The Four Elements of Beer Brewing
The simple ingredients of water, yeasts, grains or malts and hops have given rise to hundreds of beer styles, thousands of breweries and a beverage that is enjoyed all over the world. In the hands of a skilled brew master these four basic elements can be transformed into a unique work of brewing art.
Beer is made of up to 95% water and quality can impact flavor. Breweries carefully monitor their brewing water to ensure it is free from sulphur, chlorine and other scents as well as to control for mineral levels like calcium and acidity.
A mash is a mixture of crushed malt and water that is stirred and heated to transform complex starches into sugars the yeast can convert to alcohol. The mash is also a rich source of enzymes that help to break down the proteins found in barley and other grain.
The wort is then boiled to evaporate some of the water and to clarify it. This process helps the brewer to be able to pitch the yeast, and it also removes any proteins that might inhibit fermentation. The boiled wort is then cooled to a temperature that the yeast can tolerate.
Once the wort has cooled, it is pitched with yeast and allowed to ferment and turn the sugars into alcohol and carbon dioxide. The different yeasts used produce distinct types of beers. Ale yeasts create beers with aromas and flavors ranging from citrusy to herbal, while lager yeasts produce more neutral beers with a crisp taste.