Girl Meets Hops: Talk the Talk
By Marguerite Washut, BBBC Taproom/Events Coordinator
Ok, so let’s get down to the basics; beer slang. Like I said, if we’re going to talk the talk, we need to know what we’re actually talking about.
I’ve been at Bale Breaker for about six months now, and I recently caught myself talking in beer slang. I was very proud of myself for a good five minutes until someone emailed me about pricing for a “crowler” and I asked, “you mean a growler?!”
Nope. They meant a crowler. It’s a thing. BRB while I go stuff a slice of humble pie in my mouth.
We all know by now I’m a newbie to this industry. While I’ve picked up some terms, I’m still very much on the tourist level; not fluent but if you get me drunk enough, I can butcher my way through a conversation. Fake it ‘til you make it, right?
But that’s only cute for so long and can only get me so far in this industry. Not only do I need to learn, I want to learn, and I’m sure if you’ve been kind enough to come back and read my second post, you’re in the same boat too. So, let me break down the basics so we’re both not in over our heads along this journey of learning all things beer.
- I always think of that song by Luke Bryan, “Rain makes corn, corn makes whiskey” – well rain also makes hops, hops make beer. It’s one of four ingredients in beer and there are tons of different varieties (which we’ll get into later in this series), but two primary forms:
- Wet hops: the freshest
of the fresh, these hops must be used immediately after they are harvested. “Wet” hops are cut straight from the hopvine and give the beer a unique aroma and flavor. Wet hops can only be used during harvest, which occurs between the months of August-September.
- Processed hops: these hops are dried during harvest, sometimes processed into pellets or extract, and can be used all year long. We use a lot of pellets here at Bale Breaker. After all is said and done, they honestly look like rabbit food (to help give you a visual).
- Ale vs. Lager:
- There are two main types of yeast used in beer, which determine the style of beer: Ale vs. Lager.
- If we want to get technical, the difference between these two yeasts is simple: how it performs during the fermentation process. Lager yeast is a “bottom-fermenting” yeast while Ale yeast is “top-fermenting”. Read “all about yeast” here for our resident expert’s explanation.
- But, to break it down in laymen’s terms, lagers take much longer to make than ales – which is why you typically see more Ales served in craft breweries. From a business standpoint, it just isn’t worth the smaller brewers’ time and money to brew a lager. But if you do come across a lager in a craft brewery (like our Märzen Skies Oktoberfest Lager we just brewed this past October) – try it because you’re in for a treat!
- This is when beer becomes beer AKA sugar is converted into alcohol.
- “Fermenters” are the big, shiny silver vessels in every brewery. It’s where all the action happens. ;)
- ABV vs. IBU:
- ABV rates the alcohol content whereas the IBU is the bitterness rating of the beer.
- Higher the percentage of the ABV = the more alcohol there is in the beer. So, basically, don’t drink Bottomcutter on an empty stomach, like I may or may not have done before. Rookie mistake.
- Larger the number of the IBU = the more bitter the beer. This is not a rating of how good or bad the beer is, it’s just a helpful measurement of how bitter the beer might taste – just like how we use a universal size chart for clothes.
- ½ Barrel vs. 1/6 Barrel:
- Another fancy name for a keg, just a different size.
- ½ barrel kegs are your standard keg size and serves around 120 pints = house party and are most commonly used for keg stands as seen in movies. ;)
- 1/6 barrel kegs are like pony kegs (smaller) and serves about 40 pints = more suitable for an intimate social gathering or a home kegerator, for instance.
- Growler vs. Crowler:
- Growlers are reusable, crowlers are not.
- A Growler is a refillable container to take beer-on-the-go and comes in two sizes: 64oz or. 34oz. It’s usually made of glass, but is also available in stainless steel.
- A Crowler is a 34oz can that is also filled onsite to-go but is immediately sealed. So, once you open it, you better start shotgunning. Kidding.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg as far as “beer slang” goes but stay tuned and I promise we’ll dive deeper into each term as I continue on this journey of finding out what goes on behind the buzz.
Girl Meets Hops: A monthly column about an amateur's quest to find out what's behind the buzz.
Posted February 27, 2019