The beer world is a little bit more complicated than your average beverage. It’s been the scene of a #MeToo reckoning, breweries offering nonalcoholic options, and an industry that celebrates its dedicated communities.
Craft beer is brewed in small quantities, usually by independently owned breweries. It has a wide range of flavor profiles and is often infused with interesting ingredients.
Whether you’re reaching for a crisp lager or sipping on a complex bourbon barrel-aged stout, craft beer is a kaleidoscope of flavor. But with a definition that’s constantly shifting — a term the Brewers Association (BA) has altered to include breweries bought by macro breweries like Miller Lite and Budweiser — the nuances of craft beer aren’t always clear.
But at its core, brewing beer is really quite simple. There are four basic ingredients — malted barley, water, hops and yeast — that must be combined to produce fermentable sugars and carbon dioxide. The brewing process is both precise and calculated, but it also offers the room for creative interpretation and innovation. This is where the brewers’ passion shines through. Check for craft beer delivery.
Beer is made from just four ingredients: malt, hops, water, and yeast. The ingredients are used in varying proportions depending on the style of beer being brewed, but all beers are made with the same basic materials.
Agricultural Research Service (ARS) researchers breed and evaluate both barley and hops, allowing breweries to select the best varieties for their beers. ARS science helps the $111 billion industry improve the quality of its ingredients.
The Brewers Association’s definition of craft beer is “small, independent and traditional.” But that’s a pretty broad brushstroke and it can be difficult to distinguish the difference between a Miller High Life and an oak-aged stout. Luckily, a few key indicators will help you tell the two apart. Read on.
The basic ingredients of beer are malt, hops, and yeast. While the exact ingredients and preparation can vary widely from one brewer to another, the fundamentals are universal.
After the mash is complete, the liquid, now called wort, is brought to a boil. This boiling focuses the sugars and concentrates the flavors. It also kills unwanted enzymes and destroys harmful oxygen, creating a safe environment for the addition of hops.
Herald is a dual purpose American hop that offers both bittering and aroma. Bred as a cross between Petham Golding and a high alpha male, this hop provides woody and spicy notes as well as rich citrus. If you cannot find Herald hops for your brewing needs, try substituting with a similar Golding variety like Kent or Farnham.
Malts are the light colored grains that provide most of the sugars for beer brewing. They must be “malted” first by sprouting in a warm, moist environment to allow the grain to easily release the sugars needed for fermentation.
Malted barley is used in most all beers, and there are different types of malts that offer varying degrees of flavor and sweetness. Crystalline malt, for example, offers a sweet caramel-like flavor and can increase the thickness of a beer.
Craft breweries use traditional quality ingredients, and their focus on enthusiasm, new flavors, and varied brewing techniques creates many different beer styles that can be enjoyed by all. Water, grain, hops and yeast are the core ingredients for all beers, but breweries can add in fruits, herbs, spices, coffee and chocolate to make unique drinks.
Yeast, which is actually unicellular fungi, is a big part of Craft Beer, converting sugars from malt into carbon dioxide. Yeast also produces flavor compounds that are a key part of the taste experience.
These flavor compounds are created when yeast take in oxygen and then transform simple sugars into precursors of other flavors, like esters or phenols. All beers go through this fermentation process but the yeast used will dramatically affect the end product.
Until recently it took brewers decades to manipulate yeast strains in order to produce even the slightest change in a finished beer. Now, researchers are breeding new strains with the goal of speeding up this process so that brewers can experiment and produce more variety. Yeast is a fascinating field of study for both brewers and drinkers.