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A Complete Guide for Beginners & Homebrew Enthusiasts

Views: 8     Author: Site Editor     Publish Time: 2022-09-30      Origin: Site

What Ingredients are in Beer?

What is beer made of? This is one of the most commonly asked questions aspiring home brewers have and thankfully it’s one with a nice simple answer.

There are 4 main ingredients in beer: hops, grains or malt extract (depending on which method you’re using), yeast and water.

The role of the different ingredients is:

  • Water – Without water, beer (or any beverage for that matter) would be impossible. Because more than 95% of your final product will be water, the quality of the water you use will have a big impact on the quality of the final product. Keep that in mind!

  • Yeast – Yeast is that which turns your sweet brown “tea” into beer. Yeast is a single cell organism that eats sugar and converts it into alcohol and CO2. This is called fermentation.

  • Grains – Barley is probably the most common type of grain used today although there are plenty of beers out there that use wheat, corn, and even sorghum or rice. If you’re using the All Grain method, you’ll be purchasing barley in its whole form. If you’re using the extract method, you’ll be purchasing barley malt, which is a soup of sugar and soluble starches that’s ready for fermentation.

  • Hops – Hops are those things that give your DIY beer its flavor and aroma. They also work to counteract the sweetness left over from the fermentation process and act as a bacterial inhibitor. There are many kinds of hops and different ones produce different flavors.

Different Fermentation of Beer: Lagers vs Ales & Hybrids

All beers are either lagers or ales, and it is determined by the type of yeast used to brew it.

  • Lagers are made with yeast that ferments at the bottom of the mixture;

  • Ales are made with yeast that ferments at the top;

  • Wild and Sour Ales are brewed with spontaneously fermenting yeasts which gives them their distinct qualities

So even if you are brewing beers that are of a similar style, the qualities may be similar, but the taste, aroma and consistency will vary.

You can dive deeper into each fermentation method here: Lagers vs Ales

Brewing Methods: All Grain or Extract Brewing?

Before learning how to make beer at home, you need to decide which type of brewing you want to engage in.

Essentially there are two types available to the homebrewer: all grain and extract.

In the step by step homebrewing guide on how to make your own beer, we’ll be explaining the extract process, but it’s good to know a bit about both so you can make up your own mind which one is more to your liking.

All Grain Brewing – All grain brewing entails extracting sugars from the grain through a method known as mashing. This is necessary in order to convert the starches in the grain into fermentable sugars.

Mashing grains is not like mashing potatoes so don’t go reaching for the potato masher here. Instead, mashing in this case means soaking the grain in cold water to release the starches and allow the enzymes within the grain to break down into the aforementioned fermentable sugars.

Once this is complete, the resulting sugars are then rinsed from the grains through another process called sparging.

Once the fermentable sugars have been extracted from the grain, the rest of the process is the same as that of extract brewing, which we’ll go over now.

Extract Brewing – With this method, you are able to skip the mashing step because someone else has already done it for you. They then packaged the results in the form of a liquid or dry malt extract which, along with other things you’ll need, comprise a kit you buy to kick-start the whole brew process.

While there’s no doubt that brewing your own beer with malt is going to cost you more many people opt for this method because of the time and effort they’re able to save.

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