Beerginner: What do all these words mean? Plus, a look at Wheat beers

guys at a bar

Beerginner: What do all these words mean? Plus, a look at Wheat beers

Navigating the waters (and barley, hops and yeast) of beer can be especially challenging when you are surrounded by people who know beer well. Terms like ‘sessionable’ and ‘perceived bitterness’ all sound like passwords to a secret club you really want to be a member of. Well, I'm going to make sure you get to the top of the guest list by giving you a super easy lesson on some of the more common but possibly confusing lingo you may have heard lately.

Let's start with where you consume your beer. It all begins with a brewery where the beer is made. In that brewery is the brew house which contains all the stuff needed to make beer. You may add a taproom where guests can enjoy a pint or a large room (beer hall) that serves your beer. That may be going so well that you have decided to add other beers from other breweries and a kitchen to serve food off a menu.  Now you own a brewpub. And while you have been busy at your own place you still haven't forgotten to ship your beers to other establishments that serve different kinds of alcohol. That is your local pub.

What do all these terms and expressions mean when you look at a beer menu?

ABV and IBUs are two small acronyms with big meanings and you usually see them accompanying each beer description. ABV or ‘alcohol by volume’ measures how much alcohol is present in a given volume of liquid. IBUs or ‘International Bittering Units’ is a scale that measures the amount of hop bitterness present in a beer. However not all IBUs are treated the same. A beer with a 55 IBUs may taste more bitter than one with 60 IBUs because of other ingredients used in the process. This is where you get perceived bitterness. It is still a good indicator of how bitter you can expect a beer to taste and maybe save you from a bad beer experience.

Here are a few more terms you may have heard:

Sessionable - It's a beer with an ABV less than 5%, making the drink more ‘crushable’, or easy drinking. It doesn't sacrifice flavour.

Dry Hopped - Usually hops are added to boil during the brewing process and then fermented. In dry hopping the hops are also added to the fermentation stage to impart more intense flavour but no additional bitterness.

Cold filtered - Filtering beer is popular with a lot of styles and generally means removing all sediment from the brewing process to end with a clear liquid. Cold filtering is one of these methods for clearing out proteins that would normally clump together and create haze in a beer.

Barrel Aged - A popular method of aging beer and adding complex flavours, is to place the beer into wood barrels previously used for wine making or other strong spirits over a certain length of time.

Coming up next, I further define terms you may have heard that involve the tasting of beer and how to REALLY taste a beer! Check out my snapshot of Wheat beers below.





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