Here you’ll find some of the common – and not-so-common – phrases brewers and beer connoisseurs use to impress!
Alcohol by volume (ABV): the indicator of beer strength expressed as a percentage of alcohol. For example, Tooheys NEW is 4.6% ABV, which means 4.6% of the liquor is pure alcohol.
Ale: a brew made with a top fermenting yeast. Usually brown to dark brown in colour, with a distinctive, fruity taste.
Barley: the grain used in brewing worldwide as the base for making malt. The barley is germinated by adding water and this releases sugars and a number of enzymes that are important to the brewing process.
Barley wine: an English term for a strong ale, which is as potent as wine (usually 6-10% ABV). Copper to dark brown in colour.
Barrel: a 36-gallon (163-litre) cask.
Beer: historically, a fermented beverage brewed with hops. Lager, ale, stout, porter and every type of specialty brew are embraced by the general term ‘beer’.
Bitter: pale or amber ale, usually well-hopped for bitter flavour. Mostly available on tap.
Bock: a German term for a strong beer. Originally bocks were bottom fermented from roasted malts for long periods. This process produced a high alcohol strength, so as to preserve the condition of the beer over extended journeys. In Germany, a bock beer is at least 6% ABV and may be golden, tawny or dark brown.
Bottle-conditioned beer: beer bottled on yeast lees and therefore conditioned in the bottle. This style of beer is cloudy when poured. Most commercial beer is conditioned before filtration at the brewery, and is clear when poured.
Bottom fermentation: lagers are traditionally made with bottom fermenting yeasts, which fall to the bottom of the fermenting vessel.
Brewery-conditioned beer: beer that has been brought to perfect condition in the brewery prior to filtration, instead of conditioning in the cask or bottle.
Brew your own: the residue of grain left after the beer has been drained off.
Brown ale: probably the most famous version of this brew is Newcastle Brown Ale. In general, ale is either reddish-brown or dark brown in colour and of average alcoholic content.
Burtonisation: treatment of water to make it similar to that found in Burton-on-Trent.
Cane sugar: used as a carbohydrate adjunct, which is fermented out by the yeasts, so is not tasted in the final beer. It can also be used to prime the brew at the end of the process, which does have the effect of sweetening the beer.
Cask: general term for draught beer containers, whatever the size, but of a barrel shape. Originally wood, now almost always made of metal.
Cask-conditioned: beer that conditions in the cask instead of in a brewery’s conditioning tanks.
Centrifuge: a machine designed to separate excess yeast from beer.
Cling: describes how well the froth holds on the side of a beer glass. A beer is said to have good cling when beads and bubbles of froth hold on to the glass as it is emptied.
Collar: the ring of froth at the top of the glass.
Conditioning: maturation of beer after it leaves the fermenting vessel.
Continuous fermentation: the brewing system consisting of a 24-hour 7-day continuous feed of wort and yeast at one end of four aligned vessels, and a constant flow of beer from the other end.
Cooper: one who makes and repairs wooden casks.
Copper (or kettle): a copper or stainless steel vessel in which wort is boiled with hops to give beer its bitter flavour.
Diatomaceous earth: a very fine powder made from sedimentary rock. The rock dates to prehistoric times and is made up of the fossilised remains of ancient micro-organisms. This very fine earth is required to filter microscopic particles from beer at filtration.
Diat Pils: a German style of low carbohydrate beer. Carbohydrates are diminished during the lengthy fermentation process. Alcoholic content and calorific value are reasonably high.
Dopplebock: literally double-bock – extra strong German beer, tawny or dark brown.
Dortmunder: a beer brewed in Dortmund.
Draught beer: originally referred to beer served through a tap, but now also describes a style of full strength lager, including packaged beer such as Tooheys NEW, Canterbury Draught and Waikato Draught.
Dry hopping: the addition of hops to beer during maturation to impart a pronounced hoppy taste and aroma.
Dunkel: German word for ‘dark’.
Enzymes: agents that cause changes from one substance to another, which are present in all living things. In the mashing process they convert carbohydrates into brewing sugars.
Fermentation: the action of yeasts converting sugars to alcohol. Carbon dioxide is a by-product.
Festbier: any beer made specifically for a festival in Germany.
Filtration: removal of solid particles from beer using a filter unit.
Fining: agents (isinglass or bentonite) that attract and remove suspended solids as they pass through the beer, clarifying the brew.
Firkin: a standard English 9 gallon (40.5-litre) cask.
Framboise: a raspberry macerated lambic style of beer.
Grist: crushed malt, ready for mashing.
Guinness: the stout produced by the Guinness Brewery in Dublin. Also brewed under license by the Lion Breweries, and imported into New Zealand in cans. To replicate the creamy draught pulled in Dublin pubs, a widget is installed – a device inserted in the bottom of the can, which releases nitrogen when the can is opened.
Hefe: the German word for yeast, indicating that a beer is bottle-conditioned and sedimented.
Hop: a perennial climbing plant, its cone or flowers give beer a bitter flavour and aroma.
Hop extract: bittering substance produced from hops and concentrated into syrup.
Hop pellets: natural hop powder that has been compressed.
Ice process: the ice process is after maturation but before regular filtration, when the beer passes through an ice-chamber. This traps additional proteins and tannins, leaving the beer with a smooth and pure taste.
Indian Pale Ale: originally ale that was supplied to the Indian Empire by the British – high in alcohol and well-hopped to stand the sea voyage. Today it refers to a premium pale ale of similar characteristics.
Isinglass: a semi-transparent substance obtained from the swim bladders of a sturgeon fish – the raw material of finings.
Keg: a sealed container for pubs and other venues, to dispense beer from the tap.
Kellerbier: German term indicating an unfiltered lager, usually with a high hop content and low carbonation. Direct from the cellar.
Kilderkin: an 18-gallon (81-litre) cask.
Kilning: the drying and curing of malt by heat treatment.
Lager: a German term originally used to describe the bottom-fermenting method of brewing, followed by a period of cold storage called Lagering. Most modern beers are brewed using this method.
Lambic: a spontaneously fermenting style of wheat beer unique to Belgium.
Lauter tun: a filtration vessel used in modern mashing techniques.
Light beer: any beer with reduced alcohol content (in Australia this is usually between 0.9% and 3.3% alcohol by volume).
Light strike: when a beer comes in contact with light and becomes ‘skunky’ it is said to have suffered light strike. This condition can occur quite quickly, after as little as 30 minutes in bright sunlight. Beer has traditionally been put in brown bottles to reduce exposure to light.
Malt: barley that has been steeped in water, allowed to germinate and then heated in a kiln to halt germination.
Malt extract: sugars extracted from malt and concentrated by evaporation.
Malt liquor: an American term for a strong, pale lager (usually 5%-7.5% ABV). Usually the strongest beer in an American brewer’s range.
Malt mill: a machine that crushes malt into grist.
Mashing: mixing together of grist and hot water at precise temperatures to form malt sugars.
Mash tun: a vessel in which mashing takes place and where wort is separated from the spent grains.
Maturation: the storage of post fermentation beer for a period during which its quality improves.
Mild: an English term for an ale that is only lightly hopped and around 3% ABV. Commonly primed with sugar.
Mulled ale: warmed ale with spices and/or sugar added. Heated beer is sometimes called ‘poker beer’. In either case, a brown or dark ale will give best results.
Munchener: means ‘Munich-style’. Usually a dark brown lager.
Oast house: kiln where hops are dried.
Original gravity: the specific gravity of the wort before fermentation.
Pale Ale: beer brewed from pale malt. Usually copper-coloured, as opposed to dark brown ales.
Pilsener: German brewers produce this style as inspired by the original brew from the town of Pilsen in the province of Bohemia in the Czech Republic.
Pitching: adding yeast to the wort in the fermenting vessel.
Porter: originally a London style so named because it was popular with porters from the great London markets. It became extinct, but has recently been revived. A somewhat lighter bodied companion to stout.
Precipitation: the settling of protein particles in beer during maturation.
Racking: filling casks with beer.
Scotch Ale: the ales of Scotland mostly have malt accents and Scotch ale refers to very strong, often extremely dark, malt-accented ales.
Secondary fermentation: process by which beer continues to ferment and mature slowly in the bottle.
Skimming: removing yeast from the top of beer as it ferments.
Sparging: spraying hot water over the mash in the mash tun through a rotating arm, to ensure complete extraction of malt sugars. The sugars are then pumped to the kettle for boiling, leaving the spent grain for disposing as animal feed.
Steam Beer: generic term for a traditional-style ale that was brewed in the goldfields of California, Victoria and Western Australia. Bottom-fermented at high temperatures in unusually wide, shallow vessels.
Steeping: the exposure of barley to moisture, which commences germination – the first stage of the malting process.
Stout: an almost black, top-fermenting brew, made with highly roasted malts.
Top fermentation: traditional method of fermenting wort to make ale, in which yeast rises to the top of beer during the process. ‘Old’ beers such as Tooheys Old or Speight’s Old Dark use top-fermenting yeasts.
Tun: the term for a large vat in which the brew is prepared. A mash tun is for mashing in the grist, while a Lauter tun is used for separating wort.
Wort: unfermented beer.
Yeast: a single-celled micro-organism, which brings about fermentation. Yeasts are bred to either ferment in the top of the vats or in the bottom – each type producing a different kind of beer.
Zymurgy: the branch of chemistry that deals with fermentation, as in winemaking, brewing, distilling, the preparation of yeast and so on.