At its heart, brewing beer is simply another form of cooking. “I’m just making oatmeal” or “Just whipping up some soup,” has humbly been said by many a brewer at work. Perhaps it’s no surprise then that just like chefs, brewers have their own slang for when they’re working in their own kitchens—the brewery.
Unlike so many culinary slang terms which have escaped the back room and become popularized thanks to all those cable cooking shows, brewing argot remains a bit of a mystery. Even many savvy beer drinkers can struggle to explain certain processes, to know just what things are actually called. What is un-fermented beer known as? Who’s this Brett guy? Why does my favorite brewer keep “sparging” things? That doesn’t sound healthy.
Likewise, hardcore craft beer fans have developed their own pervasive slang, more nerd parlance than anything else. In fact, go to a big-time beer geek event and you might accidentally think you stumbled into Comic-Con: Bearded, chubby dudes in logoed t-shirts and cargo shorts, talking a language you can technically understand, but which doesn’t make a whole lot of sense contextually.
“Whales” and “shelf turds.” Is that beer “crushable” or a “drain pour”? And, oh, should we meet for a “share” next weekend? Sometimes you might even wonder if these geeks are intentionally being goofy, tongue firmly planted in cheek as they wonder if all these people waiting in line to buy a rare IPA are actually “mules.”
To help understand this unique industry vernacular, we reached out to a handful of brewers for help:
- George Adams, owner and head brewer at GAEL Brewing Co. (Geneva, NY)
- Mike Alcorn, founder and chief craftologist at CB Craft Brewers (Honeoye Falls, NY)
- Molly Danger, “chief cat herder” at Country Boy Brewing (Lexington, KY)
- Brandon Floan, co-founder and head brewer at Ethereal Brewing (Lexington, KY)
- Adam Kujawski, co-founder of Nedloh Brewing Company (East Bloomfield, NY)
- Dawn Schulz, owner of Prison City Brewing (Auburn, NY)
- John Urlaub, owner of Rohrbach’s Brewing Company (Rochester, NY)