Beer Terms 101

Start talking like a pro in no time
  • A barrel: Thirty-one gallons

  • Nanobrewery: A small commercial brewery that produces fewer than 2,000 barrels of beer per year
  • Microbrewery: A commercial brewery that produces fewer than 15,000 barrels of beer per year and at least 75 percent of its beer sold off-site
  • Brew Pub: A commercial restaurant-brewery that manufactures fewer than 2,500 barrels of beer per year primarily intended for on-site consumption. A brew pub must maintain a full-service restaurant and may sell its beer to individuals by the glass or in a carry-out container, and to New Hampshire licensed retailers and wholesalers.
  • Regional Brewery: A step up from the microbrewery, a regional brewery produces between 15,000 and 6 million barrels of beer per year.
  • Large Brewery: A large-scale brewery operation that produces more than 6 million barrels of beer per year
  • Specialty Beer: Any beer with an alcohol content greater than 6 percent and less than 12 percent by volume at 60 degrees Fahrenheit. However, the NH Liquor Commission may approve of a specialty beer that exceeds 12 percent alcohol by volume.
  • ABV: If you hear someone say "ABV," he or she is referring to alcohol by volume, the standard measure of how much alcohol is in the beer.
  • Head: Foam on top of a beer that is produced by bubbles of gas, typically carbon dioxide, rising to the surface. Beer enthusiasts will tell you the head holds aromas that will increase enjoyment and understanding of the beer.
  • Standard Reference Method (SRM): A system used by modern brewers to specify beer color (see graphic at right)
  • Gruit: A centuries-old herb mixture pre-dating the popular use of hops for bittering and flavoring beer. Coming back into popularity.
  • Growler: A reusable glass jug for beer  
  • Hops: The flowering portion of a female hops plant that is incorporated into beer to contribute bitterness and aroma and to inhibit bacteria growth
  • Malt: Processed barley that has been steeped in water, germinated and dried in a kiln to be transformed into soluble substances and sugars
  • Wort: The sugary liquid that is extracted from malt or other grain during the mashing process of beer brewing then fermented by the yeasts to produce alcohol.
  • Contract Brewing Company: A business that hires another brewery to produce either all of its beer or additional beer.
  • Nano Brewery License: Requires an annual fee of $240 to operate. The licensee is permitted to distribute his or her beer but can not enlist the help of a third-party distributing company.
  • Beverage Manufacturer License: A license that allows the brewer to manufacture and wholesale distribute beverages. The annual fee for this type of license is $1,200.

Types of Beers

  • Ales vs. Lagers: Ales are fermented at warmer temperatures than lagers with a "top-fermenting" yeast that are more tolerant to alcohol. This type of yeast gives ales a more intense flavor profile and higher alcohol content. Lagers are brewed with "bottom-fermenting" yeast, which ferments more slowly than ale yeast. Unlike ales, the lager brewing process is carried out in colder temperatures, which slows down the yeast's rate of chemical reaction. This yeast also has the ability to ferment a type of sugar that ale yeasts cannot.

  • Pale Lager: Descended from Germany, this type of beer is a very light golden color that tastes crisp and clean with minimal bitter hops flavor.
  • Maibock: Tends to be lighter in color than other bock beers, usually ranging from deep gold to light amber, and features a noticeably hoppy flavor.
  • Pale Ale: This golden-to-copper colored English beer features medium-low malt flavor with hops for flavor and bitterness.  
  • IPA: An acronym for India Pale Ale, IPA is, coincidentally, a pale ale with more hops and higher alcohol content.
  • Saison: Once brewed in the summertime and enjoyed four to six months later, this fruity flavored Belgian variety is seen in an amber or copper color is now available year-round.
  • ESB: Abbreviated for extra special bitter, the ESB features a medium-to-strong aroma of hops, bitterness, and a rich maltiness.
  • Double IPA: Also known as "Imperial" IPA, this beer features double or sometimes triple the amount of hops and malts of traditional IPAs, which makes it an overall stronger beer.
  • Brown Ale: This dark brown or amber-colored ale is lightly hopped with a sweet taste from the roasted and caramel malts used to flavor and color it.
  • Bock: Stronger and maltier than the usual lager, this dark brown colored beer is also has a much heavier and thicker consistency that stems from its history as a form of sustenance by Medieval German monasteries during lenten fasts.
  • Doppelbock: This variety of bock ranges in color from light amber to dark brown and typically has a strong malty flavor with a high alcohol content.
  • Porter: A heavily malted English beer made with roasted malts or roasted barley and slow fermenting yeast to yield its very dark brown, almost opaque color.
  • Stout: This dark, roast-flavored beer has been said to originate from porters. Yet, unlike porters, stouts are brewed with black unmalted barley to produce its rich flavor with hints of coffee, licorice and molasses.  
  • Baltic Porter: A variation of Imperial Stout that is usually cold-fermented.
  • Imperial Stout: A dark beer with a high alcohol content, usually over 9 percent.

Ale Brewing Styles

  • Single: This "blonde" beer is the lightest in alcohol, usually under 6.5 percent alcohol by volume.  
  • Dubbel: This Belgian ale features a slight fruity and sweet flavor profile and is dark amber to brown in color.
  • Tripel: Although lighter in color than the dubbel, tripels have a higher percent alcohol by volume (usually around 8 percent).
  • Quadrupel: The darkest and strongest brewing style of ale with a prominent malt flavor.


Categories: Beer Features