Glossary

Brewing related lingo you may come across.

Chances are you've come across a beer-related word or phrase before and had no idea what it meant. That might even be part of what makes brewing seem so confusing and scary!

Just like any hobby, homebrewing has its jargon. The nice thing is that, in this case, most of what you need to know to get started is really easy to remember. There are only a few essentials!

Alcohol By Volume. The standard measurement of alcohol.
The process of adding oxygen to your beer. There are proper times to agitate (like gently rocking your fermentation tank when you first add yeast) and times where it can oxidize your beer (like excessive spraying when siphoning your beer from one vessel to another.)
One of the two types of beer. An umbrella term for any beer that is top-fermented, meaning the yeast sits at the top of the tank.
Sometimes beer ferments too aggressively to use a standard air lock. A blow-off system involves plugging the fermentation tank with one end of the tube, and putting the other end in a bucket of water. This allows carbon dioxide to be released while still preventing a potential beer explosion.
The final process of fermentation. If you’re bottling your beer (as opposed to kegging) the yeast will eat your priming solution during the conditioning phase, thus carbonating the beer.
Dimethyl Sulfide is a sulfur compound that is a normal byproduct of fermentation. It smells like cooked corn, and doesn’t taste particularly good, although a very small amount is normal - all beer contains a tiny amount. DMS evaporates while the wort is boiling, so make sure you keep the lid off!
Malt extracts are used to simplify the brewing process. Sugars need to be released from the grains (see: mashing), and that can be a finnicky and difficult process for the beginner brewer. Conveniently, homebrew shops sell malt extracts in both dry and liquid form, and all of You Brew You's recipes are extract only. Note that one part liquid malt extract is roughly equal to .8 parts dry malt extract.
The process by which yeast converts the sugars in wort into alcohol and carbon dioxide, thus creating beer.
The flavor and aroma enhancer of beer. Adding different kinds of hops at different points in the brew cycle can contribute a wide array of tastes and smells.
The concentration of sugar in your wort. Gravity is measured with a hydrometer, which allows you to determine the alcohol content of your beer. High gravity refers to a beer with a high concentration of sugars, thus yielding a high alcohol content.
International Bitterness Units is a method of measuring the hop content of beer. The formula is on the complex side, so just remember that higher IBU beers have higher hop contents. This doesn’t always mean a higher IBU beer will automatically taste more bitter though! High gravity Russian Imperial Stouts, for example, require a huge amount of hops to combat their enormous malt content. They can approach or even surpass 100 IBUs (a number you’d typically associate with an Imperial IPA) but will still taste sweet.
One of two types of beer. An umbrella term for a beer that is bottom-fermented, meaning that the yeast lives at the bottom of the tank. Lagers typically require cooler fermentation temperatures than ales, which can make them tricky to brew at home.
The method of steeping grains in hot water in order to yield sugars. Many beginner recipes don’t require any mashing.
The act of adding yeast to wort, thus beginning the wort’s transition to beer!
The act of adding sugar to the beer before bottling. This gives the yeast food to carbonate the beer.
The optional act of transferring the beer out of your fermentation tank, leaving behind the trub. Siphoning the beer into a secondary fermentation tank is a popular method of racking.
Relax, don’t worry, have a homebrew! If you ever get stressed out while brewing, or aren’t sure what to do next, just RDWHAHB.
The practice of keeping contaminants from altering your beer. Improper sanitization is the number one cause of botched homebrew!
The act of Running water through your grain bag to extract more fermentables. Most beginner recipes use malt extract, but some require specialty grains that should be sparged before discarding.
A preferred sanitizer in the homebrewing world. Always make sure you have Star San or an equally good substitute on hand before you start brewing!
Sediment left at the bottom of the fermentater. This can include bits of hops, grains, and dead yeast.
The concoction of water, malts, sugars and hops that is fed to the hungry, hungry yeast. Once the yeast start eating, fermentation has begun and the wort has become beer.