Wednesday 8 June 2022

Breaking Down Common Beer & Brewing Terminology

For those new to the brewing scene, some of the terminology can be daunting and confusing. In this post we'll break down some of the common words and phrases you'll come across at various points in your brewing journey into easy to understand terms.


Any ingredient used in a brewing recipe that is unmalted. Common examples are rice or corn, but also include syrups, honey and straight up corn sugar (dextrose).


Attenuation generally refers to the reduction of a force, effect or value of something. In brewing, it refers to the reduction of the specific gravity of our wort - ie. how much sugar is consumed by the yeast during fermentation. It is typically expressed as a percentage - eg. 81% attenuation.

Cold Break

This refers to the proteins and other matter that solidify within the wort whilst it is being rapidly cooled after the boil.

Dry Hopping

Dry hopping refers to the addition of hops to the fermentation vessel during active fermentation, or after fermentation has completed. Adding hops at this time helps to extract more of their fruity, floral and earthy aromas without imparting much bitterness into the beer (which is what happens when hops are added during the wort boiling process).


Fermenting is the process undertaken by yeast to convert wort into beer. The yeast consume the sugars within the wort and convert it to alcohol and carbon dioxide (CO2). This process also creates other byproducts that impart particular flavours into the beer that makes it - beer. Fermenting is done in a fermentation vessel, or fermenter, which can be anything from a plastic bucket to a stainless steel conical shaped fermenter.


A general term referring to the grain bill or list of grains including type and quantity used in a brewing recipe.

Hot Break

Similar to a cold break, hot break refers to the coagulation of proteins and other matter within the wort during the boil - typically in the early stages.


The term lautering is derived from the German word "abläutern" that roughly translates to "rinsing off". The process of lautering is the separation of sweet wort from the grain bed.


A little confusing as the term "liquor" is generally used to refer to alcohol. In brewing terminology though, liquor refers to the hot water used in mashing and brewing which is usually treated with certain salts and minerals to fit a desired style/profile. Often stored in a Hot Liquor Tank (HLT) in 3 vessel brewing systems.


Mashing is the process of extracting sugars from malted grains (and potentially other substances as well) by soaking them in hot water (liquor) at a specific temperature - usually around 65 degrees celsius. The process of mashing creates wort.

Pitching Yeast

The process of adding yeast to the wort in the fermenter. Nothing special about this and does not involve any actual throwing/pitching as the term might have you believe.


Racking refers to the process of transferring your beer from one vessel or container to another. Most commonly this would be from a primary fermenter to a secondary fermenter, or from a primary fermenter to a keg.


Sparging comes from the latin word "spargere" meaning "to sprinkle or scatter". It refers to the process of recirculating the wort over the grain bed to help rinse residual sugars out of the grain bed. It is closely related to the process of lautering. Sparging is typically done after mashing has been completed.

Specific Gravity

A common unit of measurement to determine the density of a fluid in relation to water. In brewing this is used to determine how much sugar is contained within the wort. By measuring the specific gravity prior to fermentation beginning (known as Original Gravity), and then the specific gravity once fermentation has completed (known as Final or Terminal Gravity), we can then calculate the alcohol content of the beer by using these 2 gravity figures in a formula. Typically presented as a number with 3 decimal places such as 1.051.

Standard Reference Method (SRM)

A numerical scale used by brewers to measure the colour of a beer. A higher SRM score represents a darker beer colour. Ranges from 2 (light lager) through to 45 (stout).


The leftover remnants and particles from your wort at the end of the boiling process, and/or the end of fermentation. Typically made up of hop matter, proteins and yeast. Another one that has the pronunciation debated - usually pronounced as it's spelt as "trub", or others suggest it is pronounced as "troob".


Whirlpooling is the process of rapidly stirring the wort to create a vortex, typically during the cooling of the wort after the boil. This helps to collect all the hot break/trub material into the centre of the kettle. The idea is to get the hot break material settled so it isn't transferred from the kettle into the fermenter. Less hot break/trub in the fermenter helps to promote clarity in the fermented beer.


Wort is unfermented beer. Brewers create wort by extracting the sugars from various grains using a process called mashing. The pronunciation of wort is open to debate - some say it is "wart", others suggest it is pronounced as "wert"

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