Love it or hate it, there’s a lot of jargon floating around the craft beer scene. Consider this your cheat-sheet for sounding like a craft beer expert.
When someone describes a beer as “hoppy”, it means they can clearly taste the bitterness and aromatic flavours of the hops in the brew.
There are four main ingredients used to make beer – malt (grains), hops, yeast and water. These traditional ingredients are something that craft brewers hold very dear. Some of the large, corporate breweries will try to cut costs by using poor substitutes such as corn or rice that sacrifice the overall flavour of the brew. These are known as adjuncts.
Session Beer (noun)
A session beer can be any style as long as its ABV (Alcohol By Volume) is lower than 5%. Simply put, these are the beers you can have more of before all sober judgement goes out the window.
Skunked is the term used to describe a beer that has been damaged by UV rays – in other words, a beer that has gone bad. Cans and kegs keep out the UV rays that can skunk a beer completely, while green or brown glass bottles will minimise their effect.
Body is the term used to talk about the thickness and carbonation of a beer. Beers like lagers and IPAs that are bubbly and lighter in texture are considered light-bodied, whereas darker beers like stouts and porters are described as full-bodied.
There are a few key words used during a beer tasting, and mouthfeel is one of them. This relates to the body of a beer and the feel of the texture it leaves in your mouth when you drink it.
Green Beer (noun)
This is the term used to describe an under-conditioned beer. Conditioning is one of the final steps in the brewing process, where yeast is used to eat the fermented sugars, creating alcohol and carbon dioxide (bubbles). The yeast will also absorb any unwanted off-flavours. When a beer is under-conditioned, it can be flat with unpleasant flavour notes. This is known as “green” beer.
When the yeast’s work is done in the brewing process, it is filtered out to ensure that the final beer is clear. However, a few brewers choose to leave some of that yeast behind to give the beer a more natural, full-bodied flavour. These beers are described as bottle-conditioned or unfiltered.
Sediment is a word used to describe any residue yeast found in unfiltered beers. When a beer is made to be bottle-conditioned, you are supposed to drink the sediment as well as the liquid.
Many brewers will take multiple brews and blend them together. This can be done to achieve consistency between batches, the right balance of flavour, or even to invent a new style.