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An Introduction To Home Brewing Terminology

beer brewing terminologyEven if you’re a lifelong beer lover, you’ll quickly find that you’re in a whole new ballgame when you get a beer brewing kit and start learning how to make your own beer at home. There are a lot of different terms which are used by brewers which you may well have never heard before as well as some which you’ve heard, but may not be entirely clear on the meanings of. In order to help you get on your way towards success as a home brewer, here’s a brief glossary of some of the most common home brewing jargon you’re likely to come across.

Know Your Beer Brewing Vocabulary

    • Adjuncts: These are ingredients which are added to your beer to add flavor, body or color. These could be unmalted grains, sugars or any number of other flavor-enhancing ingredients.


    • Ale: Beer which is brewed with top-fermenting yeast and given a brief fermentation at warmer temperatures than seen with lagers.


    • Beerstone: This is a mineral deposit (calcium oxalate, to be precise) which often finds its way onto your beer brewing kit as a side effect of the brewing process.


    • Conditioning: Also known as bottle conditioning, this is the secondary fermentation beer undergoes while it rests after being bottled.


    • Finings: Ingredients used to cause yeast and other particulates to precipitate out of your beer. Depending on the style of beer you’re making and your personal tastes, these may or may not be necessary.


    • Fermentation: The process of the sugars in the wort being converted into alcohol by yeast.


    • Hops: The flowers of a vine used to give beer its distinctive, refreshing bitterness.


    • Gravity: This is a measurement of the sugar content of the wort.


    • IBU: International Bittering Units. This is a unit of measurement used for hops.


    • Lager: Beer which is brewed using bottom-fermenting yeast and undergoing a longer fermentation at cooler temperatures than used for ales.


    • Pitching: The act of adding yeast to the wort in the fermenter.


    • Priming: Priming is adding sugar (often called priming sugar) to the beer just before bottling; the purpose of priming is to produce an adequate level of carbonation in the finished beer.


    • Racking: The process of siphoning beer out of the fermentation vessel before bottling, leaving the sediment at the bottom of the vessel behind.


    • Sterilization: An essential step to ensure the quality of your beer. Every part of your beer brewing kit should be thoroughly cleaned and sanitized before (and preferably, also after) brewing each new batch of beer.


    • Wort: This is the mixture of malt, hops and water that is boiled before fermentation.


    • Zymurgy: A ten dollar word for the study of beer and fermentation in general; once you’ve mastered your home brewing terminology, you can consider yourself a budding zymurgist!