The Four Ingredients
Brewing beer is a natural process, and indeed its basic ingredients haven’t changed for thousands of years. The process itself developed over the years from the aspects of the equipment, raw material quality, and accuracy of the recipes.You make quality beer from only four ingredients: water, malt, hops, and yeast. From each of the ingredients (including water) there is a wide variety of types. What determines the beer’s style, taste, and aroma are the type of each of the ingredients, their quantity, and the details of the process used.
Water is the beer's base. There are many types of water which differ by the type of minerals and their concentration. Over the years, people all over the world developed different types of beer, according to the type of local water. For example, the Pilsner was born and developed in the Czech Republic based on very soft water and almost lacking in minerals. In comparison, the British Pale Ale was developed in Burton upon Trent in Britain, where the water is abundant in minerals and rich in sulfur. The type of minerals and their concentration in water influences the beer’s final taste. In order to have the best water we purify our water by RO and other filtration methods and then rebuild them with the exact amount of natural minerals for each type of beer that we brew.
Malt to beer is like grapes to wine. Malt is the source of the sugar that ferments and turns into alcohol. Malt is actually different cereal seeds (mainly barley and wheat) that have gone through partial germination (seeds that were wetted, sprouted, and dried midway through the germination process). The partial sprouting creates natural enzymes that break the starch into sugars that are ready to ferment. Most of the world’s malt is barley, but there are beers that use other cereals like wheat. There are other sources of sugar in the world like rice and corn.
The type of malt and level of roasting influence both the taste and color of the beer.
Hops are the female flower clusters (commonly called cones), of a vine that grows in the cold areas of Europe and North America. Hops have been used in brewing for many years balancing the sweetness of the malt with bitterness. They contribute a variety of desirable flavors and aromas, and have an antibiotic effect that favors the activity of brewer’s yeast over less desirable microorganisms. The variety of the hops, the stage in which they are added, and their quantity – influence the beer’s bitterness, taste, and aroma.
Yeast is a single-cell microorganism whose existence was discovered only 150 years ago by Louis Pasteur. The yeast converts fermentable sugars into alcohol, carbon dioxide, and a series of flavors and aromas. There are many types of yeast. Man has been using yeast for thousands of years for baking and brewing. In beer we use brewing yeast. The two important yeast families are the Ale and the Lager. The Ale family ferments at a warmer temperature, and produces beer with more flavors and aromas. The Lager family ferments at a colder temperature and makes more subtle types of beer.Different types of yeast produce completely different types of beer from the same raw materials.