New To Craft Beers? A Few Terms To Tell Them Apart

1 July 2019
 Categories: , Blog


Are you a newbie to the craft beer world? While many people are familiar with commercially popular beer, craft brews can be a whole new world. That world has its own lingo. The sooner you understand a few basic brewing terms, the sooner you'll find the beers that you love. 

To help you out, here are important brewing terms that will help you hone in on your new favorites and wean out what you don't enjoy as much.

ABV. Alcohol by volume (ABV) is the measurement of how strong the beer is. Most beers come in at a lower percentage of alcohol than most wines and liquors. You'll find many brews ranging from 4% to 9%, and beers over about 10% ABV — often aged in spirits barrels — will feel strong and bold.

Ale. An 'ale' is not a catch-all term for beers. It's a specific type of beer. Ales are made with top-fermenting yeast varieties, so they ferment at warmer temperatures than lagers. The method of fermentation means you can often taste more fruitiness, flowers, or spices. 

Flight. When you tour a beer or wine maker' plant, you often want to try many different creations without ingesting a lot of alcohol (or spending a ton of money). The solution is to order a so-called flight. A flight is made up of small, sample-size pours. The brewer may suggest a pre-determined group — usually between 4 and 10 samples — or they may let guests decide what they want to try. Flights are excellent ways for newcomers to learn more. 

IBU. IBU stands for 'international bitterness units', and it is another way to identify what you enjoy or don't enjoy in a brew. Bitterness in beer generally comes from the hops, because of the alpha acids therein. The higher the IBU number — a number readily available, for nearly all craft beers — the more bitter and 'hoppy' it will likely taste. If you like the hops, go for the higher numbers. 

IPA. Commonly called IPAs, India Pale Ales are brewed to be more bitter than most other beers. The hops are incorporated at several stages, so you get a strong hop flavor. You'll find IPAs in stronger IBUs (Double or Imperial), less hoppy versions ('hazy IPAs'), and lower bitterness (Pale Ale). 

Sour. Sour beers are popular in today's craft market, but they're not to everyone's taste. These brews are 'soured' using wild yeast and bacteria in the fermentation process. You can find sour beers made with everything from horse stable funkiness to naturally-occurring air bacteria. 

The ins and outs of craft brewing involves many new concepts, for most guests. But, if you focus on learning what makes beers different and special from each other, you'll soon be able to pinpoint what makes your mouth happy and what you want to take home for later. Contact a company like Top Shelf Transportation, LLC, for more information.