Terminology about brewing


Beer is a beverage containing alcohol and carbon dioxide. It is brewed from the basic ingredients water, malt and hops. The fermentation is generated by adding yeast.

We distinguish among countless different beers: Altbier, Berlin wheat beer, bock beer, double bock, dark beer, export, Gose, light, Jopenbier, Koelsch, lager, lambic, Maerzen, Oktoberfest beer, pilsner, porter, smoked beer, rye beer, dark beer, black Viertler, stone beer, stout, Urtyp, wheat beer, Vienna, Zoigl, Zwickelbier / cellar beer.

Beer Tax

Beer tax is an indirect tax or a consumption tax. It is levied by the customs; the revenue goes to the the Federal States. The beer tax rate is based on the original gravity of the beer. Currently, the standard rate is Eur 0.787 per hectolitre for each degree Plato. This means that a 0.2-litre glass of full-bodied beer with an original gravity of approximately 12 degrees Plato is taxed at about 1.9 cents.

The basis for the calculation is the brewery's annual production. With a total annual production of less than 200,000 hectolitres, reduced tax rates are applied. Hobby brewers who brew up to 200 litres per year are exempt from the tax.

Brewer’s star

The brewer's star (six-pointed) is the guild sign of brewers and maltsters, and the symbol for the taphouse selling a local brewery's beverage.

Craft beer

Craft beer is a beer produced with traditional methods, usually made by hobby brewers and small or micro breweries that emphasise quality rather than quantity. Though more and more craft breweries are getting bigger, the term craft beer is used to distinguish these sorts of brewers from large, industrial ones.


EBC is a unit that measures the colour strength of beer and beer wort: the higher the levels, the darker the beer. EBC stands for European Brewery Convention and thus for the organisation that introduced this scale.

Often, the EBC parameters also indicate the colour force of malt. Depending on the original gravity, the malt can help to achieve a certain colour of the beer. Due to the fact that the final colour of the beer depends on many other factors as well, the EBC is, however, only an approximate value.

German Beer Purity Law

The »Reinheitsgebot« in Germany governs by law the ingredients that are allowed in beer. The purity law can be expressed as follows: »The only things allowed in beer are hops, malt and water«.


Hops is a plant whose cones (flowers) are used to flavour beer. It belongs to the hemp family. All types of hops are fast-growing, climbing plants. Hops for brewing are usually offered in pressed form as pellets or as dried umbels.


IPA is the abbreviation for Indian Pale Ale. It is a strong, pale ale with a significant hop aroma. The name goes back to the the 19th century, when England supplied the British Crown Colony India with this kind of beer. Its high alcoholic content and lots of hop made the beer ideal for longer ship voyages.


Lautering is carried out immediately after mashing. The hot mash is thereby separated from the solid malt residue. Lautering is a kind of filtration which on the one hand leaves behind the spent grain and on the other a liquid (as clear as possible), the wort.


In this brewing process, the contact with oxygen during the brewing process is kept to a minimum, in the areas of mashing, cooling and decanting into the maturing tank. The dissolved oxygen in water, wort or beer is an indicator of how well this has been achieved. By minimizing the contact with oxygen, existing flavors in the beer are better preserved and the beer acquires a longer lasting taste stability and shelf life.

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During mashing, fermentable substances such as starch and sugars are dissolved. The mash is the mixture of liquid and starchy or sugary substance. In detail, the mash is further divided into different phases to control the dissolving process. This is varied as regards time and temperature.


Malt is grains such as barley, wheat, rye or spelt wheat which are germinated and dried by the malting process. As a result of controlled germination, enzymes are activated and formed in the grain which are necessary later for the breakdown of starch and protein during brewing. After about five to seven days, germination is terminated by gentle drying and the sprout removed. The malt can then be stored. For further use it is crushed or ground. After crushing (breaking up the grains), the malt should be used as soon as possible.

Original gravity

The original gravity is a crucial measured variable when brewing beer. It descibes the amount of substances dissolved in water, extracted from the malt and hops before fermentation. These are mainly flavourings, malt sugar, protein and vitamins. During alcoholic fermentation, the original gravity of the wort is turned by yeast into beer.


A paper, doily-like, drip-catcher that is placed around the stem of certain beer glasses. It is intended to prevent beer foam getting on the table. The "rosette" is usually made of paper, is round and has a notch to slip it over the stem. Often it is used by the breweries for promotional purposes.

Top fermenting / bottom-fermenting

Top fermenting yeast is an older form of brewers' yeast and during fermentation requires higher ambient temperatures (15-20° C) than bottom-fermenting yeast (4-9 °C). Top fermenting yeast is therefore more prone to contamination by foreign fungi and bacteria. However, the fermentation takes place considerably faster and was already possible before modern cooling techniques existed.

Bottom-fermenting yeast is the modern form of brewers' yeast. Here, only selected yeasts are used. As opposed to top-fermenting yeasts, bottom-fermenting yeasts require a low room temperature (4-9 °C) for fermentation. This is why fewer fungi and microbes breed during brewing. Bottom-fermented beer stands out by being longer lasting than top-fermented beer. Brewing using bottom-fermenting requires a longer fermentation and storage time.


Wort is the liquid produced during the brewing and the mashing process but prior to the addition of yeast.


Yeasts are single-cell fungi that often belong to the genus of sac fungi. Yeasts reproduce by budding or division. Dried yeast is recommended for fermenting since it is easy to store and keeps for longer.