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What is Beer?

The world’s favourite brew is made from four basic ingredients: water, yeast, grains or malts and hops. The combination of these provides a wide range of flavours and styles.

In the hands of a good brewer, these simple ingredients can create a work of brewing art. The result, in a bottle, can or Solo cup is beer. Beer is a low-calorie, low-sodium drink and when consumed in moderation is thought to have health benefits including improved cardiovascular health. It is also a source of nutrients like vitamin B12 and folic acid, minerals including magnesium and phosphorous and contains antioxidants.

To make beer, grains are heated in hot water to activate the natural enzymes in them, turning their starches into sugars. This process is known as mashing and is what gives beers their colour and body. It is then boiled with hops and strained to capture the sugary liquid, which is called wort. The wort is cooled before yeast is added to convert the sugars into alcohol and carbon dioxide. This is the fermentation phase, which can be primary or secondary.

Yeast are single-celled organisms that feast on the sugar in the grain, producing carbon dioxide and alcohol. The type of yeast used can have a big impact on the beer’s character, for example ale yeasts thrive in warm conditions and add fruity, spicy or earthy flavours to beers while lager yeasts prefer cooler environments and create crisper, cleaner beers. Hops give beers their bitterness, and there are many different varieties from which to choose.

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