Homebrewing Terms Worth Knowing: Part 2

Looking At Homebrewing Terms With A BeerPicking up where we left off in Part 1, here are some more homebrewing terms that might cause some of us to scratch our heads and say, “huh?” Just remember not to let the jargon slow you down. Even without a firm grasp on the terms, you can still make good beer!

  • Grist – Grist refers to the crushed grain that goes into your homebrew. Sometimes you’ll hear someone refer to the percentage of their grist, as in “the grist was made up of 80% Pilsner malt.”
  • Gravity – Gravity is used to describe the amount of sugar in the wort or beer. The original gravity (OG) is the amount of sugar in the wort before fermentation; the final gravity (FG) is the amount of sugar left over in the beer after fermentation. Gravity is measured with a hydrometer and notated in specific gravity (eg. 1.048) or degrees Plato (12). When beers on a menu show their gravity, it usually refers to the OG.
  • Racking – Racking is simply the process of siphoning the beer from one vessel to another, as when moving from primary fermentation to secondary. The goal is to take the beer off of the trub at the bottom of the fermenter.
  • Trub – Trub (pronounced troob) refers to the hops, protein, and other material at the bottom of the kettle or fermenter. In the case of the fermenter, the trub will be made up of mostly dead and inactive yeast cells, but may have some other particulate in there as well. Brewers try to leave behind the trub when moving the wort into a fermenter or racking the beer from fermenter to fermenter.
  • Whirlpool – After the boil, a whirlpool helps to cool the wort more quickly and causes the trub to collect in a nice pile at the bottom of the kettle.
  • Infusion Mash – An infusion mash is the simplest form of mashing, in which the crushed grains are soaked in hot water at a steady temperature. (The other mashing methods are described here.)
  • Saccharification – Saccharification is the process in when starches are converted into sugars. This takes places during mashing. (The root saccharo- means sugar. Yeast, or saccharomyces cervisiae, is the organism which consumes sugar to make beer or wine.)
  • Tannins – Like wine, beer has tannins, too. Tannins can be found in grain and hops and can contribute a dry, astringent mouthfeel. The may or may not be desirable depending on the beer style.

Are there any homebrewing terms you’d like to learn more about? Leave a comment below!
David Ackley is a beer writer, brewer, and self-described “craft beer crusader.” He holds a General Certificate in Brewing from the Institute of Brewing and Distilling and is founder and editor of the Local Beer Blog.