
Starch: Complex carbohydrates converted to sugar during the mashing process.
Tun: A vessel for holding liquids, such as a mash tun or a lauter tun.
Wort: The syrupy-sweet liquid that results from mashing the grain; unfermented beer.
Zymurgy: the science of fermentation.
Now when beer commercials talk about their new “triple-hopped” beer, you have a better idea of what they are talking about.