Photography by Adam Voorhes

Beer

The Basics of Beer

How barley and yeast and hops make magic.

Brewers, both home and professional, have gone nuts. Literally. Toasted or roasted pecans, pistachios, and hazelnuts are showing up in beer. Like mad scientists, they experiment with chocolate, gingerbread, coffee, frankincense bark, cinnamon, and lemongrass to create strange brews. Beer made with whale testicles has hit the market. So has beer made from a yeast strain cultivated in a brewer’s beard. But brewing beer requires just four ingredients: hops, barley, yeast, and water.

1. Water
It is run through a filter to rid it of chlorine and unwanted hardness.

2. Oats
Adding or substituting some of this creates a full-bodied mouthfeel.

3. Hops
This is a bittering agent that helps balance the sweetness of malt.

4. Roasted or kilned barley
This grain breaks the starch of the seeds into simpler sugars.

5. Vanilla Beans
Brewers can choose from many spices such as vanilla beans to deepen the flavor of the beer.

6. Yeast
It consumes the sugar and produces alcohol.

7. Rye
Substitute or blend in a small amount of rye grain for a spicy and complex product.

8. Raspberries
Seasonal beer often features fruits such as raspberries, blueberries, or apricots.

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