What is Beer?
Beer is a liquid that contains 5% to 10% alcohol made by combining malt (kiln-dried germinated barley or wheat), water, hops and yeast. The four simple ingredients in the hands of a skilled brew master can be transformed into hundreds of different beer styles and thousands of unique brews.
The germination of barley grains produces starch-digesting enzymes that, along with the water in a mash, produce beer’s fermentable sugars—primarily maltose—and alcohol. The germination process is called malting and can be done with other grains—like rice, corn, millet, sorghum and wheat—but the brewing of beer with barley has been around since 3000 BCE.
The consistency, thickness and mouth-filling property of a beer; can range from thin to full. A beer’s body is a direct result of the mash and fermentation processes as well as the brewing techniques employed.
Ales are brewed with top fermenting yeast and are typically fermented at warmer temperatures than lagers. They tend to have more flavor compounds and can have higher alcoholic strength than lagers.
A beer made with bottom fermenting yeast and a cooler temperature than ales, lagers are associated with crisp, clean flavors. The brewing technique of adding hot water to the wort just prior to yeast addition helps lagers achieve a higher level of clarity than ales.
The brewing of a lager is typically achieved with an all-malt recipe or one that uses a combination of malt extract and mashed barley. The addition of roasted barley to the mash during a mash tun can also increase a lager’s body and color.