Glossary

By no means intended to be complete, this page is meant to serve as a quick resource for those reading 40LS articles. I will continue to update it as I cover new topics.

Brettanomyces – A strain of “wild” yeast often intentionally introduced in Farmhouse and Sour Ales. Often unintentionally infects barrel-aged batches. Produces a flavor that has been called “funky,” “earthy,” or “horse-blanket;” whatever that’s supposed to mean.

CIP – Short for “Clean In Place.” This is the cleaning cycle that brewers put their equipment through. It always consists of cleaning and sanitization components, though the specific chemicals and procedures vary from brewery to brewery.

Craft Brewery – An independent brewery with production of less than 6 million barrels per year. The cutoff was 2 million barrels from 1976 to early 2011, when the Brewer’s Association updated that figure in anticipation of Boston Beer Company’s break out of the “craft beer” category.

Fermentation – Fermentation is the process by which yeast converts sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide. Brewers introduce oxygen and yeast after the boiled wort has cooled. Yeast goes through four phases once introduced into the wort: lag, in which it creates more food for itself and lowers the pH; reproduction, in which it uses oxygen to copy itself; fermentation, in which wort turns into beer as we know and love it, and flocculation, in which the yeast drops out of the beer.

Fining Agents – Additions that help clarify the beer prior to packaging. Often associated with English Real Ale.

Lauter – Part of the wort production process. Lautering is the set of processes (Mashout, Vorlauf, Sparging) in which the sugar-laden wort is separated from the grains.

Malt – When brewers say “malt” they generally mean malted barley. Malting is the process by which the starches in grain are prepared to be converted to sugars. Malting is a space intensive process and thus dedicated Maltsters perform this function and then sell malted grains to breweries. When grains sprout it activates their diastatic enzymes. They wet the grain, allow it to begin sprouting and then expose it to high enough temperatures to inhibit that reaction. Additionally, malts are roasted at high temperatures, cooked in stews of various heats or smoked.

Mashout – The first step out the lautering process, in which the temperature of the mash water is heated to 170 degrees in order to denature all the relevant enzymes and stop the conversion of starches to sugars.

Pediococcus – A lactic acid bacteria often viewed as an infection. Intentionally found in sour beers. You may know it from its cameo appearances in yogurt.

Pitchv. To introduce yeast into wort. When brewers harvest yeast from a finished batch and use it again to ferment a new batch of beer that is known as “re-pitching.” 

– n. The sample of yeast to be introduced. Pitch size varies from batch to batch depending on the quantity and quality of yeast in the sample.

Sparge – n. The last step of the Lautering process, wherein new water is added to the grainbed to extract more sugars. The traditional English method used this liquid to make a second brew called the “small beer,” while the German method mixed the sparged wort in with the first runnings. Most American brewers use the German method because of it’s efficiency and consistency.

– v. The act of adding the aforementioned water.

Wort – The highly fermentable liquid that becomes beer as yeast converts its sugars into alcohol. Brewers produce wort by steeping grains in water during the mash, boiling the mash runoff and adding herbs and spices such as hops.  Most of a brewer’s day is spent on wort production. 

Yeast – Yeast is the unicellular organism that ferments beer, converting sugars into alcohol and carbon dioxide. Oxygen and yeast are introduced into the boiled wort after it has been cooled. Yeast goes through four phases once introduced into the wort: lag, in which it creates more food for itself and lowers the pH; reproduction, in which it uses oxygen to copy itself; fermentation, in which wort turns into beer as we know and love it, and flocculation, in which the yeast drops out of the beer.

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