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Craft beer terms

Learn these terms and you’ll be mashing with the best of them...

Make like a beer nerd
Illustration: Time Out
By Time Out editors |

Hand pump

A traditional, manual pump used to draw beer up from kegs without the use of mechanical pressure.

Milled malt (grist) is placed in a mash tun where it is soaked in hot liquor in order to extract the fermentable sugars from the malt – like a big ol’ pot of sweet tea.

Mash tun

A large, insulated vessel where the malt can be soaked in hot water and stirred – manually or mechanically – and from which you can then separate out the wort and the draff (spent grain, usually used for animal feed) – a process called lautering. 


A sweet, unfermented solution that is drained from the mash tun and then boiled in the copper (also called a kettle) with hops to create bitter wort.

Hop back"

A hopback is used to add further hop aromas and flavours to the boiled wort. The hot wort is run through a sealed chamber containing hops before being rapidly chilled prior to fermentation (if the wort is too hot the yeast will die).

Brewer's yeast

There are two types of brewers yeast: top fermenting (used to produce ale) and bottom fermenting (for lager styles). Yeast is a single-celled micro organism that is classified as a fungus. In brewing it is added to the cooled bitter wort where the yeast feed on the carbohydrates, the by-product of which is carbon dioxide and alcohol. Now you have beer.


A slow secondary fermentation process where the beer is stored at very low temperatures, at which point it begins to clear, settle and carbonate prior to filtering and bottling. Also known as conditioning.

Bottle conditioning

A process where flat beer is carbonated by adding sugar or wort during bottling so as to continue the fermentation process and capture the carbon dioxide – think Coopers Green.


International Bitterness Units are a measure of how bitter, or hoppy, a beer is. Your standard Carlton will be around 15-20 IBUs, while the Belgian IPA from Hop Dog is 70.

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Bartender pours a beer from a tap
Photograph: Sarah Pannell
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