Beer Break

Beer Break Vol. 1, No. 30
Beer definitions

March 29, 2001

Here are beer terms we've recently been asked about that we can describe in a paragraph or less.


Belgian (or Brussels) lace: The latticework of foam from the head of the beer that is left on the glass after a drink of beer has been taken. Reflects both the care taken in brewing the beer and the cleanliness of the glass from which it is being served.

Bomber: A 22-ounce bottle, particularly popular with microbrewers who cannot afford full-fledged bottling lines.

G-Mix: A mixture of CO2 and Nitrogen (usually 70/30) used to dispense draft beer. We'll discuss the pluses and minuses of using Nitrogen another time, but many pubs have moved from employing straight C02 or just plain O2 to push beer -- often at the urging of Guinness draft technicians.

Growler: Many know brewpubs use these 64-ounce glass containers to sell beer to go, but wonder about the history of growlers. The term became slang for a pail of beer at the turn of the last century, with children and women often being sent to a bar to bring home beer. "Rushing the growler" referred to repeated trips back to the saloon.

Kraeusening: A traditional method of naturally carbonating beer. Freshly fermenting beer at a state of high kraeusen is added to a beer near the end of fermentation to rekindle fermentation. The brewer then closes the fermenter to allow the natural buildup of carbon dioxide. The method -- which as you can guess from the name, dates back to early German brewing -- is seldom employed anymore.

Original gravity: Wort (which will become beer with the aid of yeast) contains fermentable and unfermentable sugars and some other solids dissolved in it. It is heavier than water, which has a specific gravity of 1.000. OG (as you'll hear it called) measures the potential for alcohol in a beer. However, the final gravity, alcohol content and body will be influenced by the ratio of fermentables to non-fermentables and the yeast used. An "average strength" beer with an OG of 1.045 will usually have an alcohol content around 4.5% (by volume).

Reinheitsgebot: This 1516 German law requires that beer be made only from water, malted grain and hops. It was struck down by the European Union. Curiously, in the early '90s some brewpubs and microbreweries marketed the fact they adhered to the Reinheitsgebot in order to set themselves apart from large American breweries that use adjuncts such as corn and rice. However, most also made British-style ales, and the Brits have never been shy about using adjuncts (though seldom corn or rice). Nor are the Belgians.

Following up

Early in December, we told you about Czechvar, "brewed in Ceske Budejovice, home of Budejovicky Budvar, using the same Moravian malt, Czech Saaz hops and deep well water as Budvar Budweiser." Now the brewery has made it official -- Czechvar and Budvar are the same beer. At the time, Czechvar was available only in California. More states are now being added to the distribution chain. The story.

A few of you wrote after receiving last week's newsletter about glassware and asked for pictures of what the glasses look like. We couldn't do that in our text-based email, but you can see them in the archived version of the newsletter.

Tasting notes

Brewed by Great Lakes Brewing Co., Cleveland, Ohio

Roger Protz' tasting notes:

Amber ale with a fine spicy, floral hop aroma. Rich, buttery malt in the mouth is balanced by tart hops. Hops dominate the finish, which starts bitter but ends on a soft malty note.

Brewed by Adnams in England

Fred Eckhardt's tasting notes:

Beautiful -- garnet color and brilliant clarity, with a good mix of malt and hops on the nose. Good solid flavor on the palate, with a lightly accented roast character, very nice balance on the palate: rich taste and surprisingly complex character.