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Beer Guide 2013: Geek Speak

A selected and mostly accurate glossary of beer terminology.

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Abbey: From, or in the style of, beers made by quiet little men who have forever forsaken a woman's touch.

ABV: Alternate Beer Value. In the absence of desirable flavor, higher numbers are better.

Aging: A time-out for overly aggressive young beer. It's left to sit in a cool, dark place until it calms down.

A-S-T-M-O: Bullet points for a nerdy online beer review: appearance, smell, taste, mouthfeel, overall.

Balance: End of the "You got your hops in my malt! You got your malt in my hops!" debate.

Barrel-Aged: Beer left in an old wood barrel until it tastes something like an old wood barrel.

Bomber: A 22-ounce bottle. Also known as a "deuce-deuce" or a "dubby-wubby."

Brettanomyces: Genus of wild yeast also known as "Brett." Also the name of Luxembourg's sixth-most popular progressive jazz-metal band.

Can: Skunk-resistant, environmentally friendly packaging.

Cask ale: A keg of unpasteurized ale that ferments until poured into your glass warm and flat.

Dryhop: Hops dumped into beer after boiling to claim their aroma without their bitterness.

Finish: The last fleeting vestiges of flavor perceived at the very twilight of your swig.

Fresh Hop: Hop flowers dumped in brew right after harvest instead of drying out first.

Glassware: The type of vessel from which Europeans traditionally drank a particular style. Includes the chalice, snifter, tulip, flute and pint glass.

Growler: A big brown jug for patrons to take tap beer home. It's 64 ounces, like a Double Big Gulp.

Hop bomb: Beer that is overly bitter. Not considered pejorative. 

Imperial (Measure): A 20-ounce glass of beer, just like the queen drinks.

Imperial (Strength): Highly alcoholic beer, just like the czar of Russia drinks.

Lacing: Streaks that form on a beer glass when it hasn't been properly washed.

Head: The foam at the top of a beer. Mostly a factor of how it's poured.

Horizontal: A sampling of related beers from one vintage.

Malty: Sweet and syrupy, like malted milk.

Mouthfeel: Ugly term for how thick, bubbly or oily a beer feels in your mouth. Also the name of Wisconsin's 16th-most-popular grunge-influenced jug band.

Oaked: Beer sat in an old wood barrel or on wood chips until it tastes like sawdust.

Pounder: A 16-ounce can of beer. Also known as a "tallboy" or "poundcake."

Roasty: Tastes a little like chocolate-covered espresso beans.

Session: Low alcohol brewskies perfect for an hours-long bro-down.

Skunky: Tastes vaguely like a weasel's anus.

Toasty: Tastes a little like toffee-coated sesame seeds.

Vertical: Sampling the same beer made in different years.

WetHop: Some of them real sticky, icky, icky hops.

Zwickel: German for "the sampling cock" from which beer can be tasted while in the tank.