At the heart of Hanover

The beer lovers’ glossary

Do you want to impress all your friends at the Hanover Beer Festival? Does the ABV of the IPA makes you think IDK? If that made no sense, you have come to the right place. Here is the key to deciphering the secret code of beer hipsters so you can quench your thirst…for knowledge!

  • ABV: A nice easy one to get started. ABV means alcohol-by-volume and is how much alcohol is in that beer.


  • Adjuncts: These are extra things like oats or honey that are added to beers to complement the main ingredient.


  • Ale or lager: We all pretend that we know the difference; we just hope no-one asks us to explain it. The secret is in different yeasts. Ale yeast ferments at warmer temperatures and on the top of the liquid before sinking. Lager yeast ferments in colder temperatures and doesn’t rise to the top. This leads to a ‘crisper’ flavour compared to the more nuanced ale.


  • Gravity: The total amount of sugars in the beer. ‘Plato gravity’ is the sugar total before fermentation and ‘final gravity’ is the total amount after. The old philosopher would be proud.


  • Hoppy: Someone describes a beer as hoppy. Unhelpful, as all beers contain hops. What do hops taste like? They taste like a lot of things. Typically a hoppy beer will taste bitter, citrusy or a bit like pine resin.


  • IBU: International bittering unit. The scale measures the bitterness in beer not through taste but by measuring the presence of certain acids. IPAs are high, wheat beers are low.


  • IPA: India pale ale. Legend has it, George Hodgson’s brewery near the East India Trading Company’s HQ in London was the only beer that kept its quality on long trips to India. The secret was in a rich and hoppy beer that soon became the tipple of choice for sailors and soldiers.


  • Mouthfeel: This strange term that just means how a beer feels in your mouth. Next time you drink, instead of saying “nice beer” try saying “palatable mouthfeel, fellows.” You will be the life of the party.


  • Session beer: A low alcohol beer designed to be drunk multiple times without overwhelming the palate or getting you wasted. Nice for long-haul drinking sessions such as sporting events or being a student.


  • Stillage: Seen at all good beer festivals (including ours), a stillage is a device which holds a cask of ale for service. Usually tilted to get those last good few drops out.


  • Spillage: The precious cargo lost from your pint when pouring or toasting. Also deployed in the charming phrase used by certain youths that means what it says: “spillage is lickage.”


  • Malty: A malty beer tastes like grain, barley, syrup or has a roasty taste. Don’t worry, a beer can be both hoppy and malty.


  • Wet-led: A pub that dispenses with gastropubbery and solely focuses on its brews. By contrast, dry-led means it’s all about the foo
By Alex McCord, Tartle Media