Beer Style Abbreviations

Beer Style Abbreviations

May 26, 2021Poppy Simon

A glossary and cheat sheet for some of the beer style abbreviations and other terms you might find dotted around our website.

DDH = double dry-hopped

Let's start with the dry-hopped part, this means that hops are added post-boil, when the liquid is fermented (either primary or secondary fermentation). This is used primarily for aroma hops, as opposed to bittering hops, because adding them cold preserves these aroma compounds and prevents bitterness. Now for the slightly more complicated part—technically it should mean either double the amount of dry hops at once, or dry hopping twice, but to be honest, a fair few people say double just to mean 'a lot'. Because it adds haze and flavour without bitterness, DDH just happens to often be associated with... 

NE (NEIPA and NEPA) = New England (IPA and Pale)

New England IPAs and pale ales are maybe not quite as ubiquitous now as there were a year or two ago (see below for the West Coast backlash), but they're responsible for arguably the biggest style of the past few years—hazy beers. They tend to be hazy, juicy and fruity, and big and bold, with generally low bitterness. NEIPAs and NEPAs are strongly linked to double dry-hopping, in getting tons of flavour without the bitterness, but brewers are also exploring other techniques such as Cryo hops, which are hops frozen with liquid nitrogen that bring really intense flavours without any astringency. Recently we're starting to see Spectrum hops which is an oil rich hop extract in liquid form.

WC = West Coast

To state the obvious, West Coast styles are the opposite of NE a.k.a. East Coast. West Coast IPAs and pales are clean, clear, crisp and bitter. They tend not to be hazy, and even if they have some fruit, there is always a very distinct bitter backbone running through. Due to the hops used though, they're also often associated with pine aromas, and described as dank, which tends to mean a bit herbal, even marijuana-esque.

BA = barrel-aged

A pretty straight forward one this, but that doesn't make it any less interesting. In the same way that a lot of wine is aged in oak to change the flavours and texture, beer can be too. The difference with beer is that although barrels can be used just for the characteristics of the wood too, brewers also branch out to use specific pre-used barrels in order to get the beer to take on some of the flavours of what was in the barrel before.

Although you could in theory age anything, barrel ageing tends to be found mostly in stouts/porters and sours, plus other dark beer styles and strong ales (bourbon BA barleywine anyone?) And as to what might have been in pre-used barrels, anything goes! A lot of dark beers are aged in whisky/bourbon or rum barrels, while many sours are aged in wine barrels, with or without the grapes, but we've even had a stout aged in barrels that had been used to make bourbon barrel-aged maple syrup (bourbon->maple syrup->stout if you're confused).

MF or Mixed Ferm = mixed culture fermentation

This essentially refers to any beers that are fermented with anything other than just a single strain (usually brewer's yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae), i.e., multiple yeasts and/or bacteria. One of the most well known is Brettanomyces, which gives what is usually referred to as a 'farmyard' aroma, as well as Lactobacillus and Pediococcus. It can refer both to beers deliberately inoculated with particular strains and wild beers, which are left to pick up bacteria and yeast from the environment (spontaneous fermentation). More often than not, mixed ferm beers are sours (Lactobacillus and Pediococcus both produce lactic acid), but depending on the microbes that took up residence this is not always the case—Brett, for example, is not a souring yeast.

Kettle Sour

A quick souring method so-called because the beer is soured in the brew kettle before fermentation by the addition of Lactobacillus (hello old friend), which converts sugars into lactic acid. This is the same bacteria found in yoghurt and fermented foods like sauerkraut, hence the mouth-puckering nature of kettle sours! Common kettle sour styles include Gose and Berliner weisse, as well as basically any sour that isn't screaming out at you that it's wild/traditional/aged etc. Although some people can find them a little one note, because the sourness doesn't come from a lengthy ageing process, they add amazing tartness that is super refreshing and works especially well with fruit. Also because of the time factor, they tend to be a lot cheaper than mixed ferm so are a great way to dip your toe in the water.

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