Beer Guide (A to F)
ABV: Alcohol By Volume. ABV measures the percent of alcohol within a volume of liquid. Low ABV beers come in around 4.5%. Higher ABV beers are around 7-10%, or even higher.
Ale: One of the two beer categories, along with lager. Ales are brewed with yeast strains that ferment at warmer temperatures. These strains are called “top-fermenting yeasts,” because their metabolic process takes place near the top of the fermentation vessel. These types of yeast impart ales with fruity or spicy flavors, compared with lager’s emphasis on clean, crisp flavors. Ales are usually served warmer than lagers.
Amber: A catchall term for beers with lighter complexions. Typically, ambers focus on simple, balanced, toasted-malt flavors, sometimes with a light fruitiness.
American: With the recent craft-beer explosion centered in America, many new brewing styles took on “American” in their names, such as American Imperial Stout or American Double IPA. “American” commonly means more, bolder hops (and thus more bitterness) in a recipe, especially popular hop varieties grown in this country: Cascade, Chinook, Centennial, etc.
Barleywine: A very malty and flavorful beer, with the taste of alcohol up front and present. ABVs are in the 8-12 range. Barleywine as a style originated in Ancient Greece and evolved over the centuries. Today’s Barleywine recipes more resemble their 18th century equivalent: English “strong” beers, also of high ABV.
Belgian: A historic and traditional ale, high in flavor and complexity, and ranging in style from light to dark. The adjective “Belgian” in a beer’s name refers to recipes first written thousands of years ago by Old World brewers, many in Belgium, including Trappist monks who brewed these beers in their abbeys.
Black and Tan: A beer poured first as ½ pale ale/lager, then topped off with ½ stout, porter, or darker lager. Done correctly, the darker beer remains on top. Also commonly known as a “Half and Half,” especially in Ireland, where the term “Black and Tan” can have derogatory implications.
Blonde: A low-ABV ale that is easily approachable and drinkable. Blondes are usually a balance between malty and hoppy. These beers display the complexion of their name, and are sometimes called “golden ales.”
Bock: A German lager recipe dating back to the 1300s. Bocks are full-bodied, richly malty, well-hopped, and commonly taste of caramel. Their complexion ranges from copper to dark-brown. Traditionally a wintertime seasonal beer. In America, bocks are usually outsold by their stronger variant: doppelbocks. Originating in the German town Einbeck, the recipe took the name Bock in 187h century Munich, where locals pronounced the beer “ein Bock,” and then just “Bock.” ein Bock means “a Billy goat,” which is why some Bock labels include the image of a goat.
Body: The body of a beer is comprised of that beer’s thickness, consistency, and mouth-filling properties. Bodies are described on a scale from light- to full-bodied.
Bomber: A 22-ounce bottle of beer, usually made of glass and containing premium products. The average price range of craft-beer bombers is $6 to $20.
Bottle-conditioned: Beer with active yeast purposely left in the bottle, so that the yeast can continue the carbonation process after the beer is shipped out. These beers sometimes contain natural sediment at the bottom of the bottle. Bottle-conditioning allows the beer to remain freshly carbonated, and sometimes to develop over time, gaining complexity and flavor with age. Common to white or witbier beers.
Brewpub: A pub that brews its own beers and sells at least 25% of the product on-premise. It is common for these businesses to dispense beers directly from highly visual storage tanks. Synonymous with “brewhouse.”
Brown ale: Known mostly for their dark amber or brown color. Although the term derives from an alternative name for 17th century British “mild” ales, “brown ale” today can mean very different flavors. There are recipes with light hops and roasted caramel malts; others medium in ABV and hoppiness; and others that are both very hoppy and malty.
Cascade hops: The most widely used brewing hops in America. High in floral aroma and citric, fruity flavor. Developed in 1971 at Oregon State University. Common in American Pale Ales. Other popular American hops include Chinook and Centennial.
Cask-conditioned: Beers that are sealed in casks — containers made of wood, steel, or aluminum – while still going through the fermentation process. Brewers will serve “live beers” straight from these casks, containing still-active yeast (though the addition of other materials will settle out the yeast).
Contract beer: When a non-brewing business hires a brewery to make their beer for them. The non-brewing business will handle marketing, sales and distribution, while the brewery creates the product.
Double IPA: Another American-craft innovation, double IPAs are brewed with significantly more hops. To balance the extra bitterness created by the hefty increase of hops, double IPAs often include much more malts and greater alcohol content. Due to the latter, these beers have higher ABVs, usually over 6%. The term “double” has also come to mean “stronger” for other styles.
Doppelbock: The stronger variant of the traditional German bock, a doppelbock has sweet flavors of toasted caramels, chocolates, and/or dark fruits. As a historic nod to 14th century German Bavarian monks who brewed this stronger style and named it “Salvator” (Savor), doppelbochs today will sometimes have the affix “tor” at the end of their name.
Draught beer: Beer served from a keg or cask, rather than a bottle or can.
Dry-hopping: When a brewer adds hops after the primary fermentation process to increase the hoppy aroma and flavor of a beer, without dramatically increasing the bitterness normally brought on by extra hops. This technique is more common in ales than in lagers.