Alcohol – alcohol is more than the fun part of beer, it aids mouthfeel, perceived sweetness, and, in big beers, a heat that adds to the flavour dimension.
Banana – a common aroma given off by certain yeast strains and most pronounced in German wheat beers and Belgian ales.
Cat-pee – yes, this is an acceptable term to describe hop aromas that are musky, astringent and dank (see below).
Dank – a rich, sweaty, herbal, lush aroma from hops.
Ester – aroma created by yeast during fermentation, can range from apple to pear or clove to pepper.
Funk – used to described the barnyard, rustic aroma created in some sour-style beers.
Grassy – especially cut grass, an aroma associated with hops.
Hoppy – used interchangeably to describe bitterness as well as some of the more elegant hop oils found in pale ales and IPAs.
Isovaleric acid – a fatty acid found in hops which can deliver a cheese aroma, or sometimes revealed as a sweaty sock smell. As with many things in beer sometimes it’s a fault and sometimes it’s meant to be there (in a good way).
Juicy – often used to describe the malt base of beer but can be used to describe a beer high in hop oils.
Kola nuts – not a recognised beer flavour per se but sometimes used as a flavour additive; cola-flavoured beers are on the rise.
Leather – a welcome effect of age on dark, rich beers which can take on the characters of port or sherry.
Mango – ripe, sweet mango exhibits some of the lush pungency of hops.
Nutty – the kilning of certain malts delivers a distinct nuttiness to beers like brown ales.
Oily – a beer with lots of late hop additions or high alcohol content (or both).
Pine – a common aroma most associated with American hops.
Quaffer – a sessionable, easy-drinking beer where the flavour is not too intense.
Roast – describes the aroma of a beer which uses a lot of dark malts.
Sauvin – New Zealand hop du jour, with flavours reminiscent of sauvignon blanc grapes.
Tart – describes the acidity found in most sour beers and many wheat beers.
Umami – brothy, savoury, slightly salty flavour found in darker beers.
Vanilla – often added to beers as a flavour but can come through as a background note in sweet stouts.
Warm – a beer high in alcohol delivers a gentle heat.
XPA – Stands for extra pale ale – a pale ale that is extra-pale in colour but also has extra hops.
Yeast – the magic ingredient that turns wort into beer and delivers a plethora of flavours depending on type.
Zesty – a good descriptor for brisk, spicy hop or yeast flavours. Also for Zythophile – or beer lover – which you must be to have read this far!