Common Hop, Beer, & Brewing Terms

We've compiled this list of common terms, acronyms, and abbreviations used in the brewing industry.



Alcohol by volume

Amount of alcohol in beer in terms of percentage volume of alcohol per volume of beer.

Alcohol by weight

Amount of alcohol in beer measured in terms of the percentage weight of alcohol per volume of beer, i.e., 3.2% alcohol by weights equals 3.2 grams of alcohol per 100 centiliters of beer. (It is approximately 20% less than alcohol by volume.)


A beer brewed using a top-fermenting yeast at 60° - 75°F (15° - 24°C) for a relatively short time (2-3 weeks). The ale family includes pale, amber/red, strong, and dark.

Ale Yeast

Saccharomyces cerevisiae is a top fermenting yeast that ferments at warm temperatures (60-70 F) and generally produces more flavor compounds.

All Extract Beer

A beer made with malt extract as opposed to one made from barley malt or from a combination of malt extract and barley malt.

Alpha Acid

A class of chemical compounds found in hop cones’ resin glands that is the source of hop bitterness

Alpha Acids

These are a major component of the soft resins. When isomerised, these materials provide the main bitter compounds associated with beer. The alpha acids content varies widely amongst hop varieties from levels of 3-4% w/w in aromatic type hops to levels of 13-14% in the bitter hops.

Analysis Method

the specific technique and process used to achieve a desired measurement of a hop or beer product


Much is spoken of the quality and intensity of dried hop aroma. These are strong varietal characteristics. There appears to be a general relationship between the type and heaviness of a hop aroma and the flavor and aromatic properties of beer.

Aroma Hops

Refers to hop additions that take place later in the boiling process. Shorter amount of time spent in the boil kettle will provide more aromatic characteristics from the hops rather than bittering characteristics.



One of the essential oils found in hop cultivars, characterized by woody, grassy, earthy and pine aromas.


Cereal grain, member of the genus Hordeum. Malted barley is the primary ingredient in beer.

Beta Acid

A soft resin component, beta-acids are not bitter in the natural or isomerized form. Some of the oxidation products do provide bitterness, and the beta-acids can be chemically transformed into light stable bittering forms.

Bittering Hops

Refers to hop additions that take place early in the boiling stage of the brewing process. The longer hops are boiled, the more bittering characteristics will come from those hops.


Thickness and mouth-filling property of a beer described as "full or thin bodied.”


A critical step during the brewing process during which wort (unfermented beer) is boiled inside the brew kettle. During the boiling, one or more hop additions can occur to achieve bittering, hop flavor and hop aroma in the finished beer. Boiling also results in the removal of several volatile compounds from wort, especially dimethyl sulfide (see below) and the coagulation of excess or unwanted proteins in the wort. Boiling also sterilizes a beer as well as ends enzymatic conversion of proteins to sugars.


Secondary fermentation and maturation in the bottle, creating complex aromas and flavors.

Brew Kettle (or Copper)

The vessel in which wort from the mash is boiled with hops. Also called a copper.

Brewers Association

The Brewers Association is an organization of brewers, for brewers and by brewers. The Brewers Association is made up of more than 2,300 U.S. brewery members and 43,000 members of the American Homebrewers Association as well as members of the allied trade, beer wholesalers, retailers, individuals, other associate members and the Brewers Association staff.

Brewing Values (BVs)

Alpha acid content in hops measured by UV Spectrophotometric.


Pub that makes its own beer and sells at least 50% of it on premises. Also known in Britain as a home-brew house and in Germany as a house brewery.

Bright Tank

A vessel in which beer is placed after primary fermentation where the beer matures, clarifies and is naturally carbonated through secondary fermentation. Also called bright beer tank, serving tank and secondary tank.



One of the essential oils found in hop cultivars and is characterized by woody, spicy and earthy aromas.


Secondary fermentation and maturation in the cask at the point of sale. Creates light carbonation.


Storing or aging beer at a controlled temperature to allow maturing.

Closed Fermentation

Fermentation under closed, anaerobic conditions to minimize risk of contamination and oxidation.


Alpha acids are comprised of three components: n-humulone, ad-humulone and co-humulone.The proportion of these components vary by variety.


The hue or shade of a beer, primarily derived from grains, sometimes derived from fruit or other ingredients in beer. Beer styles made with caramelized, toasted or roasted malts or grains will exhibit increasingly darker colors. The color of a beer may often, but not always, allow the consumer to anticipate how a beer might taste. It’s important to note that beer color does not equate to alcohol level, mouthfeel or calories in beer.


a term for secondary fermentation, in which the beer matures.


the part of the hop plant used in brewing.

Cone Structure

There are certain physical properties of hop cones that, while unimportant in the brewing process, are a strong characteristic of a particular variety. Light loose cones are much more prone to shatter during harvesting while heavy dense cones pick beautifully as they roll well and hang together.

Contract Brewing Company

A business that hires another brewery to produce some or all of its beer. The contract brewing company handles marketing, sales and distribution of its beer, while generally leaving the brewing and packaging to its producer-brewery.

Craft Brewery

According to the Brewers Association, an American craft brewer is small, independent and traditional.

-Small: Annual production of 6 million barrels of beer or less (approximately 3 percent of U.S. annual sales). Beer production is attributed to the rules of alternating proprietorships.

-Independent: Less than 25 percent of the craft brewery is owned or controlled (or equivalent economic interest) by a beverage alcohol industry member that is not itself a craft brewer.

-Traditional: A brewer that has a majority of its total beverage alcohol volume in beers whose flavor derives from traditional or innovative brewing ingredients and their fermentation. Flavored malt beverages (FMBs) are not considered beers.

Crop Year

The year that a specific lot of hops is harvested



The addition of yeast and/or sugar to the cask or bottle to aid secondary fermentation.


adding hops directly to the fermenter at the end of fermentation to increase hop aroma without adding bitterness.

Dual Purpose Hops

Hops that are added to provide both bittering and aromatic properties.


Essential Hop Oils

Essential hop oils are what is isomerized in wort and provide the aromatic and flavor compounds that are associated with hop additions.


aromatic compounds formed from yeast’s complete oxidation of various alcohols and responsible for most fruity aromas in beer.


Aroma or flavor reminiscent of flowers or fruits.


the type of alcohol found in beer, formed by yeast from malt sugars.



one of four primary essential hop oils. Although farnesene makes up a very low percentage of total oil in most hop varieties, it is considered significant because it makes up a substantial proportion of some noble hops.

Final Gravity

The specific gravity of a beer as measured when fermentation is complete (when all desired fermentable sugars have been converted to alcohol and carbon dioxide gas). Synonym: Final specific gravity; final SG; finishing gravity; terminal gravity.

Fresh Hop Ale

Ales which are hopped exclusively with fresh and undried “wet” hops. This ale should have characters similar to the style to which it is brewed with the added nuances of green, almost chlorophyll-like character with fresh, new beers. These beers may be aged and enjoyed after the initial fresh-hop character diminishes. Unique character from aged fresh hop beers may emerge, but they have yet to be identified and discussed. Brewers may provide information indicating style of beer.

Fresh Hops

Fresh picked undried hops that are harvested by YCH growers and delivered to YCHHOPS immediately for packaging and shipped out to brewers within 24 hours for immediate brewing and production of wet hop/fresh hop beers.



One of the essential oils found in some hop cultivars and many American varieties, characterized by floral and citrus aroma.

Gravity (specific gravity)

describes the concentration or density of malt sugar in the wort.


Head Retention

The foam stability of a beer as measured, in seconds, by time required for a 1-inch foam collar to collapse.

Hop Breeding

traditional technique of collecting pollen from a male hop plant, fertilizing the female plant and planting the resulting seed. Each hop seed is technically a different genetic variety.


a sealed container that is filled with whole hops and inserted in line as the wort is transferred into the fermenter. The hops add aroma and act as a filter for removing the break material.


The addition of hops to un-fermented wort or fermented beer.


a climbing vine of the Cannabacinae family, whose cones are used to give beer its bitterness and characteristic aroma.

HPLC Alpha

Percent of Alpha Acids analyzed by the HPLC method HOPS-14 published by The American Society of Brewing Chemists, also method EBC 7.7 published by the European Brewery Convention


Percent of Beta Acids analyzed by the HPLC method HOPS-14 published by The American Society of Brewing Chemists, also method EBC 7.7 published by the European Brewery Convention.

HPLC Cohumulone

Percent cohumulone analyzed by the HPLC method HOPS-14 published by The American Society of Brewing Chemists, also method EBC 7.7 published by the European Brewery Convention

HPLC Colupulone

Percent of colupulone analyzed by the HPLC method HOPS-14 published by The American Society of Brewing Chemists, also method EBC 7.7 published by the European Brewery Convention


the acronym for Hop Storage Index, which measures the rate at which your hops age in storage. It is the ratio of two different wavelengths of UV light measured through the samples in question. As the alpha and beta compounds degrade, the ratio widens and the HSI increases.


one of four primary components of hop essential oil.


IBU (International Bittering Unit)

Unit of beer bitterness determined by standard analysis methods from ASBC and EBC

Iso-alpha Acid

predominant source of bitterness in beer. Derived from the hops during the boil.


The process during wort boil that converts alpha acids to their bitter, soluble form of iso-alpha acids



One-half barrel, or 15.5 U. S. gallons. A half keg or, 7.75 U. S. gallons, is referred to as a pony-keg.


boiling vessel, also known as a copper.


The process of heat-drying malted barley in a kiln to stop germination and to produce a dry, easily milled malt from which the brittle rootlets are easily removed. Kilning also removes the raw flavor (or green-malt flavor) associated with germinating barley, and new aromas, flavors, and colors develop according to the intensity and duration of the kilning process.



a beer brewed with a bottom-fermenting yeast between 45°-55°F (7°-13° C) and given 4-6 weeks to ferment. The lager family includes light, pilsner, amber bock, and dark.

Lager Yeast
Saccharomyces pastorianus is a bottom fermenting yeast that ferments in cooler temperatures (45-55 F) and often lends sulfuric compounds.
Large Brewery

As defined by the Brewers Association: A brewery with an annual beer production of over 6,000,000 barrels.

Lauter Tun

Traditional vessel used to separate the wort from the residual grains.

LCV Alpha 7.4

Percent of Alpha Acids analyzed by the titration method EBC 7.4 published by the European Brewery Convention.

Leaf Hops

synonymous with Raw Hops, Whole Leaf Hops and Cone Hops – refers to dried hop cones primarily used in the brewing process. Ideal moisture content is 8-10.5%. Leaf Hops are sold commercially in compressed bales, or repacked into foil pouches typically in 11 (5.0 Kg) or 50 (22.7 Kg) pound packaging.


one of the many hop compounds. Although linalool constitutes a tiny percentage of hop oils, combined with geraniol, it strongly affects the aroma of beer.

Lot Number

An alpha numeric identification number assigned to a specific lot of hops produced at YCH typically found on the outside of packaging


The resiny substance found in hops that contains all the resins and aromatic oils.



barley or other grain that has been allowed to sprout, then dried or roasted.


the hot-water steeping process in which starch is converted into sugars.

Mash Tun

vessel with a false bottom in which mashing is carried out.


The process of mixing crushed malt (and possibly other grains or adjuncts) with hot water to convert grain starches to fermentable sugars and non-fermentable carbohydrates that will add body, head retention and other characteristics to the beer. Mashing also extracts colors and flavors that will carry through to the finished beer, and also provides for the degradation of haze-forming proteins. Mashing requires several hours and produces a sugar-rich liquid called wort.


This is a statement of the time in the hop harvest season at which the particular variety reaches optimal maturity. Harvesting in the United States occurs from about August 20 to September 20.

Mebak Alpha 7.5

Percent of Alpha Acids analyzed by the titration method EBC 7.5 published by the European Brewery Convention.

Small brewery generally producing less than 15,000 barrels per year. Sales primarily off premises.

Moisture refers to the moisture levels found in hop cultivars. Moisture content influences the stability of hops before processing or brewing and indicates if pellets have been properly produced. Through moisture analysis, brewers gain invaluable knowledge regarding the quality of their hops and storage stability.


sensory qualities of a beer other than flavor, such as body and carbonation.


One of the essential oils found in hop cultivars, characterized by fruity, herbal and woody aromas with earthy and citrus flavors.


Noble Hops

Traditional European hop varieties prized for their characteristic flavor and aroma. Traditionally these are grown only in four small areas in Europe:

Hallertau in Bavaria, Germany

Saaz in Zatec, Czech Republic

Spalt in Spalter, Germany

Tettnang in the Lake Constance region, Germany



A farm-based facility where hops are dried and baled after picking.

Oil by Distillation

The percent of total oil analyzed by the steam distillation method HOPS-13 published by The American Society of Brewing Chemists

Original Gravity (OG)

The specific gravity of wort before fermentation. A measure of the total amount of solids that are dissolved in the wort as compared to the density of water, which is conventionally given as 1.000 and higher. Synonym: Starting gravity; starting specific gravity; original wort gravity.


Chemical reaction that occurs between oxygen and various components in beer.


Primary Fermentation

Initial rapid stage of yeast activity when maltose and other simple sugars are metabolized.


Regional Craft Brewery

As defined by the Brewers Association: An independent regional brewery having either an all malt flagship or has at least 50% of its volume in either all malt beers or in beers which use adjuncts to enhance rather than lighten flavor.


The gummy organic substance produced by certain plants and trees. Humulone and lupulone, for example, are bitter resins that occur naturally in the hop flower.


A somewhat elongate usually horizontal subterranean plant stem that is often thickened by deposits of reserve food material, produces shoots above and roots below, and is distinguished from a true root in possessing buds, nodes, and usually scale-like leaves; hop rhizomes are root cuttings from a hop vine.


Secondary Fermentation

After the primary fermentation, beer is racked to a sterile container for a slower phase of yeast activity during which complex sugars are metabolized.

Session beer

A beer that is lighter in gravity and alcohol (usually less than 4.5% ABV).


Rinsing mashed grains with hot water to recover all available wort sugars.

Specific Gravity

A measurement of malt sugar density in the wort, expressed relative to the density of water.



Polyphenols, complex organic materials with an astringent flavor, extracted from barely husks and hops.

Total Oil

This characteristic varies widely with seasons, varieties, and growths from 0.5 mls to about 3 mls per 100 g of hops. While the soft resin are responsible for providing the bitterness of a beer, the quantity and composition of the essential oils are responsible for the amount and quality of hop flavor and aroma in beer.


The hot and cold break material, hop bits, and dead yeast sediment at the bottom of the fermenter.


UV Alpha

Percent of Alpha Acids analyzed by the UV spectrophotometric method HOPS-6A published by The American Society of Brewing Chemists