Gordon's Brew Glossary
beer geek jargon


This is off the top of my head, so please don't take it too seriously.
I'm just trying to define the jargon I use in my brew log.

2-RowOne of two types of barley. Two-row is used for most European beer and American microbrews. Six-row is used for American megabrews (the big three - Bud, Miller, Coors). Six-row has a high enzyme content so it's good at starch conversion which is handy if you want to make cheap, weak tasting beer by adding a lot of corn or rice. When I use "2 Row" in a recipe, it's domestic (US or Canada) pale, 2-row malted barley.
AAAlpha Acids. The higher the percent alpha acids, the more bitter the hop.
ABVAlcohol by Volume, the percent of the volume of a liquid that is alcohol.
ABWAlcohol by Weight, the percent of the weight of a liquid that is alcohol.
airlockA homebrewing gizmo that sits on top of the fermenter. It lets CO2 gas from the fermenting beer escape, but doesn't let any outside air in. This keeps bacteria and wild yeast out of the beer.
aleOne of two types of beer. Ales are fermented warmer than lagers using yeast that is better suited for the higher temperatures.
blow off tubeA tube that's stuck in the top of the fermenter at the beginning of fermentaion. The start of primary fermentation can be very violent - lots of yeast and foam churning and shooting out of the container. This can clog an airlock or blow it right off of the fermenter. The solution is to instead use a large diameter blow off tube that has one end in the top of the fermenter and the other in a bucket of sanitizer (bleach water is what I use). This way the foam can blow out and the beer is still protected from bacteria and wild yeast.
carboyA glass fermentation vessel. A carboy is shaped like the water bottles used for office water coolers. My carboys are 7 gallons (for primary fermentation) and 5 gallons (for secondary fermentation).
chocolate maltMalted barley that has been roasted to a dark chocolate color.
CharlieCharlie Papazian, author of The New Complete Joy of Home Brewing. I don't actually own this book. I have The [old] Complete Joy of Home Brewing from 1984. This is one of many reasons that you shouldn't trust anything I say.
compressorAn air compressor can be used to aireate wort after the yeast has been pitched. Refrigerator compressors are the noisy things that make fridges cold.
CrystalCrystal malt has been lightly roasted. The more roasted, the darker the crystal. They typical range is from 10 L (light) to 80 L (dark) on the Lovibond scale.
DaveDave Miller, author of Dave Miller's Homebrewing Guide: Everything You Need to Know to Make Great-Tasting Beer.
dextrine maltSimilar to crystal. Used to make the beer sweeter.
DMEDry Malt Extract. The maltster mashes malted barley and dehydrates the wort. Extract brewers make their wort from extract and water. All grain brewers make their wort by mashing the grain themselves.
dough inAdding the malted barley to water at the beginning of the mash.
extractsee DME
FGFinal Gravity. The specific gravity of beer after fermentation.
gravitySee Specific Gravity
growlerA half gallon (64 Fl Oz) jug used by microbreweries and brewpubs for beer to go. The beer is cheaper when you return a used one. I put a stopper and airlock in the top and ferment yeast starters in one.
HallHallertauer hops. I don't know how to spell Hallertauer, so I abbreviate it Hall. It's a German hop, good with Saaz in lagers.
hbdHome Brew Digest, an e-mail digest that you can subscribe to at http://hbd.org. The web page also has a searchable archive of all of the back issues. Also check out The Brewery at http://hbd.org/brewery. It has great articles and recipe collections.
HERIMSHeat Exchange Recirculating Infusion Mash System. A RIMS in which the mash is heated by heat exchange rather than by directly heating it. I built one of these.
HERMSA trademarked HERIMS from Precision Brewing Systems.
hydrometerA gizmo that lets you measure the specific gravity of a liquid. It's a glass cylinder that looks a lot like a thermometer. The denser the liquid, the higher the hydrometer floats.
ice bathWhen I chill my wort, I empty a bag of ice into a small tub, put the kettle on that and pour a couple more bags of ice around the outside of the kettle.
immersion chillerCoiled copper tubing that is immersed in the hot wort. Tap water is run through the tubing. This helps the wort cool faster.
Irish MossSeaweed that you can add to the boil kettle to make clearer beer.
keg lubeA lubricant for keg gaskets.
lagerA type of beer. A type of yeast. (see Ale) Also, to cold condition beer by slowly dropping the temperature at the end of secondary fermentation. The temperature is brought down to about 32 F (0C). Once it's there, it stays for a while. This gives clearer, cleaner tasting beer.
M&FMunton and Fiston (Fuston?). A brand name of malt and malt extract.
mashThe process of extracting sugars from malted barley (also the grain water mixture). It's just a matter of adding water to the grain. The temperature and length of time at each temperature (along with the grain used, the water chemistry, the yeast, and the hops) determines the flavor, body and head of the finished beer. The steps in making beer are: make a yeast starter, mash, boil, cool, pitch the yeast, ferment, and bottle or keg. The steps in mashing are: dough in, mash, recirculate and sparge.
mash hopA trendy hophead fad. Hops are added to the grain and water during the mash.
mash outRaising the temperature at the end of the mash. This stops the enzymes from breaking protein chains into sugars. Some protein is good for body and for head retention. Too much leads to hazy beer.
meadHoney wine.
Moose DroolA fine ale from Big Sky Brewing in Missoula, Montanna.
OGOriginal Gravity. The specific gravity of beer before fermentation.
Pale 2-RowSee 2-Row
primaryThe first part of fermentation characterized by rapid yeast growth and violent CO2 production. Also the carboy in which this happens.
rackTo transfer by siphoning from one fermenter to another.
RandyRandy Mosher, author of The Brewer's Companion: Being a Complete Compendium of Brewing Knowledge Thoughtfully Arranged for the Amateur Brewer Containing Numerous and Diverse Charts, Tables, Graphs &c., as an Aid in the Successful Brewing of Quality Beer which is out of print.
rcbrec.crafts.brewing on the usenet (or at http://deja.com).
RIMSRecirculating Infusion Mash System. If you can't see calling regular kitchen appliances a "brewery," you'll wind up with one of these. There are many designs, but most involve a pump that moves mash water around and around through the grain. This gives more temperature consistency and better filtration.
secondaryThe second part of fermentation characterized by slower CO2 production and yeast dropping out of suspension. Also the carboy in which this happens.
SGSpecific Gravity.
spargeThe last step in mashing. Hot (170F) water is run through the grains to rinse off the sugars.
specific gravityThe density of a liquid compared to that of water. A liquid with a specific gravity of 1.0 is the same density as water. A liquid with a specific gravity of 1.05 is 5% denser than water. Measuring specific gravity before and after fermentation gives a measure of how much sugar (which is heavier than water) has been converted into alcohol (which is lighter than water).
starterA little bit of beer fed to the yeast a few days before brewing. The idea is to get lots of yeast, so you feed it some beer and then step up the starter every day or two by feeding it more beer. By brew day, you've got a big starter (lots of yeast) that you pitch into the cooled wort. Big starters ensure that the yeast takes over before any air borne bacteria or wild yeast can get a foothold.
strike tempThe temperature of the water at dough in.
TettMy abbreviation for Tettnanger (sp?) hops. A German hop that goes good in lager, particularly when you can't get your hands on an fresh, whole Saaz hops.
tunThe vessel that you mash in. I use a Rubbermaid cooler, the kind football teams dump over the coaches head.
White Labs A brand name of yeast. They sell liquid yeast in vials. The idea is that you don't need a starter, but I always make one anyway.
wortBeer that has already been mashed but doesn't have yeast in it yet.
yeast cakeWhat's left behind in a carboy after you siphon the beer out. It's a couple of inches of white gunk (well, actually, a couple of inches of yeast).
yeast energizerYellow powder that you buy at homebrew stores.
yeast nutrientWhite powder that you buy at homebrew stores.
yeast startersee starter