Beer 101: Common Beer Terms And What They Mean



Craft beer and all of the terminology surrounding it can be incredibly intimidating to get into initially. It seems sometimes that seasoned beer-drinkers have a language all their own for discussing various beer types, the tastes, and all the other intricacies of beer. However, if you’re new to drinking beer, or even if you’re just spending time talking to beer drinkers and want to sound like you understand the subject, here are a few basic terms you’ll need to know.

  • Domestic Vs. Imported: Domestic and imported are exactly what they sound like. Domestic beers, created in the United States, account for roughly 85% of all beer in the U.S. Imported beers are created outside the United States, and typically aren’t quite as common. If you don’t know what country your beer comes from, chances are it’s domestic.
  • Hops Vs. Malt: Both hops and malt are ingredients in beer that carry distinct flavors within different types of beer. Certain beer types will have more malt that carries a sweeter, breadier flavor, while others have more hops that provide bitterness; neither is “better” than the other, and preferences will vary from person to person.
  • Full- Vs. Thin-Bodied: The amount of “body” a beer has refers to its thickness or heaviness when drinking. Thin-bodied beers typically are lighter drinks that are fairly easy to drink quickly, whereas full-bodied beers generally carry stronger flavor. The body of a beer relies on the malt protein within the beer.
  • High Vs. Low ABV: ABV stands for alcohol by volume, and a high or low ABV refers to the actual alcohol content of a beer. A high ABV beer is one to drink more slowly, as it contains more alcohol, whereas a low ABV beer will take longer to intoxicate. Low ABV beers, typically under 4%, are sometimes called “session beers.”

While craft beer can be an intimidating hobby to get into due to the many phrases surrounding it, but once you’ve learned a few simple key terms and differences, you’ll be well on your way to finding your favorite beers.

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