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Ontario Craft Beer Vocabulary

Are you here for a flight, to pick up a couple of bombers, or just to fill your growler? Craft beer lovers definitely sound as though they’re speaking their own language sometimes. Here’s a quick reference for those moments when you want to ask – what are you even talking about?


Ale – A type of beer brewed from malted barley using a warm fermentation with a strain of brewers’ yeast. Compared to lager yeasts, ale yeast ferments more quickly, and often produces a sweeter, fuller-bodied and fruitier taste. Most ales contain hops, but more about those later!

Bomber – A bomber is a glass beer bottle, usually about 22 oz., and are a popular bottle size for craft beer bottle shops. Pick one up at Northwinds, Stone City Ales, or Bellwoods Brewery.

Cask Ale – Unfiltered and unpasteurised beer which is conditioned and served from a cask without additional nitrogen or carbon dioxide pressure. It’s deliciously old-fashioned, and making a comeback in Ontario. Read the full story here.

Dry-Hopped – The brewing process often involves moving the beer to different containers for different stages of fermentation. Dry-hopping beer means that hops are added later on, typically in the secondary stage of fermentation. The Belle A?poque Belgian IPA from Flying Monkeys is a great example of dry-hopped beer.

Demi-Growler – This is a half (demi) growler, usually shaped like a growler, but literally half the size. The demi-growler goes by many names. At Brimstone Brewing, they call it a Meowler. At Stone City Ales, they call it a Squealer. At Boshkung Brewing, they call it a Mini-Bosh. At The Blue Elephant Craft Brew House, it’s a Howler.

Flight – Ever had a flight of tequila? This is similar. A flight is a sampling of beers that the brewery or brewpub currently has on offer. When you order a flight, you get to try a few once of each brew, and the small glasses are usually presented to you on a wooden tray. At 5 Paddles Brewing, it’s a canoe.

Growler – A growler is a refillable vessel for beer, usually made of glass. Where does the name come from, and where can you buy or refill one in Ontario? Don’t worry, we wrote you a guide.

Gruit – An old-fashioned herb mixture used for bittering and flavoring beer, popular before the extensive use of hops. Beau’s All Natural Brewing Company is at the centre of Ontario’s gruit scene.

Hops – Do the words Fuggle, Hallertau, or Cascade mean anything to you? These are different hop varieties. Hops are the flowers of a hop plant, and are a widely used beer ingredient for bittering, flavour and aroma. Two major hop producers right here in Ontario are Clear Valley, and Bighead Hops. More on Ontario hops.

Lager – This is a type of beer conditioned at lower temperatures, normally in cold storage (or originally, in caves!). It may be pale, golden, amber, or dark. Our favourite lager right now is Three Fields Lager, by Elora Brewing Company.

Session Beer – A beer flavourful enough to hold your interest for several pints, with a low alcohol content that you can enjoy several over the course of a session.

Weisse – Weisse (or Berliner Weisse) is a top-fermented, bottle conditioned wheat beer made with both traditional warm-fermenting yeasts and lactobacillus culture. That’s right, this beer is lacto-fermented! It’s usually tart or sour, with a fruity sharpness to it. Burdock is currently making an amazing Niagara Peach and Apricot Berliner that you should probably try.