Beer is a natural product, brewed with natural ingredients. Water, malt, hops and yeast are combined to make one of the most popular drinks.
The most important ingredient, as beer is 95% composed of water. Pure water must be used both at biological and chemical level. Water hardness (calcium and magnesium content) also affects beer pH, and the enzyme and hops effect. The importance of water is better understood if we consider that several years ago, the type of water would considerably define the type of beer. For example, Dublin has hard water that is used to make stout, while Pilsen’s soft water is ideal for the production of Pils beer. Thanks to new, advanced technology, water is processed with automated procedures to achieve the desirable hardness for each type of beer.
Barley is grown in countries of North America and Europe. Barley quality is greatly dependent on:
- cultivator’s expertise.
Beer is mainly made from two-row barley, which has less protein and higher starch content. Before used in the brewing process, barley is malted to be converted into malt. Malting produces enzymes required to break down and convert the barley content from insoluble to soluble. Barley protein content is one of the most important factors in determining the final quality of malt, which in turn affects the beer’s body and foam. is mainly composed of starch (60-65%), sugars (7-10%), protein (9-12%), and minerals, vitamins, polyphenols, cellulose and other polysaccharides.
There are many different types of hops. However, only “Humulus Lupulus” is used in brewing, in particular its flowers. Hops contain oils and resins that determine beer flavor, aroma and bitterness. They are also used for their antibacterial effect, and they contain chemical compounds that act as preservatives, such as tannins and organic acids. Hops are grown in the countries inside the zones shown in the map (including Central Europe, North America and Western Asia). Most breweries use hops in the form of extract or pellets.
Yeast is a unicellular microorganism. Out of hundreds of yeast varieties and types, only 2 main categories are used in the brewing process.
1. Bottom fermenting yeasts, which are used to brew lager beers, subside at the bottom of the vessel.
2. Top fermenting yeasts, which are used to brew ales, rise to the surface of the wort during fermentation.
Yeast plays a key part in metabolizing fermentable sugars in wort into alcohol and carbon dioxide. During fermentation, many other elements are produced, which determine the end product’s quality. Yeast also gives beer its particular aroma and flavor, thus influencing its final character.
Types of beer
Thousands of beer brands are available in the global market. These brands respond to different customer needs and are classified into different types of beer, which have been developed over time and associated to different geographic areas. However, a primary classification is based on the type of yeast and the fermentation process:
1. Top fermented beers and
2. Bottom fermented beers