Ale's well when you know the lingo

Published: Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013 - 6:58 pm | Page 6TICKET
Last Modified: Saturday, Apr. 27, 2013 - 9:19 am

Beer Week isn't about showing off your knowledge of buzzwords describing what you're seeing, smelling and tasting, but you might enjoy the experience (and conversation) more if you understand some of the vocabulary. Here are just a few of the many terms you can throw around so you'll fit right in with beer aficionados.

Craft brewery – Technically, an individual brewery that produces 6 million barrels or less in a year (for most craft brewers, far less than that). Think small, personal, artisanal and independent.

India pale ale (IPA) – A style of beer with a devoted following. Northern California is a major player in this beer style, noted for its citrusy and piney flavor notes along with varying degrees of bitterness, a crisp mouthfeel, medium body and, often, a long finish.

Hops and "hoppy" – If you dig India pale ales, it's the coveted hoppy bitterness you're tasting. Hops are the backbone of good beer and come in many varietals, allowing brewmasters to tweak and tune their recipes and achieve balance and character.

Seasonal beer – A limited release. Often a chance for a brewmaster to do something very special. Example: Pliny the Younger.

Session beer – When you want to taste and appreciate beer without getting blitzed, this is an option. Lower alcohol and still plenty of flavor and complexity. These beers are on the rise.

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