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Beer Terms 101

Appearance

Often overlooked, appearance can give one an idea of what to expect from a brew. But watch out! Looks can be very deceiving

BEAD
Describes the bubbles in a beer. Well made beer will have very fine bubbles rising from the bottom of the glass
.

BELGIAN LACE or BRUSSELS LACE
Traces of head left on the glass as a beer is consumed

CLOUDINESS
A condition not normal for beer except in bottled beer where yeast is added at bottling. This brewing practice adds additional fermentation and depth of character

COLOR/COLOUR

StrawYellowGoldBlondAmberCopperBrownRed-BrownBlack

Color in beer is created by the addition of specialty malts. The degree of roast and amount used create various nuances of color

HAZE
Similar in appearance to cloudiness, this occurs when a natural beer is over-chilled. Certain proteins coagulate together forming the haze. This does not harm the flavor of the beer and will dissipate as the liquid warms up

HEAD
Foam generated at the top of a beer as it is poured

OPACITY
The Simplicity Online Dictionary
describes OPACITY this way: the quality or state of a body that makes it impervious to the rays of light. Simply put, the term describes the shadiness of a beer.

ROCKY
Beer with a thick, creamy head

THIN
Describes any beer without a great deal of texture

Aroma

This is the most fleeting of impressions when tasting beer, and one brewers work very hard at. At its most complex, hints of malt, hop and yeast can be detected. At its simplest, it can be the straight-forward aroma of a single variety of hop, or the sweetness of malt. Because it disperses so rapidly, sampling the aroma is usually the first step in beer tasting

BOUQUET
Nose
produced by the grain used in the beer

CLEAN
Well-defined aroma/bouquet characteristics. Having impressions of apples, pears, banana, black currant, etc.

COMPLEX
Interaction between aroma and bouquet producing many different impressions

EARTHY
A characteristic that certain varieties of hops bring to the nose of a beer

ESTERS
Produced by malt, these are impressions that can be floral, spicy, or citric

MALTY
Various impressions from sweetness to graininess

SKUNKY and/or MUSTY
Stale beer or beer exposed to light too long often tends to have these unfavorable qualities

SMOKY
Can be a very faint impression or powerful, as in a German rauchbier

VINEOUS or FRUITY
Having the aromatic impression of grapes

Taste

The two most basic impressions of taste in beer are sweetness which comes from the malts, and bitterness or dryness which comes from the hops. And of course, what would beer be without its great taste?

ALCOHOL
A bitterness that leaves a warm, often unpleasant, feeling in the mouth. If alcohol taste is apparent in all but the strongest beers, the beer is said to be out of balance

APPLEY
An ester produced from yeast's interaction with the malt

BALANCE
The relationship between the sweetness of malt and the bitterness of the hops

BITTER
Self explanatory impression. Bitterness is generally proportionate to the ratio of hops to malt

CARAMEL
A higher percentage of crystal malt will produce this taste

CLEAN
A fresh impression with a good balance between the various elements

COARSE
A beer that is poorly brewed or one not in balance

CRISP
When all taste characteristics are well-defined, a beer is said to be in balance

DRY
Predominate hop taste with little or no sugars from the malt

DIACETYL
A by-product of fermentation with an impression of butterscotch

ESPRESSO
A higher percentage of black patent malt creates this taste

FLAT
A general lack of carbonation. Usually in old or poorly produced brew

HERBACEOUS
Impression of hop particularly noticeable in a fresh beer

HOPS
A main ingredient in beer, hoppiness describes the general taste of bitterness, with impressions of spiciness or earthiness

MOLASSES
Another variation in taste coming from malts

RICH
Describes a substantial malt body

SALTY
Often unpleasant impression left by excessive amounts of sodium, calcium or, occasionally, magnesium

SMOOTHNESS
The palatable quality of having no rough edges through the palate

STRONG
Usually a favorable quality, the word STRONG here describes a high alcohol content balanced by a richness of flavor

SWEETNESS
The general taste impression left by malt

THICK
Impression of fullness left by the beer while in the mouth

THIN
Watery tasting beer

VINEOUS
Grape or wine-like impression on the palate

YEAST
An acquired taste for the casual beer drinker, this characteristic is most evident in German weiss beers
 

 

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Copyright 2001 D&C Enterprises   Last modified: 2001-08-28