Look, I want everyone to speak beer. From bros to cholos. That’s just the kind of guy I am. Although I want to help, my main motivation is to stop having to wax poetic about the meaning of an IBU or Cicerone® to every other person I talk beer to.

By Angelo Orona

I don’t recall getting high marks in college English, so I find it ironic that I’m lecturing you about the meaning of words. However, the words deal with beer, a subject I happen to know a little bit about. In the next few minutes I’m going to set you straight, so the next time you’re out with friends you can impress them with your vast beer geekery and superior intellect.


Technically this stands for International Bitterness Unit. In practice, it’s a measurement of the amount of hop bitterness for a particular beer. As the style has developed, IPAs have become the acolyte of the IBU. IPAs used to top out in the 60 range, while, today, there are many examples that are over 100. Beer drinkers clamored for more bitterness and brewers answered the call with more extreme examples of this craft favorite.


Every year has its beer buzz words and this year session is one of them. If you ask the craft beer head shed, 2017 is the year of the session beer. Session beer is a broad term applied to beers that are below 5% alcohol. These small beers make it easier to have a couple and still avoid ending up on that Texts From Last Night website. The style of the beer can run the gamut, from dark stouts to crisp, bright pilsners.

Sour Beer So we all have that friend that loves sour beers. You may have thought to yourself, I like my sour and my beer separate, but I’m here to tell you, give these beers a try. Originating in the Senne Valley, (around Brussels, Belgium) the wide variety of sour beers are a nod to the rich history of spontaneous fermentation. In a nutshell, this means the beer was made with yeast that is naturally occurring in the environment which lends a distinctive and unique range of flavors that can go from wet horse blanket to ripe pineapple.

Shelf Turd

Whether you know it or not, it’s entirely likely that you’ve consumed a shelf turd in your drinking life. These are beers that have been on a hot shelf in the back of your favorite Allsup’s for the better part of the Obama administration. Generally, beer is best consumed as fresh as possible, but there are always those beers that slip through the cracks. If you have to dust it off or chase off the daddy long legs before you put it in your cart, opt for a fresher option. Most beers have a readily available ‘Best By’ or ‘Bottled On’ date. Beer is usually best consumed within 90 days.


A Cicerone® is a certified and verifiable beer specialist. They are a great resource to have around when you just can’t wait to get glossy eyed and stare blankly at another human that is carrying on about the finer points of Reinheitsgebot or titratable acidity. Mostly, they are just your friends and neighbors that happen to feel
compelled to torture themselves by consuming mass amounts of beer and beer information for the sake of getting a pin and certificate that shows they are a certified beer enthusiast.


Whales are those rare and unique beers that everyone wants to get their mitts on. There is a whole underground economy of people seeking these hard to find beers so they can tick them off their list. It’s simple supply and demand: limited supply leads to people standing in line at special beer releases to score trading fodder. Said trading fodder is then often shipped across the country or world to acquire a beer that is not readily available in the trader’s home market. It’s the dirty, harsh reality of the beer business and many brewers don’t like it. What can you do though? Tickers Gonna Tick.


You generally use this term when the beer is all sick and everyone is in agreement. Alternatively, you can use EEEINOHUH if you ended up having a beer that was a drain pour and you want to agree that it was disgusting. This is a strictly New Mexican beer term, don’t use this one with out of towners, they will judge you all hard.


That’s it. You’re a couple words closer to being the Rudolfo Anaya of the indie beer movement. Keep studying and one day you may be the one explaining shelf turds to a craft beer neophyte over passed hors d’oeuvres at a swanky dinner party. It’s an exhilarating existence, I tell you

Angelo Orona is the president and owner of Craft King Consulting LLC, a craft beer consultancy. He is an avid craft beer enthusiast and Certified Cicerone®.

Photography by Kori Kobayashi