All Grain Beer Dictionary

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When I first ventured into all grain brewing I was a little intimidated about some of the terminology so I thought I would put together an all grain brewing dictionary as a quick reference for anyone out there who feels the same or, like me, may need reminding every now and then.

Alpha Acids: These are found in hops and need to be boiled in order to release bitterness. The alpha acids are isomerised in the boil of the wort which imparts bitterness. The potential bitterness of the hops depends on the varieties, weather, harvest conditions and storage.

Aroma Hops:  Hops added at the end of the boil for aroma they can be added for the last 15, 10, 5 or even 0 minutes.  Those added at the end of the boil are similar to dry hopping in the primary fermenter.

Attenuation: Refers to the amount of sugar the yeast consumes and turns into alcohol, flavour compounds and Co2. Different brewer’s yeasts have different attenuation ranges, the range is generally between 65% and 85%. Those brewing at home measure the ‘apparant attentuation’ rather than specific.  This is done with a hydrometer by measuring the start/original gravity before pitching the yeast, the reading will then travel towards 1.000. Once the reading is stable over two days you can be pretty sure that fermentation is complete and then take your final gravity reading to calculate the ‘apparant attentuation’. Here’s the equation: [(OG-FG)/(OG-1)] x 100.

Beta Acids:  Again found in hops and contribute to aroma only.

BIAB: Brew in a bag method. Here’s a link which goes into more detail about this method:

Bittering Hops: Added for the bulk of the boil to impart bitterness. The longer you boil these hops the more bitter the beer will be. It is best not to boil for more than 90 minutes as this can ruin the flavour of your beer, 60 minutes is the most common boiling time used by most brewers and home brewers.

Degrees Lovibond Scale: An old method used to predict what colour your beer will be, devised by a British man Joseph William Lovibond in 1885. It is now more common to use the EBC and SRM scales.

Dry Hopping: Adding hops after fermentation, this adds flavour and aroma and is especially good for hoppy beers like IPA. It does not impart bitterness as boiling is required to do this.

EBC (European Brewery Convention): A colour chart used by modern brewers to determine what colour your beer will be.

Esters: These are fruity tastes produced by the yeast during fermentation, there is a range of different fruity flavours produced by different strains from pear to citrus.

Flocculation:  This is when the yeast joins together and then drops to the bottom of the fermenter. Brewer’s yeast is particularly good at this.

Grain Mill: This is used to crush whole grain although most people tend to buy grains that are already crushed.

IBU: This gives a gauge of a beer’s bitterness, the range goes from 0-120.  Lambic beers are between 0-10 and IPA is between 40-120.  It measures the parts per million of  isohumulone found in the finished beer. Isohumulone is what gives the beer it’s bitter taste.

Kettle: The vessel used to boil your wort in.

Malted Barley: This is achieved through the process of malting which involves soaking the grain until it starts to germinate.  At this point the germination is stopped and then the IMG_9348grains are dried with hot air.

Mashing: The process of turning the starch found in the grain into fermentable sugars.

Mashing In: Mixing the crushed grains and strike water together.

Mash Out: Heating the mash to 77 degrees to stop enzyme activity which preserves the sugar profile of a beer.

Mash Tun: Insulated vessel to hold the grains at the correct temperature while the mashing process takes place.

Sparging: Process of using sparge water to rinse the grains after mashing and get more sugars out of it.

Sparge Water: Water used to rinse the grains to extract all the sugars produced in the mashing process.

SRM (Standard Reference Method): Another method used by brewers to specify beer colour.

Strike Water: Water added to the grains at the start of the mashing process.

Wort: Pronounced ‘wert’ this will become your beer.

Wort Chiller

Wort Chiller: A piece of equipment that is used to cool the wort down as quickly as possible this ensures that the beer will be clear.



If there’s anything I’ve missed please let me know and I’ll add it on.  Hopefully it’s not something embarrassingly obvious!


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