Beginner Beer Education

Have you recently found yourself more curious about the brewing process and what goes into the beer you’re drinking?  Well here is a breakdown of a few of the main ingredients found in beer.

Water makes up almost 95% of every beer, making it one of the most important ingredients in the beer making process.  Next on the list is barley, which is used to generate the necessary sugars to produce alcohol.  Without barley we’d have no beer.  Different flavor profiles can be achieved by the length of time you roast the barley.  Lightly toasted barley gives you a biscuit or cereal flavor, while roasting them for a longer period of time can give you notes of chocolate or coffee.  Barley is the most common grain used but some larger breweries use corn, rice or other grains to save money or achieve different flavors.

Hops are used in the process to add flavor and aroma to your beer.  There are over 50 different types of hops and some beers contain multiple strains to give them their specific flavors.  Scent of pine needles, grapefruit and herbs are often associated with hoppy beers.  Hops also add a bitter taste, helping balance out the sweet flavors.

In the end, yeast is what makes the whole process worth it.  When yeast takes the sugars and turns them into alcohol this is called fermentation, the most important part of the entire process.  There are two main types of yeast, top-fermenting and bottom-fermenting.  Top-fermenting yeast is used in ales, porters, stouts, Altbier, Kolsch, and wheat beers.  And pilsners, Dortmunders, Marzen, Bocks, and American malt liquors commonly use bottom-fermenting yeasts.  Spontaneous fermentation occurs when the beer is exposed to the open air allowing wild yeasts, like Brettanomyces Lambicus, to “infect” the beer which gives it a sour taste.

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