Beer 101

Beer is the oldest alcoholic beverage. It is essentially just four things: malt, hops, yeast and water. The process of making beer is called brewing which is takes place with the fermentation of sugar from starch based material.

Beer 101

Welcome to Beer 101

What is beer?

Beer is the oldest alcoholic beverage. It is essentially just four things: malt, hops, yeast and water. The process of making beer is called brewing which is takes place with the fermentation of sugar from starch based material.  The most common material used is malted barley, but can also be wheat, corn, rice or any other number of things.

The first step in the brewing process is called malting the barley. Barley is common because it is more suitable for brewing then baking. The mixture of malts that is used in the recipe is called grist. During this process the starch source (usually malted barley) is seeped in water, where malt enzymes break down the starch molecules which produce a sugary liquid called wort. This is when the hops are added in.

Hops are a type of flower that is best suited for beer because it is a natural preservative as well as providing bitterness, flavor and aroma to the beer. If a beer recipe calls for herbs or fruits to be added, then those are added after the hops.

Yeast is then added to cause fermentation which produces alcohol and other waste products from the anaerobic respiration of the yeast. There are two main types of yeast: ale yeast and lager yeast. The ale yeast cools at about 60 degrees Fahrenheit while the lager yeast cools at about 50 degrees. Ale yeasts are known as top fermenting and lager yeasts are known as bottom fermenting. The ale yeast contributes a lot of flavor to the overall beer while the lager yeast does not contribute as much.

There are really only 2 styles of beer.

ALES & LAGERS…

Ales

This category of beer uses yeast that ferments at the “top” of the fermentation vessel, and typically at higher temperatures than lager yeast , which, as a result, makes for a quicker fermentation period (7-8 days, or even less). Ale yeast are known to produce by-products called esters, which are “flowery” and “fruity” aromas ranging, but not limited to apple, pear, pineapple, grass, hay, plum, and prune.

Lagers

Lagers are brewed with bottom fermenting yeast that work slowly at around 34 degrees F, and are often further stored at cool temperature to mature. Lager yeast produce fewer by-product characters than ale yeast which allows for other flavors to pull through, such as hops.