Home Brew Basics – What Is That?

As I write my way through this website, I realize that some of my words are not common. If you are new to making beer, here are some home brew basics to help define some of the terms I use. This is a definition page so it will have a lot of text, but I will add pictures to break it up.

Alphabet SoupHome Brew Basics – A to F

Air Lock – The way to keep your fermenter from exploding!!! It is a way to let the gas from fermentation escape while keeping oxygen from getting in.

All-Grain Brewing – Brewing beer without any extract. You are creating your own batch rather than blindly following a recipe.

Bittering Hops – Exactly like it sounds. Put into your boiling wort early to drive off any aroma or flavor. Specifically in the boil to add some bitterness to your beer.

Brew Day – The day you get your wort into the fermenter. Depending on the recipe you use, you are either making the wort or mixing an extract with water in your fermenter.

Brew Pot – As obvious as it sounds…a pot you will use to brew your beer. As you make 5 gallon batches, you want a lightweight pot because the water will weigh at least 42 pounds.

Brewing Beer – What I use to describe making beer by producing your wort. Includes everything I explain about brew day.

Craft Beer – A general term given to describe any beer that I wouldn’t drink after playing softball.

Experience Brewer – Even if you have only produced one batch of homemade beer you are experienced.

Extract – A powder or liquid concentrate generated by someone else. Basically, it is a way to speed up brew day and reduce potential issues from starting a batch from scratch.

Fermenter – The place where the magic happens…your beer changes from flavored water (wort) into alcohol containing bliss.

Final Gravity (F.G.) – The specific gravity of your beer at the end of fermentation. This will be used to calculate your approximate alcohol by volume.

Finishing Hops – Sometimes referred to as Aroma hops. They are added near the end of your boil. Usually added at the very end of the boil. They will give your beer a floral kind of aroma…just like you remember in your craft beers.

Flavoring Hops – Added within the last 15 minutes of the boil and are meant to add some flavor to your beer. This is up for debate and some think hops will either add bittering (longer in the boil) or aroma (short in the boil).

Home Brew Basics – G to L

Hydrometer – Measures the specific gravity of your beer in its different stages. In reality, this is the tool you use to calculate the alcohol content of your beer.Brewing Levels

International Bitterness Unit (IBU) – A measure of how bitter your beer will be. Low numbers are the least bitter.

Kit – The term used to describe a package of equipment and a recipe. Also, used to describe a recipe…confusing I know, but at least I told you.

Level 1 Brewing – My term given to 1 or 2 gallon batches made directly in the fermenter. You are making beer and not brewing beer at this level.

Level 2 Brewing – Another Nate term meaning 5 gallon batches made using techniques found in Level 1.

Level 3 Brewing – When you start creating the wort on your own. Longer brewing time, still uses extract, some grains introduced.

Level 4 Brewing – All-grain brewing. The equivalent of having a mini brewery at home.

Home Brew Basics – M to R

Quality Looking Home Brew

Making Beer – The term I will use to describe the kits where you don’t produce the wort from scratch.

Malt Extract – Concentrated wort that needs to be dissolved into water. Will come in either powder or liquid forms.

Original Gravity (O.G.) – The specific gravity of your wort prior to fermentation. This will be used to calculate your beer’s approximate alcohol content.

Prospective Brewers – People who have never made beer at home. They are here searching for reasons to make their own beer.

Recipe – The ingredients and instructions to make a batch of beer. Sometimes referred to as a kit…they can be interchangeable.

Home Brew Basics – S to Z

Siphon – You are home brewing and you probably don’t have a pump so this is how you move the liquid around.

Specific Gravity – The relative density of your beer to water. Where 1.000 means you have made pretty much water.

Standard Reference Method (SRM) – The measure of color of the beer. Ranges from 2 (light) to 50 (dark).

Steep – Extracting the flavor from grains. Similar to using a tea bag.

Sterilization – No matter how I word it (sterilization, sterilize, sanitize, etc.) I mean clean you equipment of any harmful bacteria that could cause your beer to taste different. The single most critical step to ensuring your beers turn out tasty and consistent if you keep brewing a recipe.

Wort – Flavored water…pre-fermented beer

Go Forth – Speak Knowledgeable

I have tried my best to get you up to speed on some of the home brew basics used in brewing and throughout this website. Use what you have learned, but check back periodically because I will be adding to this page.

For more serious definitions and explanations, I recommend How To Brew by John Palmer.

If you have any questions, think I missed something, or disagree with my definition, comment below or email me at nate@drinkgreatbeers.com


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