Beer Terms: Buzz Words To Describe Beer

Every now and then, you taste a brand-new flavor in a beer that you aren’t quite sure how to describe.
Or you try a new style and think, “wow, I like this, but I have no idea what DIPA means.”
Why not use beer buzz words?
In breweries and beer communities around the world, there are certain universal beer terms that describe that-which-cannot-be-described. Maybe you’ve heard some, maybe you use some, maybe you hate buzz words and everything they stand for.
Regardless of you how much you actually know about beer, here’s some common beer terminology you can use to impress your beer-drinking friends:

Beer Buzz Words and Terms: The Beer Glossary

ABV: Alcohol by volume. The higher the number, the boozier the beer.

Ale: An ale is a style of beer that uses hops and warm fermentation.

Back-end: Also known as finish, this is the flavor that hits after you swallow the beer.

Barrel-aged: Pretty much what it sounds like. This is a beer that enjoyed some aging in a barrel. The barreling process takes residual flavors from the barrel’s wood (and other alcohol if it was used before) and generally bumps up the ABV on beers.

Body: This is how the beer “feels” in your mouth. As an example, stouts often have a “full body” where lagers might have less body.

Clean: When the flavors aren’t overly powerful and the beer has a pleasant taste to it. A clean brew should also be relatively flawless.

Crispy: A clean, neat, and dry flavor found in lagers. You can also call lagers “Crispy Bois.”

Dark: Dark beers (generally your stouts or porters) are dark in color. They’ll have a heavier body, and they usually are more flavors than a light beer. They’re also generally higher in ABV.

DDH: Double dry hopped. Usually means that hops were added on the hot (boil) side and cold (fermenting) side. Definitely means that there were many, many, many hops used during brewing.

DIPA: This just means a double IPA. Generally speaking, a DIPA is an IPA with a higher ABV.

Dry: Essentially any beer that isn’t sweet. Think IPAs.

Dry-hopped: A beer that had additional hops thrown into the brew several days before kegging/bottling. This increases the hop flavor.

Farmhouse: A type of ale that emphasizes bitter and/or tart flavors. These typically aren’t sweet and tend to have a foamy head.

Filtered: Most beers are filtered to remove leftover particles of yeast, hops, and whatever else was used in the brew. This gives beer a clear, transparent color.

Figgy: When a beer smells like figs. I’m convinced that nobody actually smells figs, but they say “figgy” to fit in. Sure, I’m probably wrong…or maybe it’s a conspiracy.

Flat: When something loses its carbonation it becomes flat.

Frothy: A frothy beer has a thick head and a thick taste. It’s just a thick ole beer.

Gose: A top-fermenting, malty beer that often tastes both sour and salty in flavor. These have lower ABVs than most other styles.

Gravity: Literally how heavy the beer is. Thick, heavy beers will have a higher gravity.

Haze: Cloudy looking beers, typically an East Coast IPA, should be referred to as hazy. Why not cloudy? The world may never know.

Head: That film of foam that sits on the top of your beer.

Hoppy: The more hops used, the hoppier the beer. This adds a bitter flavor in most cases, but it depends on the flavor of the hop. Most people assume this means bitter. You can always point this out to your friends, but that’s a little snobby and instead of impressing them they’ll probably just like you less (trust me, I know).

IBU: International Bittering Units (IBUs) measure the bitterness of a beer. IBUs are mostly influenced by the hops used and utilization.

IPA: The India pale ale, which lives off hops. These can be bitter, juicy, hazy and all sorts of things.

Juicy: If your beer tastes like it has some juice in it, you can go ahead and call it juicy. Also, juicy and hazy are going hand in hand a lot right now.

Lager: Usually pretty light beers that have a crisp taste to them. Perfect for baseball games.

Light: Beers can be light or dark. Light beers are light colored, light in the body, light on strong flavors, light on ABV, etc. This is an “umbrella term” and perfect for trying to impress friends.

Malty: Sweeter notes and tones in beers come from the malt.

Mouthfeel: Literally just how it feels in your mouth. People like to use words like “velvety” or “creamy.”

NA: Non-alcoholic. As in there is no alcohol, but still plenty of beer flavor.

Nose: How your beer smells. To check the nose, just put your nose over the beer. Inhale deeply through the nose, and then proclaim to all your friends what you think it smells like. Or, just say, “what a great nose on this one.”

Pilsner: A type of lager that is notable for being light and malty.

Porter: Like a stout, but not. There’s no true distinction between stouts and porters, but nowadays porters tend to be a little lighter than stouts.

Rye Beer: Beers that use rye in lieu of barley in the brewing process. This leads to a maltier flavor.

Saison: Or farmhouse ales, these are more carbonated than other beers and therefore have stronger subtle flavors (if that makes sense).Single-hopped: Pretty much exactly what it sounds like, this is a beer that only used one hop variety in the brewing.

Sour: Sour beers are made with different yeasts, and this makes the beer sour in flavor.

Stout: A type of beer that embraces malt and everything it stands for. You might also get chocolate, coffee or nutty flavors from this type of brew.

Thin: These beers are the ones that don’t have that much flavor, and the seasoned beer drinker might mistake them for water. Think Bud Light, Coors Light, Miller Lite… basically most mass-produced beers.

Unfiltered: The opposite of filtered, brewers essentially skip the step of filtering beer. This gives the beer a cloudier look and generally means stronger flavors.

Yeast: A critical ingredient in brewing, yeasts eat sugars and poop out alcohol.

Did I miss any beer buzz words? Let me know in the comments!

Thomas Short
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