Anyone who’s spent any time in craft beer circles would be familiar with the unique lingo that people in the industry often use. Like wine, where terms like old boots and sweaty saddles are status quo, we have our own language too.
But don’t worry, we asked Black Hops founder and head brewer Govs to pull together an entry level ‘top 10 list’ of craft beer jargon. This list will teach you how to speak craft beer bullshit with the best of us.
Growlers and Squealers
Growlers and Squealers are air tight vessels that beer drinkers can fill up with their favourite drop from the tap and take home with them. They’re great for people who want the option of taking home beer that isn’t available in bottles (like a lot of our beers at the Black Hops Taproom).
The difference between the two is in the volume of beer they hold. Growlers are the big boys, holding 1.89 litres of beers (about a 6 pack), whereas Squealers hold half that amount, at just under a litre (about 3 beers).
We have printed glass growlers and squealers available for purchase from the taproom. Once you have one you can take them with you to breweries, as most will fill them for you.
You may well be wondering as to the origins of their names. Despite sounding like crazy sex positions, the term ‘growler’ supposedly originated in the late 1800’s, when fresh beer was carried home from the local pub in a small, galvanised pail. As the beer sloshed around it created a rumbling or growling sound as carbon dioxide escaped through the lid. As for ‘squealer’ you can probably piece that together yourself (that’s our way of saying we have no idea).
Usage: : “Just grabbed a growler of Super Hornet from Black Hops. It’s Dank AF”.
ABV vs IBU
ABV: this is short for alcohol by volume, and refers to the amount of alcohol in a beer, expressed as a percentage. Mid strength beers are around the 3.5% ABV range, whereas big Belgian Ales can be as high as 8 – 9 % ABV. There have even been beers with over 60% ABV!
IBU: this is short for international bitterness units, which measures the bitterness produced by hops in a beer on a scale of 0 to 100 (but some brewers argue the max limit is much higher). Very hoppy beers, like some IPAs, can reach 80 on the IBU scale.
So if you really want to impress your mates, ask your local what the IBU of your beer is. Keep in mind that the bitterness of beer is also affected by malts. So beers that use sweet malts, may not taste very bitter, even though they have a high IBU. So if the bartender knows what’s up, he’ll call you out on your bullshit and explain the IBU doesn’t really mean much at all, it’s all about the balance of flavours.
Usage: “I love that Black Hops upped the IBU in Bitter Fun, I reckon it’s pushing 80”.
This refers to beers that have had hops added to them late in the brewing process, to give the finished beer more of a floral and fruity aroma without making it too bitter. The hops are usually added after fermentation has completed but can also be added very late into the boil to add some extra flavour and aroma.
The term is also used when other additions are added like the Raspberry we add to our Pink Mist, or chickens which we don’t add to any of our beers, but we’ve seen it done.
Usage: “Why the fuck would you dry hop with a chicken?”.
These are beers brewed with an intentionally acidic or tart flavour. Brewers can achieve this flavour by using either wild or inoculated bacteria such as lactobacillus and pediococcus. Alternatively they can royally fuck up a batch of beer and claim it to be sour, which works too.
Belgian beers such as lambics, gueuze and Flanders red ales are most commonly associated with this style. By the way Flanders is not pronounced Flanders, but no one knows that, so just call it Flanders.
Usage: “How do they get the sour flavour in this beer?”.
“It’s from the wild-fermented lactobacillus you deadshit”.
Ales vs Lagers
The difference between ales and lagers is all in the yeast.
Ales are fermented with top fermenting yeast. They are typically fermented at warmer temperatures than lagers, and traditionally served warmer. Ales also often contain a higher percentage of alcohol (or ABV if you’ve been paying attention).
Lagers on the other hand are fermented with bottom-fermenting yeast at colder temperatures. They’re usually associated with crisp, clean flavours and lack the strong character and bite associated with an ale.
We’re obviously unabashed Ale fans here at Black Hops, with ales forming the core part of our range. Up until recently, lagers dominated the Australian beer landscape. But the rise of craft beer in Australia has meant that Aussie beer aficionados now also have a full range of tasty ales to choose from. We haven’t totally abandoned lagers though; our newest addition to the range, Lay Day Lager is a popular hoppy favourite, while the dark I Heart Lager also has its admirers and our 30 Cal Californian lager is a unique example of a traditional style. You can check them out here.
So yeah that was a lot of text and a bit of self promo – TL;DR different yeast.
Usage: “Just enjoying this refreshing Ale from Black Hops”.
Actually that’s a lager, it’s brewed with bottom-fermenting yeast”.
These terms all relate to the way that a beer reacts with your senses. More than just how a beer tastes, they can describe sensations such as smell, texture and the reactions this invokes in the beer drinker.
Aroma: all beers have their own unique aroma or smell, based on how they’re brewed and the ingredients used. Yes we could say smell but aroma sounds a lot sexier.
Body: the thickness, consistency and mouth-filling property of a beer. This can range from thin to full-bodied.
Mouthfeel: this relates to a beer’s texture, and is often associated with terms such as carbonation, fullness and aftertaste.
Finish: is the sensation left in your mouth after you have swallowed your beer. Some flavours and textures linger on your palate while others seem to fade as quickly as they appeared. It adds depth and balance to the taste.
Usage: “Wow this Black Hops Beach House has a fruity aroma, medium-body, with a crisp mouthfeel and a dry but balanced zesty finish”.
But then again, there are no wrong answers here, so if you think it tastes like beer you’d also be right. Participation award for you.
I think you can probably guess this one, can’t you?
Barrel aged beer refers to beer that’s been aged in a wooden barrel or in contact with wood (not that kind of wood). Craft brewers sometimes use barrels made from wood such as oak to influence the flavours and aromas of their beer. The intention is to impart the unique character of the wood or the subtle flavours of what was in the barrel before. Often the barrel has previously been used for either wine or spirits, both impart flavours to the beer. Adding wood chips to the tanks is another way to achieve this, but that’s kinda cheating let’s be honest.
Usage: “Black Hops really should do a barrel-aged Eggnog stout”.
Dank is a term used to describe hoppy beers such as IPA’s and their perceived sticky, resiny characteristics. Non beer types may also know the word to mean wet, cold and musty. But in beer terms dank is not a negative.
One of the components of hops (or humulus lupulus if you want to get scientific and raise the BS to a whole new level) are essential oils that are extracted during the boil and dry hopping process. It’s these resiny oils that give hoppy beers their distinctive ‘dank’ aroma and flavour.
Hops and weed are in the same family and that’s the smell we refer to when we talk about a dank beer. Not that we smoke weed at Black Hops, however Govs has tried to smoke hops and it wasn’t good. Don’t try at home.
Usage: “Have you tried the new Black Hops Super Hornet?”.
“No but you mentioned it was dank AF”.
“Yes it is”.
Nitro refers to beers that use a higher percentage of nitrogen in the carbonation process. A typical nitro beer, such as Guinness, has a ratio of about 70% nitrogen to 30% carbon dioxide. Nitrogen is largely insoluble, which contributes to the thick, creamy feel and white, fluffy head that is typical of these type of beers. Beers brewed with a higher ratio of CO2 during carbonation won’t have these characteristics.
We sometimes brew a nitro version of our Eggnog Stout, which always goes down well with our drinkers, especially those partial to a Guinness.
Usage: “Fuck this Nitro nog is next level”.
Lace, or lacing, refers to the lace-like pattern of foam left on the inside of the beer glass once the beer has been consumed. It’s also sometimes referred to as Belgian lacing.
Scientifically speaking, lacing is a result of a combination of the protein (from the malt) and the isohumulones (from the hops) combining. A higher degree of lacing indicates a higher percentage or volume of alpha acids, proteins but also has something to do with a clean glass.
Usage: “What’s up Mike?
“Ah, just reminiscing on my life and enjoying the protien and isohumulones Belgian lacing on my ale”.
Now run free. Fill your local establishments with your newfound bullshit and happy drinking.