The Basic Ingredients In Beer
As a lot of people know there are very few ingredients in beer, in fact the brewing process can be as simple or as complicated as you want to make it. Some people use malt extracts and some follow the whole process from scratch including making their own barley malt. Below is just a brief run though of the basic ingredients along with a short explanation of their purpose.
Malt is one of the main ingredients in beer brewing and comes from natural grain. Although many different types of grain can be used (e.g. wheat), barley is often the most utilised in the brewing process as it yields the most sugar and provides the best flavour.
The darkness of the malt is also a factor when it comes the flavour. The darker the malt, the stronger the taste becomes. The more malt used in a brew the stronger the flavour and the strength of the beer.
You can also find many flavoured malts such as, caramel and peppermint, so it pay to experiment and find out what works best for you. If you are a beginner you can buy ready made malt extract (dried malt) to make things easier.
Hops are added primarily to control the sweetness of the brew and add bitterness thought out the brewing process.
Hops also control the undesirable flavour effects of the yeast and help to add a longer lasting foam head on the beer. It also contains a preservative effect with keeps brewed beer fresher for longer.
As a lot of people know one of the main ingredients in beer is water and it can account for up to 90% of the beers make up.
The quality of the water can have a profound impact of the taste of a brew and even bring out undesirable flavours. Historically hard water is preferred for pale ales and soft water is used for stout.
Now days it’s easier to alter water quality with the use of chemicals to reach the desired effect, although for home brewing this is generally not needed and can make the process overly complicated.
Beer yeast is the ingredient that allows for fermentation and produces the alcohol content. Although some brew mixes will start to ferment without it, most brewers add it to kick start the process and therefore speed up the time it takes to brew.
As with all ingredients, there are different types of beer yeast. Lager yeast ferments at lower temperatures and takes longer to brew. Ale yeast works best at a slightly higher temperature, but has a shorter brew time. There are many different types of both kinds of beer yeast that can contribute different flavours to a beer, so as with everything experimentation is the key.
This is basically all you require to make your very own home made beer, although there are many different ways to create the desired brew mix. Hopefully this brief overview should have wet your whistle enough to begin your own journey to making the perfect home brew.