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Tags: beer basics  

Beer Here!

 Whew, who knew beer was so darned complicated? Cheers has one of the best selections of beer in the twin cities, everything from standard mass produced favorites to hip, slick, and cool micro brews and world beers. Now if you have ever wondered what goes into your favorite beer you found the right place. Here are the Beer Basics...



What is Beer?

The process of making beer is known as brewing. The purpose of brewing is to convert the starch source into a sugary liquid called wort and to convert the wort into the alcoholic beverage known as beer in a fermentation process effected by yeast.



There are four building blocks needed to make beer:

  •  Water
  • Malted barley
  • Hops
  • Yeast 


Here’s a brief description of the four important building blocks of beer.  


Water comprises over 90% of beer. In the past, the mineral content of natural springs, or artesian wells, constituted a major flavor factor in the beers that were produced in a specific region. An example of naturally occurring water supplies that have resulted in distinctive beer styles would be: Burton-on-Trent in the United Kingdom; Bass Ale.

Today, brew masters can chemically adjust any water to create the exact "style" of beer desired. The chemicals added to the water are most often mineral salts such as Gypsum or Epsom Salts.

  These salts cause the hop oils to develop specific pronounced flavor characteristics that enhance their use as flavoring agents.

  Although the phrase "pure water" has been used extensively in advertisements for beers and ales, every brewery carefully adjusts the water they use to meet their specific flavor profile. 



Malted Barley 

Malt is any cereal grain harvested after germination but before fully sprouting.  This is “malted grain.” To Brewers, “malt" is the germinated, dried, and perhaps slightly roasted grain of barley   


Yeast is the organism that metabolizes the sugar in the wort into alcohol and carbon dioxide (CO2). The fermentation process is done in two steps. The "primary" fermentation converts most of the maltose to ethyl alcohol and CO2. The "secondary" fermentation finishes metabolizing the remaining sugar into the CO2 necessary to give the beer effervescence.  

In traditional beer making there is also ”priming" priming restarts the last of the fermentation in the bottles or kegs. This priming assures that the beer has natural carbonation. In mass-produced commercial beers and ales the carbonation is injected into the beer when it is bottled or put into kegs. 

There are two kinds of yeast used in fermenting brew: Ale Yeast, an aerobic yeast that needs contact with oxygen to ferment, so it forms a thick layer at the top of the wort.  Ale yeast functions best when the ambient temperature is between 60-65F. Ale yeast fermentation also produces Esters. These are flavors that give the impression of apples, pears and, sometimes plums. 

Lager yeast is anaerobic yeast that ferments at the bottom of the “wort” and functions best at temperatures between 35-40F. It produces few esters and takes much longer than ale yeast to complete fermentation. 



Hops come in many different varieties. Brewers use different varieties of hops. The brewers of Bass ale prefer the flavors of Kent hops for bittering their ales, while the brewers of Pilsen, in the Czech Republic have the aromatic hops of Sazz to finish their lagers with. In the United States the brewers of the West Coast have long had a love affair with the Cascade hops of Oregon, while the brewers of the mega-brews have succeeded in blending hops until their flavors just nip at the senses. Each variety has a particular bitter flavor as well as aroma. These two characteristics are important to remember when tasting a beer. The flavor of a particular hop may not quite match the initial aromatic sensation you receive when you first sample the bouquet that rises from a glass of beer.



Brew it all together

 When you put the building blocks together the result is a balance of bitter flavor and floral aroma from the hops, combined with the sweet and, sometimes astringent, flavors of the malts used in beer influenced by the flavors created by the specific yeast used to ferment the beer.


Last modified on 2015/1/29 by Phil
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