Beer Terminology

Ale – The English language term used for a beer with top-fermenting yeast, which should give the beer a fruitiness. Ales are produced in a wide variety of colors, palates and strengths.

Barley Wine – An English term for an extra-strong ale (implied to be as potent as wine).

Bitter – A well-hopped beer, mostly found in a draught beer. The name suggests hop bitterness. Usually one finds some acidity in the finish and the color varies from bronze to deep copper.

Bock – German word for strong beer. It is a bottom-fermented brew from barley malt. Bock beers are traditionally served in autumn, late winter or spring.

Brown Ale – A dark brown ale, sweet in palate. It also can be a reddish-brown ale with a slightly higher alcohol content.

Cask-Conditioned – Draught beer that is neither filtered or pasteurized and has a secondary fermentation and natural clarification in the cellar of the pub.

Cream Ale – An American term for a very pale ale. Usually a golden ale that may have actually been blended with a lager.

Dopplebock – Double Bock. German extra-strong bottom-fermenting beer. Tawny or dark brown in color.

Hop – A climbing plant much like a grape vine. The cone-like blossoms on hops are the tannins, which help preserve and clarify beer and are the essential ingredients that bring the beer its source of aroma and dryness.

India Pale Ale – A reminder of the days when the Indian Empire was supplied with ale (high in gravity and well-hopped, to stand the voyage) by the British. Today, the term implies a super-premium pale ale.

Lager – Any beer made by bottom-fermentation. Usually golden in color but can sometimes be dark.

Lambic – Spontaneously fermenting style of wheat beer unique to Belgium.

Light Beer – American term indicating a watery pilsner-style beer. Lower in calories.

Malt – Barley malt is the source of fermentable sugars in beer. The barley is malted (soaked in water until it is partially germinated then dried) which releases starches, which are in turn made into fermentable sugar.

Pale Ale – A bronze or copper colored ale as opposed to dark brown. Some English brewers use this term to describe their premium bitters.

Porter – A London style of beer. It is a lighter-bodied companion to stout. Porters are roasted-tasting dark brews that are bottom-fermented and stronger in alcohol.

Stout – An extra-dark, almost black in color, top-fermented beer made with highly roasted malts.

Yeast – Yeast cells love to eat sugar. In doing so, they cause the wort (the sweet liquid from the water and heated grains) to ferment, which produces alcohol and carbon dioxide. Yeast also conveys its own flavor and can be used to give a fruity flavor to beer.

Weisse/Weissbier – A German term for white beer meaning a pale brew made form wheat.