The craft beer craze makes for some wonderful drinking, but understanding the complex language of craft brews is enough to make your head foam. A beer is never “just a beer” in the complicated vernacular of microbreweries and handcrafted draft beers. To the sophisticated craft brewer, a beer might be described as ”caramel malt with floral aroma and citrus notes.”
There was a time when those words wouldn’t have been used to describe a beer.
But that’s no longer the case. Craft brewers have a distinct and complex language of their own. But with a little bit of background, you can talk like a craft brewer and maybe even understand what they’re saying. Craft brewers will throw around plenty of acronyms like IPA and IBU, and they will describe a beer as a “malt” or an “oatmeal” but even those descriptions don’t sound like beers. Tap into some craft beer knowledge with these 10 beer terms that will provide the basics for fluently speaking the language of microbrewers.
ABV – (Alcohol by Volume) A numerical percentage describing a beer’s alcohol content by percentage. This number may vary from 4 percent or less (popular US light beers) to 7 percent or more (found in beers like Double IPAs that will have you forgetting your evening’s whereabouts).
Ale – Most beers are either an ale or a lager. Ales are the darker, heavier variety of beers sometimes served at warmer temperatures. Common types of ales include pale ale, dark ale, red ale and brown ale.
Hops – Hops are the flowers used to create certain, more bitter taste elements in beer. You’ll hear the term “hop” used as a noun (“You can really taste the hops”) or as an adjective (“This beer has a hoppy aroma”).
IBUs – (International Bitterness Units) The standardized method for quantifying a beer’s taste is called the International Bitterness Units scale. Low IBU ratings describe sweeter and smoother beers that have oatmeal and fruit in their names. Higher IBU ratings describe stouts, IPAs and the kinds of beers that as a child made you swear you would never drink beer.
IPA – (India Pale Ale) An extremely trendy and popular variety of ale in contemporary craft brewing, IPAs are on the lighter and more bitter end of the ale spectrum. The term “India Pale Ale” name comes from this variety’s 18th Century export to India, so there are no political correctness risks with the use of this term.
Lager – You pronounce it as “LAH-ger” and you use this term to describe the lighter, more crisp tasting class of beers. In regular everyday terms, lagers are the kind of cold beers that hit the spot after a hard day working in the hot sun.
Malt – Sweeter and often lower-alcohol beers are described as “malts” because of the grain malt used in their production. You will often hear beers called single malts, wheat malts or oatmeal malts, which is just fancy-speak for the grains in the beer’s ingredients.
Notes – In beer-tasting culture, the term “notes” describes a beer’s flavor elements. So say “malt notes” instead of “malty” or “citrus notes” instead of “citrusy”, because that way you will sound more intelligent amongst your crew.
Pilsner – A pale variety of lagers, pilsners are popular among those who prefer the traditional lighter taste and more effervescent, fizzy beer. Nearly all of the best-known traditional US beers are pilsners or brewed in the pilsner style.
Stout – Stouts are your darker, heavier beer variety with the big, flavorful foamy head. Guinness is recognized as the world’s most popular stout. Other varieties include oatmeal stout, chocolate stout and the delightfully high alcohol-content imperial stout.
So beef up your beer vocabulary with the quick and handy list above. After all, it’s important that you understand these words before you start slurring them.
Article By: visittrivalley.com