Craft Beer Unpacked Part 3: Your Guide to Becoming a Beer Snob

 
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Welcome back to the best brew resource this side of the Nullarbor, your lifeline in times of needs when your beer-nerd mates come raving about the ester and gravity of their last fancy-pants IPA (PS. Check out our fancy-pants VPA; Galactic Baron).

In part 1 we examined the difference between lagers and ales and the many beer styles from across the world. Part 2 saw us unpacking the alchemical process which is beer brewing as we explored all the ingredients used and the beer making process.

This week, we’re finishing up our ongoing Craft Beer series;  by breaking down all the beer jargon you might hear getting thrown around.

Adjunct 

Any unmalted grain or other fermentable ingredient used in the brewing process. Typically rice or corn but can also include things like honey. Common in mass-produced American pilsner lagers such as Budweiser which has a rice adjunct included in its recipe.

Alcohol by Volume (ABV) 

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A measurement relating to the percentage volume of alcohol per volume of beer.  If you love crunching numbers, the ABV can be calculated by subtracting a beer's final gravity from the original gravity and then dividing by 0.0075 (see gravity below). Or you know, check out the label on the bottle if want to find out if it's still safe to drive home.

Ales

Ales are a common style of beer fermented with top-fermenting yeast. Ales typically are fermented at warmer temperatures than lagers and are often slightly warmer to allow the flavour of the hops to shine through (Unless you're in the UK where they enjoy a warmer lager). The term ale is often wrongly connected withstronger alcoholic strength beer.

Barley

A cereal grain used as a base malt in the production of most beers. Livestock love the stuff and so do us beer-drinkers.

Body

The consistency, thickness, viscosity and mouthfeel of a beer. The sensation of palate fullness in the mouth ranges from thin water-like consistency to full-bodied, thick and milk-like consistency.

Ester

Photo: Different Esters and their associated scents

Photo: Different Esters and their associated scents

Complexflavour compounds naturally created in a beer's fermentation. An ester is typically fruity, flowery or spicy and adds an interesting depth to a beer's profile.

Gravity

Not the Sandra Bullock space blockbuster. This is the relative density of a liquid compared with water which is represented as 1.00. The Original Gravity relates to how many solids are dissolved in the initial beer mixture. The Final Gravity refers to the measurement of a beer after the fermentation process is complete and all sugars have been converted to Co2 gas and alcohol. 

Growler 

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These are jug like take away containers initially used to carry draught beer by punters visiting their local pub. Growlers are typically½ gal (64 oz) or 2L (68 oz) glass bottles with handles. Growlers are making a resurgence with the growing craft beer market with many bottle shops opting to now do refills. Don't forget how environmentally friendly they plus they just look damn cool...

Hops

Hops are the flowers of a vine-like plant typically added to create a level of depth or balance. A beer brewed without this essential ingredient will usually result in a sickly sweet, bland tasting flavour. Hops also act as a basic preservative inside beer and work towards extending its shelf life. Hops are responsible for those complex citrus, fruit,pine, biscuit, caramel, coffee or vanilla flavours you might have picked up in your tasting-travels.

IPA

India Pale Ale. A strong, very hoppy pale ale. The style originated in Britain in the 19th century when extra alcohol and hops were added as a preservative for the long sea voyage out to the colony in India. For More Beer styles, visit part 1 of this series.

IBU

International Bittering Units. The international standard of a beer's bitterness. Light lagers typically have an IBU rating between 5-10 while big, bitter IPAs can often have an IBU rating between 50 and 70. Your average beer sits somewhere around 30 - 40 IBU.

Lager 

A beer that's fermented with bottom-fermenting yeast at colder temperatures. Lagers are often recognised as carrying a clean, crisp flavour.

Malt 

Processed barley or other adjuncts (unmalted grain and other fermentable ingredients) steeped in water, germinated and dried in kilns. The malting process convertsinsoluble starch in barley to the soluble substances and sugars in malted grain.

Mash 

Photo: Bottom of a malted barely mash being mixed creating the wort

Photo: Bottom of a malted barely mash being mixed creating the wort

A mixture of malt and/or other adjuncts with hot water that forms the sweet wort (definition below) after it's strained.

Mouthfeel

The textures recognised in a beer. Qualities such as carbonation and aftertaste are also considered when assessing a beer's mouthfeel. Typically, the higher the alcoholic content, the more full the mouthfeel.

Session Beer 

A beer with lighter body, flavour and/or alcoholic content. If a beer is deemed 'sessionable' you'd expect to be able to knock back a few tinnies with your mates on a Sunday arvo, no worries.

Top Fermentation 

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One of the two primary fermentation methods. Top Fermentation typically brews ales while bottom fermentation brews lagers. 

Wort

The brewing liquid extracted from the mash process. Wort holds sugars from the malt which are then fermented with yeast to produce alcohol and carbonation.

Yeast 

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Yeast is a microscopic single cell organism which breaks down sweeter liquids, converting sugars into alcohol, C02 and a range of different and complex flavour profiles known as esters (see above). 

 

Well, there you have it. Provided you've had a look through part 1 and part 2 of this series, you're ready for graduation. No longer will a trip to the taps of your local tav cause your tongue to tie. You've now levelled up your beer smarts. Test out your new found knowledge at your local LB today and try something different like the Galactic Baron VPA or Feral's Perth Local Lager.