Beer Terms to Know When Shopping for Craft Beer
As the craft beer industry has grown, shopping for craft beer has become a bit more intricate. It's not enough to know the difference between an IPA and a stout anymore. If you really want to read craft beer labels and understand what you're getting, it is helpful to understand the meanings of these terms.
If a beer is described as astringent, that means it causes you to pucker or makes your mouth feel dry. Imagine the feeling you get when sipping a really dry, red wine. That's an astringent beer.
The body of a beer is basically its consistency and thickness. A light-bodied beer will be runnier and less complex. A heavy-bodied beer will feel thicker on the palate and more complex.
Brett is a type of yeast. It's not the most common type of yeast used in brewing beer, but it is naturally occurring and is allowed to ferment a lot of funky sours and lambics. Brett is actually short for Brettanomyces.
A beer made with dry hops has hops added to it later in the brewing process. This makes the hop flavor even more intensely herbal, but less bitter. If you find a lot of craft beers too hoppy, try a dry hopped one — you might like it.
A craft beer made with forced carbonation has CO2 added to the bottle after the bottle has been filled. Some of the CO2 makes its way into the beer, causing it to be more carbonated than average. If you like frothier, headier beers, then look for one that has been force carbonated.
Gruit is a mixture of herbs that were used to flavor beers years ago. Some brewers are beginning to use it again in place of hops. It makes for a very complex, yet somewhat bitter, brew.
Sometimes known as Lac, this is a specialty yeast sometimes used in brewing beer. It ferments sugars well and introduces a moderate amount of sourness.
Myrcene is an aromatic compound that is found in hemp. Beers high in myrcene have a strong hop flavor.
This is a strain of yeast added to select beers to give them a butterscotch-like flavor.
Now that you know these terms, you will have an easier time making informed decisions as you shop for craft beer. When in doubt, visit a craft beer store to buy a can and give it a try.