For Those Of Us Who Aren't Human DictionariesBelow is a list of important terms that you might find helpful during your visit to our world of real beer. If you're looking for information about Beer Styles, go to that page for more specific information on Ales, Lagers, Stouts & Porters, and Wheat Beers.
Additive - Ingredients (usually chemically based) which are added to the wort during the brewing process by mostly large scale commercial brewers to change the composition of the water used or appearance of the end result. Some notable examples include Burton Water Salts, used to harden water and emphasize bitter notes, Irish Moss, used to clarify the beer, Gelatin, also a clarifying agent, and Calcium Chloride, another water hardener also used to remove bitterness and add a malty like flavor. Some other additives are found below. Additives as a term has also been expanded to include any non-traditional brewing ingredient which is typically used to add an extended level of flavor, attenuation, or new aromas.
Adjunct - An unmalted grain or cereal which can be used as a substitute to a malted grain in order for large scale breweries to cut costs and introduce unique beer features, such as a thicker foam head. Examples of popular solid adjuncts include rice, corn, and flour. Rice and corn are the two most commonly used in order to brew pale lagers without barley. These can also be used as a substitute to wheat for use in gluten free beers. Wheat itself can be considered an adjunct in certain applications, such as lambics, lagers, and English Ales, where the addition of wheat lightens the overall body, increases foam retention, and tarts the flavor.
Aging - After conditioning, bottling, and distribution, this is the process of cellaring or storing a beer for extended periods of time in order to add secondary characteristics to the beer. Where the beer is stored, the kind of storage vessel, and the duration of the aging process will greatly alter a beer's characteristics. Alcoholic content will most likely not increase as no more sugars are being added, meaning no more fermentation can take place.
Alcohol (ethanol) - A chemical compound made up of Hydrogen, Carbon, and Oxygen (H6C2O), used as a psychoactive drug, and among other things like fuel and cleaning products, found in fermented beverages (along with distilled bevs) including beer. Ethanol is the specific type of alcohol found in alcoholic bevs, giving them their depressant effects on the brain's nervous system. Ethanol slows down reaction times and reduces one's ability to function normally both physically and mentally. It is one of the world's oldest psychoactive drugs and has been regulated at various levels of strictness by governments over time. Ethanol is also a metabolizable chemical, providing the body with acetyl CoA, similar to glucose metabolism. Generally speaking, a higher ABV for a beer, the more noticeable the alcohol's taste (burn/warming, strong, bitter, and somewhat metallic) can influence the overall character of a beer's flavors and aromas. Highly flammable, this is also a chemical used for fuel in motor vehicles, and alcoholic beverages with very high alcoholic content can catch fire if ignited.
Alcohol By Volume (ABV) - The alcoholic strength of a beer expressed as a percentage of the beer's composition that is made up entirely of alcohol (ethanol). Sometimes expressed by weight (ABW), a beer's ABV has a direct impact on the taste, density, aroma, and finish of a beer.
Aroma - The smell (or mixture of smells) of a finished beer which is a result of the ingredients processed and included during fermentation. Malts, hops, additives, alcoholic strength, and water all contribute to the aroma of a beer.
Attenuation - The level (usually expressed as a percentage) of the amount of convertible sugars that has been metabolized by yeast and turned into alcohol and carbon dioxide. The more attenuation, the less sugar is left after fermentation, which is why well attenuated beers have drier finishes and more bitter tastes. Because alcohol and carbon dioxide collectively have a lower density than sugars, the attenuation can be expressed as a percentage change in both extract (sugars) or gravity (density/weight). Certain sugars are not convertible, resulting in sweeter, sometimes creamier beers like Milk Stouts, which include lactose, a sugar which is not fermentable by yeast.
Bacteria - Mostly single celled (though sometimes multi-celled), microorganisms which exist in nearly all climates, environments, and habitats of the known world. There are over (wait for it) 5,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 bacteria in the world, weighing more collectively than any other living thing on Earth combined. Bacteria occur naturally in the water used to make all forms of beer, and although beer itself is a very hostile environment for microorganisms (besides yeast of course) to exist, many can contaminate and ruin an entire batch, costing breweries time, money, and resources. It is essential to keep all of the equipment used in the brewing process as clean as possible in order to mitigate the risk of contamination and spoilage.
Barley - A grass family grain (cereal) used as a convertible source of sugar for yeast in the fermentation process of brewing. Barley is the most popular malted grain used in the production of beer, and it is the fourth most produced grain in the world's agricultural sector. About a quarter of the world's barley produce is used for malting (unless used as an adjunct), making beer barley a large industry in certain regions of temperate climates. Both two-row and six-row barley grains are used in the mainstream brewing process. Because barley contains beneficial nutrient content (including vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and protein), unfiltered beers generally contain more nutrients than filtered beers (wheat and yeast also convey various benefits as well).
Barrel (Unit) - Both a physical container for transport and storage of liquids and a unit of measurement which conveys a quantity of the volume of a liquid. In brewing, barrels, (or Brewer's Barrels, bbls) are used as storage and transport for cask conditioned beers (ales) which are eventually served as cask beers in restaurants and pubs. Barrels (casks) are used for aging certain styles of cask conditioned beer. A Barrel is also a unit of measurement whose expressed volume varies depending on the jurisdiction of the geographic location. Pertaining to liquid contents, a US beer barrel is 31 gallons, and UK barrel is 43 gallons. Keg sizes are loosely based on the size of a US beer barrel.
Beer Festival - A usually public event where local and foreign breweries offer samples of a select range of their beers to participants who sample various beers in (typically) five ounce servings (or full pints for traditional beer festivals). Beer festivals can be hosted/sponsored by one brewery or many, and feature from a few to a few hundred breweries with samples. Brew fests are also sometimes hosted by one brewery to showcase a new or seasonal beer.
Body - The overall sensation of how solid, heavy, or full the beer feels when tasting. A lighter bodied beer will feel crisp, refreshing, easy to drink, and perhaps well carbonated and close to the feel of fresh water. Light bodied beers can be pale lagers, light beers, and pilsners. Medium bodied beers feel moderately heavier compared to lighter beers and may contain less carbonation with some real substance to literally "chew." English ales, Ambers, lighter Porters, many Weissbiers, and heavier lagers will fall into this category. Full bodied beers are heavy, chewy, sometimes coarse beers with generally lower amounts of carbonation and a sensation of real substance. Often described as a "meal in a can," full bodied beers are sipping beers - ones you can't play flip cup with, and not as refreshing, crisp, or clean as lighter bodied beers. Stouts, Imperials, Dark Ales, Tripels, and most Porters (among others) fall into this category.
Boiling - A step in the brewing process that is vital in preventing infection (contamination), enhancing flavors & aromas, coagulating proteins (and creating a more acidic (lower pH) wort), and adding hops. Boiling beer needs to be an intense, steady, consistent, and even process. The longer a boil occurs (between 15-120 mins), the more bitter and hoppy the resulting beer will be.
Bottles & Bottling - Packaging is one of the last steps in the brewing process. Cans, Kegs, Growlers, Casks, and Bottles are the popular vessels for packaging used in the aging (conditioning), distribution, storage, transportation, and serving processes of beer consumption. Bottles are usually 12 oz, but many varieties, shapes, and capacities exist for retail sales. Modern breweries package their beer using a line process, where the cleaning, filling, labeling, capping, and storing are all (or nearly all) automated by robots. Bottles can be used for bottle conditioning.
Bottle Conditioned - A process of secondary fermentation which takes place in the final packaging (bottle) which is unfiltered, sold, and served as is. During secondary fermentation, additional yeast is seeded into the beer in order to enhance flavors, add natural carbonation (as opposed to high pressure gas injection), and to produce more alcohol (usually negligible). Because these beers still contain fermentable materials and yeast, they remain unfiltered, leaving sediment at the bottom of the bottle. This can either be decanted, or mixed and consumed with the beer.
Brewery - A plant or facility dedicated to operate and house the equipment, materials, processes, crew, and administrative overhead involved with the brewing process. Breweries can vary considerably in size (relative to production and capacity), and can contain one or more individual systems producing beer independently. A brewery's size defines what category of brewing company it belongs to. This is independent of whether a brewery is officially considered a special kind of brewery, such as a Trappist or Craft brewery. Craft Breweries do not use adjuncts in their brewing processes. Because Lagers and Ales require different brewing practices, these kinds of beer are usually made in different facilities and equipment. Like all other manufacturing plants, breweries and their equipment have gone through many stages of modernization over different eras of industrialization. Many breweries also specialize in one specific style or set of similar styles of beer in order to reduce costs, target a niche market, streamline the brewing process, become leaders in the style's industry, and/or advance the development of the style.
Brewing - The overall process by which beer is crafted. In basic form, adding fermentable, usually malted solids to water, mashing the mixture, adding hops, boiling in a kettle, flowing through a hopback, being chilled via a head exchanger (chiller), adding yeast in a fermenter, then condition, filter (sometimes), and either cask or bottle and finally, being poured into the proper glassware the proper way. Or in even more basic form: Malting, Mashing, Lautering, Boiling, Fermenting, Conditioning (sometimes), Filtering (sometimes), Bottling (Packaging), Conditioning (sometimes again), Pouring, Serving, Enjoying.
Brewmaster - The person who is held responsible for the operations involved with the production of beer in a brewery. The brewmaster's role is the brewery's backbone - a trainer, cleaner, overseer, manager, brewer, supply monitor, quality control specialist, taste tester, and brew architect. Most brewmasters have had specialized education properly teaching them about every aspect of how beer is made. A brewmaster's degree is equivalent to a Master's Degree.
Brewpub - A restaurant with a small scale (sometimes full scale) brewery attached to it, whose sole purpose is to showcase the beers produced in the adjacent facility. Brewpubs can exist as chains, stand alone establishments, or as small restaurants conjoined to an existing brewery. Many of these began as micro or nanobreweries.
Burtonisation - The process (optional or compulsory dependent on the style being brewed) of using sulphate (gypsum) as a chemical additive in the water used to brew beer in order to enhance the hoppy character of ales, especially pale ales. Some Pilsners from the Czech Republic are also enhanced with gypsum. The process is named after the town Burton upon Trent in England which was home to many commercially successful breweries who contributed their good fortune to the chemical composition of the local water supply.
Can - A metal (usually Aluminum or Tin) cylindrical container used to store, transport and, dispense beer. Cans have gained a reputation for giving beers a metallic taste - something not possible with today's polymer lined aluminum containers. Cans are starting to become the preferred transportation container of choice for brewers because they're cheaper, easier to store, easier to manufacture, easier to recycle, and don't let in harmful UV rays like glass bottles.
Capacity - A measure of a brewery's ability to produce beer while operating at full output levels during a given year. Usually expressed in Barrels (though other volume measurements are occasionally used: Gallons, Liters), a brewery's capacity is a nameplate capacity used only in theory. Often, breweries will not operate at full capacity if the increased demand for its products isn't there. Breweries will also increase capacity by way of adding more equipment via expansions or the purchase/construction of a new, secondary facility. This is why capacity differs from output and ergo, does not dictate whether a brewery falls into the nano, micro, regional, or macrobrewery categories.
Carbonation - The chemical or (production dependent) physical process of dissolving Carbon Dioxide (CO2) in water (H2O) in order to create a fizzing sensation when consumed. This is a chemical process when yeast ferments (metabolizes) sugars in a wort to produce alcohol (and gas in the form of carbonation); and a physical process when a liquid such as a filtered beer or soft drink is injected with CO2 using high pressure gas jets.
Cask Conditioned - Beer (ale) which has gone through secondary fermentation in a cask and served straight from the cask without the use of added nitrogen or carbon dioxide. Cask ales are referred to as real ales and come in a variety of forms, most originating from the UK. Because these condition (and ferment) in the cask and do not go through any other brewing process, they are unrefrigerated, unfiltered, and unpasteurized, giving them a uniquely warm serving temperature (cellar temperature), earthy flavor & texture, and lower level of carbonation. Finings can be added to bring out a brighter appearance. The beer is served using a handpump powered by leveraging gravity.
Cellaring - The act of storing and aging beer in a cellar or enclosed space for an extended period of time in order to fully condition (bottle) a beer and enhance (mature) its flavors. This is similar to the process of aging whiskey, cheese, or wine. Cellaring times differ greatly by the style of beer, alcohol composition, and intended maturity by the brewer. Certain beers can be cellared for months, and others may take many years to fully mature. Most filtered beers can't be cellared as they have a short shelf life.
Cereal - A popular type of breakfast food and a general use term to describe grained grasses which are used in the production of foods and beverages. Some popular types of cereals include corn (maize), wheat, rice, oats, barley, rye, and sorghum.
Chiller (Heat Exchanger) - Pertaining to a brewery, this is the piece of equipment responsible for removing excess heat from the wort/liquid after boiling in order to bring the temperature down to fermentation temperatures. Yeast is added to the wort after cooling because too much heat will prevent the metabolic processes. A chiller primarily consists of a heat exchanger which is used to transfer heat from the liquid to the air used to surround and cool the equipment.
Clarity - A characteristic of the appearance of a beer which defines the ease at which light passes through the liquid. Filtered light colored beers demonstrate the best clarity, while unfiltered dark wheat beers do not. Clarity is affected by filtering as well as the conditioning process and the ingredients used.
Color - The resulting frequency and amplitude of light after passing through a beer. Color is a point on a spectrum of light which illustrates the different visual perception of light energy of identical electron particle characteristics, most importantly, its wavelength. The wavelength of light radiation dictates what color the eye interprets. Electromagnetic radiation is the type of energy of which light at certain ranges is a specific kind. The color of beer is measured on various internationally recognized scales. Basically, the darker a beer is, the larger the resulting light's wavelength will be and the higher score the beer's color will receive on these scales. When analyzing color, make sure the appearance is congruent to the style.
Company (International) - A company involved with business in more than one country is one of four types of companies, usually large in revenue, market value, and the scale of production. These are either holding companies which own separate brewing companies as assets, or macrobreweries themselves, and most of these are publicly traded. The simplest form of this kind of company is an International company, which is defined as an importer/exporter company (in terms of distribution) with no foreign assets (e.g. Constellation Brands). The next level up is a Multinational company: one which does own investments and production assets in other companies but doesn't conduct business as a unified brand. These are brands catered towards a local and regional market (e.g. Ford and Heineken & its subsidiaries including HP Bulmer, Heineken Pilsner, and Birra Moretti). A Global company is produces a large amount of one branded product (or multiple branded products) that are sold consistently worldwide, with assets overseas and universal brand recognition (e.g. McDonalds, Coke-Cola, and Diageo & its subsidiaries such as Guinness). And finally, a Transnational company is a combination of both a Global and a Multi-National company which conducts business in both localized brands and global brands (e.g. General Motors, LG, and AB Inbev & its subsidiaries such as brands of varying degrees of distribution including Busch Light, Budwieser, and Leffe).
Conditioning - The step in the brewing process after the brew is removed from the fermentation vat and separated from the trub (dead yeast and other solid deposits). This step is broken down into three main components: maturing, clarification, and stabilization. Maturing gives beer an added set of flavors and aromas. This process allows ingredients to fully integrate with the beer in order to establish its character. Clarification is a further removal of fine sediment (through separation) and a natural process by which haziness and cloudiness are both removed. Stabilization occurs after the beer has settled, carbonation, ph levels, and other aspects are at near equilibrium levels within the conditioning container, which can include a cask or a bottle. Many beers also go through multiple steps of conditioning.
Conditioning Tank - A vessel where the brewing process of conditioning takes place if the brewer decides not to condition in a bottle or cask. This can also precede secondary conditioning in a bottle or cask.
Contract Brewer - A brewing company which, under license or other organized transaction, produces a branded beer for a brewing company which cannot (or chooses not to) brew a particular beer on their own. This kind of deal can occur for a range of reasons: A brewing company may not exist as a brewery yet and is looking to either construct one or refurbish an old facility; the beer is globally distributed and the brand's owner does not either have the resources to own brewing assets in other parts of the globe, or they choose to operate a leaner company, yet still want to distribute their beer globally without having to ship it from one macrobrewing facility, causing the beer to potentially spoil during transportation; the original brewery may temporarily need to keep up with demand as they undergo an expansion; the original brewery does not have the equipment to produce a certain kind of beer (lagers vs ales); or the original brewery (and company) is in the process of being liquidated, purchased/acquired, or merged. Contract brewing is a proven, viable source for extra (or all) capacity for both macro and micro breweries. The contract brewery is different from the brewer in that it is in this context, the company in charge of the marketing, accounting, sales, administration, distribution, and other overhead responsibilities of a brewing company.
Copper - Pertaining to a brewery, this is the piece of equipment responsible for boiling the brew before it is fermented. Hops are added into the brew at this point where applicable. This process takes place after the mash has been created, and is necessary in order to sterilize the brew to avoid future infections among other things.
Craft Brewery - A type of brewery which does not brew with adjuncts. Craft breweries come in all different sizes, from international brands to individually owned, garage based nano breweries. Simply put, a craft brewery produces less than 6 million barrels of annual output, uses no adjuncts (as opposed to malts) in brewing their beer, and is independently owned.
Distribution - Pertaining to business, this is the process of making beer (or any good) readily available for consumers, intermediaries, retail outlets, and other purchasers to buy and consume. This process includes transportation, channel selecting (target marketing), contract negotiating (with intermediaries and vendor transport companies), warehousing (stockpiling and inventory), and product marketing (in order to make it known that the product is available for purchase). Distribution helps to define a brewery's overall category in terms of reach, sales, production, and capacity. American breweries can define target geographic markets as states, regions, countries, or even continents. European and Asian breweries define groups as regions, countries, continental regions, and continents. Smaller distribution areas, such as towns, counties, or metropolitan areas can be utilized as well. Distribution begins with the brewery, and via transportation, warehousing, and sales contracts, ends at retail outlets such as grocery stores, liquor stores, restaurants, and pubs.
Draught - An offering made by a beer serving establishment which is served directly from a keg or cask via a tap. Kegs and casks are the two standard large forms of business to business beer transport vessels. Generally speaking, most people prefer the same beer on tap (draft/draught) rather than from a bottle or even nitro can. Beer served from these two mediums is often pressurized with a nitrogen based gas blend in order to enhance carbonation action, and deliver a smooth, steady pour needed for a proper beer serving. It is very important for restaurant, bar, and pub owners to thoroughly inspect and clean their draught systems on a regular basis in order to make sure every beer served is the way the brewer intended. Cleaning a draught system will remove excess sediment, prevent flaking, provide a smoother pour, wash away deposits, and ensure longer lasting equipment.
Dry Hopping - The step in the brewing process where aromatic (and sometimes traditional) hops are added to the wort after boiling and cooling (via a heat exchanger), and during fermentation. This optional step dramatically adds to hoppy characteristics of the resulting beer, especially in terms of a hoppy, citrusy, slightly fruity, and sinus clearing aroma. A dry hopped beer has also gone through the usual process of boiling with regular hops. The result of dry hopping varies depending on the hops used, the other ingredients in the wort, and the resulting beer style.
Feel - Sensations based on touch, one of the five basic senses. When reviewing beer, one looks for characteristics concerning the physical character of the beer, such as viscosity, weight, grittiness (caused by unfiltered ingredients), crispness, carbonation, any lingering effects, warming or refreshing effects, and smoothness or choppiness.
Fermentation - The step in the brewing process in which extracted malt sugars are converted into both ethanol and carbon dioxide by way of yeast metabolism. Yeast can perform anaerobic fermentation, a type of conversion which takes place when no oxygen is present. Sugars such as Glucose, Fructose, and Sucrose, are the carbohydrate based source of food (fuel) for yeast strains pitched into a wort. It is not until this stage that beer can actually be considered beer, a product of fermentation. The process takes place in fermentation tanks, which are often stainless steel cylinders arranged vertically. This process can take many forms, with the two basic varying factors being temperature and location. The style and yeast strains involved will determine both fermentation temperature (warm vs cool), and location (top vs bottom). Simply put, ale houses ferment at higher temperatures, while lager houses will ferment at cool temperatures, dictating the length of the fermentation process. Certain yeast strains will be used for specific styles, determining whether a beer is top or bottom fermented. Ales are typically top fermented, while lagers are bottom fermented. The yeast used will determine whether fermentation settles at the bottom, or floats up to the top, varying by style. Fermentation can take place in a fermentation tank, conditioning tank (or cask), and in the final serving bottle as well, depending on what the style calls for. Most kinds of brewer's yeast are, or share many qualities with common baker's yeast.
Filtering - The step in the brewing process where solid elements of the brew are physically removed from the beer. This gives beer a clear, lucid appearance, a more bitter taste (generally less yeasty and wheaty), and a more dry finish. Unfiltered beers appear cloudy and may have actual sediment settling at the bottom of the glass or bottle, or floating around the entire glass as a result of pouring. Unfiltered wheat beers contain a higher amount of nutrients because natural yeast and wheat contains beneficial nutritional components.
Finings - Additives usually in chemical form which are used to clear out a near finished brew by capturing and separating (by sinking to the bottom) solid debris and certain chemical substances which are undesirable in a finished beer product. This capturing occurs in a variety of process forms, depending on the fining used. Finings remove only organic compounds and are removed with the compounds which they target. They are also used in the manufacture of other types of beverages, especially wine.
Finish - An element of both the feel and the taste aspects of a beer's overall experience. The finish incorporates how a beer leaves a mouth and the sensations associated with the beer's exit. This comes in the form of a range of factors, including any lingering (or short lived) aftertastes, the strength of the aftertastes, any warming or cooling effect, whether the beer is dull or crisp, light and refreshing, or heavy and lingering. A finish's quality should only be weighted against what is typical of the beer's style, not the personal preference of the consumer.
Fractional Freezing - This is the process by which a beer's alcoholic strength is increased by freezing a liquid with a lower melting point than another liquid thereby creating a filterable solid in a mixture with a medium comprised of the remaining unfrozen liquid. It is incorrect to say that fractional freezing eliminates water (with a lower melting point) from alcohol, because the ethyl alcohol cannot remain by itself as a liquid. Fractional Freezing eliminates the volumes of water which are diluted - less concentrated in alcohol, leaving the remaining liquid richer in ethanol. Colder temperatures produce higher levels of resulting alcohol. Ice beer (mainly lagers) are produced in this way - a secondary process after regular production has concluded.
Glassware - The kind of liquid ferrying vessel one uses to consume a beer will vary greatly on the style of beer being enjoyed. Proper glassware is essential for a full, brewer intended beer drinking experience. There are many aspects of a beer glass which can enhance the sensual elements of a beer. For more information on basic glassware recommendations by beer style, click on the beer styles page for more information.
Gluten Free Beer - These are beers which are brewed without grains which contain glycoproteins (gluten) (including barley, oats (which are processed in main line grainaries), and wheat). Most gluten free beers are produced to cater toward the growing market for gluten free consumables (for those who either choose to eat a gluten free diet, or those with gluten intolerance (such as those with celiac, or dermatitis herpetiformis)). Gluten free beers are commonly brewed with rice, sorghum or other grist (or adjunct) which can still be broken down by yeast.
Gravity - A measurement comparing the density of a beer relative to the density of water. A beer's gravity, expressed in Plato, can be affected by many things, with the two primary culprits being alcoholic content and leftover brew ingredient debris. Fermentable sugar levels in a wort will directly affect the density by replacing higher density sugar with low density ethanol. The original gravity refers to the beer's density before fermentation, while the specific gravity is measured during or after fermentation occurs. Gravity measurements are used by brewers to determine both alcoholic content of their beer and the health of the fermentation. When the gravity stops decreasing, fermentation is complete.
Green Beer/Wort - When pertaining to brewing (and not St. Patrick's Day in college towns of The United States), this is a term used to describe the stage and appearance of a wort after it has been boiled and whirlpooled and before it has had any yeast added to it for fermentation. Green beer or wort does not contain any alcohol, but is perfectly safe to drink and contains many properties of a finished beer, especially hoppy characteristics if hops are used during the boiling. A hopback is used to filter and clarify the green wort. The wort appears green at this stage, because the hop bits have not been completely removed from the mixture.
Grist - Any grain or cereal that has had its chaff, shell, or husk removed in order to be cleanly ground down for brewing preparation. The term comes the word v. grind. Grist is essentially meal or flour, depending on the grain being processed. Ground corn is either grits (if it is coarse), or corn meal (if it is fine). After the grist has been processed, it is used to make the mash.
Gypsum - This is another additive which is used to harden water, giving it a drier, bitterer character and removing most malty notes. This is typically used in traditional English style beers, like bitters and IPAs.
Head - This is a frothy layer of foam bubbles produced by the carbonation action caused by pouring a beer into a glass. These bubbles are made by either carbon dioxide, or nitrogen, as turbulence and pressure introduce outside stresses and forces into the beer, causing a gaseous expansion and creating foam. The density, longevity, and size of the foam head is determined by the malts used, yeast used, and strength of the pour. The beer must be poured into the correct kind of glassware in order to influence a proper foam head. Glass has natural and deliberate (widget) rough surfaces which provide for the nucleation of carbon dioxide within the beer, rather than just at the top. This results in a slower release of gas, and thus, a crisp beer throughout. Proper and Clean glassware without oils and water is necessary for a beer to produce the desired amount of carbonation and foam head. For this and many other reasons, chilled glasses should NOT be used to serve a good beer or any beer for that matter... except Root Beer. Wheat beers and stouts typically have the most dense, longest lasting, tallest, and most aromatic foam heads. A proper foam head is important for correctly showcasing the true aromas that a beer has to offer, as well as being aesthetically pleasing.
Homebrewing - The practice of brewing and packaging beer for the purpose of personal consumption, free distribution among family and friends, and entrance into amateur brewing competitions. Homebrewing is a growing recognized hobby in many parts of the western world, especially, after homebrewing restrictions were lifted in the UK in 1963, in 1972 in Australia, and in 1978 for most of the United States. Because of ATF related laws, an American homebrewer can't produce more than 100 gallons per adult (max 200 gallons for households), and they could be charged criminally if they attempt to sell any of their beer. The same restrictions about selling beer exist in most of the countries where homebrewing is made legal. Homebrewing applies to the brewing and overall production of beer, cider, mead, and wine. Many beer and wine hobby stores exist to supply homebrewers with the ingredients, equipment, and tools they need to produce beer on a personal hobby scale. Ideally, every style of beer can be reproduced in one's home, but certain economies of scale make some styles easier and more cost effective to brew, especially for those on a budget and inexperienced with the skills needed.
Hops - The green flowers in the Humulus lupulus (Common Hop) species which are harvested primarily for its use in the brewing process. These flowers grow in clusters and are bright green with a very leafy ball like appearance. There are currently about 80 different varieties of hops cultivated from all around the globe, with the biggest producers being Germany, Ethiopia, The United States, China, and Czech Republic. Hops are prepared for brewing after cultivation by drying them in a oats house. Occasionally, an undried "wet-hop" is used to brew as well. The Alpha Acids found in Hop resins moderately fight bacteria and help out with the fermentation process. The Beta acids (the other of two hop acids) give the beer the trademark bitter aroma. Because there are so many different kinds of hops, the use of certain hops (or combinations of hops) can produce extremely varied results (including the duration of boiling/evaporation) with aromas and flavors. Bitterness contributed by the added hops is determined by the alpha acids are isomerized during the boiling and the amount of hops used. Hops used to enhance flavors and aromas are added later towards the end of the brewing process so that their acids can impart their characteristics into the wort without completely evaporating away. As it is a temperate climate component of agriculture, varieties used in certain beers and beer styles vary by region and country. Hops have a moderate preservative like quality, which helped form the India Pale Ale, a beer favored by ship going merchants sailing goods to and from India. The IPA was favored because of the relatively high amount of hops used to craft it, giving it a longer shelf life for long voyages. Hops are not used in the brewing of all beer styles.
Hopback - A piece of optional brewing equipment which would be used after the boiler (kettle/copper), and before the chiller. It is a sealed container used to add aromatic hops and clean/clear out green wort/beer for the purposes of preparing the ingredients for fermentation. The hopback operates like a filter either naturally, through a fresh layer of hops flowers filtering out trub (debris), or as a removal tool for all solid materials (including hops pellets, hops flowers, and other ingredients).
Independent/Private - Any brewery which is not owned (wholly or in part) by another brewery, holding company, or is publicly traded. Independent breweries can be family owned and operated, or controlled by a private organization or group. Subsidiary breweries are not independent, regardless of whether the owner is a private company or not. Independent brewing companies can consist of multiple brewing facilities.
International Bitterness unit (IBU) - A unit of measurement of bitterness, one of the seven basic tastes. Determined by a spectrophotometer and solvent extraction, the bitterness of a beer is directly proportional to the amount of hops used during the brewing process. A larger amount of hops will increase bitterness, while higher use of other ingredients, especially Malt, will decrease bitterness. IBU ratings usually vary between 1 and 70, but some very bitter IPAs can hit numbers above 100. Bitterness can be overshadowed by malt, but the presence of bitter ingredients will still raise an IBU, even if the beer doesn't taste as bitter as a beer with a lower IBU. In essence, a stout can have an IBU of 45, but because it contains a lot of malty ingredients, it will taste sweeter: potentially sweeter than some red or amber ales scoring less than 40. Generally, IBUs remain fairly constant with the style (unless the beer is specifically brewed uniquely to offer a new experience, or is just spoiled or something went wrong during the brewing process).
International Business - See Company (International)
Keg - A unit of measurement and a physical container for the storage, transportation, distribution, and serving (both in the home and at restaurants/bars) of beer in draught form. Depending on the jurisdiction (for weights and measurements), a keg (made of aluminum or stainless steel) can vary in terms of volume and other dimensions. Kegs usually contain 15.5 gal (Standard 1/2 keg) in the US, 13.21 gal (50L) in Europe, and can vary in size elsewhere.
Krausening - A variation of secondary fermentation in which immature beer or wort is added to the brew after primary fermentation in order to add yeast induced results. See Secondary Fermentation for more information.
Lacing - Caused by carbonation, viscosity, and alcoholic content, this is the residue left by the foam head as the beer moves down a glass as it is consumed. Beers with a higher level of alcohol and carbonation will typically leave more lacing, while heavier beers with lower carbonation levels will leave almost no patterns on the glass. This is analyzed as a component of a beer's look (visual character).
Lactose - The natural sugar found in milk products. This is a disaccharide sugar which is derived from galactose. On average, it constitutes about 6% of the contents of milk (by weight). It is the subject of discussion for those who are lactose intolerant (and cannot consume any dairy products). Like gluten free beers, those with dietary restrictions need to be aware of a beer contains lactose. Most beers (Ales, Wheats, Lagers) do not contain lactose as it is not fermentable by yeast and would affect the flavors of the resulting brew. Certain stouts, however are brewed with lactose intentionally included in order to give a beer a sweet, creamy, or "milky" character. Because the sweet lactose remains in its unattenuated form after fermentation it makes the beer sweeter.
Lagering - A type of brewing process where beer is cold fermented and bottom fermented. This differs from top fermented, warm fermenting ales, which take less time to ferment. Lagers take longer because the cool temperatures decrease the level of yeast metabolic activity, slowing down the conversion of sugars into ethanol and carbon dioxide. Lager is the German word for storage, reflecting the relatively longer duration of a wort's time spent in a fermentation tank.
Lautering - The step in the brewing process in which liquid wort is separated from the mash after mashing has occurred. There are usually three steps to lautering: Mashout, Recirculation, and Sparging. The entire process occurs in the Lauter Tun, a vessel designed specifically for the process of lautering. Mashout is the process of heating up the entire mixture to about 170 degrees F which further liquefies the mash and helps to enable enzymes to extract sugars from malt starches. This is done by either adding hot water or introducing external heat. Recirculation is the mixing and redistributing of mash to wort ingredients in order to filter out of the solid materials in sand like mash per se filters. Sparging is the process of slowly, delicately, and gradually trickling water through the mash to draw out any sugars.
Lingering - An adverb used to describe a finish or aftertaste of a beer. A lingering aftertaste is detectable for relatively long amounts of time, as its flavors leave impressions on the taste buds toward the back of the tongue and mouth. A lingering finish (in terms of a beer's feel) can come in the form of crispness, dryness, or warming effects, for some. Different styles will exhibit different lengths of lingering.
Look - The overall appearance of a finished beer, with aspects including color, carbonation, foam head, pouring, lacing, and clarity.
Macrobrewery - A large company whose assets collectively produce more than 2,000,000 US Barrels of beer annually. These companies' beer is usually produced in massive commercial breweries and distributed around the world. Most often, holding companies and publicly traded corporations are the parent company for these kinds of breweries. They have a generally poor reputation among those in the craft beer world due to their products' general lack in quality, taste, or character. A macrobrewery can, by definition, be considered a craft brewery as long as it produces less than 6,000,000 US Barrels annually and is independently owned and operated.
Malt - A cereal grain which has been roasted or dried and prepared for sugar extraction and brewing. Malted grains, such as barley, rye, oats, wheat, and others contain both sugars and enzymes which interact with each other when hot water is introduced to the grain (a process called mashing). Germinated cereals become malts through the process of malting, which takes place at a malt house. In essence, a malt is a dried and/or roasted (and sometimes smoked) grain whose sugar contents are extracted from starches and used as fermentable sugars in brewing. Different malts will be used to create different characteristics in varying beer styles, including color (roasted malts produce darker colors), aroma (coffee and chocolate for dark malts), viscosity (typically darker beers have higher viscosities and have a fuller body), and of course, taste. Generally, malts will add sweetness to a beer, as opposed to hops, which add bitterness.
Malt Extract - The concentrated sugars extracted from a malt's starch via mashing. This process uses hot water to activate the embedded enzymes within the malt which draw out the sugars needed for fermentation. Malt extract is produced by concentrating the post mashing wort into either a syrup or dry form (Liquid malt extract or dry: LME and DME, respectively). Extract can be added to the wort directly in place of malting, mashing, and lautering.
Malting - The process of drying, roasting, and/or smoking germinated cereals to convert them into malt. This process takes place in a malthouse, a facility (in its simplest form) equipped with a germination floor, a fireplace (kiln), a massive sieve (to remove shoots), and a place for storage and aging. Germination takes place at about 131 degrees F. The grains are first dried to <14% moisture, then stored for 6 weeks. The water is then soaked in water in order to promote germination, with a moisture of about 46%. During germination, the malt is air dried with heat transferred from the kiln, which is used to either roast or smoke the malt for added flavor and beer enhancing properties. The color of the resulting malt determines which family it belongs to, and what beer styles it will be used for in brewing.
Maltose - A disaccharide sugar formed from two linked molecules of glucose. This is the type of sugar commonly found in barley and other germinating cereals (grain). Barley goes through the process of malting after which the available enzymes needed for converting maltose from the grains are maximized. The starches of barley or other grains are processed into maltose during mashing by way of the enzymes also known as amylases. Maltose is fermentable by yeast.
Mash - A mixture of grist (ground up grain or malt) and hot water, used to prepare a wort. The grains contained in the mash have enzymes which, when activated by hot water, extract maltose, glucose, and other fermentable sugars from grain starch, with the resulting liquid ready for boiling.
Mashing - The step in the brewing process where a grist is mixed with hot water (about 165 degrees F, depending on the style and brewing process/practice) in order to make a mash.
Microbrewery - An independent brewery which produces relatively small amounts of beer on an annual basis and is usually involved in the manufacturing of craft beer. There are many numerical thresholds that different countries and beer/brewery associations use to define the maximum amount of beer a brewery can produce in order to be officially categorized as a microbrewery. The American Brewers Association defines a microbrewery as a single facility company which produces less than 15,000 US Barrels each year and is independently owned. Microbreweries make up the vast majority of brewing establishments in the United States. In Japan, strict tax laws define microbreweries as ones producing less than 16,000 US Gal (60,000 liters). These are known as Ji Biru "Local Beer". The main law was introduced in 1994 and allowed small breweries (producing less than 2,000,000 liters) to obtain brewing licenses. In the UK and Germany, the microbrewery ("small brewery" in Germany) threshold exists at 5,000 hectoliters (or 4,260 US Barrels) of annual output. Nearly 1,000 of these small breweries exist in Germany today.
Milling - The process of grinding grains and other solid cereal material in order to maximize surface area of the ingredient (more flavor, more active enzymes, more color, etc); reduce the overall volume of the ingredients (for transport and storage), and pulping (removing unwanted elements or aspects of the material, such as shells, chaff, or husks). Properly milled grains are necessary for the yeast in a wort to extract all of the sugars for attenuation. Better milled cereals also mean more pronounced or complex flavors, and a richer, deeper color (depending on the malt).
Mineral - Any one of the known >4000 chemical compounds with a high order of atomic structure, formed from a combination of physical, biological, chemical, and geological processes. During the brewing process, many kinds of minerals are used as additives to change the characteristics of the resulting beverage. Gypsum, for example, makes water taste harder, giving beer a clearer appearance and a drier finish.
Nanobrewery - As defined by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, these are very small breweries with a capacity of less than 4 US barrels. These are usually attached to a restaurant as a brewpub or eventually grow into one. Often the result of successful homebrewing.
Nitro - Nitrogen (N) is an element which exists primarily as a gas with an atomic number of 7. Used for many applications, Nitrogen is used specifically in the brewing process as an alternative (replacement or used with) to Carbon Dioxide (CO2) in order to add pressure to kegs and other vessels containing stouts and ales. The purpose of this is to add a creamy foam head with smaller, more concentrated bubbles which is desirable on maltier beers. Guinness invented the widget which is packaged in cans and bottles and allows nitrogen charged beers to be distributed in other means than kegs without the risk of losing the trademark creamy foam head.
Oktoberfest - The annual Bavarian harvest festival which takes place starting in Late September, and running for 16 days until the first weekend in October. More than 5 million people from around the world attend the festival each year making it the world's largest fair, and one of Germany's most famous annual events. 7 million liters of Marzen/Oktoberfest beer is consumed during the festival, all of which must comply with the Reinheitsgebot and contain at least 6% ABV. 6 breweries in Munich are eligible to produce beer for Oktoberfest. Beer is served in 1 liter stein glasses. The festival was originally a royal event, but the focus has shifted to celebrating the annual harvest and agriculture in general.
Pitching - A term used by brewers meaning the action of adding yeast or hops into the appropriate equipment (container). Fermentation tanks for yeast, and hops for the boiler/hop back.
Plato - A unit of measurement expressing the amount of fermentable materials left in a wort. This is displayed on a hydrometer as a percentage, and helps determine whether a beer is done fermenting or not. This differs from gravity (above) in that it is expressed as the unfermented extract, rather than the resulting ethanol. This is also used by brewers to determine whether a beer has completed fermentation or not (or if the yeast isn't healthy).
Pour - How a bartender, beer drinker, or server pours a beer into a glass will determine the final quality of how a beer will be perceived. An improper pour can ruin the carbonation, foam head, and crispness of a beer by activating too much carbon dioxide upon contact of a glass. Likewise, not pouring a nitro canned beer "hard" enough will result in a lower quality foam head, lower carbonation action, and as a result, more faint aromas. Pour as a visual element can be smooth or choppy, depending on both the properties of the beer in a proper pour, and the level of carbonation action, the physical interaction between the beer and the glass. Certain breweries, such as Guinness of Dublin, stresses that their customers can technically refuse to accept a beer which has not been poured to their own specifications. Typically, lagers, ales, and some stouts are poured into a glass tilted at a 45 degree angle, in order to prevent a "hard," or straight in pour. This kind of pouring will result in an elevated level of carbonation action, increasing the foam head, and emphasizing the aroma of the beer, though this is not always desirable.
Preservative - Pertaining to brewing, the hops used during the brewing process which act as a natural preservative. Hops were discovered to have preservative properties in England during the era of global merchant trade (and the British Empire). The IPA (India, of course) was an invented beer style favored by sea faring merchants who were looking for a beer with a relatively long shelf life (especially without storage in cool cellars).
Priming - The process of fermenting a wort directly into the vessel in which it is served from, usually the bottle. This is done by adding a certain amount of unfermented wort or sugars (and sometimes yeast) into a beer before its bottle is sealed off with a cap. Further fermentation takes place, completing the brewing process, as opposed to bottle conditioning, which a beer has already completed fermentation, and no alcohol is added during conditioning in most cases. A beer can be partially or fully fermented in a bottle using this method.
Public Company - A corporation whose value is sold and held in the form of common stock to private individual and institutional investors. Specifically pertaining to the brewing industry, these are companies which own (either operating as a single organization or as a holding company) a very large brewery and/or other brewing industry related assets. Many of these companies are valued in the tens of billions of dollars.
Public House (Pub) - A drinking and dining establishment originally from The UK. In small or older towns, the pub was the focal point of social activity, commonly located at the center of the settlement and used as a gathering place. A pub often serves food along with beer, wine, and spirits, known as pub food. Recreational games such as darts, foosball, and pool are common at pubs. Often more casual than a formal restaurant, and more laid back and quieter than a bar or club, the pub atmosphere has bred a number of cultural associations, including fresh, real beer, rock music, friendly folk, sports on the TV, and uncrowded scenes. Pubs will often have a much wider and specialized selection of beer on tap as opposed to normal restaurants or bars and clubs.
Publican - A licensed landlord and thus owner and keeper/manager of a public house or tavern.
Rating - A number between 1 and 5 which is given to a sampled beer by Unquestionable Taste's editors. This number is the standard unit of measurement determined by five criteria: Look, Feel, Aroma, Taste, and Overall Experience. The rating system is set up in a numerically proportionally skewed manner in order to emphasize good beer and allow for the detailed differentiation between good, notable beers of similar quality. Our scale ranges between 1.00 and 5.00, rounded to the nearest hundredth. Nothing can get lower than a 1.00 and the scale is nearly logarithmic, so it is increasingly more difficult for a beer to get a score that is high as you continue up the scale, especially between 4.00 and 5.00. Simply put, the difference between 4.40 and 4.50 is much greater than the difference between 2.00 and 2.30. For more information on the rating scale, please visit the full list page.
Refrigeration - The process of removing heat from one medium, material, or location, into another. Refrigerated storage is necessary for many beer styles in order for them to retain a desirable/or intended flavor, level of carbonation, and longer shelf life. Aside from cask ales, most beer needs to be stored and served at least somewhat cold in order to be fully appreciated and kept healthy.
Regional Brewery - A brewery that falls between the categories of a microbrewery and a macrobrewery. Regional breweries produce more than 15,000 US barrels, but less than 2,000,000 US barrels of beer each year. Regional breweries usually serve a moderate geographic location/market, and may be involved in modest amounts of international sales. In order for a brewery of this size to be considered a regional craft brewery, they must offer an all-malt flagship brew, or produce at least 50% of the volume of their beer being all-malt based.
Reinheitsgebot - Also known as the German Purity Law, this is a 1487 (though made official on April 23, 1516) piece of German legislation which dictates the ingredients that can be brewed in beer. Beers that are crafted in compliance with this law originally contained only water, barley, and hops. Yeast was not an officially recognized ingredient until the 1993 Vorlaufiges Biergesetz, which allowed brewers to use yeast for bottom fermented beers, and other kinds of malts and sugars for top fermented beers. Since the formation of the European Union, breweries in other sovereign countries that were once included in the Germanic sphere of influence had to abide by the Reinheitsgebot as well. The rule has since been expanded to include most ingredients found in popular beer styles around the European Continent, though many brewers still claim to follow the strict original Reinheitsgebot as both a form of tradition, and as marketing leverage.
Review (Featured) - For the purposes of this website, a Featured (or Full) review is an in depth look at a beer's full character profile. These reviews are written based on tasting and review notes, which are taken directly from the beer while it is being analyzed (enjoyed, really). These notes are then processed into a character profile which includes various aspects concerning four main categories of quality: Look, Aroma, Feel, and Taste. When reading these reviews, you'll often come across certain words like choppy, malty, lingering, full bodied, aromatic, and so on. These and other descriptive adjectives are used to convey an objective and unbiased view inside the true quality of a particular beer. Beers are chosen for full review based on a wide set of criteria including overall reaction (perception of quality), satisfaction, lack of satisfaction (poor quality), belonging to a rare style, being produced for a limited time and/or by a unique/high quality brewery, or showing an elevated level of quirkiness... among other things. When a review is being written or notes are recorded, it is the duty of the reviewer to approach each and every beer with a standard level of unbiased fairness. A brewery, brand, or style should not, and does not establish any preconceived notions or prejudices which dictate how one thinks a beer will satisfy their senses. Reviews follow a standard formula from selecting a beer to be reviewed (and enjoyed, of course), all the way to the publishing of a final written online review, which usually includes background information about a brewery, beer knowledge, some history, or just a witty story which the beer reminds us of. All beer reviews are written entirely in our own words and are not influenced by the reviews or words of other beer enthusiasts or critics. In this way, we can assure you that what you read on this website is an honest, original, and objective perspective about a beer that may be on your prospective "to try" list.
Seasonal Beers - Non-permanent, temporary brews made available to the public by the brewery to signify a change in seasons, an annual festival, or other routine event. Though every beer style can be enjoyed in year round, all four seasons of the calendar year have many specific seasonal beer styles which fit the environment, weather shifts, or holidays. Heavier beers, such as dark ales, porters, and stouts are preferred during colder fall and winter months due to their warming effect. Bocks, pales, lagers, and wheats are seasonal during hot summer months, when a lighter, refreshing beer is more desirable. The spring can feature holiday related styles such as stouts and red ales (for St. Paddy's day), along with the fall's marzens, and oktoberfests (for the German festival). Ciders and Pumpkin ales are served in the fall and early winter months to reflect the harvest season (as well as traditional fall/Thanksgiving foods). Larger craft breweries have the capacity and know how to produce impressive portfolios of seasonal beers, while very small breweries can't produce them based on economies of scale, and larger breweries simply choose not to.
Secondary Fermentation - A form of aging, conditioning, or maturing of beer by which more beer is transferred to another container (a bottle, cask, or fermenting container) and set to ferment for another period of time. Sometimes, more yeast (and possibly more fermentable sugars) are introduced to enhance flavors or increase alcoholic content. The beer is removed from the "trub" known as the dead yeast and other materials which settle at the bottom of the primary fermentation tank. This debris can produce undesirable flavors, or even harmful compounds. The period of secondary fermentation can take between a couple weeks to many years, depending on the amount of yeast and sugars used, and the style of beer per se. Wort can be added to the beer in the case of Krausening. Bottle fermentation or conditioning will remain unfiltered and appear hazy and cloudy with the yeast contents still inside.
Sediment - The physical contents of a conditioned, packaged, and distributed beer which settle at the bottom of a bottle until poured. When poured, these particles of usually wheat, yeast, or other ingredients can float around due to turbulence, giving the beer a cloudy or hazy appearance.
Sommelier (Beer) - Otherwise known as a Cicerone, or beer snob, this is a professional specializing in the know how of beer and the beer industry. They need to be certified through any one of many private organizations related to the brewing industry. Their range of knowledge spans all aspects of brewing and beer, including, but not limited to: beer styles, brewing, reviewing, ingredients, equipment, draft systems, food pairing, glassware, serving, history, and the makeup of the industry. In wine, an expert is also called a sommelier, and must be certified through education.
Standard Reference Method (SRM) - Usually ranging from 2 to 70, this is a popular mathematical system used by brewers and beer critics to measure the color and darkness of a beer. Darker beers receive higher numbers, which are determined by the wavelength, intensity, attenuation, dilution, and diffusion of light passing through the beer. In its essence, the formulas used to calculate the SRM value of a beer measure the absorption of a beam of light at 430nm while it passes through 1 cm of beer. The resulting number is the beer's ability to absorb of light.
Style - A set of characteristics which define the category of a beer's composition from the point of view of the brewery. The brewing process, ingredients, alcoholic strength, colors, and flavors all define a beer's style. There are hundreds of individual beer styles in the world, some no longer being produced, some only in very modest quantities in very local geographic areas, and some dominating the rest (such as lagers, which make up more than half of the total sum of beer produced in the world by volume).
Subsidiary - A company or brewery (or set of breweries) which are either fractionally or wholly owned by another, larger company with at least a controlling interest in the brewery.
Sugar - Carbohydrates which deliver a sweet taste and come in a variety of forms. They are used as food for the brewer's fermenting yeast which converts sugars into alcohol and carbon dioxide. Notable examples include glucose, fructose, galactose, maltose, sucrose, and lactose. In the brewing process, these sugars can be extracted from the grains (or malt extract), or from additives such as honey, maple syrup, fruit, and others. Sugars are high in Calories (387 kcal per 100g), and are almost all Carbohydrates (99.98g per 100g).
Tap - A valve controlling the flow, containment, or release of a liquid or gas. A tap can be used to control temperature (as in a kitchen sink), volume (such as spigot or faucet), and containment or complete release (as in a shower with basically on or off positions). For beer, there are three kinds of taps (which is the only word used to describe the value, not faucet, spigot, or others): pressure-dispense (nitro, CO2, or other gas at a bar), keg tap (portable, for use at a party, picnic, or outdoor festival), and a cask beer tap (forced from cask by either gravity (i.e. a gravity cask tap) or by a hand pump (for use in the case of cellared casks)). All of these taps are used for different purposes, in different environments, and for different kinds of beer, and beer containers. Taps are used for cask beers and draught beers served at bars, pubs, and restaurants.
Taste - The primary of the five traditional senses when consuming beer. Though a beer's appearance, smell, and mouthfeel are very important to brewers, and the people who enjoy their products, taste is by far the most notable and memorable characteristics of beer. Taste is a chemical reaction between the beer's ingredients and the receptors of the taste buds, which interpret the sense of taste. There are seven basic tastes which describe the sense: Saltiness, Sweetness, Bitterness, Umami, Metallic, Piquance, and Sourness, as none of these tastes can be replicated by any combination of the other six. Taste is the fourth and final of the four components of a beer's character profile (excluding finish, a product of both taste and feel together) as the other three can be analyzed before any beer is consumed.
Turbulence - A property of a liquid or gaseous substance which dictates how the fluid flows or moves when introduced to a separating agent. A simple example of turbulence can be seen when a boat flows through a river. The turbulent water is caused by the boat slicing or diffusing the material. An airplane is involved in many forms of turbulent fluid properties. A wing lead is smooth to avoid causing much turbulence so that it can effectively cause lift. If the air is turbulent before the plane flies through it, lift is decreased at sudden and erratic rates, causing the cabin to drop altitude suddenly (which can injure people when they're not buckled up). Turbulence can lower the density of the air flowing under the wing, leaving gravitational force to do what it does all of the time. When pouring a beer, turbulence is introduced when a beer is served or poured into a new medium, e.g. a bartender serving a beer from a nitro can. When a beer remains unmoved in a vessel, no forces are being introduced to it, and no turbulence is taking place. Turbulence is introduced during the transfer of the beer, and can create desirable results in terms of a proper pour. Turbulence is needed to create an adequate foam head, incite carbonation action, distribute sediment evenly, and enhance aromatic properties of a beer. Too much turbulence, however, can introduce too much foam and carbonation into a beer, making it frothy.
Viscosity - A property of a fluid substance which measures the resistance (or lack of) of said substance to deform (in shape) when outside stress or force is applied to it. For example, water has a lower viscosity than maple syrup. Water will splash and slosh around when spilled from a glass, while maple syrup with slowly ooze out of the glass, deforming much slower than the body of water. Fluid motion is directly measured against viscosity. Water has a low viscosity, which allows boats and fish to flow through it. Replace the Great Lakes with massive puddles of molasses, and Gordon Lightfoot would have had a completely different song about the Edmund Fitzgerald. Viscosity is like inertia. It is a resisting property. All liquids have it, and it can never be valued at zero. It is a constant at an equal atmospheric pressure and temperature. Like Inertia, the less viscous a beer (or any liquid) is, the more likely it is to move about when an outside force is introduced to it. In terms of beer, viscosity is a property of a beer's feel. A higher viscosity beer will feel thicker, heavier, smoother, and slower in terms of its flow. Stouts, porters, dark ales, and dark lagers typically have a higher viscosity than lagers, pales, bitters, and weissbiers. It is usually easier to quickly drink a beer with a lower viscosity, and beers with higher viscosities typically have bigger bodies, lingering aftertastes, and more pronounced finishes.
Water - A chemical substance which is essential for all known forms of life. About 71% of the world's surface is water. Comprised of the chemical compound dihydrogen monoxide (H2O), water molecules are held together by relatively weak hydrogen bonds, while the three atoms in each molecule are held together with strong covalent bonds. H2O is the base for which beer's volume and form is created. In brewing, water is a medium for all of the processes of brewing (see above), including final consumption. Water will retain any solid materials, aromas, tastes, colors, alcohols, and carbon dioxide. Hard water, which contains minerals such as Gypsum, will deliver a drier taste and finish. Fresh, clean, naturally filtered, and crystal clear water is essential for favorable brewing results - any foreign containment can ruin an entire beer, costing breweries time and money. The source of water is also integral for the taste of the beer.
Wheat - A grassy cereal grain which is grown and cultivated on a massive worldwide scale in mostly temperate climates. On average, every person in the entire world eats 67 kG of wheat each year. It is a primary food staple in every region of the world, and is the third most cultivated cereal after corn (maize) and rice. Aside from being a fermentable malt or grain for beer, wheat is found in most foods and beverages which use flour, including pasta, bread, cookies, breakfast foods, and well vodkas (among other stuff, of course). Wheat is used in weissbiers and is typically unfiltered, giving wheat based beers their trademark hazy or cloudy appearance. Wheat beers also usually produce relatively higher amounts of foam head when poured. Wheat beers are usually sweeter and lighter bodied than darker ales and stouts. They are very aromatic and preferred among the people of Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, and The United States. Because of its gluten protein content, wheat (along with barley and rye) and everything made with it (including everything made with traditional flour), cannot be consumed by those with a gluten sensitivity, especially those diagnosed with Coeliac. Many breweries have recognized this oft overlooked small, but growing, market for gluten free beers (including those who want a "healthier" beer, but can consume wheat), and have produced lines of beers consumable by those with Coeliac. About 1 in every 150 people of the world has Coeliac.
Wort - The premature, unfermented liquid extracted from a mash which contains the fermentable sugar content used to make beer. Wort is made from crushing a dried malt (wheat, barley, rye, etc) into a grist, then mixed in with very hot water, which, during a slow heating process, enables enzymes to extract sugars from the malt's starch. The mixture is called a mash at this point. These sugars will be used as food for metabolizing yeast which are converted to alcohol and carbonation (CO2). The mash then goes through lautering, the step in the brewing process which separates solid materials from the liquid (called wort at this point). Hops are then added to the wort for a variety of reasons and then the whole liquid is boiled intensely and evenly. Then wort is then cooled fairly rapidly through a chiller/heat exchanger and then moved to a fermentation tank along with pitched (added) yeast. Fermentation takes place from this point on.
Yeast - Microorganisms belonging to the Fungi Kingdom which are essential in beer production. There are currently about 1,500 different species of eukaryotic yeast microorganisms, making up about 1% of all fungus based species. Though many different kinds of yeast strains are used in brewing, there are basically two classifications of beer fermenting yeasts: Top and Bottom fermenting yeasts. These are so called classifications based on where in the fermentation tank (or body of wort) the yeast forms a crop (foam). Top fermenting yeasts are typically used to create ales, stouts, porters, and wheat beers. These styles take shorter amounts of time to ferment compared to bottom fermenting, or Lagering yeasts. Bottom fermenting yeast strains are low temperature fermentation organisms used during long process lagering brewing. Lagers (and a few ales) take longer to brew than top fermenting beers. Yeast can be filtered after fermentation or left in the brew depending on the brewer's requirements and the merits of the style. Different yeast strains can produce different characteristics for the resulting beer including varying levels of foam, clove like flavors, different aromas, and so on. Unfiltered beers contain a good amount of nutrients because Brewer's Yeast (common baking yeast, S. cervisiae) contains a good deal of vitamins and other beneficial nutrients.