The Basics of Homebrewing: Terminology

Instructor: Shawn Ford

ale- any beer that is top fermented with ale yeast.

barley- a grain that is used for the brewing of beer.

beer- an alcoholic beverage made from fermenting malted barley extract.

brew- to make beer.

bitterness- a term used to describe one of the essential characteristics of beer.

bittering hops- hops used in the beginning of the mash which impart the essential bitter quality of beer due to their high alpha acid content.

bottling- the process of putting the fermented mash into bottles.

brown ale- a mild, brown colored ale with a low alcohol content.

carboy- five gallon glass jugs used to ferment and age mash.

CO2- the gas used to draw beer from a keg.

corn sugar- the type of sugar used when bottling to carbonate beer.

ferment- the chemical reaction process when yeast converts sugars into alcohol and CO2.

finishing hops- hops used at the end of the mashing process that impart a pleasant flowery quality to the beer due to their high beta acid content.

flowery- the flower-like smell in some beers due to special finishing hops.

flavor grains- grains sparged into the mash that add color and flavor.

grain bag- a mesh bag used to hold grains during the sparging process.

HBU (home bittering unit)- measurement of the homebrewed beer's bitterness.

hops- dried flower of the hop plant that imparts the bitterness in beer and also preserves the beer.

hoppy- term used to describe beer with a high hop character.

hydrometer- a tool used to measure specific gravity when determining beer's alcohol content.

iodophore- an iodine solution used for sterilizing.

keg- a pressurized container used for storing and dispensing beer.

lager- a bottom-fermented beer made with lager yeast at near-freezing temperatures.

liquid yeast- a form of yeast preferred for its ease of use.

malt- barley that has been germinated and then dried.

mash- the process of converting grains into fermentable sugars using enzymes and heat

     extract mash

     full mash

     partial mash

pale ale- a style of beer that is amber in color and drier and hoppier than other beers.

Pilsner- the original style of beer from Pilsen, Czech Republic.

pitch- the act of adding yeast to unfermented wort.

porter- a smooth and sweet dark beer.

primary fermentation- the initial fermentation process when most sugars are converted to alcohol.

priming sugar- sugar added to the fermented ale just before bottling; necessary for remaining live yeast cells to carbonate the beverage.

racking- transferring a fermented liquid from one container to another by siphoning.

sanitize- cleaning equipment of unwanted bacteria.

secondary fementation- the second step in the fermentation process when clarification takes place and more flavoring occurs.

siphoning tube- a plastic, food grade tube used to move ale from one container to another.

sparge- the process of removing sugars from grains to make wort.

spicy- a term used to describe a flavor characteristic of certain ales; associated with the ale's hops.

starter- activating yeast cells prior to pitching in order to increase the amount of active yeast cells introduced to the wort.

sterilize- the act of killing all living organisms.

stout- a dark, sharp tasting ale first made in Britain.

stuck fermentation- a state where fermentation has stopped before the yeast has consumed all of its sugars.

transfer- moving fermented ale from one container to another.

wort- unfermented ale.

yeast- microbes used in brewing that convert sugars into alcohol and CO2.

yeast energizer/ nutrient/ extract- products used to reactivate or jump-start inactive yeast.

zymurgy- the science of beer making; what we're learning here!


(c) 2001 Shawn Ford/ Webb-Ed Press