With Four Good Ingredients, You Can Make a Beer
Beer is a simple product made primarily of just four ingredients: Malted Barley, Hops, Water, and Yeast! It is the interplay of these elements, combined with the skill of the brewer, that can create a multitude of different flavors, aromas, and types of beers.
Barley is the cereal grain that is commonly used in brewing. To create malt, barley is soaked in water until it begins to sprout, converting its starch reserves into sugars. This process is then halted by drying the grain in a kiln, providing a source of sugar and soluble starch for fermentation. The temperature of the kiln produces many different types of malt – such as pale, caramel or crystal, dark, and roasted malts – which are used to create specific beers. Malt contributes to the flavor, color, and mouthfeel of a beer.
Before the 15th century, most ales were flavored with a mixture of herbs spices, and berries, such as sweet gale, yarrow, heather, juniper, or caraway. Hops are the female flowers of the hop plant and there are more than 50 recognized varieties.
In brewing, hops add a bitterness that balances the sweetness that remains in beer after the fermentation process ends. Hops also act as a preservative in the beer.
Beer is more than 95 percent water, so it is little surprise that water quality has historically been an important determinant of where brewers locate. The flavor of a beer is strongly influenced by its water.
These single-cell organisms are the catalysts that make the whole magical process of beer-making work. In consuming the sugar released from the malt, they produce alcohol and carbon dioxide during fermentation. Yeast occurs naturally in the environment, but specific yeast is cultured for particular beers.