As the craft beer scene continues to grow the industry is naturally seeing an uplift in craft beer consumers, but do all drinkers know what breweries are talking about when it comes to the differences in their products?
Our Master Brewer, Wim van der Spek says: “As the craft beer market is continuing to grow, so are conversations about it. We’ve all heard self-professed beer boffins waxing lyrical about the qualities of their pint down the pub, but for those who don’t consider themselves a certified Cicerone, beer talk can sound daunting and even off-putting. That’s why we decided to bust some of the beer jargon and create an easy-to-read translation. We want to make sure that our beer is accessible to everyone and we would like our drinkers to feel the same.”
So, with Wim’s words in mind, here are some handy jargon-busting definitions:
Long gone are the days when hops were simply used to add a bit of bitterness to a beer. Today, we constantly hear tell of another “hop-heavy” or “hop-forward” beer, and it can seem like hops are thrown in without rhyme or reason, so much so that it’s a wonder you can taste anything else. Where on earth did this obsession with hops stem from, though? IPAs – India Pale Ales – that’s where. They were originally intended for long sea voyages from England to India, when brewers took advantage of the special preservative properties of hops to keep the beer fresh. The more hops, the better the beer kept. Now, the world’s gone hopping mad, and most IPAs have never seen the Arabian Sea or the Bay of Bengal.
We’ve all heard them before; the wise, old beer connoisseurs who only drink beer that’s been aged in a bourbon barrel for years. It’s a wonder they live to tell the tale, as barrel-aged beer leads to higher alcohol content. This beer is aged with the intention of importing the unique characteristics of the wood or the flavour of what was previously in the barrel.
Simply put, this is a beer that will get you through a ‘sesh’. A session beer is considered around 3-4% ABV and is typically suitable for a lengthy drinking session. This can be drunk throughout the evening, without leaving you staggering home at the end of the night… Providing you don’t drink too many, of course.
A whale is a term used to describe a fairly rare beer. Of course, the Americans took this one step further and also use the term ‘white whales’ or ‘mobys’ to describe a really rare beer, in reference to Captain Ahab’s tireless hunt for his great white whale, Moby Dick. However, one person’s whale may be another’s trash and is often entirely dependent upon personal preference. Think super hop heavy and high in alcohol or cave aged and treacly thick… A whale could be anything!
Some beers are left to mature once they’re bottled, with more yeast added to help them develop complex flavours and aromas, leading to a much deeper character. They become naturally carbonated as a result of this mini fermentation. Some people like to debate which is best, bottle conditioned, filtered, unfiltered. That’s up to you, let us know!
Mouth feel describes the textural attributes of the beer in question. Those “in the know” can often be found describing the fullness, density and viscosity of the beer, or, for us lay men and women, whether or not the beer goes down well. Chances are, it does.
Cask versus Keg
Ebony and ivory, chalk and cheese, cask and keg; this is the age-old argument that, quite frankly, most people are sick of hearing. Typically made of metal or plastic, casks are beer containers that hold live ale whilst it matures. The keg, however, contains beer that has been (often but not always) filtered and offers a fizzier product. Whatever your preference, we hold no judgement.
Unexplained beer injury. Say. No. More.