The following is a list of beer terminology and general "beer geek slang" that is frequently used on this site. It will be continuously updated as new terms arise.
AA: abbreviation for "alpha acid". Measured in a percentage, alpha acids are the component in hops the contribute bitterness. "High alpha hops" contribute more bitterness than lower alpha hops and require less quantity to achieve the same level of bitterness.
ABV: abbreviation for "alcohol by volume", the percentage of a beer's volume taken up by alcohol. ABV can be converted to alcohol by weight(ABW) by multiplying by .79, the density of ethyl alcohol.
ABW: abbreviation for "alcohol by weight", usually only used for describing the alcohol content of "3.2" beer. ABW can be converted to ABV by multiply times 1.25. "3.2% ABW beer" is thus 4.0% ABV.
Adjuncts: ingredients in beer that are not one of the traditional four (water, hops, barley, yeast). Common adjuncts include corn, rice, and many sugars. These are often used by large breweries to cut costs and lighten the color and flavor of beer. Belgian brewer's use sugars to increase alcohol content and add flavor.
AHA: abbreviation for the American Homebrewers Association, started by homebrewer Charlie Papazian.
Ale: One of two types of beer, brewed with top-fermenting ale yeast at warm temperatures ( usually in the 60F-80F range.) Ales usually have fuller, fruiter flavors when compared to lagers.
APA: abbreviation for "American Pale Ale". A yellow to deep amber colored beer with a hoppy bite. Used to distinguish from an English Pale Ale. APAs usually contain citrusy American-grown hops as opposed to the more earthy, woody, and lemon grass hops of their overseas cousins.
Aroma Hop: hop addition added at the end of the boil, usually for the final 5 minutes or less. It adds hop aroma to the beer. Synonymous with the "finishing hop".
Barley Wine: I strong, alcoholic ale typically containing 8-14+% abv. The style is characterized by a bittersweet finish. The high levels of remaining sugars are balanced by very aggressive hopping rates. Barley wine is a beer, not a wine. It gets its name from the wine-strength levels of alcohol. In the US many barley wines must be labeled "barley wine-style ale", to note that they are a beer and not fermented fruit juices.
Bitter: a mild English pale ale of low alcoholic strength and moderate hop presence, meant to be drank as a session beer. The weakest of the three English pale ales (bitter, best bitter/premium bitter, and extra special bitter).
Bittering Hop: hop addition added at the beginning of a boil, usually boiled for 60 minutes or more. It adds bitterness to the beer.
BJCP: abbreviation for "Beer Judge Certification Program". A program founded by homebrewers to more objectively evaluate and review beer of varying styles.
BMC: slang abbreviation for "the big three" breweries that make up the majority of market share. Anheuser Bush(Bud), SAB Miller(Miller), and MolsonCoors(Coors).
Bottled Conditioning: process by which beer is naturally carbonated in the bottle by a second fermentation; usually used in Belgian-style ales and by many US craft breweries.
Cask Ale: synonymous to "real ale", a type of ale (usually a bitter) that is served at cellar temperature from a cask. The beer has very little carbonation resulting in a creamy mouth feel. Cask ale is prevalent in the United Kingdom and is served at some US craft breweries.
Charlie Papazian: Founder of the American Homebrewers Association and the Great American Beer Festival. His book "The Complete Joy of Homebrewing" is the best selling homebrew book of all time.
Dry hopping: the process of adding hops to the fermenter in addition to boiling them in the kettle. This immensely increases hop aroma without adding any bitterness. Hop pellets, dried whole hops, or fresh hops can be used in this manner.
ESB: abbreviation for "Extra Special Bitter", a type of strong English pale ale. English pale ales differ from American Pale Ales (APAs) by having a more balanced flavor profile. English pales are often maltier and more balanced while APAs are more hop focused. The hops used also differ; APAs use citrusy American hop varities(Cascade, Centennial, Chinook, etc.) while their English brethren employ more earthy, woody English varities (such as East Kent Goldings and Fuggles). ESB is the strongest of the three English pale ales (bitter, best bitter/premium bitter, and extra special bitter).
Esters: fruity flavor notes produced during fermentation at higher temperatures. Lower fermentation temperatures will result in lower ester production, and a "cleaner" tasting beer.
Fermentation: the process by which the sugars in beer are converted to alcohol and carbon dioxide gas by brewer's yeast.
Filtered: beer that has been processed to removed yeast from suspension.
Finishing Hop: see aroma hop
Flavor Hop: hop addition added to brew kettle with 15 to 30 minutes left in the boil. It adds hop flavor to the beer.
Final Gravity: gravity of beer post-fermentation.
GABF: abbreviation for Great American Beer Festival
Gravity: short-hand term for "specific gravity"
Great American Beer Festival: annual beer convention held in Denver, CO. It was started in 1982 by Charile Papazian. Gold, silver, and bronze medals are awarded for various beer style categories.
Hop: Flower from the hop bine that contributes bitterness, flavor, aroma, and stability to beer.
Hophead: slang term used by homebrewers for those that enjoy excessively hoppy beers.
IBU: abbreviation for "International Bittering Units", a metric used to measure the hop bitterness of beer.
IPA: abbreviation for "India Pale Ale", a more hoppy and alcoholic pale ale. When England was occupying India, they would ship pale ale out to the troops stationed there. They began to realize that if they brewed a pale ale with more alcohol and hops(both preservatives) that the beer would survive the long ocean voyage around Africa better. This became what is now called the India Pale Ale.
Imperial: a beer designation for: "a stronger, hoppier version of". The term originated with Russian Imperial Stout, a strong stout beer brewed for the Russian court. It has become a commonplace descriptor for IPAs and is gaining acceptance for stronger versions of red/amber ales. Many microbreweries are beginning to use the term" double" in place of imperial, this is not to be confused with a "Dubbel" which is a dark Belgian style of beer.
Krausen: foam that forms at the top of the fermenter during vigorous fermentation.
Lager: One of two types of beer (the other being ale). Lagers are brewed with bottom-fermenting lager yeast at cold temperatures, usually in the 50F-60F range. Lager comes from the German for "to store". These beers go through an aging and conditioning process post-fermentation at temperatures close to freezing. Lagers are generally "cleaner" tasting than ales, with less off-flavors. It should be noted that lagers are not necessarily stronger/weaker in alcohol nor ligther/darker in color than ales.
Lagering: the cold-conditioning period that lagers and some ales go through post-fermentation.
Malt: synonymous to "barley" and "barley malt"; a cereal grain that is mashed in order to extract sugars which are then fermented into alcohol by yeast.
Mashing: process by which crushed malt is rested or steeped at one or more temperatures in order to exact sugars from the grain. After mashing the grain is "sparged".
Original Gravity: gravity of beer prior to the onset of fermentation.
Real Ale: see cask ale
Reinheitsgebot: German beer purity law that was originally drafted in 1516. It specified that to be considered beer a beverage must contain only: malt, hops, and water. Later, when the brewing process became better understood at the microscopic level, yeast was added to the list of ingredients.
Sankey keg: the most common type of keg used to store beer. It is usually made of stainless steel (although aluminum and rubber are sometimes used) and Holds 15.5 gallons. Half of a barrel is equivalent to one sankey keg.
SG: abbreviation for "specific gravity"
Sparging: process that occurs after mashing in which spent grain is rinsed with hot water to extract any remaining sugars.
Specific gravity: also called simply "gravity", specific gravity is the ratio of the density of beer to the density of water. The specific gravity (SG) of water is 1.000. The gravity reading of beer before fermentation (Original Gravity or "OG") can be used in concert with the gravity of beer post-fermentation (Final Gravity or "FG") to calculate the alcohol content of beer. Unfermented beer has a higher gravity because it has more sugars than fermented beer (wherein sugars have been converted to alcohol).
SRM: abbreviation for "Standard Reference Method"; used for measuring the color of beer.
Style: a category developed to more easily compare and categorize beer. "Stout" is a style of ale.
Trappist: beer that is produced at a trappist monastery with direct supervision of the monks, it can be of any style. Currently there are 7 trappist monasteries: Chimay, Westmalle, Westvletern, Orval, Achel, and Rochefort in Belgium with Koningshoeven located in the Netherlands. These are not to be confused with “abbey ales” which are brewed under the name of a monastery which has been licensed to a commercial brewery.
Unfiltered: beer that has not undergone filtering and retains residual yeast from the brewing process, can sometimes result in a cloudier beer. Wheat beers and often unfiltered.
Wort: pronounced "wert", beer that has not yet undergone fermentation. It is a very sweet liquid.
Wet Hopping: using fresh-from-the vine hops rather than processed hop pellets or kiln-dried whole hop flowers. This imparts a different "greener" hop aroma compared with using processed hops. Breweries will often make "Fresh hop" ales in September (right around hop harvest time) using this technique. The hops are often over-nighted to the brewery to ensure freshness.
Yeast: single-celled fungal organism that consumes sugars and expels the by-products ethanol and carbon dioxide. It is used to ferment beer, cider, wine, and is part of the production of spirits.
Zymurgy: the study of fermentation. Also a quarterly homebrew magazine published by the American Homebrewers Association