Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Commonly used brewing definitions

The following is a compilation of commonly used brewing terms and definitions - A to Z.

Acetaldehyde - Identified by the smell or taste of green apples
Adjunct - Any unmated, fermentable ingredient such as honey or Belgian candy sugar that you add to beer, often used to add flavor or alcohol
Aerate - To force air or oxygen into solution
Aerobic - A process requiring oxygen
Agar - A gelatinous culture medium for yeast culturing
Ale yeast - Top fermenting yeast with ideal fermentation temperature around 68F: Latin name Saccharomyces cerevisiae. See White Labs, Wyeast, DCL Dry Yeast, and Lallemand Dry Yeast for information on strains available. See also Lager yeast
All grain - Refers to beers brewed with barley, barley malt and specialty grains and without extracts also used in reference to home brewers who make their own beer by using nothing but grain
Alpha acid - One of two resins found in hop lupulin glands usually measured by percent by weight. Alpha acids convert to bitterness during the boil
Alpha acid units (AAU) - A measurement of hop bittering potential expressed in relation to acid percentage of total hop weight. See also Homebrew Bitterness Units (HBUs)
Alpha-amylase - One of the two principal diastatic enzymes that convert starches into fermentable sugars.
Alt - German for old
Anaerobic - A process that does not require oxygen
Astringency - A drying, puckering, harsh mouth coating huskiness or dryness from tannin in the grain husk
Attenuate - Refers to the yeast consumption of fermentable sugars transforming them into alcohol and carbon dioxide gas indicated by the difference between original gravity and final gravity
Autolysis - A disintegrating, self-digestion of a cells body by it's own enzymes; autolyzed yeast contributes nitrogen to the wort creating a rubbery stench

Balling - One of two basic scales found on hydrometers that is used to measure the density of beer, named for its inventor, Carl Joseph Balling
Barley wine - A strong ale
Barrel - A liquid measure equivalent to 31 US gallons
Base - grain The major source of fermentables
Beer engine - A device for dispensing draft beer using a pump operated by hand. The use of a hand pump allows cask-conditioned beer to be served without the use carbon dioxide.
Beer stone - The grayish white material that builds up on the inside of your brewing system. Organic compounds in the wort that bind with compounds in the brewing water and adhere to stainless steel
Beta acid - One of the two resins in hop lupulin glands. Beta acids contribute more to the preservation of the beer than to its bitterness because of its insolubility
Beta-amylase - One of the two principal diastatic enzymes that convert starches into fermentable sugars. Often referred to as the saccharifing enzyme
Beta-glucan - A gum derived mostly from grain husks
Beta-glucan rest - The standard rest to break down Beta Glucans is 100* F for 15 minutes. See also Beta-Glucan
Blow-off tube - An alternative to an air lock. The tube extends from the fermenter to a bucket of sanitizer
Body - The sensation of fullness or thickness of a beer on the palate, mouth-feel
Bottle conditioned - Aged and naturally carbonated in the bottle
Bottom fermenting - See lager yeast
Break - The phase during boiling or cooling of beer wort when proteins precipitate
Bright tank - A vessel or container that the beer is racked to once fermentation is or is almost complete. This vessel is usually pressurized to ease racking the finished beer off the precipitated trub. This vessel is usually chilled for three weeks at 32 degrees F

CAMRA - The CAMpaign for Real Ale. An organization in England that was founded in 1971 to preserve the production of cask-conditioned beers and ales.
Carboy - A large volume container of glass or plastic typically used by home brewers for fermentation or conditioning tanks
Chill haze - Small particles of protein and polyphenols
Closed fermentation - Fermentation takes place in a closed vessel
Cold break - Particles that begin to fall from suspension as the wort drops below 140 degrees F. See also break
Cold steeping - Specialty grains are steeped in water that is 40-55 degrees F for several hours to over night. Cold steeping is used on dark grains and supposedly results in less aggressive flavor
Conditioning - The final stage of fermentation in a bottle or keg whereby natural carbonation is produced
Conical fermenter - Usually either a plastic or stainless steel fermenting vessel. Simplifies the fermentation process in that dead yeast can simply be removed from the beer by way of a dump valve found on the bottom of the vessel
Conversion - Changing starches to sugars as in the mashing process
Cooper - An old term that refers to the brew pot
Counter-flow chiller - A wort chiller that has beer flowing one direction in a tube with an outer tube containing cold water flowing the opposite direction. See also Immersion chiller

Decoction - A highly involved process of mashing that requires the removal of portion of the mash to the boiler. It is then returned to the mash tun.
Dextrin - An unfermentable and almost tasteless carbohydrate derived from starches during the mashing process. Dextrins contribute body, head retention and mouth feel to the finished beer.
Dextrose - A synonym for corn sugar
Diacetyl - Buttery or butterscotch aromas and flavors. This occurs and dissipates naturally during fermentation cycle. Other sources of obvious diacetal character may indicate excessively warm fermentation temperatures, under oxygenated wort or contamination.
Diastase - The enzymes in malt that convert starch to sugar and dextrins
Dimethyl Sulfide (DMS) - Originates in malt and when the wort is boiled. Usually DMS is driven off during the course of the boil
Dry hopping - Hops added to fermenting or finished beer to impart fresh hop aroma, not bitterness
Dunkel - German for dark in color

Enteric - A bacterial contamination that makes beer smell like a soiled diaper
Esters - A class of compounds responsible for the fruity flavors and aromas in beer. Desired in ales, seen as a fault in lagers

Fermentation lock - A one-way valve that allows carbon dioxide gas to escape the fermenter while keeping oxygen and contaminants out
Fining agent - Helps precipitate protein into the hot break. See also Irish moss or isinglass
Fining - A procedure that can be used to aid in the clarification of beer. See also Irish moss or isinglass
Finishing hops - Hops that are added to the boil in the last 1-2 minutes
First Wort Hopping - Adding hops to the brewpot at the beginning of the lauter; hops steep in ~170F wort during the runoff before being brought to a boil. This is said to add a smooth hop flavor and aroma.
Flocculation - The tendency of yeast to clump together and fall out of suspension
Fusel alcohol - Described as a hot or solvently flavor. Usually occurs when beer is fermented above 75 degrees F

Gelatin - A colorless and tasteless protein used as a fining agent
Gelatinization - The transformation of starch from a solid, crystalline form to a liquid, soluble form
Grist - Crushed malt and/or adjuncts mixed with hot water for mashing
Growler - A container like a jug used to carry draft beer purchased at a local brewpub(s)
Gyle - A portion of unfermented wort that is added to finished beer for conditioning

HBU - (1) Hop bitterness unit: The value assigned to a hop for the purpose of identifying bitterness. (2) Homebrew bitterness Units: A measure of the total amount of bitterness potential in a given volume of beer.
Head - (No laughing!) The foam at the top of a poured beer
Heat exchanger - Equipment used to heat or cool the wort rapidly. See also wort chiller or counter flow chiller
Helles - German for light in color
High gravity - An original wort gravity of 1.06 or greater
Hop back - A piece of equipment, similar to a strainer, containing fresh hops that boiling hot wort passes through on it's way to a counter flow wort chiller. Used to impart fresh hop aroma to the unfermented wort while simultaneously filtering out trub
Hop extract - Resins and oils extracted from hops by using organic solvents or liquid carbon dioxide
Hop pellets - Finely powdered hop cones that are compressed into pellet form
Hops - The flower or cones of the female hop plant used in brewing to impart flavor and bitterness.
Hot break - (1) The participation of protein and tannic matter when hops are added to boiling wort. (2) Can be scrambled egg like in appearance. See also Cold break
Hot liquor tank - Tank containing hot water used during the sparage process
Hydrometer - A glass instrument used to measure the specific gravity of beer by comparing it to that of water. See also Refractometer

Immersion chiller - Usually a copper coil that is place in the boil kettle during the boil. See also Counter-flow chiller
Inoculating needle - A nickel chrome steel alloy or plastic apparatus used to inoculate a slant, plate or small sample of wort
International Bitterness Units (IBUs) - One IBU equals one milligram of isomerized alpha acid in 1 liter of wort or beer
Irish moss - A fining agent made from dried seaweed, also known as carragheen
Isinglass - A fining agent made from the swim bladders of the sturgeon. A positively charged substance that binds with negatively charged yeast cells, some proteins, lipids and antifoaming agents. Used to help settle the yeast out of suspension. See also flocculation

Kraeusen - The foamy head the develops on the surface of fermenting wort

Lager yeast - A bottom fermenting yeast with ideal fermentation temperature around 30-50* F: Latin name Saccharomyces uvarum. See White Labs, Wyeast, DCL Dry Yeast, and Lallemand Dry Yeast for information on strains available. See also Ale yeast
Lagering - Time which lager beer is aged subsequent to primary fermentation, to store
Lambic beer - Commonly in the form of a fruit beer where the fruit flavor balances the acidity. Typically made from 65 percent pale malt and 35 percent unmalted wheat. They are lightly hopped and fermented with a mix of yeasts and bacteria.
Lauter tun - The brewing vessel used to separate the grains from the sweet wort by a straining process
Lauter - The process of separating grain and hops from wort
Lovibond - A method to describe malt color, the figure is usually expressed in degrees. See also Standard Reference Method

Malt extract - A sugary syrup or powder that is produced by mashing malted barley and then has part or all of the water removed
Malted barley - Barley that has been partially germinated then dried
Mash - The process of soaking crushed grains in hot water for a specific time to activate the enzymes within
Mash out - Raising the temperature of the mash above the saccharification rest (around 168F) to make the wort in the mash less viscous which makes lautering easier
Mash tun - Container which holds the grain and liquid, generally at a specific temperature, during which the starch in the grain is converted to sugar
Mill - To crush grain or adjuncts, also called cracking

Open fermentation - As the words suggest the beer is fermented without a lid or covering. See closed fermenting
Oxidized - Occurs when beer is exposed to oxygen; a condition which leads to premature beer staling. Tastes or smells papery to like cardboard

Parti-gyle lautering - The practice of drawing off a portion of the mash liquid (first runnings) for a strong beer, then adding more hot liquor to the mash and drawing off a second weaker running
pH - A logarithmic measure of acidity or alkalinity of a solution
Phenol - Aromas or flavors that seem medicinal or plastic, usually produced by wild yeast
Pipette - A glass or plastic tube inscribed with graduated marks, used for measuring small amounts of a liquid
Pitch - To add yeast to wort
Plato - A scale of measurement used by professional brewers to measure the density of solutions, expressed as the equivalent weight of cane sugar in solution, calibrated on grams of sucrose per 100 grams of solution
Polyclar AT (PVPP) - Fining agent used to absorb polyphenols
Primary fermentation - The process of initial fermentation
Primary fermenter - The container where primary fermentation happens
Priming - The process of adding sugar, wort or malt extract at bottling time
Protein rest - A portion of the mashing process. Typically, it is the first step in mashing. Hold the mash at 120 to 135°F for 20 to 30 minutes. Adding a protein rest will help to improve the clarity of your beer and especially helps in the prevention of chill haze
Protein - Can combine with phenols to cause haze in beer

Rack - To transfer the beer or wort from one vessel to another
Re-circulation - The act of returning wort to the mash tun in an effort to clear all particles of grain/adjuncts from the wort
Refractometer - An optical instrument that measures the sucrose concentration in a sucrose and water solution
Reinheitsgebot - (pronounced: Rine-Hites-gaBoat) The German "purity law" which originated in Bavaria in1516 states that only malt, hops, yeast and water can be used in the production of beer
Rest - (1) A span of time during which the mash sits at a relatively constant temperature. (2) What you do after you finish brewing while consuming one of your favorite malt beverages.
Rousing - To create turbulence by agitation

Secondary fermentation - Beer is racked to another vessel and allowed to age prior to bottling or kegging
Silica gel - A fining agent used to absorb haze forming proteins
Single infusion mash - A mash with only one rest, usually between 150-158 degrees F.
Slant - A test tube looking piece of glass partially filled with agar on a slant, also usually has a lid
Sparge - (1)Using hot water (170 degrees F) to rinse the converted sugars from the grain. (2) Drawing sweet wort from the mash tun to the boil kettle.
Standard Reference Method (SRM) - A method to describe beer color, the figure is expressed in whole numbers. See also Lovibond
Starch conversion - Alpha and beta amylase convert starch to sugar by holding the wort at 142 to 158 degrees F, usually accomplished in water heated to 130 – 170 degrees F
Starter - Generally a small batch of fermenting yeast added to the wort to quickly begin fermentation
Steeping - The process of soaking crushed grains in hot water to extract flavor and color components
Step mashing - Raising the temperature of the mash and resting at specific, pre-determined temperatures with the intent of activating different enzymes in the mash
Strike temperature - The target temperature of a mash rest
Stuck fermentation - A fermentation that doesn't start or stops before reaching a target final gravity
Sweet wort - The wort that is collected from the mash before it is boiled

Tannin - Astringent polyphenolic compounds capable of either precipitating or forming haze
Top cropping - The process of harvesting yeast from fermenting ale
Top fermenting - See ale yeast
Trub - (pronounced: troob) Coagulated haze forming protein compounds.

Vegetal aroma - Aromas and flavors that smell like cabbage or cauliflower. See also Dimethyl Sulfide

Wild yeast - Any yeast the brewer did not intend to pitch into the beer
Wort - (pronounced: wert) Liquid prepared that will ferment to beer

Zymurgy - The art/science of yeast fermentation. Also, the homebrew magazine published by the American Homebrewers Association

BYO Magazine
Zymurgy Magazine
Home Brewing, The CAMRA Guide -- Grahm Wheeler
First Steps in Yeast Culture -- Pierre Rajotte
Designing Great Beers -- Ray Daniels
A Text Book of Brewing -- Jean De Clerck
The Complete Joy of Home Brewing 3rd edition -- Charlie Papazian
Homebrewing for Dummies -- Marty Nachel
The Beer, Beer and More Beer catalog

Related articles:
- Commonly Used Brewing Acronyms.

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