The A-Z of Speciality Beer: Part 1

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Confused on your speciality and craft beer terminology? Our A to Z of speciality beer features a glossary of terms to help you understand your Tripel from your Trappist, and lagering from lautering! In the first instalment, from the letters A to I, we look at Abbey beers, brewpubs and our Grand Cru. A is for Abbey beer. This is a beer once brewed by a monastery (including St. Stefanus), or a beer that has monastic connections through its brewing history, name or packaging. For more on Abbey beers, take a look at our recent article: “Just what is an Abbey beer?B is for Blonde. St Stefanus Blonde, our original beer, has a history dating back to 1295. Characteristics of a Blonde beer are a pale or golden colour, usually with a higher carbonation, crisp taste, and a good balance between yeast and hops. B is also for brewpub. This is a pub that brews its own beer on-site. With the craft beer boom having exploded across the world, brewpubs are springing up to capitalise on the growing market. C is for craft brewery. This is a brewery that brews a limited amount of beer, and often exerts extra care into the brewing process and methods used than larger, commercial breweries. There is much debate around exactly what constitutes a craft brewery, and the definition varies between the US and UK. D is for Dubbel. This style of beer is prevalent in Belgian brewing, including both Trappist and abbey breweries. Dubbel (or double) originally referred to the strength of the beer as a result of the strength of the wort used in brewing. E is for effervescence. This is the name for the escape of gas when a beer or champagne is poured. St. Stefanus has a high carbon dioxide concentration, or carbonation, and this is released from the beer when poured. The gas escapes from the beer to form a large, foamy head. The pouring technique is crucial with high carbonated beers, as it allows CO2 to escape. F is for fermentation. Without this, your beloved beer would not exist! Fermentation is the process in which sugars are converted into alcohol to create beer. Fermentation can be primary, secondary (known as refermentation [see R]) or even tertiary. G is for Grand Cru. The name given to certain high-quality wines and beers, a Grand Cru is a “smooth, well-balanced speciality beer”, and St. Stefanus Grand Cru is no exception. Our Grand Cru follows the traditional recipe of a ‘Tripel’. H is for hops, or humulus lupulus, the flower of the hop vine. These plants are the essential ingredient that contributes to a beer’s distinctive flavour and act as a stabiliser and preservative. In our beers, hops give citrus and caramel aromas to St. Stefanus Blonde, and in St. Stefanus Grand Cru, they add notes of fruits, herbs and honey. For more on these humble plants, read our article, “All About Hops”. I is for IBU, or International Bittering Units. This scale indicates the level of bitterness present in the beer from the hops. The higher the value, the more bitter the beer. The units can range from around 1-15 for a light lager, to over 110 for an American Barleywine or Imperial IPA (Indian Pale Ale) ( [1] Look out for our next instalment of the A to Z of speciality beer next week. Have any terms to add to our A to Z? Leave your comment below. [1]

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