types of beerIn the age of the microbrewery, it seems like everyone is a craft beer guru. In the United States, these establishments are filled to the walls with curious sippers. In fact, these small and independent breweries account for 99% of breweries in operation today. This includes 2,397 microbreweries, 1,650 brew pubs, and 178 regional craft breweries.

Needless to say, you have some stiff competition to become the ultimate craft beer drinker.

But if you truly want to become a beer pro, you need to know more than just the different types of beer. The following are some useful terms to get you started on your journey to becoming a true beer aficionado.

Hops: Yes, those are the funky green flowers that you see on so many bottles. These are what keep the beer fresh and fill the brew with that bitterness that some beer fans enjoy.

IPA: This is the popular India Pale Ale. These ales are filled with hops, so when you hear the bar tender describe something as “really hoppy,” chances are they’re pouring an IPA.

Session Beer: These brews are generally low in alcohol, which allows drinkers to sip them in large quantities without getting too intoxicated.

Head Retention: This loose measurement can tell you how long your beer will hold the foam at the top of the glass. When the foam is there, the beer is more aromatic, generally making your drinking experience more enjoyable.

Growlers: Your friend who makes home brews probably has a lot of these in their fridge. Growlers are large glass jugs that you fill with beer to drink later. Snag one from your favorite brew pub and you can keep returning to fill it up.

Skunked: Have you ever left your beer sitting on your deck for too long? Then you know what we’re talking about. When the sun enters your beer glass or bottle, the beer releases chemicals that are the same as those in skunk spray. Yum!

With so many types of beers, beer accessories, and terms to describe it all, it can be hard to keep up with the lingo. But do your homework and try out your knowledge on your friends to practice talking the talk of a true beer expert. With time, it will be effortless.