Beer 101: Just 4 ingredients...but what do they do?

vtpubandbrew2.jpg

It may be the world’s 3rd most popular beverage and 11,000 years old, but what makes beer? And why are there so many different kinds?

We’re well beyond the 500 year old German Purity Laws that said beer could only contain Barley Malt, Hops, and Water (Yeast was added in the 1800’s after Pasteur discovered it was the power behind fermentation).

While Barley is still a popular grain, others can be used as well. Grain gives beer it’s color, flavor, maltose (a sugar that feeds the yeast for fermenting), proteins that contribute to the foam or head, and dextrins which are a carb that contributes to mouthfeel.

Hops, also contribute to flavor, oils in the hops add to the aroma, bitterness offsets the sweet sugars from the grain, and the acid it hops repel bacteria to extend it’s shelf life.

Yeast, as mentioned is the engine behind fermentation, turning maltose (sugar) into alcohol and CO2.

Finally water is the main content.

With a variety of Grains, Hops, Yeast strains, and even different minerals in water, you see why beer vary. Add to that different techniques and additives and the possibilities are limitless.