The Basic Essentials
There are three basic essentials for the manufacture of beer. They are
Malt, Hops and Yeast.
This is the basic stuff that beer is made from. It is the source of
fermentable sugars which are converted by yeast into alcohol and carbon
dioxide. It is also the source of the basic malty flavour of beer.
Experienced commercial brewers seem to feel that as a general rule, malt
should make up no less than 70% of the total fermentable content of a
beer. Malt comes in several forms.
Barley is the most common form of malted grain, but malted wheat can
also be obtained and used to make beer.
The grain has been specially treated to make it ready for brewing;
however it still has to be put through the “mashing” process before the
fermentable sugar can be extracted from it.
This form of malt takes away the need for mashing. The manufacture has
already done it for you and then removed most of the water that was used
in the process. All you need to do to use it is dissolve it in water and
mix it with your other ingredients. Malt extract is available in dry
(powder) and liquid forms. Colours range from amber (light) to brown
(dark) in the dry form and amber (light) to black in the liquid form.
The flower cones of the hop vine are another essential ingredient in all
beers. They were originally used because of their qualities as a
preservative. Now they are used in beer for their bitter taste, flavour
Hops can be obtained in several forms; dried, pellets, extracts,
essences and oils.
Hop pellets are the same material as dried hops except that it
has been milled to a power then compressed into pellets. This process
causes them to yield more flavour and bitterness than dried hops. Thus,
when using pellets, you only need to use about 60% of the prescribed
weight of the dried hops.
Hop extracts are generally only made from the bitter components
of the hop cones, the aromatic components being lost or removed during
the extraction process.
Hop essence and oils are concentrations of the flavour and aroma
components of hops. If you can obtain them, you will amazed at the
results you will be able to achieve with them
The collective name for the mass of microscopic plant cells that we put
into our beer to do the job of fermentation.
They feed on the sugars in the wort converting them to alcohol and
carbon dioxide. Yeasts vary a great deal in quality and characteristics.
There is no substitute for a good quality brewing yeast.
Water quality is important. If your water supply is not good, boil it in
Adjuncts & Other Aids
Although malt, hops and yeast are the only essential ingredients in
beer, there are many other ingredients used in brewing for a variety of
Other Forms Of Malted Grain
This is a form of malted barley that has been partially roasted to give
the interior of the husk a red brown colour.
It has a distinctive flavour and gives added colour to the brew.
This is malted barley that has roasted until it is black. It has a sharp
acid flavour and is used for making stouts, porters and brown ales.
Similar to black malt but made from unmalted barley. It is used in the
same applications as black malt.
Opinion differs as to whether it has a different effect on the finished
See Notes on
Unmalted Grain Adjuncts
Several types of grain are used in unmalted form, as adjuncts in the
brewing process. They generally provide starch (and/or protein) and
flavour and should be mashed to obtain most benefits. Some can be
obtained in the form of flakes (flaked barley and rice) which have been
cooked and then rolled. They can be put straight into the mashing
process. Others are more readily available as uncooked grain (rice,
pearl barley, maize or corn grits). These must be thoroughly washed and
cooked before mashing.
It is high in protein with a smooth and grainy flavour. It is really
good for improving the head. Too much may cause some haziness but
moderate quantities will have an excellent effect.
This has a slightly sweet grainy taste and is often used in American and
Scandinavian beers. Breakfast style cornflakes should not confused with
flaked corn for brewing.
This is mainly starch with minimal flavour. It is particularly useful
for increasing the fermentable sugar content in pale beers without
adding to the colour.
Not often used these days, except in some stouts.
Traditionally, beers have been made from malt with other grains as
adjuncts. Sugars are not part of this tradition.
With the exception of lactose, sugars are used mainly as a cheap
substitute for malt as a source of alcohol.
They generally ferment right out leaving only alcohol behind. Excess
use may result in “cidery” or “off” flavours and the beer
will be thin, lacking in body, flavour and head.
Many experienced commercial brewers believe that if sugars are to be
used, they should not exceed 30% of the total fermentable content of the
beer and ideally, they should be less than 20%. On balance, the use of
sugars should be kept to a minimum.
If sugar is to be used, Dextrose produces the best result in terms of
smoothness and taste as it has less tendency to cause “cidery” flavours.
Cane Sugar (White)
Because it has a tendency to add a “cidery” taste to beer, white sugar
is not a particularly good brewing adjunct and should be used in
Cane Sugar (Coloured)
These sugars all tend to leave an additional “rumlike” flavour component
in beer. Some people like the effect, others do not.
Also called “milk sugar”, lactose is not fermentable and therefore will
remain in the beer as a sweetener. It’s use in stout gave rise to the
name “milk stout”. If you want to sweeten your beer or stout, lactose
will give better results than artificial sweeteners.
See Notes on “Alternative
Corn Syrup, Dried Corn Syrup and
Dried Malt Additive.
These are all essentially the same thing, hydrolyzed starches which are
made from wheat or corn.
They are mainly non fermentable and remain in solution in the beer
adding body or thickness and improving the head. They are almost
Beer and Brewing Terminology
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