The Unauthorized Glossary

Welcome to the ever-growing list of brewing terms I use in this blog.

Warning: These definitions will most certainly be not-so-standard. Don't use them on your beer-brewing vocab test. You'll flunk, for sure.

aeration: Just like you aerate your fish tank to add oxygen to the water for the fishies. In this case, though, you're adding oxygen to your beer so that the yeasties have an air-rich environment to thrive in. Makes them eat more. And multiply. And then they fart CO2 and pee alcohol. Best waste products ever.

bottle-conditioning: The brewing phase during which your beer goes from flat to fizzy. On bottling day, you mix your fermented beer with a bit of extra sugar and then bottle/keg your beer. Over the next two weeks, the yeast that's still hanging out in the beer eats that sugar and produces carbon dioxide, which carbonates your beer. Note for the impatient: I've never waited two weeks. I always bust one (at least) open after one week in the bottle. Never had a problem.

dry-hopping: A way to make beer with a lot of hoppy flavors and bitterness even hoppier. Usually, hops are added to the boil when you're preparing the beer. But with a beer that's dry-hopped, you add even more hops to the fermenter itself. So, you get hops in the boil, and then the beer sits for a week on top of even more hops. If hops = goodness, then a dry-hopped beer = ridiculously yummy greatness!

gravity: Oh,'s just that serious. Reading the "gravity" of your beer tells you two things: 1) how much sugar is in your beer before you ferment it (original gravity, or OG), and 2) how much sugar is in the beer after you ferment it (final gravity, or FG). And with those two numbers and a bit of math [(OG-FG) * 131.25], you can find out how much alcohol is in your beer. And who wouldn't want to know that?

pitched: Used in reference to what you do with your yeast. It's a brew-speak word that means "added." When you add yeast to your beer to ferment it, you "pitch the yeast." Makes us sound all sporty-like.

racked: No, it doesn't refer to boobs or balls. It's the brew-speak word that means "transfer." Used in a sentence, it goes like this: "Yesterday we racked the beer from the primary fermenter to the secondary fermenter." Sounds like you did something really awesome, huh? Yeah, that's what we're going for.

wort: Pronounced "wert." This is your unfermented beer. It's warm. It's flat. It's sugary and syrupy. And drinking it won't get you drunk, although drink enough of it and you may just puke. If you want, you can taste it to sort of get a sense of your final beer's flavor, but not really. Some people (like me) think it smells really good. Other people think it smells like feet. To each his own.