Amongst a gathering of beer geeks if you haven’t got a beard, a checked shirt and a superior attitude it’s easy to feel out of place and out of your depth. This brief guide of various craft beer terms explained, many of which, you’ll hear bandied about will give you the confidence to throw yourself into any esoteric debate about beer styles, bitterness levels or hybrids.
You’ll know the difference between an imperial stout and a mint imperial and you won’t make the mistake of thinking that a hop-rocket took part in the first moon landing.
So where to begin with our craft beer terms explained? Let´s start with the word itself:
Well, the first thing to remember is that there is no actual definition of craft beer. We all know what it´s not and that is industrial, mass-produced, tasteless fizz. True there are lots of tasteless fizzy craft beers on the market but as they are produced in people´s bedrooms they are not industrial. See. On the other hand, if you ask a traditional British real ale drinker for her definition of craft beer she´ll say it´s cold, fizzy kegged beer only suitable for rinsing the mouth after dental treatment. The reality is that craft beer is a loose term occupying the space between traditional real ale and continental style lagers in which hops play a more prominent role and variation is highly prized. Apart from that, almost anything goes.
WARNING: DON´T CONFUSE DRINKING PINTS OF CRAFT WITH DRINKING A CRAFTY PINT. THE FORMER IS FINE WITHIN REASON BUT AVOID THE LATTER UNTIL AFTER YOU´VE SAFELY LANDED YOUR PASSENGER JET.
`What’, you may well ask, `has the International Biathlon Union got to do with craft beer?’. The simple answer is that the union strongly recommends to all their members that under no circumstances should they consume craft beer whilst competing in an authorized biathlon event. Okay, Okay we are joking technically speaking that’s not correct… we hope!
The other definition (International Bitterness Units – a chemical measurement of the number of bittering compounds, specifically isomerized and oxidized alpha acids, polyphenols, and a few other select bittering chemicals, that make the beer taste bitter – is not relevant for our purposes (and a bit too sciencey for our liking).
You won´t be far into any discussion about craft beer before the famous initialism IPA crops up. Not to be confused with an acronym, an initialism is made up of letters of some name or phrase, usually but not always the first letter of each word. Examples are IPA-India Pale Ale, AFC -Arsenal Football Club and PFJ -The People´s Front of Judea (not to be confused with JPF – The Judean People´s Front). Acronyms on the other hand, whilst being very similar to initialisms in that they too are made up of letters of some name or phrase, usually the first letter of each word as is common with initialisms, must result in an abbreviation which is pronounceable as a word. Such examples would include NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration), OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Companies) and ADIDAS (All Day I Dream About Sex).
Incidentally, India pale ales were beers formulated to withstand the long sea journey from the UK to India in the 19th century and as such were high in alcohol content and well hopped.
You may come across this phrase when discussing the role that hops play in any particular beer. Hops provide aroma, flavor, and bitterness to the beer. A hop forward beer is one in which these hop characteristics are the most pronounced features of the beer. Hop backward is where you stand on one leg and jump, usually ending up further away from your target than when you started.
So that’s all we have for now. With this small list of craft beer terms explained in simple terms, you should be ready for any conversation with a craft beer loving beardy! Want to know more? Why not come and visit us at the brewery? It’s the perfect trip for friends, family, and other like-minded beer-lovers. Take a trip around the brewery and find out what makes our craft beers so special. Then visit the bar and restaurant next door to taste some of our favorites!… with some delicious gourmet burgers too of course.