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What is Beer?

Beer is a delicious alcoholic drink made from water, malted barley, hops and yeast. The grains provide a sweet flavor base while the hops add those recognizable bitter and floral notes. The yeast hard at work in fermentation creates alcohol and a light natural carbonation that gives beer its refreshing qualities. The blending of the ingredients allows for a huge variety of beer recipes – from mouth-puckering sourness to creamy richness and everything in between.

The word beer is derived from the Old English ealu and the Old Norse bjorr, both of which refer to any kind of sweet alcoholic drink made from malted grain. Early brewing was done using a primitive system of extracting the raw materials from grain, boiling and fermenting. This is still the main method used today. There are three major ways to brew beer-extract brewing, partial mash brewing and all-grain brewing. All three methods involve heating water with the grain and adding hops to a liquid called wort. The wort is then fermented with yeast and can be poured into bottles or barrels for fermentation and maturation.

There are many types of beers, from the malted wheat and oats used in hefeweizens and stouts to the sorghum and millet beers of Africa or Chinese jiu and Japanese sake. All beers, however, are close cousins in terms of their basic ingredients and brewing process-they all require extracting the sugars from the malted grains, adding yeast to convert the sugars to ethyl alcohol and carbon dioxide and then letting the yeast do its magic.

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