Feeling left out, or worse, ostracized, when those around you are talking beer smack? Here’s the lingo that will earn you some beer street cred.
ABV: Alcohol by volume, shown on a beer’s label. Budweiser is 5 percent abv, Russian River Brewing’s Pliny the Elder is 8 percent, and Pliny the Younger is 11 percent. The higher the number, the more potent the beer. Pace yourself.
ALCOHOL ABUSE: Spilling beer
BITCH SLAP: Mixing a six-pack in a store.
BOMBER: 22-ounce beer bottle
BOTTLE CONDITIONED: An ale that continues to ferment after bottling, adding to the carbonation. Think Champagne.
CHURCH KEY: Bottle opener
CICERONE: The beer equivalent of a wine sommelier; a person with certified expertise in beer and the serving of it.
DEAD SOLDIERS: Empty beer bottles.
DONG: Draft Only, No Growlers
FOUR C’S: The Pacific Northwest hops varieties Cascade, Centennial, Chinook and Columbus, grown on a large scale for craft brewers with flavors that tend to be aggressively bitter and with grapefruit, pine resin and/ or floral notes. If you know Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, you know Cascade hops.
FRESH HOP: Most hops are dried after picking, making for better storage and transportation. Fresh- hopped beers use the cones soon after they’ve been picked, and are said to have more flavor.
GROWLER: A jug or other glass container meant to be refilled at brewpubs and taken home. Beer to go.
HANG: Lingering bitterness on the finish.
HEAD RETENTION: The stability of a beer’s foam, as measured in seconds, by the time required for a 1-inch foam layer to collapse.
HUMULUS LUPULUS: Scientific name for hops, the flowers of vines that give beer its bitter aroma and flavor. There are more than 100 hops varieties in the world.
IBU: International Bittering Units. The higher the number, the more bitter the beer. Light lagers typically have 5-10 IBUs; India Pale Ales can have IBUs up to 70.
LACE: The lacelike pattern of foam sticking to the sides of a glass of beer.
LAWNMOWER BEER: Thirst-quenching suds gulped after strenuous physical activity. It doesn’t necessarily have any flavor.
LUPULIN THRESHOLD SHIFT: An inside joke at Russian River Brewing Co., for when one drinks so much hoppy beer the hops no longer taste bitter.
MACRO BEER: Fizzy yellow water produced in a large, corporate beer factory, usually delivered by Clydesdale horses.
NOBLE HOPS: The traditional European hop varieties prized for their low bitterness and clas- sic flavors and aromas, typically earthy, mossy or herbal flavor notes. If you know nothing else about hops, memorize Tettnang, Hallertau, Spalt and Saaz. Bonus points if you refer to the East Kent Golding variety as “EKG.”
SESSION BEER: One that is light enough in body and alcohol that several can be consumed in one sitting.
SKUNKED: A stale, funky-smelling and -tasting beer, usually found in clear bottles that have been exposed to ultraviolet or fluorescent light.
WEST COAST IPA: A style that originated in San Diego and is popular along the West Coast; highly hopped and with big, bold, bitter flavors.
WOUNDED SOLDIERS: Partially full, abandoned beer bottles.