Beer Color Laboratories
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Glossary for Beer Terms Used

Adjunct - Unmalted grains and other fermentables that are added to some beers to increase alcohol content and lighten the flavor. Common examples are flaked barley, rice, corn, maize, oats, and sugar etc. A more strict definition calls anything that is added to beer other than water, barley, hops, and yeast is an adjunct.

(ABV) Alcohol By Volume - The measure of the amount of space the alcohol in a beer takes up as a percentage of total volume. This is the worldwide standard for measuring the alcohol content in beer. The United States traditionally used alcohol by weight (ABW) to measure alcohol content, but more and more American brewers are now adopting ABV.

Alcohol By Weight - The measure of the weight of alcohol as a percentage of total weight of the liquid. This standard is being used much less frequently nowadays. To convert ABW to ABV, multiply the ABW x 1.25. Conversely, to get the ABW from ABV multiply the ABV x 0.8.

Ale – Beer made with "top-fermenting" strains of yeast.  

Alpha Acid - A resin contained in the hop plant that is responsible for the bitterness in beer.

Barley – The major wheat like grain used in the making beer.

Body - Refers to the feel of thickness of a beer in your mouth. Can be described as full, medium, or thin-bodied.

Boil - The obvious definition is bringing a liquid to a high enough temperature that it begins to bubble and evaporate. For pure water at sea level, this occurs at 212° F (100° C). Boiling occurs at lower temperatures at lower pressure, so at higher elevation, boiling requires the addition of less heat. Boiling serves a few purposes when making beer. Preeminent is the isomerization of the alpha and beta bittering acids from hops making them water-soluble Boiling is also important for precipitating certain undesirable proteins from the grain solution; the hot break occurs during first five or ten minutes of a boil, and the cold break occurs while rapidly cooling the boiled sterilizing wort mixture.

Brew - to make beer.  Beer brewing is a process that encompasses the following steps: mashing, lautering, boiling and fermentation.

Bottle Conditioning - The secondary fermentation that occurs when yeast and sugars are added to the beer right before bottling. This process leads to higher alcohol content and allows the beer to be carbonated and aged, which can produce varying changes in taste and strength.

Cask Conditioning - Cask-conditioned beer is kept in a cask with its yeast and is dispensed using a special hand pump called a “pull” or beer engine.

Clarification - To allow beer to sit undisturbed while fermentation occurs and undesirable materials settle out of the beer as sediment. The adding of agent to clear the beer or wort.

Cold Filtering - An alternative to pasteurizing beer. In this process the beer is passed through a very fine filter that removes any particulates and the yeast and halts the fermentation process.

Dry Hopping - The addition of dry hops during first or secondary fermentation to add a hoppy character to the beer without affecting the beers bitterness.

Fermentation - The biological process by which yeast consumes carbohydrates and produces the byproducts carbon dioxide (CO2) and alcohol. – Which transforms wort into beer. The process of sugars being converted to alcohol and CO2 by yeast.

Finings - Finings are a substance used to aid the clearing of beer. Finings can include isinglass, bentonite, Irish moss, and others.

Grist - A dry mixture of ground malts and adjuncts used in mashing.

Hops - Hops are responsible for the bitterness in beer. Hops are the cone like flower of a vine, species humulus lupulus, that is a member of the cannabis family. Hop flowers contain small yellow "lupulin glands" that secrete bitter acids and resins. Hop[s can add a balance to a beer by counteracting the sweetness’ of the malt.  Hops also act as a preservative in beer, and contribute certain proteins to the mixture that aid in the retention of a head of foam. Hops have only been used widely in beer for approximately 500 years.

Lager - Lager comes from the German word "lagern" which means "to store". Lagers are made with "bottom-fermenting" strains of yeast which means that the yeast ferments at the bottom of the fermentation tank. Lagers are fermented and stored for longer periods of time than ales and at colder temperatures.

Lauter - The process of separating spent grains from the water into which the grain's sugars have been extracted by the mashing process.

Lees - Also known as "trub", lees are the deposit of yeast and sediments at the bottom of the tank after/during fermentation.

Malts - One of the main ingredients of beer, malt is barley which has been steeped in water, allowed to germinate, and then heat dried which stops germination. The type of barley, the level of germination allowed and the temperature of drying all influence the resulting flavor of the malts.

Mashing - To soak malted grains in water at temperatures that favor enzymatic action, usually for the purpose of converting long carbohydrate chains to smaller chains of simple sugars that are optimal for fermentation by yeast.

Pasteurization – Quick Heating of beer to 60-79°C/140-174°F to stabilize/sterilize it microbiologically.

Rack - To move beer from one vessel to another during the fermentation process.

Reinheitsgebot - A German law, often called the "German beer purity law", enacted in 1516, that mandates that beer contain only these four ingredients: malted barley, hops, water and yeast. The provision allowing yeast was added after Louis Pasteur's work proved yeast's existence and necessity to the fermentation process. The Reinheitsgebot was changed from a law to an industry standard when Germany joined the European Union.

Sparge. To run hot (approximately 170° F) water through nearly-spent grains that have been mashed, in order to extract further sugars from them.

Trub - ("troob") Sediment, mostly dead or quiescent yeast, that collects in the bottom of a beer fermentation vessel.

Wort - Created by mashing, wort is liquid malt extract that is ready for the fermentation tank where yeast will be added. n. Water in which sugars have been collected from malted grain via the mashing and sparging processes, and possibly boiled with hops

Yeast - Unicellular celled organisms of the fungus family that are responsible for converting the sugars contained in malt into alcohol and carbon dioxide. Yeast comes in two major varieties for the making of beer: ale yeast and lager yeast. accharomyces Cerevisiae is used to make ales and Saccharomyces Carlsbergensis is used to make lagers. Ale yeast tends to do its fermentation at the top of the fermentation vessel, and prefer temperatures between 60° F and 75° F. Lager yeast gravitates toward the bottom of its fermentation vessel, and works best between 40° F and 55° F. Beers made from ale yeast strains tend to have more complex characters and darker color, while beers made from lager yeast typically have a "cleaner," "crisper" taste and lighter color.