For the uninitiated, beer vocabulary can be as confusing as a foreign language. There are some words which sound familiar but appear in strange new contexts and others which are just downright confusing. Like seriously, what is a wort and what is it doing in my beer? If you’ve ever asked yourself the same question, you’ve come to the right place: we’re about to present our handy vocab list for beerginners so next time you find yourself at the pub you can order and banter with confidence.
If you thought ale was a synonym for beer, we’re about to burst your bubble. Sorry. Rather than a general catch-all term, ale is one of the two main categories of the frothy stuff. Ales encompass all beery creations which are brewed using top-fermenting yeasts (aka yeasts which do their thang near the top of the fermenting liquid) at a warmer temperature. Ales are best enjoyed warmer as well – it helps accentuate all the yummy flavours. Handily, most ales contain the word in their name for easy identification – think pale ales, brown ales and IPAs.
This is the other main category of beer and has inverse fermenting properties to our new friend ale, using bottom-fermenting yeasts at lower temperatures. Lagers are also best served colder than ales and typically go down a treat on a hot summer’s day. Think Pilsner, Heineken, Asahi, Stella, Toohey’s New and XXXX.
MaltIn the beer world, this doesn’t refer to delicious chocolatey milk but rather the type of grain used in the brewing process, which is usually barley but can be wheat, rye, millet and all sorts of other things. Malt has a very important role in the beer making process: it ferments into alcohol and is also largely responsible for a beer’s colour and sweetness.
Hops are the cone shaped flowers used to create bitterness, flavours and aromas in beer.
As above but with teeny tiny crowns. Haha ok no, we’re just pulling your leg – please don’t believe us and embarrass yourself in front of your beer friends. Noble hops are four aromatic varieties of hops grown in specific regions of Germany and the Czech Republic. Their technical names are Saaz, Hallertau, Spalt, and Tettnang, so good luck pronouncing them.
WortDifferent to wart (you can relax now), this is the bittersweet sugar solution you get after mashing the malt and boiling in the hops prior to fermentation.
This is a measurement of the beer’s density or, to be even more science-y, a measure of how much of the soluble sugars have dissolved. Brewers can determine the alcohol content of their beer by calculating the difference in gravity before and after fermentation. Now you know what it means, next time you see it written on a label, please resist the urge to throw the beer in the air to see if it floats, space-like, above your hand.
The I in IPA, this little term means a beer whose flavour and alcohol content has been amped up by increasing the amount of hops and malt used in the brewing process.
Session BeerA low alcohol beer that can - at least theoretically - be consumed in bulk without the risk of getting sloppy drunk.
The frothy white stuff that sits on top of a freshly-pulled beer. As an FYI, around 3cm of head is ideal; any more and you might feel like you’re drinking your way through a bubble bath.
Unless you’re at Oktoberfest, a pint is usually the largest single serve beer you can order at the bar, coming in at 570mls.
SchoonerMeasuring 450mls, a schooner is your happy middle ground. It’s big enough to keep you away from the line at the bar for a little while and small enough that you won’t feel like you’ve eaten a whole loaf of bread once you reach the bottom.
At 285mls, a pot is a snack-sized beer, perfect for a lazy Wednesday night or when you’re the designated driver.
GrowlerBeer-talk for a dirty big take-home container of beer. They’re usually made of glass and hold two litres of the good stuff, meaning they’ve got you covered for the week.