What is Beer?
Beer is the world’s oldest alcoholic drink and one of the most popular. It is an alcoholic beverage made by extracting raw materials with water, boiling (usually with hops) and fermenting. The standard ingredients of beer are water, barley or other malt, hops and yeast. Beer has a distinctive flavor that is refreshing, satisfying and complex, and its low alcohol content means it can be enjoyed by almost anyone.
To make beer, grain must be “malted.” This is a process of steeping seed in water to simulate germination and create enzymes that convert the starches in the grains into sugars, which are then consumed by yeast during fermentation. Barley is the most common malt used to make beer, although other grains can be used as well.
Yeast are single-celled organisms that feast on the sugars in the malted barley, releasing carbon dioxide and ethyl alcohol in return. Different strains of yeast have specific characteristics that brewers use to produce certain styles of beer. Ale yeasts enjoy a warm environment and produce fruity, spicy or earthy flavors; lager yeasts prefer cooler temperatures and yield clean, crisp beers.
Yeast consume the sugars in malted barley and transform them into ethyl alcohol and carbon dioxide, which give beer its fizz. Yeast also add the body to a beer. A beer’s body is a feeling of palate fullness and can range from light to full. The brewed beer is then filtered and packaged.