The fantastic four

Hello again. As I was saying in the previous article about not to ask beers for their colour, all the beers are made with at least 4 ingredients: water, barley, hops and yeast. Every one of this ingredients are going to be more important depending the type of beer. In a big perspective, water is more important in beers like lagers, barley in beers like stouts and porters, hops in IPAs and Pale Ales and yeast in Belgian beers and sours. Let’s talk a bit about each one of these ingredients:

Water

Water is the 90% of the beer. From any type of beer, that’s why beer is liquid, because it’s mainy water. Taking that water is 90% of the beer, no, beer doesn’t make you fat. What makes you fat is eating junk and not exercising. The composition of the water is different depending where you are due to the minerals in it. i.e. the water in London it’s know as “hard water” so it’s good for Pale ales and Stouts as they need more body. Water in the US is quite smooth so it’s easy for the flavour of the hops in american styles like IPA’s. Water in center Europe is very soft so it makes very easy drinking beers like German Hells or Czech Pilsners. But nowadays due to mineralization techniques you can recreate almosth any type of water with the appropiate chemical processes.

Barley

Barley is one of the most important components in beer, not only because it give the beer it’s colours, but because it’s the one that releases sugar during the brewing process. The more barley more sugar, the more sugar more alcohol. Also, as I commented before, the more you toast the barley the darker colour the beer it’s going to be. “Doble Malta”. Doble malta no es nada, simplemente ha estado más tiempo tostándose.

Hops

One of my favourite ingredients, and what makes beer beer. Hops are a distant cousin from marijuana, in shape and in aroma. There’s a lot of different breed, it needs a lot of sun to grow and it’s “fruit” smells a lot. Hops is what give bitterness to beer (because bitterness it’s a key factor in beer) and also adds flavour and aroma. They’re added to the process in different stages, depending what do you want to get from them

Yeast

Yeast is a live microorganism which main duty is to transform the sugar that’s on the brew and that has been released by the barley, into alcohol. Nowadays how the yeast is going to react in the brew it’s easily controlable, but back in the time they had no idea how this process worked. Generally they don’t add a massive flavour to the beer, except in belgian styles, sours and lambics, where yeast is a very important ingredient. The area known as Pajottenland in Belgium, where lambic beers began, it’s known for the yeasts floating in the air and it’s a very particular type of yeast. In the breweries there, when they have to ferment the beer, instead of manually add the yeast, they open the windows and leave the tanks of beer open, so the yeast naturally goes inside and ferments the beer. That’s what it’s called wild fermentation.

Probably I’ll go more in depth about every ingredient in the future, but for know I’m happy if you’ve learnt a bit more about what makes beer, beer.

 

Font of image: http://www.beercartel.com.au/blog/the-4-magic-ingredients-of-beer-water-malts-hops-yeast/

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