The 11 Beer Terms You Should Know

Beer Knowledge

EBC, IBU, C-Hops, these are beer terms that cause many beer lovers to frown and leave a question mark.

Enjoying beer also means understanding beer. Beer beginners who want to deal more intensively with the topic have problems in particular. There is too much information and beer terms. Above all, the influence from abroad, such as typical beer types and names, often lead to ambiguities.

Often sipping on a beer glass is not enough to understand beer. To train your senses and taste buds and to understand what you smell and taste during the beer tasting, you need to know about recurring technical terms.

If you deal intensively with the “barley juice”, you not only drink beer more consciously, but also know which beer is of high quality and where the purchase and tasting are worthwhile.

This article informs you about the most important beer terms and is intended to serve as a reference book for you. Even if you’re still in the beginning.

What is the IBU value for beer?

IBU is a well-known term for beer and is the abbreviation for “International Bitterness Units”. It indicates the bitterness content of a beer and is determined exclusively by the hops used in brewing.

Due to the heat development during wort cooking, so-called alpha acids dissolve from the hops, which release different amounts of bitter substances depending on the hop variety and the time of addition.

A distinction is made between aroma hops and bitter hops in the case of hop varieties. As the name suggests, the bitter hop has a larger amount of alpha acids and can therefore release more bitter substances to the beer (here you will find a detailed guide on the topic of hops).

The bitterness or ibu value therefore significantly influences the character and aroma profile of the beer. In order to ensure that this value is not exceeded or exceeded at the end for the respective type of beer, the master brewer calculates by means of a hop calculation taking into account the respective hop variety and cooking time, the bitterness that the beer has at the end.

Here you will find a list of some common beers and their IBU guideline:

  • Altbier: ca. 35–50 IBU
  • Berlin Whites: under 10 IBU
  • Bock beer: ca. 25–35 IBU
  • Double bock: ca. 20–25 IBU
  • Export: ca. 20–25 IBU
  • IPA: ca. 40–150 IBU
  • Kölsch: ca. 20–30 IBU
  • Pilsen: ca. 25–45 IBU
  • Porter: ca. 20–40 IBU
  • Black beer: ca. 20–30 IBU
  • Stout: ca. 30–60 IBU
  • Wheat beer: ca. 10–20 IBU

What is the EBC value for beer?

In addition to IBU, EBC is another international term for beer and stands for “European Brewery Convention”. This unit determines the color of beer. The larger the value, the darker the beer.

The colour gamut ranges from 2-4 (very light, blond) to 80 (dark brown to black). With the EBC value, however, not only the finished beer is measured in the glass, but also the malt used before brewing.

Each braumalt also has an EBC value to calculate the color of the later beer based on the malts used – which can be light and dark.

What does root wort mean?

The wort or wort content is a decisive measure of beer brewing and is measured in “Degree Plato” [°P]. The wort means the proportion of non-volatile substances dissolved from malt and hops in the water before fermentation; it is mainly malt sugar and protein.

The wort content is the main influence factor for the later alcohol content and the nutritional value of the finished beer. The root wort is fermented with the help of the yeast about one third each in alcohol and carbonic acid; the last third of the wort is unfermentable residual extract.

It can therefore be said roughly that a beer with approx. 20 °P wort has an alcohol content of about 6.0 – 7.0%.

What is a hop stopper?

As a rule, the hops are added during brewing during the cooking process or immediately afterwards during the cooling phase. The hop stuffing or cold hopping means the addition of the hops during the fermentation process.

The advantage of the hop stopper is to dissolve the aromatic oils of the hops without the hops releasing bitter substances. This creates extremely intense hop aromas that give the beer a very special taste.

Another advantage of the hop plug is that the alcohol produced by fermentation extracts the hop aromas.

A well-known beer style in which hop stuffing is often used is the IPA (India Pale Ale), which means that we are already at the next beer term.

What is an IPA?

Three capital letters, is this the next guideline or a scale of numerous beer terms? No, this time it is a beer, more precisely the India Pale Ale, IPA abbreviated.

The India Pale Ale is a very old, traditional British beer. It was first brewed in colonial times and was the beer of the British colonialists in India.

In order to supply the soldiers with beer, a special beer was brewed – just the IPA. The background was the long sea route around Africa, which normal ale beers did not survive due to the temperature fluctuations.

So ale beers that had to be transported to India were brewed more and significantly more hops were used for brewing. The use of significantly more hops and a higher alcohol content made the beer more durable. In addition, before the great crossing, further hops were added to the beer barrels in order to enhance the antibacterial effect of the hops. This hop administration is comparable to the hop plug today.

The IPA was an extremely bitter beer due to the hops. Therefore, it should arrive in India, mixed with water or honey for consumption. But the pure IPA tasted so good to the soldiers that they refrained from diluting with water. Overtime and after the return of the soldiers to the UK, the IPA also gained popularity at home. What was once merely a sub-variety of English ale is now an independent beer variety and is now a symbol of the “Craftbeer Revolution”.

What are the C hops?

The C hops, also known as “C-Hops”, describe a group of four different hop varieties called Citra, Cascade, Chinook and Centennial. Originally, all of these varieties originated in the USA. There they were specially bred for particularly hop-intensive beers and for the craft beer movement. Characteristic of these hop varieties are their very intense fruit aromas, which often even remind of tropical, exotic and citrus-like aromas. Especially in modern Pale Ales or India Pale Ales, these four hop varieties – usually all four at the same time – are widely used.

What is Wet Hop Beer?

Wet hopping is another way of using hops in brewing. It is not so much a question of when the hops come into the beer, but rather the hops themselves. Wet hopping uses only fresh, unsold cone hops.

When brewing, cone hops are used, it is called a wet hop beer or also known as green hop beer and green hop beer. The special thing about it: Only once a year, during the hop harvest, breweries can brew such a wet hop beer.

If the decision is made to brew such a beer, then it must also be done quite quickly, because the fresh cone hops have to be processed within about 5 hours.

What is a Braggot?

The Braggot is a type of beer and belongs to the sub-type of the special beers. Its origin and first mention can be traced back to Ireland in the 12th century. Today the Braggot is a very unknown and hardly mentioned beer. This is also due to the fact that the braggot is not a “pure” beer, but rather comparable to a met. As with the Met, malt and honey are used in brewing.

What is an ice buck?

It is said that around 1890 a brewer in the Upper Franconian town of Kulmbach left barrels of buck beer in the open air. On the following winter night, some of the water in the beer froze; the alcohol and the remaining components of the beer accumulated in concentrated form inside this ice block. The next day, the master ordered his journeyman to open the blocks for punishment and to drink the liquid inside. To the surprise of the two, it was quite edible: they had invented the ice buck by chance. Even today, the process is based on this simple principle, in which the strong beer is removed by freezing water. In America, the process is known as Ice-Rifing.

With this beer style, the fight for the “strongest beer in the world” is also fought. The Schorschbock 43 of the Schorschbräu brewery from the Franconian town of Oberasbach was one of the first strong beers in the “Guinness Book of Records”. For many years there has been an intense competition for the strongest beer in the world.

What is a Gose?

The Gose is a type of beer originally from Goslar. The name probably derives from the small resin river Gose, from which the master brewers already got the water for the production of the beer in the Middle Ages. In the Middle Ages, the Gose spread from the Harz Mountains and established itself mainly in the area around Dessau, Halle and Leipzig.

The Gose is a separate old beer type, which bears a certain resemblance to both Berlin whites and Belgian lambicbeers and their special form, the Geuze. Gose, like most beers, was created by spontaneous fermentation. This gives the beer an acidic character through the wild yeasts. Today, the top-fermented brewing type is used, whereby besides the alcoholic also a bacterial lactic acid fermentation takes place, which leads to the typical sour taste. Another peculiarity is the addition of table salt and coriander.

What do double, triple and quadruple mean in Belgian beer?

Double, Triple and Quadruple have their origins in the monastery and Trappist breweries of Belgium. With this addition, the monasteries wanted to describe their beers or name them for a better distinction. There are many stories about what was tried with these labels. But many do not conform to the truth. What is clear, however, these designations indicate the alcohol content of the beer.

At that time, many monastic and Trappist breweries, as well as the private breweries, brewed only one beer, virtually the house beer, due to the shortage of raw materials, low storage capacities or lack of insufficient brewing technology. It was the monastery and Trappist breweries that brewed more beers early on, for example for special occasions or holidays.

The double differed from the house beer in that it went through a second fermentation in the bottle and at 6-8 % was about twice as strong as the house beer.

The triple went through the main fermentation, an additional fermentation at low temperature and a bottle fermentation – i.e. three fermentation phases. In addition, at 8-10%, it was about three times as strong as the house beer.

The quadruplet – well, who can guess it? Although it also had only three fermentation phases, with an alcohol content of more than 10% it was about four times as strong as the house beer.

Today, these three terms of beer have become independent beers, which differ significantly in character.

Double, Triple or Quadruple beers continue to focus in Belgium and the Netherlands. Nevertheless, there are some breweries around the world that name their beers with this addition. An example from Germany would be the “Baltic Dubbel” from the island brewery Rügen.