What are the main ingredients in beer?
Beer is actually a fermented drink made with cereal grains and is actually made from four main ingredients:
Firstly the grain must be turned into malt before it can be used in the brewing process. The most common grain is barley but other grains are used depending on what is available eg, wheat, rice, corn, oats, rye, corn etc. Barley and wheat must go through a malting process before they can be included in the brew to make wort. The grain is malted it actives the seed and the germination process has happened this will allow the seed to process the natural starches in the grain and turn it into natural sugars, and this is what the yeast feeds on during the fermentation stage of brewing. The seed will start to grow and just before it emerges from the seed it is put in a kiln and the sugars can be roasted and this will give different flavours and colours.
Water makes up the majority of the volume in beer. Water generally accounts for about 90% of beer, which means this is the main ingredient but it can have a major effect on the flavour of the beer. Water is everywhere but the Ph and chlorine levels will differ and this will affect the beer in its end product.
Hops are a cone-shaped flower of the female hops plant, Latin name is Humulus lupulus. The hop plant is actually a distant cousin of cannabis but without the THC. Hops actually contain acids and oils, which helps with the flavouring, bittering, and balance agent in beer, also the bitterness, they also carry floral, fruity, or citrus flavours and aromas to the beer. There are over 80 different varieties of different types of hops that are on the market today. They can be split into 3 main categories: aroma, bittering and dual. Bittering hops do have a high amount of acid in the flower with that recognizable bitter flavour in the beer. Aroma hops will have less acid but more flavour and aroma, this will make the beer smell and taste a certain way. Dual hops have a mid-to-high range amount of acid with a good smell and used for both aroma and bittering.
Usually, hops will be added to the boiling stage of brewing which is the kettle, which it can take up to an hour for the alpha acids to be released. The bitterness of the hops will balance the sweet taste of the malt.
This stage is also known as the fermentation stage, this is where the yeast is added to the wort it has been dormant until it has been placed in the wort that needs to be at the right temperature to bring the culture out of dormancy. Most beers have the yeast strain called Saccharomyces, and if you translate this back to Latin it means sugar fungus. The yeast is added and eats up the sugar and creates alcohol, carbonation, and other compounds (esters, phenols,) that gives the beer its unique flavour. Yeast will either rise to the top (ale yeast) or the bottom (lager yeast)
Ale yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) is what they call top-fermented, so the yeast is applied to the top of the wort, the yeast also prefers wort to be warmer at a temperature between 10 to 20 degrees Celsius
Larger Yeast (Saccharomyces pastorianus) is bottom-fermented yeast, the yeast works at the bottom of the wort, at a lower temperature of fermentation at 7 to 13 degrees Celsius