Throughout this website and many others you will continuously come across terms and abbreviations that may make no sense to you. This page is intended to act as a quick reference guide to all of the beer terms you may not know or want to better understand.
Alcohol By Volume. This is a quantitative parameter used to identify the alcohol content of beer. It is also used with wine and liquor. Alcohol content is defined using one of the following descriptors: lower, normal, elevated, high, or very high (lower – <4.5%, normal – 4.5-6.0%, elevated – 6.1-7.5%, high – 7.6-10.0%, very high – >10.0%).
The persistence of a flavor or flavors after you have already swallowed your sip of beer. Aftertaste is one of the qualitative parameters used to evaluate beer character.
This is how the beer looks after being poured. Usually descriptors of color and the amount of head are used to define the appearance. Appearance is one of the qualitative parameters used to evaluate beer character.
A distinctive smell. Usually aroma is used to when describing a pleasant smell. Aroma is one of the qualitative parameters used to evaluate beer character.
Merriam-Webster defines attenuate as “reduced especially in thickness, density, or force.” If we were to apply this to light it would be the reduction of light. Therefore, beer gets its darker color from absorbing or attenuating light.
This should be self explanatory but it is the color of the beer. The following descriptors are most commonly used: straw, gold, amber, brown, and black.
Flavor is another self explanatory term. It is how the beer tastes. It is included in the list because flavor is one of the qualitative parameters used to evaluate beer character.
International Bitterness Unit(s). This is a qualitative way of defining how bitter a beer is. Do not confuse this with beer that has become bitter through improper storage. Bitterness is a part of fresh beer intentionally and is part of the flavor profile. IBUs lend to the perceived bitterness, which is described as low, moderate, pronounced, assertive, or highly assertive.
This is the sensation created on your palate when drinking beer. I like to refer to that “sharp” sensation you get back by your tonsils when you drink (sometimes even think about drinking) something that is very tart as an example of mouthfeel. Mouthfeel is one of the qualitative parameters used to evaluate beer character.
This is the relative quality of something. Aroma, flavor, aftertaste, mouthfeel, perceived bitterness, and appearance are all qualitative parameters of beer.
Standard Reference Method. This is the standard system used by modern brewers to identify the color of beer. Although, calling a beer a specific color may seem pretty straight forward the SRM value is obtained by measuring the attenuation of light of a particular wavelength in passing through 1 cm of beer. This is done so that there is a measurable way of evaluating color. Now this method does not convey the full color profile but it satisfies the needs of the majority of brewers and consumers.