As you're hanging out at the Cedar Rapids Beer Summit on March 11, you might overhear some strange words amidst the conversation. We know there's nothing worse that having no clue what others around you are talking about. So we're here to help.

Take for example the word "hoppy". No, you didn't misunderstand and hear "happy". Hops are one of the key ingredients in beer and are a big part of what gives the aroma and 'flavor'. While they do help make it bitter, they can also give the beer a spicy, citrus, floral, or pine aroma or taste, among many other flavors and aromas, without making it bitter. Of course, the vice versa is also true, depending on the hops.

When someone says the beer has a "clean" finish, it doesn't mean the glass is clean (although we hope it is).  A clean beer is not rich or sticky.

Now, what if someone calls a beer "dank" or "funky"? That can't be good, right? Not true. In fact, it's preferred in some beers. It all comes back to the hops again. Dank beers have a bold, woodsy, earthy character, whereas funky beers are almost leathery in the aroma, which is almost a staple of 'sour' beers.

Not sure what a "sour" beer is? No, it's nothing like a beer tasting like sour patch kids. In this case, it's all about the unique fermentation process to create the beer, using a different yeast and bacteria. It makes the beer a bit acidic, dry, and "mouth puckering" in flavor, like a lemon, which is, well, sour.

So now you know "hoppy", "clean", "dank", "funky", and "sour". It should be enough to clear up a bit of confusion. Best bet though is to just talk to the other connoisseurs like yourself, as well as some of the breweries which may be on hand at the event. They'll give you plenty of information to heighten your beer awareness and appreciation. So drink up, because there will be plenty to sample from. Plus sampling is unlimited, so if it's not your thing, dump it and move on. Just make sure you're responsible.

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