Working as a professional brewer while also writing a beer column for the casual beer lover is sometimes difficult. The hardest part is writing about beer in a way that the layman can enjoy it without going to Google to look up words or phrases. I forget that not everyone in the audience spends their days obsessing over beer and brewing. I couldn’t write a sentence like, “I got some wort out of the FV samplecock before pitch to check for pH and Plato,” without someone tuning out or very quickly wondering if I’m crazy.
A helpful tool in discerning what a beer person is talking about is the “Dictionary of Beer and Brewing,” published by the Brewers Association. Flipping through it, there are tons of terms, beer styles, and bits of history that I’ve never even heard of. It’s all very fascinating to me, and I’m sure that I’m going to be slipping all these new beer terms into my conversations like Joey in that episode of “Friends,” where he buys only the ‘V’ encyclopedia, and all he wants to talk about are subjects that start with V.
As a way of purging the terms from my head, I bring you the most interesting terms and bits of trivia collected from the first half of the “Dictionary for Beer and Brewing.”
An alewife is the term for a woman brewer. Women were the predominant brewers of beer in England before industrialization.
There were special beers brewed for different school seasons at universities in England. During finals at Cambridge, they had a beer called Audit Ale. At Oxford, it was called Brasenose.
Blanche de Hoegaarden is the predecessor for the wit beer Hoegaarden. The older Hoegaarden was brewed in Belgium in March for export and for long term storage, which was done by burying the casks under the ground.
Brother Bung is a older English slang term for a brewer (which might appear on a future business card).
Bunghole is not what you think it is. It’s the hole in a barrel that a brewer uses to get the liquid out.
Bridal comes from the term bride ale, a beer brewed by the bride for the wedding.
Corn cutter: No, it is not a butt. It is actually a tool used to cut barley kernals to inspect the quality.
False bottom (band name dibs!) is in the bottom of a mash tun to aid in wort filtration.
Gambrinus was a venerated and legendary patron of beer. He could drink 144 pints in one sitting. In a fictional version of my life, he is my uncle who takes me on beer adventures.
Godisgood is early English term for yeast. Early English brewers thought fermentation was literally a gift from God.
Lace, or Belgian Lace, is the name for the foam residue left on the sides of the glass as you drink your beer.
Robbie Wendeborn is the head brewer at Svendæle Brewing in Millerton, New York. He is also a former beer plumber at Ska Brewing.