Common Brewing Terms and What They Mean

The world of home brewing can be a confusing place and the special terminology used to describe equipment, ingredients and other aspects can add to that confusion. If you want to get off to the best start in home brewing, then having a decent understanding of the most common terms is important. Here are some of the things that you’ll need to know.

Wort: Wort refers to your brew mixture before it begins fermenting and before you add yeast to the batch. 

Chill Haze: Chilled beer can take on a hazy appearance due to proteins and other compounds remaining in the brew. Chill haze has little effect on the flavor of a beer, but it can detract from the appearance of your brew.

Off Flavor: An “off flavor” is any type of unwanted or unanticipated flavor in your beer. It might be sulfur, sour, cloyingly sweet or any number of other flavors. Off flavors can be produced by adjuncts as well as impurities, contamination and even things like cleaners or sanitizers.

Adjunct: An adjunct is simply a fermentable product used during the brewing process. Adjuncts are added to the mash after the base malts and use surplus enzymes to breakdown their starches into sugar.

Aerate: Aeration is the process of adding oxygen to your wort so that yeast has a healthy place in which to grow and thrive. Like fish, yeast needs oxygen in order to live and to carry out the conversion of sugars to alcohol. Aeration can be accomplished in several ways, from stirring to forced-aeration systems.

Conditioning: Conditioning refers to the aging process of the beer once it has been removed from your primary fermenter. In a pressurized system, conditioning can be used to encourage natural carbonation. This is required to help mature the beer by allowing the full flavors and aromas desired to develop.

Milling Grains: The process of putting malt through a mill to crack open the husk and access the sugar reserves in the grains when mashing.

Mash: The process of steeping grains to help break complex carbohydrates down into simple sugars. 

Specific Gravity: The specific gravity of a beer is used to determine the strength of the brew and when it has finished fermenting. All recipes have a target specific gravity. Specific gravity is best measured with a hydrometer.

These are only a handful of the terms that you will need to learn in order to make the most of your brewing experience.