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Beer Terms & Styles

The craft beer industry is vast – when it comes to not only styles of beer, but the varied ingredients that can be used to brew unique beers. And what about all those terms? Some may be familiar, others not so much.

To help shed light on this exciting industry, we’ve pulled together this list of articles (many of which are reprinted from past issue of Michigan. The Great Beer State. magazine), which we thought you’d enjoy:

6 Styles of Beer 6 Styles of Beer (2898 KB)

A Beer for Any Season A Beer for Any Season (5750 KB)

Beer Terminology Beer Terminology (172 KB)

The Difference Between Ales & Lagers The Difference Between Ales & Lagers (95 KB)

What’s in My MI Beer? What’s in My MI Beer? (1463 KB)

Common Beer Terminology

Alcohol By Volume (ABV) – The measure of the amount of space the alcohol in a beer takes up as a percentage of total volume. This is the worldwide standard for measuring the alcohol content in beer.

Ale – Beer made with "top-fermenting" strains of yeast.

Barley – The primary malt grain used in the brewing process.

Body – Refers to the feel of thickness of a beer in your mouth. Can be described as full, medium, or thin-bodied.

Brew To make beer. Beer brewing is a process that encompasses the following steps: mashing, lautering, boiling and fermentation.

Filtering – In this process the beer is passed through a very fine filter that removes any particulates and most of the yeast.Beer must be filtered cold.

Dry Hopping – The addition of dry hops during first or secondary fermentation to add a hoppy character to the beer without affecting the beer's bitterness.

Fermentation – The biological process by which yeast consumes sugar and produces the byproducts carbon dioxide (CO2) and alcohol. – Which transforms wort into beer. The process of sugars being converted to alcohol and CO2 by yeast.

Head – Foam on the top of the beer when poured into a glass. Some are light foam, some are thick.

International Bittering Unit (IBU) – The scale which measures the amount of hops in beer. The higher the number, the higher the hoppiness or bitterness.

Indian Pale Ale (IPA) – A hoppy beer style within the broader category of pale ale.A double or triple IPA means a higher IBU level, and typically more alcohol.

Hops – A cone-like flower grown on a bine, responsible for the bitterness in beer, also adding balance by counteracting the sweetness of malts. Widely used for approximately 500 years, hops can act as a preservative in beer and contribute certain proteins to the mixture that aid in head retention.

Lager – From the German word "lagern" which means "to store." Lagers are made with "bottom-fermenting" strains of yeast that are fermented at cooler temperatures than ales and stored for longer periods of time.

Lautering – A process inbrewingbeer in which the mash is separated into the clear liquid wort and the residual grain, usually consists of three steps: mashout, recirculation, and sparging.

Malt – One of the main ingredients of beer, malt is barley which has been steeped in water, allowed to germinate, and then heat dried which stops germination. The type of barley, the level of germination allowed and the temperature of drying all influence the resulting flavor of the malts.Other cereal grains can also be malted, such as wheat or rye.

Pasteurization – Quick Heating of beer to 60-79°C/140-174°F to stabilize/sterilize it microbiologically.

Session Beer – A category of beers that are marketed for their notably lower alcohol level typically, less than 5% ABV.

Wet Hopping – Referring to hops that are used fresh off the bine, without being processed, only during the fall immediately following the harvest.

Wort – The sweet liquid resulting from the mashing and lautering process while brewing. Basically, it is “beer” prior to fermentation.

Yeast – Unicellular celled organisms of the fungus family that are responsible for converting the sugars contained in wort into alcohol and carbon dioxide. Yeast comes in two major classifications for the making of beer: ale yeast and lager yeast.


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