Beer Education

Some terms you’ll need to know to become beer literate:

Barleywine: Don’t let the name fool you, Barleywine is in fact one of the strongest beers out there. Amber or dark brown in color, it can be either fruity and sweet or intensely hoppy but it is always high in alcohol content, so be sure to enjoy responsibly.

Bitter: Probably most commonly heard as a generic term used to describe a beer’s taste, Bitter is also a specific type of beer. Typically golden or copper in color, Bitter is the most common style of English beers. Low in alcohol content and carbination, it typically has a fruity taste with a moderate to intense hoppy note.

Bock: Originally brewed in medieval Germany to provide sustenance to monks fasting during Lent, it’s not surprising that the word “Bock” is derived from the German word “beck” meaning “strong.” This dark amber or brown lager is malty and very lightly hopped.

Diacetyl: A volatile byproduct of some yeasts that results in a buttery, caramel or nutty flavor. While overpowering at high levels, at low levels it provides defining flavor notes to many ales, pilsners and Oktoberfest brews.

Dunkel: German for “dark,” these beers ranges, not surprisingly, from ruby red to dark brown. Although often used as a generic term, Dunkel can describe both lager and wheat beers. The lager tends to be more on the ruby side and is smooth, full-bodied and malty but without being too heavy. The wheat version is typically brown and murky with a fruity character (banana being the most common).

Enzymes: Although it has many different uses, for the purposes of brewing beer, an enzyme is defined as an organic compound found naturally in grain that, when heated in mash, breaks down starches into a sugar solution used in fermenting beer. For its non-beer uses, we suggest contacting your high school biology teacher.

Gravity: The density of the beer as it compares to water.

Helles: German for “bright,” these golden lagers were first brewed in 19th century Germany in response to the growing popularity of Plzen (modern-day Czech Republic) lagers which we now know as Pilsners. Like Pilsners, Helles are typically malty with spicy hops but are much more subdued than their Czech counterparts.

Hops: One of the essential elements of all beer, hops were first used to make beer in ancient Egypt and by the 15th century AD had become the predominant herb used in the brewing process. They contribute bitterness, aroma and flavor to the brew while also limiting the growth of bacteria prior to fermentation.

Hefeweizen: A combination of the German words for “yeast” and “wheat,” Hefeweizens have a light, murky look and are lightly hopped with a moderate level of alcohol. The yeast gives the beer notes of cloves and bananas often with some spiciness, bubblegum or apple flavors. In America, it has become popular to serve with a lemon wedge, although traditionalists maintain that this destroys the beer’s taste.

IBU: Short for “International Bitterness Units,” IBU is a system used to measure the hop bitterness of a beer.

Imperial Stout: Although originally made in England, Imperial Stout is sometimes referred to as “Russian Imperial Stout” since it was brewed to sell to 19th century Russian Czars who had become fond of the style. Known for a roasted, chocolate and burnt malt flavor, this stout can pack quite a punch with an alcohol content that is typically over 8% alcohol by volume, so please be sure to enjoy responsibly.

IPA: Short for “India Pale Ale,” IPAs were originally brewed by the British in the 18th century to ship to their troops stationed in India. Traditional Pale Ales weren’t faring well in the long journey so British brewers began adding more hops and malt to better preserve the brew. Today, there are three major styles of IPAs: English, American, and Belgian. The major difference between these styles is in the amount of hops and malt used.

Kolsch: In German, “Kolsch” is the adjective form of the city of Cologne, where this ale was originally brewed. Kolsch is one of the few beers that has a regional appellation, meaning that in order for a beer to legally carry the name Kolsch, it needs to be made in or around Cologne. The German response to the English Pale Ale, it is somewhat grape-y with a moderate to intense bitter taste.

Krausening: The addition of partially fermented wort to fully fermented beer to give it a crisp character.

Lambic: Native to the Senne Valley where Brussels, Belgium is located, Lambic is a unique style of beer highlighted by its tartness and sour aftertaste. Unlike most beers, it is spontaneously fermented using the wild yeast and bacteria of its home valley and then aged to mellow some of the tartness.

Malt: The basis of all beer, malt is processed grain (the majority of the time barley) steeped in water, germinated and then dried to convert the insoluble starches to soluble substances and sugars.

Oxidation: A chemical reaction beer (as well as many other beverages and certain types of food) can have when exposed to oxygen as it ages or experiences temperature changes. This generally results in a stale flavor of wet cardboard, paper, rotten pineapple or sherry.

Pasteurization: The process of heating beer to 140°-174°F to destroy harmful bacteria and other microorganisms. Though the idea of heating wine to prevent spoilage dates back to 12th century China, this specific process was named after renowned French chemist Louis Pasteur who first successfully tested it in 1862.

Porter: This traditional English Ale got its name because of its popularity among London’s transportation workers in the 18th century. Originally made by combining a stale beer, a pale or brown ale, and a weak ale, Londoners affectionately called it “Three Threads.” Today, Porters are made by the more conventional brewing process using pale malt and then adding black malt, crystal, chocolate or smoked malt to produce a brown or black beer of moderate bitterness.

Pilsner: Sometimes spelled “Pilsener” or simply “Pils,” this golden lager gets its name from city it was originally brewed in, Plzen, located in the western half of the modern-day Czech Republic. It quickly became one of the most popular styles in Germany and the Germans began producing their own version. Both styles, as well as the more modern American versions, tend to be very hoppy with a spicey floral flavor or aroma, but German Pilsners tend to have citrus-like notes.

Reinheitsgebot: A Bavarian “Purity Law” first implemented in 1516 that to this day still governs all German brewers making beers consumed in Germany. It allows only malted grains, hops, yeast and water be used in the brewing process.

Tripel: This Belgian golden ale gets its name from the fact that it uses three times the amount of malt as the standard beer. Tripels are known for having light body and a sweet taste which masks a very high level of alcohol by volume. For this reason, it is best enjoyed as a sipping beer.

Witbier: In Dutch, “Witbier” means “white beer” which perfectly describes this Belgian ale and its cloudy, pale appearance. Generally spiced with coriander, orange peel and other background spices, Witbier is known for its crisp taste and lively amount of carbonation. Like many wheat beers, it has become fashionable to serve with a lemon wedge, although traditionalists often scoff at the garnish saying it distracts from the taste of the beer.

Wort: A solution of sugars created by mashing malts and boiling hops. Once the solution ferments, it becomes known as “beer.”

Yeast: A microorganism that is technically a fungus which turns malt sugar into carbon dioxide and alcohol in a process commonly known as “fermentation.”

Keg Sizes converted to Ounces

Keg Size Gallons Ounce
1/2 Barrel 15.5 1984
1/4 Barrel 7.75 992
1/6 Barrel 5.16 660
50 Litre 13.2 1689
30 Litre 7.92 999
25 Litre 6.6 845
20 Litre 5.38 675
Firkin 10.8 1384
1 Gallon = 128 oz
1 Litre = 30 oz
750 ML = 25.5 oz
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