Brewing terms dictionary

Written by George on February 8, 2016
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Brewing terms
Photo credit: Renaud Camus

We have all come across various brewing terms that have stumped us at some point or the other. Here is a list of terms most generally used along with their description.

Adjunct – Anything that isn’t malted Barley, including Corn, Oats, Sugars, etc.

Amylase – A diastatic enzyme that helps to convert the starches in the grain to sugar. This enzyme needs different temperatures for the alpha and beta amylase to do their work.

Attenuation – The amount of sugar to alcohol and CO2 conversion that a yeast can achieve.

Autolysis – When yeast finish all the sugars in the wort, they die. When they do, their enzymes destroy their owns cells which leads to off flavours in the beer.

Cold Break – Once the boil is complete and the Wort is chilled to fermentation temperature, any proteins left over will coagulate and drop to the bottom of the boil kettle.

Conditioning – Part of the secondary fermentation process where the beer to stored for a period of time allowing the yeast to clean up after themselves and refine the flavours.

Decoction Mash – This is a type of mashing where temperature rests are achieved by drawing off part of the mash, boiling it and returning it to the mash tun.

Dimethyl Sulfide (DMS) – DMS gives off a smell of cooked vegetables like cabbage or beetroot. It is desirable in very low amounts in lagers.

Esters – Typically these give off a fruity aroma and you will come across them in Ales.

Ethanol – The type of alcohol that is produced by the yeast.

Finings – These are ingredients that are added to a brew to help flocculate the yeast, and produce a clearer beer.

Flocculation – This refers to a yeast’s ability to clump together and settle out of the wort/ beer.

Hops – Hops are used for bittering and aroma in beer. They grow on vines and the flowers are used in the form of pellets, leafs or whole in brewing.

Hot Break – During the boil, these proteins coagulate and separate from the wort.

Specific Gravity – The specific gravity is the amount of dissolved sugar in the wort. Water’s specific gravity is 1.000 at 15°C. Beer worts range from 1.035 – 1.055 before fermentation (Original Gravity).

Grist – This is the term used for the milled malt that is mashed.

International Bittering Units (IBU) – A unit used for measuring the bitterness of hops.

Infusion Mash – This mash process is carried out by adding boiling water to the mash tun.

Isinglass – A finings, this is made of the swim bladders of a small fish.

Irish Moss – Another type of finings made from a red algae known as Carrageen.

Krausen – The foamy head that forms of top of a fermening beer.

Lag Phase – The time period taken by yeast after pitching into the wort during which they adapt, and reproduce. Usually about 4 to 12 hours.

Lauter – The Lautering pricess separates the grain and wort through sparging.

Lupulin Glands – The bright yellow nodes on hop petals, which contain the resins utilized by brewers.

Mash – The hot water steeping process that promotes the conversion of starches in the grain to sugar.

Pitching – Term for adding the yeast to the fermenter.

Priming – The process where a small amount of sugar is added to the bottle to enable the yeast to carbonate the beer.

Racking – Moving beer out of the primary into a secondary (basically moving the beer off the trub).

Saccharification – This is the conversion of starches to sugars via enzymatic action.

Sparge – Once the mash is done, brewers usually sprinkle water over the grain bed while draining the wort from below the grain bed. This rinses the grains and extracts as much sugar as possible.

Tannins – These compounds create haze, and give astringent flavours in the beer.

Trub (trub or troob) – The sediment left over at the bottom of the fermenter which consists of hot break, cold break, hops and dead yeast.

Wort (wert) – The malt-sugar solution that is boiled prior to fermentation.

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