Common Terms Used to Describe Beer

These are some common terms used to describe beer, some are more helpful than others. These can give you a common vocabulary to discuss the flavors in your beer with your fellow beer lovers.

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Terms Search Results
Term Description Possible Causes
Acetaldehydegreen apple, cidery or fresh pumpkincontamination from microorganisms
Aceticaroma or flavor similar to vinegarusually contamination from microorganisms like Acetobacteria
Acidicsharp sour flavor or aroma-
Alcoholicwarming or hot and spicy flavor that can be prickly in your mouthhigh fermentation temperatures or excessive yeast in brewing
Astringentdrying, puckering , bitterness that is tannin like-
Bacterialmoldy or musty-
Bitterthat sensation on the back of the tonguehops used in beer, malt used in beer, contamination from microorganisms, could be several different reasons that affect this component of flavor
Chill Hazeno affect on flavor but makes the beer appear hazyproteins suspended in the beer
Cleanlacking in off and unpleasant flavors and aromas-
Cloveherb like flavor of clovesunwanted yeast
Cloyingtoo sweet and or heavy without any balancing bitter or acidic qualitiestoo much malt
Creamysmooth mouth feel, soft and pleasant texturegood carbonation
Crispacidic in a good way that is not over powering-
Dankmoldy or fungus like-
Diacetylbutter, butterscotch, toffee flavorsshort fermentation, contamination from microorganisms
Dimethyl Sulfides (DMS)cooked rancid vegetable flavor like broccoli or cabbagecontamination from microorganisms
Dryfinish that is sharp and not sweet-
Earthyaromas similar to grass and soil, think farm likehops used in beer, usually related to hop aromas found in British beers
Esterycomplex flavors ranging from fruity to spicy to flowery, these flavors are often linked to Belgian ales and wheat beers.caused by certain yeasts,high fermentation temperatures, fruit added to beer
Flatstale, papery, or cardboard like flavorstoo much contact with air, high temperatures while the beer aged, old beer
Floweryaroma like flowershops used in the beer
Fruityaromas like apples, pears, citrus, strawberries etc.caused by certain yeasts,high fermentation temperatures, fruit added to beer
Full-bodiedlarge and abundant flavorsmalt used in beer
Grainyraw and grain flavor or cereal likemalt used in beer
Grapefruitjust like grapefruithops used in beer
Grassythe flavor of chlorophyll, just like fresh cut grass, can be mustyspoiled malt or hops, hops that were not dried correctly
Hazycloudy beerprotein or yeast floating in suspension in the beer
Medicinalhaving one or many of these qualities: electrical fire, medicinal, plastic, listerine, band-aid, smoky,unwanted yeast or contamination from microorganisms
Metallicaroma or flavor similar to licking a coinexposure to iron or aluminum or high iron in the brewing water
Mustymildew and stale aroma-
Nuttyflavors and aromas similar to various types of nuts-
Oilyslick sensation on the tongue that feels like a coat on the mouth-
Oxidizedflat, rotten, stale, papery, or cardboard like flavorstoo much contact with air or high aging temperatures, or old beer
Phenolichaving one or many of these qualities: electrical fire, medicinal, plastic, listerine, band-aid, smoky,unwanted yeast or contamination from microorganisms
Powderychalky or gritty in mouth feel-
Rose Likesmell or flavor of rosesfrom hops or as a product of some yeasts
Rottenflat, rotten, stale, papery, or cardboard like flavorstoo much contact with air or high aging temperatures, or old beer
Saltysalt flavor on the sides of the tongue.use of too much salts during adjustment of the brewing water
Silkysmooth and soft texture on the palateoften as a result of adjuncts such as oatmeal
Skunkyskunk like flavorexposure to sunlight
Solvent-likearoma like paint thinner, lacquer or acetone usually felt along the back of the mouthhigh fermentation temperatures,
Souracidic and/or vinegar like sensation on the sides of the tongue, can have several different characteristics, such as lemony, vinegar, or sharpcontamination from microorganisms, intentional additional of lactobacillus as in lambics
Staleflat, rotten, stale, papery, or cardboard like flavorstoo much contact with air or high aging temperatures, or old beer
Stingsharp bite on the tonguecarbonation, highly hopped beer
Sulphuraroma of rotten eggsexposure to sunlight, contamination from microorganisms, random yeast infection, too much exposure to yeast
Sweetsugary, noticed on the tip of the tonguea product of the malt ingredients, various adjuncts that are not fully fermented
Tangysharp impression on the sides of the tongue, not as intense as tart-
Tartintense acidic taste-
Thinwatery or having little body-
Toastmalt characteristic usually associated with dark ales and stouts-
Vegetalflavors of cooked, canned or rotten vegetables such as cooked corn, cabbage or broccolipoor quality malt ingredients, contamination from microorganisms, or high or low levels of yeast
Vinousan aroma or flavor suggestive of wine.-
Winysimilar to wine with fruity aroma or flavor-
Yeastyyeast like flavor, think bread doughyeast still in suspension or beer sitting on sediment

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