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Home » Homebrew Glossary

Homebrew Glossary


Adjunct: refers to an unmalted grain or fermentable ingredient used in the brewing process. Flaked grains are popular so are ingredients like honey, maple syrup, chocolate, and fruit.

Aeration: the process of adding air (hopefully oxygen) to the wort before it ferments. Aeration is not desirable when the wort is warm.

Airlock: a plastic valve that allows carbon dioxide gas to escape the fermenter while preventing the entry of contaminants like oxygen, bugs, and wild yeast.

Ale: a type of beer produced by top fermentation (using an ale yeast strain) at temperatures higher than about 62 degrees F.

Alpha Acid: the hop acid responsible for of a beer’s bitterness.

Alpha Acid Units (AAU): a measurement of bitterness calculated from the amount of Alpha Acids in the hop.

All-Grain Brew: a beer made entirely from grains with no malt extract used.

Attenuation: Refers to the drop in Specific Gravity during fermentation. The higher the attenuation, the higher the ABV% will be.



Beerstone: a hard film of calcium, proteins and sugar formed when the same kettle is used for a number of times.

Body: the feel (texture, thickness, and consistency) of a beer in one’s mouth. Also called mouthfeel.

Boil: the step when the sweet wort is heated to a boil, usually hops are added to bitter at the start of the boil.

Bottle-Conditioned: beer that is naturally carbonated in the bottle by adding sugar at the time of bottling and possibly additional yeast.

Break: the clumping of different proteins during the boiling stage (hot break) and cooling stage (cold break).

Buttery: a yeast byproduct called diacetyl that tastes like movie theater butter or in larger amounts, butterscotch. Normally reabsorbed by the yeast and undetectable but some yeast strains, usually British, are known for producing greater amounts.



Caramel malt: he same thing as crystal malt. Water is added to kilned malt then it is stewed and heated to different temperatures and then dried. The result is a malt with a sweet caramel like flavor. A wide variation of caramel malts are available.

Carbonation: the process of dissolving carbon dioxide CO2 into the beer either through the use of CO2 from a tank or through natural carbonation (bottle conditioning.)

Carboy: a large glass or plastic fermenter resembling a giant jug.

Chalk: calcium carbonate, a brewing salt used when brewing dark beers.

Chill Haze: haziness that sometimes forms in beer when it chilled. Rapid wort chilling and clarifiers combat chill haze.

Closed Fermentation: fermentation that takes place in a closed vessel. Buckets and carboys with airlocks are common examples.

Conditioning: just refers to carbonating beer.

Crystal malt: another name for crystal malt, see above.



Decoction mashing: a lesser used type of mashing where some of the mash is removed, boiled, then returned to the mash kettle to boost the mash temperature.

Dextrose (or glucose): a sugar added to beer prior to bottling in order to bottle-conditions beers.

Diacetyl: a yeast byproduct that gives the beer a movie theater butter and/or butterscotch flavor/aroma. See buttery.

Dough In (or mash in): the mixing in of milled malt with water to form a mash.

Draft (or draught): kegged beer.

Dry-Hopping: the adding of the hops after the boil. This can be in the fermentation process or in the keg. Commonly done in secondary fermentation.

Dry Malt Extract (DME): a dried, powdery form of malt extract (often called DME). Most find it preferable to liquid malt extract (LME.)



Enzyme: a protein which acts as a catalyst to speed up chemical reaction. Alpha-amylase and Beta-amylase are enzymes which converts starch in grain into sugars during the mashing process.

Esters: Yeast byproducts that give ales their signature fruity flavors. Some yeast strains are known for particular esters, particularly Belgian and German strains.

Extract: a condensed mash, basically just the water is removed. Can be in a dry, powdery form or a thick syrup.

Extract Brewing: beer made from malt extract. A simpler form of brewing than partial-mash or all-grain.



Fermentation: the process in which yeast consumes sugars in the wort,, CO2 and alcohol are released.

Filtration: clearing beer through the use of a filter to remove yeast and protein. Usually done before bottling.



Gelatin: a protein used to clear wort or beer. It doesn’t add any color, flavor, or odor.

Grist: milled malt and extracts mixed with warm water in the mash kettle.

Growler: a container used to transport and pour beer. Often they are just a jug with a cap and filled at breweries or other places.

Gypsum: a brewing salt called Calcium Sulfate that hardens water and helps accentuate hop flavors..



Head: the foamy top of the beer in a glass..

Heat exchanger: a contraption that cools wort down after the boil.

High gravity: any beer having an Original Gravity (OG) above 1.060.

Hops: female hop plant flowers, also called cones that are added in brewing used to bitter, add flavor and aroma. They commonly come as whole hops or pellets..

Hot break: protein and other matter that clumps together when hops are first added to the boil.

Hop Extract: the removal or resins and oils from hops. Highly concentrated.

Hydrometer: an instrument made of glass that measures the specific gravity of the wort and beer in relation to water. Used to determine potential alcohol and ABV%.



IBU (International Bitterness Unit): a unit of measurement for bitterness in a beer. The higher the number the more bitter the beer. IPAs start at about 40 IBU

Immersion heater: a heater inside a boil or mash kettle.

Infusion mashing: a mash performed at one temperature.

Invert sugar: another name for priming sugar.

Irish moss: a seaweed used as a fining agent to clear wort near the end of the boil.

Isinglass: a fining agent derived from fish bladders.



Jockey box: a portable container with faucets that’s used to dispense beer. Often a cooler filled with ice, beer is pushed through the kegs using CO2 and it runs into the jockeybox into a plate chiller or metal coils where it is cooled then dispensed through the beer faucets.



Kegging: transferring beer from a fermenting tank to a keg.

keggle: a commercial keg converted to a homebrew kettle.

kettle: a large metal used in brewing.

kraeusen: the foam on top of fermenting beer. Composed of hop residue, proteins, and yeast.



Lactic acid: an acid produced by lactobacillus bacteria that leaves a sour taste. Some beers are intentionally infected (like Berlinerweiss) and others are accidently infected.

Lager: (n.) a type of beer produced by bottom fermenting yeast at cool temperatures (v.) Aging beer at cold temperatures..

Lambic: a wheat beer from Belgium that uses spontaneous fermentation (wild yeast and bacteria.) Often made with fruit.

Lauter: to separate the wort produced after the mash from the grains in the mash tun..

lauter tun:  a kettle or other vessel with a straining device that is used to separate the wort from the grains. Usually in homebrewing the mash kettle is used for both mashing and lautering.

Lovibond: a color scale used in brewing for malt color, water, and grain color.



Malt: a grain such as barley or wheat that is soaked in water to start germination and the production of enzymes then kiln dried to stop the process.

Malt extract: concentrated wort from a mash. Can be in dry, powdered form or a thick syrup.

Mash: (n.) the grains and adjuncts in the mash kettle mixed with hot water to create sweet wort. (v.) the mixing of the mash grains with warm water..

Mash tun: a vessel used to hold the mash. Often it has a false bottom for lautering.

Mead: an alcoholic beverage made by fermenting honey.

Melomel: a fruit mead.

Metheglin: a spiced mead.

Milling: the grinding of malt before the mash in order to make the enzymes and starch more available.

Modification: the change from barley to malt.



Natural conditioning: carbonating beer with within the bottle or other vessel. Often priming sugar is added.

Ninkasi: the Sumerian goddess of beer.

Noble hops: a type of hop grown hailing from Germany and Belgium.

Nonhopped: just means it has no hops in it..

Nose: this term just refers to how the beer (or other beverage) smells.



Off-flavor: refers to any flavor that shouldn’t be there for that particular beer style. Can be resulting from a sanitation issue, improper technique, age, infection, etc.

Original gravity (OG): the specific gravity of wort measured before fermentation. Higher OG=more potential alcohol.

Over-priming: when too much sugar is added before bottling. Too much sugar can result in a “bottle bomb” where the pressure from the CO2 explodes the bottles.

Oxidized: an off-flavor where the beer is exposed to oxygen, usually from just being old. Stale, papery, sherry, and butterscotch are flavors associated with oxidation.



PH: The measurement of how acidic or basic a solution is. A solution below 7 pH is considered acidic and a solution above 7 is alkaline.

Potential alcohol: the amount of possible alcohol a beer can possible have based on it’s Original Gravity measured before fermentation.

Primary Fermentation: fermentation of the sweet wort resulting in alcohol and CO2.

Priming: adding sugar after fermentation in order to carbonate a bottle or other vessel.



Rack: moving beer from one container to another, typically from fermenter to fermenter, or fermenter to keg.

Racking cane: a solid, curved tube used to siphon beer when racking.

Rest: during the mash, brewers hold the mash at a predetermined temperature in order to draw out certain enzymes from the grain.

RIMS: an acronym for Recirculating Infusion Mash System. A popular higher-end homebrewing system where wort is circulated (when it drops in termperature) via a pump through an immersion coil that sits in warm water.

Runoff: just refers to wort that is being drained-off during lautering and sparging.



Saccharification: the process where enzymes convert starches in the mash into sugars..

Secondary fermentation: a fermentation that takes place after the initial fermentation.

Sediment: matter, like yeast and protein, that fall down to the bottom of the fermenting vessel.

Soft water: water that is free of elements like calcium and iron.

Sparge: spraying the mashed grains with warm water in order to rinse the sugars out to the boil kettle..

Specific gravity (SG): a measurement that calculates the density of a liquid at a specified temperature in comparison to water. Original Gravity and Final Gravity are types of Specific Gravity measurements used in brewing.



Tap: either a faucet or other device used to control the flow of kegged or casked beer or the process of hooking up and serving beer from a keg or cask.

Terminal gravity: the Specific Gravity after fermentation. More commonly called Final Gravity.

Top fermentation: a type of fermentation method where yeast ferment on the surface. Ales are “top fermented” beers while lagers are “bottom fermented.”



Viscosity: how thick a beer feels in the mouth.

Vorlauf: a German term word describing to a process where sweet wort is recirculated through the grain bed to clear up the wort.



Wild yeast: yeast that is naturally occurring in the fermenting environment. Can be infectious without proper sanitation.

Wort: the sweet malt liquid that after fermented, becomes beer.



Yeast: A single-celled fungi that consumes sugars in wort to produce alcohol and CO2. This process is called fermentation.



zymology (or zymurgy): the science of fermentation (and brewing.)