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Whats the difference? Craft beer terminology in a nutshell - Part 2

Back in February we wrote part one of: "What's the difference? Craft beer terminology in a nutshell". Now it is time to continue this article with the second part of this series. Once again we went through our personal beer dictionary and looked for words that might need clarification. Zurich Beer Tour, always at your service.

 

Macro/Whale


Two big words with big meanings, in general, but also as craft beer terms. Macro is beer produced by a #Macrobrewery. It is produced in large quantities and mostly uses less ingredients per beer to be more price efficient. Which is why #macro beer mostly sells for a way #cheaper price than craft beer. But how much beer must a brewery produce to be considered macro? Well, this depends on the country where the #brewery is located, but for example in the US the magic number is 6 million barrels a year (about 700 million liters). These beers are widely available in liquor stores and supermarkets.


The opposite to that is a "whale" (or even "white whale". These terms refer to really delicious but hard to get and really rare beers. In the novel "Moby-Dick" by American writer Herman Melville, Captain Ahab's obsession with the white whale costs him his life. I don't think beer geeks would go that far for their "whales", but some of them are definitely ready to travel far and/or pay huge amounts of money to get those beer treasures. Which beers are considered Whales is often up to the beer geek, some examples could be #vintage Belgian #lambics or super limited releases of barrel aged stouts from the States.

 

Dry/Juicy


Two words to refer to the residual #sugars - the sugar content left in the beer after #fermentation has ended (final gravity). A dry beer has almost no residual sugars left, which mostly results in a light bodied and easy to drink (or #crisp) beer. It also has less calories than juicier beers.


A juicy beer has more sugars left which leads to a sweeter taste. Also, it gives the beer a fuller #body and #mouthfeel, which feels very heavy when drinking.

 

Body/mouthfeel

As those words were used a lot in the last topic let's also talk about this. You already know now that they both have to do with the residual sugars, but there is more to them.


Body refers to the the #thickness or weight of a beer. There are light-bodied (e.g. light lagers), medium-bodied (e.g. IPA's) and full-bodied (e.g. Imperial Stouts) beers.


Mouthfeel kind of summarizes everything you feel in you mouth when drinking a beer, the #sensory experience. It has a lot to do with carbonation, a finely carbonated beer (smaller #bubbles) can feel smoother than one with bigger bubbles. Mouthfeel has nothing to do with aromas or flavors, it is all about how to beer feels to you.

 

Brett beer /Sour beer


Brett is short for #brettanomyces. It is a wild yeast, related to our normal domesticated brewers yeast (#saccharomyces). It was first discovered on grape skins and winemakers thought of it as spoiling agent. But sour beer producers liked the impacts it had on their beers, Brett beers have wild flavors that are described as funky or musty.


Even though brettanomyces has a big impact on sour beers it is actually not what makes your beer #sour. The sourness we perceive from those brews is actually a taste response to the acidity the other bacteria create. Those #bacteria are called #pediococcus and #lactobacillus, they eat up the sugars left after fermentation and produce the so called lactic acid. If you want to know more about sour beers you can check this post.

 

Trappist/Lambic


Those two terms have actually only one connection, they are beers that are (mostly) produced in and are typical for #Belgium.

Trappist beers are beers brewed by #Trappist monks. At the moment there are 14 monasteries that are members of the International Trappist Association (ITA). However, only 11 of those are allowed to use the "Authentic Trappist Product" label on their beers, as the #ITA has really strict criteria for the use of the label, which are the following:

- All products must be made within the immediate surroundings of the #abbey.

- Production must be carried out under the supervision of the #monks or nuns.

- Profits should be intended for the needs of the monastic community, for purposes of solidarity within the Trappist Order, or for development projects and #charitable works.

Lambic beers are traditional sour beers that are produced in the #Pajottenland, an area southwest of Brussels, since the 13th century. They are produced using the spontaneous fermentation method, which means the beer is not fermented with yeast added manually by the brewer but with wild #yeasts and bacteria from the surrounding area. From this method the beer gets its distinctive flavors: dry, vinous with mostly a tart aftertaste. The beers are often blended (e.g. Gueuze) or secondarily #fermented over different types of fruit (e.g. cherries in "Kriek").

 

Cask/Keg


Casks and kegs are both containers used to store and serve beer.


#Casks have been used for hundreds of years and usually contain drinks with a lower level of #carbonation (flat drinks). They used to be made out of #wood but nowadays you're most likely to see stainless steel versions. Cask ale, also called real ale, goes through a second fermentation in the cask, as it is added "live". Which means the beer evolves in the cask until the moment it lands in your glass. Also this #beer is pumped from the pub cellar with a hand pump and served directly. No #gas is added to carbonate the beer, #natural carbonation is the only thing that makes those beers slightly fizzy. Cask ale is also served mostly at higher temperatures than kegged beer, about 11-13 degrees Celsius. Also this beer has to be consumed in about 3 days after opening.


#Kegs have been firstly introduced to the world in the 1960's. Kegs are mostly holding fully fermented, carbonated and conditioned beers that are ready to drink. They are kept under #pressure so that be beer doesn't get in contact with oxygen, which makes it last longer than cask beer. Kegged beers are mostly served cold, between 3-8 degrees Celsius. Also, gas is used to push the beer out of the kegs. There are several sizes and materials used for producing kegs, most used in craft beer are #reusable stainless steel kegs or the #disposable PET-KeyKegs.

 

We hope that we brought some light in the dark world of beer terms for you. If you have any questions, write them down in the comments below or come on the tour.

As there are many other beer related terms to talk about, there will be more parts to this series on our blog. Subscribe to get notified when a new blog is published and follow our social media channels to stay updated about everything we do.

Cheers,

Your Zurich Beer Tour Guides

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