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B is for Beer and so much more

Beer_August20_AIt’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.

All caught up? Good! Let’s get into this week’s article: Beer terms that begin with the letter B. Below are eight common beer terms used in the industry.

Barley is a common cereal grain – a small seeded grain similar to wheat and even rice. This grain is grown in nearly 100 countries around the world and is often used to create malt which can be fermented into beer, and as feed for farm animals. Believe it or not, barley will actually grow in Thailand, but to our knowledge, none is grown in quantities large enough to export.


There are two main types of barley: two-row and six-row. Without getting too technical: Two-row barley tends to grow symmetrical kernels which are usually the same shape and size and arrayed along a central stalk. Six-row barley simply has more kernels, usually of varying sizes. Traditionally, brewers prefer two-row barley because it has lower protein which means it will ferment easier and has a generally higher yield which means more beer can be brewed.

Some brewers, especially those brewing American Adjuncts will use 6-row barley for numerous reasons including that it is cheaper and usually blends well with other grains like rice and corn.

BeerBarrelA barrel means two different things. First it’s a cylindrical container usually made of wood (oak in most cases) that is used to store liquids like beer, wine and whiskey for aging and fermentation. Some barrels are made new for the brewer, while others have contained other spirits like whiskey or rum. Aging beer in barrels will usually make it smooth and give it a slight vanilla taste. If the beer has been aged in a barrel previously used to age other spirits, you should be able to taste a bit of that spirit.

The second way barrel is used is as a standard measurement for most fluids excluding oil. In the US, a barrel is 31.5 gallons which is equal to just over 119.2 liters. Many brewers measure their output – how much beer they make in one year, week or month – in barrels.

There are two main uses for bitter: The first is a style of British ale that is copper to dark red in color and has a strong bitter taste. Some brewers, especially those in the US liken this to a pale ale.

The other use of bitter is to define a taste or flavor in beer. Bitterness can best be defined as sharp and almost the complete opposite of sweet. In beer this comes from hops, which can be used in varying amounts. More hops will lead to a beer with higher bitterness.

When you hear people talk about the body of a beer, they aren’t talking about how it looks in the glass. They are actually talking about how it feels in your mouth. Experts will judge a beer’s body by taking a sip and feeling for consistency, thickness and how the beer feels in the mouth. Much of a beer’s body comes from the type of malt used, where a fully malted, dark barley will usually lead to a full bodied Ale and a lightly malted barley will lead to a light bodied Ale or Lager.

If you take a normal sip of beer and it feels like it’s taking up a lot of space on the tongue and is thick, this is called full bodied. If it feels like there is nothing there, then you can call it light bodied. To get an idea of the difference, try a full bodied beer like Paulaner Salvator. A good example of a light bodied beer is Leo or San Miguel Light.

Beer is a drink usually made from four key ingredients: Water, hops, malted barley and yeast. The ingredients are combined in the brewing process and fermented together to make an alcoholic beverage. The two main types of beer are Ale and Lager, both of which have many sub-types and styles.

Beer Geek
A person who not only loves beer, but knows probably more than they should about it. Not to be confused with a beer snob who only prefers certain beers and styles, while refusing to try others.

Bottle Conditioning
Beer that is put into a bottle usually before fermenting. A tiny bit of sugar is introduced to the liquid to promote fermentation and thereby carbonization directly in the bottle. This process is commonly used by home brewers who lack fermentation tanks often used by large brewers. Some breweries also produce beer that is already fermented once, but will go through a secondary fermentation in the bottle. A few examples of this type of beer are: Orval, Delirium Tremens and Hoegaarden.

Brew pub
A restaurant or pub that has a brewery on its premises. In most countries, a brew pub brews their beer onsite and anywhere from 25-75% of the beer is also consumed in the restaurant/bar. In the US and Canada, the brew pub has become a popular restaurant, many produce some fantastic beer along with solid to amazing food. There are a few in Thailand, the most popular in Bangkok being the Londoner.

These are just eight common B-terms used in the beer industry, stay tuned for more intriguing terms in the near future.

Wish of the week
Yona Yona Ale
In Japanese Yona Yona means night after night, and when you try this beer this is what you will be drinking Yona Yona. This American style pale ale has a medium body with some tantalizing citrus flavors and just enough bitterness to make this a pleasing beer. If you are looking for a Japanese take on an American favorite – give this a try tonight…and tomorrow…and the night after.

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2 Responses

  1. Brian says:

    Ah you did do the “b” article!!! Good work with lots of interesting facts!!!

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