Beer Glossary – Attenuation: The ABCs of Beer Abbreviations

Reading Time: around 4 min

When you crack open a cold one, you’re not just sipping on hops and barley – you’re tasting the fruits of a microscopic rave. Yep, I’m talking about attenuation. It’s the process where yeast eats the sugars in beer wort. Then, it gets a little tipsy and gives us alcohol. 

This little shindig is what turns your would-be sweet tea…

…into a brew that can liven up a funeral.

But don’t think the yeast’s work is done once you’re buzzed. 

Oh no, those little party animals determine a lot about your beer. 

From its strength to its dryness. The more they gobble up, the less sweet and the boozier your beer will be. In the world of brewing, attenuation is your ticket to gauging just how much these microscopic bouncers have let loose in the sugar pool party.

Key Takeaways

  • Yeast ferments sugars in the wort, creating alcohol and defining beer’s strength.
  • The extent of sugar conversion to alcohol, termed attenuation, impacts beer flavor.
  • Higher attenuation results in a less sweet, stronger beer, showcasing yeast’s role in brewing.


The Brewing And Fermentation Fandango

Right then, let’s waddle through the watery world of brewing and hitch a ride with fermentation. You’re in for a frothy dance!

Wort’s Up With Gravity?

Before yeast can shake a leg, you’ve got to prep the dance floor. Enter the wort. It’s all about the Specific Gravity (SG), which tells us how much sugar is packed in your wort compared to water. Think of Original Gravity (OG) as the hype before the party starts. 

This number screams potential.

How much can the yeast consume to make alcohol?



Pre-party (Wort)

Original Gravity

Post-party (Beer)

Final Gravity


As the bash goes on, meandering through the mash and boil, the SG drops when sugars turn into alcohol. Yes, that’s your wort slimming down into beer, measured by Final Gravity (FG). 

The difference in OG and FG, that’s attenuation in action.

Yeast doing the limbo, how low can it go?

Yeast: The Party Starters

Yeast is like your cool uncle with a funky dance move. These tiny organisms munch on sugars, burping out alcohol and CO2. Now that’s my kind of respiration. But they need the right groove to really get down. 

Fermentation temperature: too hot, they get sloppy; too cold, they won’t boogie.

  • Ale Yeast: Likes to party on the warmer side.
  • Lager Yeast: Prefers a chill to cut a rug.


Each yeast strain has an attitude, your beer’s flavor depends on their mood! Keep your yeast happy with proper temps and a good mash temperature to prep the sugar buffet.

And you want your friends crushin’ it, not crashing. 

So mind the yeast health, no one likes a party pooper. The yeast goes ham on fermentable sugars, flips the script and what was sweet is now a full-bodied brew with the alcohol content you’ve been eyeing!

Let’s keep it real. Without good attenuation, your beer could end up sweeter than your grandma’s tea or drier than a dad joke. Nail it, and you’ve got a beer with class, sass, and just the right gas! Cheers to that! 🍻

Sipping On Science: Attenuation In-Depth

When you peer into your pint, you’re actually staring at a science experiment.

And attenuation is the headliner.

Decrypting Attenuation Digits

Let’s break it down: Attenuation is the diva of the beer world. It shows you how much sugar yeast beasts munched away during fermentation. It’s a showdown between Original Gravity (OG) and Final Gravity (FG), measured in either Specific Gravity (SG) units.

Or classy Degrees Plato.

  • OG is the density of your brewskie mix before the microscopic party starts.
  • FG is what you’re left with when the yeast calls it quits.


The difference? That’s your apparent attenuation. An estimate, playing dress-up as the real deal. But hey, for ABV (Alcohol By Volume) calculations, this number does the trick.

Real attenuation is like a behind-the-scenes genius. 

It adjusts for alcohol’s specific gravity sleight of hand. 

Trust me, these digits are your ticket to professing your beer know-how.

Fancy Flavors From Fermenting Figures

Attenuation isn’t just about bragging rights at your next homebrew club. 

It’s the ghostwriter of your beer’s flavor profile:

  • Low attenuation? Think sweet, gentle melodies on your tongue.
  • High attenuation? It’s like inviting all the yeasts to a wild after-party, leaving you a dry, crisp sensation in your mouth.


The finale of this biological circus gives you the grand spectrum of taste, mouthfeel, aroma, and character. It’s a balancing act where even a smidgen can swing your brew from fab to drab or vice versa. So next time you sip, tip your hat to the maestros of attenuation.

They’ve crafted the symphony in your pint.

Picture of Damian


A lifelong learner, hop enthusiast and a lover of the state of extreme exhaustion.

Finance Analyst in the Investment Bank and co-founder of