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A is for awesome – 7 beer terms beginning with A

Beer_July2_2013When it comes to drinking, beer is the beverage of choice for many consumers. Like wine, there are countless different varieties and types brewed in countries all around the world. At first glance, beer is deceptively simple, but dig a little deeper and you will come across numerous terms that may be unfamiliar. You may have been recently enjoying a pint of your favorite IPA and noticed an unfamiliar word, while this won’t hurt your drinking experience, knowing the definitions of some popular beer terms may help enhance your enjoyment of beer. At the very least, it could prove helpful in a pub quiz!

This week we will go over seven common beer terms, all starting with the letter A, that you may have seen or heard before.

Acetaldehyde
Pronounced Aa-see-tell-da-hide, this chemical compound is found in trace amounts in all beer. If it is found in larger quantities, you will notice a green-apple smell. In large amounts, this chemical is toxic. Those that have been exposed to this chemical show symptoms that include: Vomiting, headache, nausea, drowsiness and confusion. Do these symptoms sound familiar? That’s right, Acetaldehyde is one of the main compounds responsible for our hangovers.

Alcohol
When most people talk about alcohol (drinking or sterilizing), they are referring to ethyl alcohol – an organic compound (a compound that contains carbon) that is commonly referred to as ethanol. When you combine ethyl alcohol with any beverage, you get what most people call an alcoholic beverage – beer, spirit or wine.

When consumed in small amounts, ethanol will cause a state that we know as drunkenness and intoxication. When consumed in larger amounts, it can cause memory loss, coma and even respiratory failure.

The alcohol found in alcoholic beverages is produced through fermentation – transformation of sugar into ethyl alcohol through the use of yeast.

ABV
ABV stands for Alcohol by Volume. This is the standard method of measuring the amount of alcohol in an alcoholic drink. The measurement is a percentage of the total volume. Take for example Singha: It has an ABV of 5%. This means that a 640 mL will contain 32 mL ethanol.

You may have noticed that some stronger American spirits don’t label their bottles with ABV, instead opting for ‘Proof’ which is double the ABV (40% ABV will be 80 Proof). However, the alcohol content of almost all beer in the US is measured and displayed as ABV.

ABW
ABW stands for Alcohol By Weight, and is the measure of how much alcohol, in percent, is in a beverage based on the total weight of the drink. This is the standard measurement used in the United States, and is 20% less than ABV. For example, a drink that is 5% ABV will be 4% ABW..

Adjunct
A grain or any fermentable substance that is not malted that has been added into the brewing process. These include rice and corn, honey and even syrup, which are usually cheaper than barley. Many adjuncts are added to keep costs low and will normally result in a beer that is lighter in taste or body.

Alcoholic
Alcoholic is usually used to mean three separate things:
It is used to refer to the texture, taste and mouthfeel of a beverage. This usually equates to a warming taste in any drink with ethanol. Think of drinking a strong whiskey, how it feels like it’s warming up your whole body as it goes down your throat.
Any drink that has alcohol in it can be referred to as alcoholic.
A person who relies on alcohol, usually through impulsive and often uncontrollable consumption of alcoholic drinks. Many countries consider alcoholism a debilitating disease, and will support people with this.

Astringency
Is a taste common in beer and wine that is often associated with dryness and mouth puckering. To get to know this taste, try biting on a fresh lime or lemon, you should feel your mouth go immediately dry, and lips pucker. If something makes your mouth do this, you can describe it as astringent. If you notice this in a beer however, this is usually not a good thing as it is an indicator that the beer has oxidized and is stale.

These are just seven common terms beginning with the letter A. The next definition article will look into beer terms that begin with B. Stay tuned to learn even more about the world’s third favorite (favorite alcoholic) drink.

Wish of the week
Abbot Ale
In keeping with the A theme of the week, this interesting beer fits the bill nicely. If you are looking for a beer with a good amount of malt and fruity flavor with a mild bitterness, this is the beer for you. This beer would be an interesting introduction to Ale, especially for those who are used to Lagers. Give it a try today!

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3 Responses

  1. Brian says:

    A lot of blogging to get to Z

  1. August 21, 2013

    […] It’s been more than a few weeks since we last looked at some helpful beer related vocabulary. If you remember, the last article focused on beer terms starting with the letter A, covering seven popular terms commonly used by experts when talking about beer. These terms included: Acetaldehyde, Alcohol, ABV, ABW, Adjunct, Alcoholic and Astringency. If you missed the article, be sure to check it out here. […]

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