Dept. of Word Lists
Beer authority Justin Philips was originally a wine guy -- until his epiphany. "I worked in a wine shop in Boston and we started carrying boutique beers," he explains, "And I got hooked." So hooked went to work for specialty beer importer B. United, and is now opening a beer-focused restaurant in Brooklyn, NY, called the Beer Table, which is where we called Justin to ask about these beer-related words:
Head. "Refers to the foam on the top of a glass of beer. Wheat beers are traditionally served with a big monster head that's inch and a half to two inches high and stays around for quite a while."
Stout. "A style of beer, originally a heavily malted, lightweight 'session beer.' A session beer is one you can sit down and drink a lot of - it has low alcohol and is very drinkable."
Porter. "It's one of those mysterious styles of beer with a lot of theories about how it came to be. The most common explanation is that it derived from something called 'three-threads.' This was an old English tradition where a bar would have multiple casks and each customer would ask for their favorite blend of a few different casts -- and the bartender would mix the beers like a cocktail. Eventually, one entrepreneur created a premixed three-thread, or as he called it, 'entire butt,' butt referring to the big barrel that was used to blend the beer. This concoction was said to be favored by English porters, hence the name."
Degree. "We talk about degree of alcohol in beer, and also 'degrees Plato.' Plato was not just a philosopher; it's also the name for the unit of measurement of the sugar in a beer before and after fermentation, which helps you determine a beer's alcohol content."
Dense. "Refers to the texture of beer, which is super important. Some beers are really viscous and thick, while others are airy and lightweight."
Bouquet. "Like 'nose' in wine, it refers to the aromatic compounds in beer."
Flowery. "Another term referring to the aromatics of a beer. A lot of it is driven by hops, and spices beyond hops. Witbiers, traditional Belgium white beers, for example, have a really floral nose."
Spice. "Flavoring ingredients in beer beyond the four basics, that is, hops, water, yeast and malt. There are hundreds of these. Coriander is fairly common. One of my favorite beers, called Wostyntje, uses mustard seeds. Orange peel is another example."
Mellow. "Refers to beer having a soft texture, that is, not being overly dramatic in terms of spice. It also refers to balance, how a beer's alcohol and other attributes relate to each other."