Despite what many people may think, brewing beer is really a relatively simple process. In fact it is so simple a process, that you can even do it in the comfort of your own home. All you really need to do is have the basics of beer brewing explained, and you can easily be on the way to creating your own fantastic recipes.
The key to understanding beer brewing lies in knowing the ingredients that are used. For any beer, there are four main elements, or ingredients. It is the quantity, quality, and differing methods of cooking and combining these four ingredients which lead to a successful batch of beer. In fact, it could honestly be said that understanding how these basic ingredients interact with one another is a very important and integral part of brewing a successful and great tasting batch of beer.
- Water. Water is the main ingredient of beer, and as such has a huge impact on how you're your batch finally turns out. When choosing water to use for your beer, the main thing that you need to worry about is if it tastes good. If the water from your tap tastes good to you, then it is ok to use for brewing. If not, you will need to use a different source for your water (such as distilled or bottled water). Before brewing your beer though, make sure that you boil the water to get rid of any chlorine, fluoride, or other chemicals that help to "purify" the water since they can create problems during the brewing process.
- Sugar. Sugar, or more accurately fermented sugar, is important since it is what feeds the yeast and helps to give the beer its punch. The most commonly used form of sugar in beer brewing is malted barley, and is in fact a rather traditional approach. Brewers who are just starting out, or those who are looking for a simpler process, should use a pre-malted, ready-to-use malt syrup or extract instead of doing their own malting process. For a lighter beer, you can use corn, rice, wheat, or other types of grains. See what works best for you.
- Hops. Hops serve two different purposes in beer brewing. The first purpose is that the hops provide a bitter flavor to beer which helps to even out the overall taste (too much sugar can be a bad thing you know). The second purpose is that hops helps to prevent spoilage, and give beer a longer shelf life than it would otherwise have, as exhibited by the frothy head that many beers get when poured.
- Yeast. Beer brewing, just like baking, relies on yeast for much of its magic. However, the yeast used for brewing beer is not the same kind of yeast that you use to bake some bread. This means no substituting one for the other if you run out. The yeasts used for brewing beer come in two varieties, ale and lager. These are different mainly in how they go about the fermenting process. For example, ale yeast does not ferment if the temperature goes below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, while lager yeasts excel in a temperature range from 32 degrees Fahrenheit to 55 degrees Fahrenheit.
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