Speaking the Home Brew Language

breakfast at Tierney's

I just bottled my first home brew, Breakfast at Tierney’s. I feel like it’s been ages since I brewed this beer, and needless to say I am very excited to finally have some of my French Toast Imperial Stout. Over the past few weeks, as I’ve started to share with others about my home brewing experience, I found myself in a whole new world that I don’t think I was quite ready for. I started getting questions like ‘what was your OG?’ and the answer wasn’t Ice T. Thanks to a friend of mine who dropped some serious knowledge on me, I feel a little more confident discussing my latest venture, and am here to share with you a little bit of the basic home brewing vocabulary.

O.G.: although in my book this will always mean Original Gangsta, when it comes to home brewing O.G. stands for original gravity. This measurement gives the brewer the relative density of the sugar dissolved in the wort. This is then used along with the F.G. to determine the approximate ABV of the final product using a handy little output device like the one found here at Brewer’s Friend.

F.G: nope, not a field goal, but the final gravity. This is basically the same measurement as the O.G., but this is taken at the end of fermentation giving you a measurement of how much sugar was consumed by the yeast. As the cute little yeasties eat the sugar they create carbon dioxide and alcohol, which are both less dense than sugar or water, so the density of the wort decreases.

IBU: International Bittering Unit. It’s just as legit as it sounds. This is used to approximate the level of bitterness to your beer. For example, a beer around 10 IBUs will be very malty, a beer with around 30 IBUs will be more of an average bitterness, and a beer with 75 or higher IBUs will be quite bitter. This number is determined by many factors including the acid level of the hops, the O.G. of the wort, and the length of the boil.

Remember, these are just a few of the basics, and who knows what crazy questions people will start asking you. Don’t be afraid to say I don’t know! Hopefully being backed by the basics you’ll feel more comfortable conversing!

2 Comments on Speaking the Home Brew Language

  1. I love the terminology and science behind homebrewing (although, overall I hated science in school). Knowing what OG and FG mean, are also great to know when in brewpubs (or Troegs) when they have them posted. you can get a “feel” for the mouthfeel before you even take a sip- you know what a 1.026 FG stout or 1.006 saison will feel like.

    • Maybe if school made all subjects related to beer many of us would’ve paid attention more! I always relate beer to money now as in ‘wow that just cost me 10 beers!’

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