Learning About the Primary Beer Ingredients

Beer is known as the oldest and most widely consumed alcoholic drink in the world.  This is probably because of the number of significant health benefits from drinking beer. Studies show that drinking beer reduces the risk of developing kidney stones, help get better digestion, lower bad cholesterol, contribute to higher bone density, promote sleep, reduces the risk of heart attack, help reduce work-related stress or anxiety and boosts memory.

The process of making beer is known as brewing.  The purpose of brewing is to convert the starch source into a sugary liquid called wort and to convert the wort into the alcoholic beverage known as beer in a fermentation process effected by yeast. A company that makes beer is called either a brewery or a brewing company.

craft beer

Craft beer is not brewed by one of the big mega-brewery corporations. In fact, craft beer is made by a brewer that is small, independent, and traditional. Craft brewery also known as microbrewery is a brewery that produces small amounts of beer typically much smaller than large-scale corporate breweries.

Beer is any fermented beverage made with a cereal grain.  It is made from these four primary beer ingredients: water, grain, hops, and yeast.

Water

Water is the main ingredient of beer. The quality of brewing water is extremely important because it represents over 95% of the final product. The presence of minerals in the water can have huge impacts on how a beer will taste. The mineral content of water can be manipulated and adjusted according to the requirements of the beer style being brewed.

Starch Source

The starch source in a beer provides the fermentable material and is a key determinant of the strength and flavor of the beer. The most common starch source used in beer is malted grain. Nearly all beer ingredients include barley malt as the majority of the starch because barley is the perfect brewing grain. Barley has high starch content, the enzymes needed to convert the starch to sugar, and proteins to aid in yeast health. Before barley grain can be used to make beer, it must undergo a process known as malting, in which moisture stimulates the natural germination process inside the grain. Malting gives beer its color, malty sweet flavor, protein and the natural sugars needed for fermentation. Beers are also brewed with wheat, oat, corn, rice, or rye.  These grains are referred to as adjuncts when used in brewing beer. Adjuncts are never used exclusively but are used as supplements to the barley. These adjuncts lend texture, head retention, aroma and taste of the beer.

beer

Hops

The flower of the hop vine is used as a flavoring and preservative agent in nearly all beer made today. The flowers themselves are often called “hops”. Hops contribute a bitterness that balances the sweetness of the malt. In addition to bittering, the beer hops also contribute a huge variety of floral, citrus, and herbal aromas and flavors of the beer.

Yeast

Yeast is one of the primary beer ingredients. It is the microorganism that is responsible for fermentation in beer. Yeast metabolizes the sugars extracted from grains, which produces alcohol and carbon dioxide, and thereby turns wort into beer. yeast influences the character and flavor. Yeast can be categorized into two main families, the ale yeast, and the lager yeast. This is why beers are either ales or lagers.

Other Ingredients

Other beer ingredients used in beer brewing are bananas, black walnuts, seaweeds, and cucumbers. The banana gives the beer a more yellow hue and a sweet, light flavor. The black walnuts give the beer a chocolate brown pigment, smooth texture, and a sweet malty taste. Seaweeds give the beer a unique flavor that’s part malty, part salty. Cucumbers are used in beer brewing because they provide a refreshing and light flavor that’s perfect for summer.