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Brew Language: Brush Up On Your Beer-Making Terms



The flow of carbonated bubbles to the top of the glass.

An online beer exchange for craft beer aficionados. If you’ve ever wanted to try an India pale ale from Tulsa or an ale from San Diego, you can buy some local craft beer and put it up for trade. There’s an official BEX site, but most trading occurs within Facebook groups and on Reddit. As for the legality of mailing beer? You’re on your own.

A 22-ounce bottle of beer sold as a single. One origin story suggests it derives from the English word “bumper,” used to describe a beer bottle with a more than average serving.

Burton Snatch
An antiquated term but too good not to include. It’s the smell of sulfur on a freshly poured beer, derived from the pale ales of Burton-on-Trent, England. The town’s water supply had extra calcium sulfate and that gave its ales the ideal amount of bitterness.

Cask Beer
Unfiltered and unpasteurized beer conditioned and fermented in a cask without any added carbon dioxide — aka “real ale.” If you like your beer cloudy, flat and slightly warm, Mekong is the only place to get cask beers regularly, although other breweries in town occasionally offer them.

Chill Haze
The scourge of home brewers. It’s the cloudy, foggy appearance that occurs when the proteins and tannins in a finished beer clump together upon chilling. Commercial brewers can filter out the yeast haze and artificially carbonate, but natural carbonation in the bottle requires live yeast.

Dry Hopping
A technique used in the brewing of many IPAs, double IPAs and other hop-forward beers. Dry hops are steeped in the beer like tea leaves, and then filtered out, adding hoppy flavors and aroma without any extra bitterness.

Final Gravity
Not a local band name — yet. It’s the density of a finished brew in relation to its mass. A higher final gravity suggests that more sugars have been converted into higher alcohol content.

A cask that holds 54 gallons.

Head Retention
This is the foam stability of a beer, measured by how many seconds it takes a 1-inch head to collapse. Without the aid of your gross finger.

Mouth feel
A ridiculous term used indiscriminately at food and beverage tastings. For beer, it’s texture, carbonation, fullness and the aftertaste you experience when sipping. You can say, “This stout has a compelling mouth feel,” in public — but should you?

A beer with a lighter body and low enough alcohol content that you can drink it all day. Still not doctor-approved.

Shelf Turds
Often the fate of a big brewery’s limited release. It’s a beer that was marketed as special, but the company produces too much of it. In the words of one craft beer lover, “If you don’t have to stand in line to get it, you don’t want it.”

Cloudy beer.

A film of yeast that occurs during the brewing process when there’s spontaneous fermentation, a delicate, difficult process.

A much-anticipated beer amongst the BEX set. You’ll stand in line at the brewery for hours — or enter a lottery for the chance to stand in line — just for the opportunity to buy a single bottle.

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