Glossary of Home Brewing Terms

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Glossary of Home Brewing Terms


If you’re new to the process of home brew, you’re going to be reading many words and terms that will be unfamiliar to you. While you don’t need to know what they all mean, it will be helpful to have a general idea of what most of them mean.

Keep in mind that some of these terms may be used in larger breweries rather than in your home brewing process. While there are many other brewing terms, these are the most common ones you will hear in your home brewing.


  • Additives
    These substances such as preservatives, enzymes or antioxidants may be added to your home brew to add to the shelf life or simplify the brewing process.


  • Adjunct
    This is a fermentable material used to make a cheaper or lighter-bodied beer and is a substitute for the traditional grains.


  • Alcohol
    This may refer to either ethyl alcohol or ethanol. When the yeast works with the sugar in the malt, you get a certain alcohol content, which makes it intoxicating. Others describe it as the result of fermentation.


  • Alcohol by weight
    This means the amount of alcohol that’s in your beer as a percentage of the volume of beer. If a bottle states it’s 2.5% alcohol by weight, it means it has 2.5 grams of alcohol for every 100 centimeters of beer.


  • Ale
    This is a type of beer resulting from the use of malted barley and the top-fermenting types of brewers yeast. Most ale you’ll find will have hops in them, which balances out the flavor.


  • All-malt
    This is a beer that is made from all barley malt and no adjuncts.


  • Alpha acids
    These are the bittering compounds in hops, which are extracted when the hops is boiled with the wort. The higher the alpha acid content, the more bitter the taste will be.


  • Barley
    This is a cereal grain, which once malted, is used as mash when brewing beer.


  • Barrel
    This is a unit of measure used to store beer. In the U.S., a barrel is equal to 31.5 gallons and 36 imperial gallons in Britain.


  • Beer
    This term refers to the beverages that are flavored from hops and contain alcohol from fermenting grain such as malt.


  • Body
    Body describes the thickness and property of your beer, either full or thin bodied.


  • Bottle capper
    This is a device used to put your crown caps on your bottles. They can be used for home brewed beer or soda.


  • Bottling Bucket
    This bucket, made of food grade plastic, has a spigot on the bottom for your convenience. The priming sugar is put in these buckets prior to bottling so they’re sometimes referred to as priming vessels.


  • Bottom-fermenting yeast
    This is one of the two types of yeasts that are used in brewing. Also known as “lager yeast”, it’s best when used at low temperatures and produces a clean crisp taste because it ferments with more sugars.


  • Brew kettle
    This is the vessel where the wort that comes from the mash is boiled with the hops.


  • Carbonation
    This is the sparkle created by the fermentation and caused by carbon dioxide.


  • Carboy Brush
    If you use a carboy, this brush is a necessity for cleaning. It’s perfect for getting to the inside of the carboy, which you’ll have to do to clean it thoroughly.


  • Conditioning tank
    This is the tank where the beer is stored after the initial fermentation. This is where it matures and becomes carbonated from the secondary fermentation.


  • Dry-hopping
    This is when you add more hops to the aging or fermenting beer to increase the aroma or character of the hop.


  • Glass Carboy
    These glass containers, which are also called fermentors, are used to store the beer while it ferments. The most common size is 5 gallons, although they come in a variety of sizes.


  • Hops
    This is the female cone of the hop plant, which is used as a stability and flavoring agent in beer and other beverages.


  • Hydrometer
    This instrument is used to measure the weight of the liquid (fermented or unfermented) in relation to the volume of water.


  • Lager
    This term is used to describe a style of beer.


  • Malt
    This is a grain, usually barley, which is soaked in water to get it to a certain moisture level. It then is germinated and then roasted to be used in the making of beer. The amount of roasting determines how light or dark the beer will be. They are used as adjuncts.


  • Racking cane
    This is hard plastic tubing used when you’re transferring the beer from the fermenting kettle to the bottling bucket or kettle. It bends on one end with a cap on the other end, which lets liquid flow through with the littlest amount of sediment.


  • Sanitizer
    This is a special type of cleaner needed to sanitize (not just clean) all your equipment so it is sterile and will not promote bacteria. Some people use unscented bleach for this.


  • Siphon hose
    This hose is used to get the beer from the vessel or barrel into the bottles, where it will be stored.


  • Sparge Bags
    hese bags re used to steep the specialty grains or hops in the brewing kettle. You can get reusable or disposable ones. They are steeped like tea bags.


  • Tubing
    You’ll need both small tubing (3/8″ or ½” inside diameter) and large tubing (1″ inside diameter) for your home brewing. The small tubing is used to get the beer out of the fermenter and for bottling. This large tubing is used during the initial fermentation process. Both size tubing are made of heavy-duty plastic.


  • Vessel
    This is the container where the beer will be kept during the fermentation period.


  • Wort
    This term is used to describe the mixture of the boiled water and malt after the hops has been added and before it’s fermented.


  • Wort chiller
    This is used to quickly chill the boiling wort to help the yeast pitch much quicker, which helps prevent the risk of infection. It’s not a necessity, but makes things go much quicker and smoother. Some choose to make their own with a tubing bender and copper tubing.


  • Yeast
    This ingredient helps with the fermentation in your home brew. While some people may try to use bakers yeast, brewers yeast will work much better.

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