If you don't know a bitter from a hop, use this glossary as a quick study guide. After you pass the test, treat yourself to an ale or a lager. Photo by Odelia | CSP.
Last Updated April 2013
Page 2: Beer Types ~ B
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BARLEY WINE or BARLEYWINE
An English term for an extra-strong ale, implied to be as potent as wine (beers tend to be 3% to 5% alcohol, compared to 10% to 15% for wines).
BAVARIAN BEER and BOHEMIAN BEER
Bavarian and Bohemian both describe the region the beer comes from, not a particular brewing style. Although a brewer might be located in Bavaria or Bohemia, you’d still be ordering a weissbier, a lager, a dark ale, etc. (i.e., a particular style of beer based on seasonality and personal preference). Appending the region is marketing cachet, evoking an area famous for its good breweries. It’s no different from appending the entire country name on exports: “German beer” or “Czechoslovakian beer,” for example, since both countries are known for making fine beer.
Bohemia, in the Czech Republic, is known for its Pilsner beers (named after the city of Pilsen, Czechoslovakia).
Bavaria, in southern Germany, is known for its lagers.
BEER or BIER
One of the oldest of alcoholic beverages, with archaeological evidence dating to about 3000 B.C.E., beer was well known to the ancient Egyptians, who were good home-brewers. In fact, for much of its history, beer was a home brew or of monastery manufacture. Not until late Medieval times did it become a commercial product; it is now made by large-scale manufacturers in almost every industrialized country (though today’s beers are lower in alcohol content than their predecessors). Beer is made by brewing and fermenting cereals (today malted barley is most commonly used), usually with the addition of hops as both a flavoring agent and stabilizer). The word beer comes from Middle English ber, from Old English beor, and probably from Latin bibere, to drink. Bier is the modern German word for beer.
An all-American snack: beer and cheese curds. Photo courtesy of Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board. Read more about cheese curds, a Wisconsin specialty, including a recipe for fried cheese curds—great with beer!
Beer is fermented grain. American beer is made of barley, except as noted; for example, wheat beer, which is mostly produced by craft brewers. The barley is malted (soaked in water until it is partially germinated, then dried), which releases the starches, which in turn are made into fermentable sugar. It is the fermentable sugars that are converted into beer. To begin the process, ground malt is added to a mash tun, where it is mixed with boiled, pulverized corn (grits) to create the mash. The hot grits raise the temperature of the mash, releasing enzymes that break down the starches into fermentable sugars. The mash is then separated from the fermentable sugars, which are called the wort. The wort is boiled for 90 minutes or so, then hops are added. Then the wort goes into the fermentation tank, where carbon dioxide is created and the wort transforms into beer. It is cooled, aged and bottled.
Each country is known for particular types of beer. Belgian beer styles include dubbel, enkel, Flanders red ale, lambic, oud bruin, saison, tripel and witbier. Brewery Ommegang makes a hoppy, Belgian-style pale ale, or BPA.
A classic Berlin brew, a white, top-fermenting wheat beer that has gone through lactic fermentation to produce a sparkling high carbonation, a low alcohol content (around 3% by volume) and a characteristic sour flavor.
French for white beer, bière blanche is a wheat beer, the same as a Belgian witbier. See Weisse.
BITTERS or ENGLISH BITTERS
A well-hopped beer, mostly found in a draught (pronounced draft) beer. The name suggests hop bitterness. There is often some acidity in the finish; the color varies from bronze to deep copper.
A medium-hopped beer with a rich, malty flavor. Bock beers (see next entry) were originally brewed by monks to minimize hunger pangs during fasting periods. Most bock beers are dark in color. Today, brewers make them in a golden style, known as “blonde” bocks.
|BOCK or BOCKBIER
Bock is the German word for strong
, referring to a strong beer brewed from barley malt. It is a dark sweet, heavy beer, similar to the Munchener
beers, but stronger. A true bock style beer has a foam collar “thick enough to steady a pencil.” Originally used to celebrate the end of the brewing season, Bock beer is traditionally served in autumn, late winter and spring. It was originally brewed by top fermentation in the Hanseatic League* town of Einbeck (beck bier became bock bier) in Lower Saxony, where it is still brewed (and known as Ur-Bock, the original bock). But the style has evolved. Bock was once a heavy, dark beer brewed in winter for consumption in spring. German bock beers are now brewed by bottom fermentation and are usually dark brown.
Bockbier with smoked Gouda cheese. Photo courtesy of Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board.
Pale bocks are increasing in popularity and a distinction is sometimes made between light bock beer and dark bock beer. Because the word bock also means billy goat in German, a goat is often found on the labels of bockbier brands. Pair it with big flavors: game, roasted meats, strong cheeses (aged Cheddar, Emmenthaler, Gruyère), creamy semi-soft cheeses with an earthy, buttery flavor, smoked cheese and Bockwurst sausage (or other veal or veal-and-pork sausages). See also double bock and triple bock.
*The Hanseatic League was an economic alliance of trading cities and their merchant guilds in Northern Europe during the 13th through 17th centuries. It was created to protect commercial interests and privileges.
See Bavarian beer.
In the brewing processes, a mash, generally prepared from crushed barley and water (and often using other cereals such as rice and corn) is heated and rotated in a mash tun. This dissolves the solids and permits the malt enzymes to convert the starch into sugar. The solution, called wort, is drained into a copper vessel, where it is boiled with the hops which provide beer with its bitter flavor. The liquid is then run off for cooling and settling and is transferred to fermenting vessels where yeast is added. The yeast then go to work converting the sugar into alcohol. Unlike fermented beverages such as wine, which continue to evolve and improve in the bottle (“bottle age”), brewed alcohols like beer and saké are meant to be drunk fresh. After a few months, they will begin to deteriorate.
A microbrewery that does not produce to distribute its beers, but sells them primarily through its own restaurant or bar, which is generally on the premises of the brewery.
A dark brown ale made with a dark or brown malt; the roasted malt produces caramel and chocolate flavors. The original style originated in London but today brewed in a variety of styles: sweet, low alcohol beers (in southern England, such as Mann’s Original Brown Ale), medium-alcohol amber beers with moderate bitterness (such as Newcastle Brown Ale and Samuel Smith's Nut Brown Ale) and malty/hoppy American beers which were traditionally drier due to the American hops (Brooklyn Brown Ale, Pete’s Wicked Ale, Sierra Nevada Brown Ale). However, with more American brewers using imported hops, this may change.
Brown ale and mozzarella skewers. Photo courtesy of Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board.
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