The brewing of beer has been around for centuries and still today many of us enjoy sitting down and cracking a cold one. However, the brewing of beer, is an interest and a craft not as many of us partake in as the drinking of it.
Beer is a natural product because it is made using natural ingredients yet there are different techniques, additives and preservatives used to create special blends and formulas. Four basic ingredients go into beer – hops, water, yeast and malted barley but it can become complex because of all the variations possible using these four simple ingredients.
Purity of the materials used and preparing those materials accurately are key factors in the brewing process.
Malted Barley – Mashing the barley activates the enzymes in the malt which break down complex starches into simpler sugars that will be more readily consumed by yeast during fermentation
Hops – Hops flowers grow into cone shaped structures, hops with high alpha acid percentages are used for bittering and hops with lower are usually considered better for aroma and flavor – referred to as finishing. Many different forms of hops are used for brewing such as extracts, pelletized powder, loose whole flowers and plugs of compressed whole flowers. The quality of the hops, the percentage of alpha acid, the type and the amount used can all change the outcome of the brew.
Yeast – Yeast aids in the fermentation process of beer making and two different kinds are used that require varying conditions, specifically difference in temperature.
Water – At the end of brewing process, the brewing water is the “liquor” and is nearly all of the final product. The water has 6 main components that need to be taken into consideration when brewing your blend. Salts of the water – biocarbonate, sodium, chloride, sulfate, calcium and magnesium. These are carefully balanced for the desired flavor and quality.
The way each of these 4 basic ingredients work together is a symbiotic process which requires purity of the materials, manipulation of the ingredients and expertise of the brewer to create the blends we all know, love and enjoy!