Beerginner: What is beer? Plus, a look at Stouts!

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Beerginner: What is beer? Plus, a look at Stouts!

As I mentioned in my first post, beer consists of four natural ingredients - barley, hops, yeast and water. For beerginners sake we won't get into any of the extras yet. 

Barley is what malt is made from. Malt is what gives beer its many flavours and colours. Flavour means yum! There are different kinds of malt that create different colours and flavours and this is the backbone of your beer. Malt is the cake base – let’s say vanilla flavoured. It's the foundation that holds it all together.

The hops are what give beer its aromas and bitterness. There over 30 different hops varieties that can do many different things. Want a little citrus action? There are hops for that. Hints of spice? There are hop varieties for that too. How the hops are added in the brewing process determines how much you will taste and smell what that hop offers. It's the icing of the cake. Simple butter cream on a vanilla base - little hop presence. Dark chocolate mocha on our vanilla base, POW!! -lots of hops.

Yeast is where the flair comes in.  Hundreds of different strains of yeast exist in the brewing world that can make your beer sour, fruity, peppery and, more. It's what collides with the sugar from the malt in that mosh pit and creates the alcohol. It's the finishing touches on the cake. The marzipan flowers or chocolate curls. 

Water may seem like it’s at the bottom of the totem pole but it's the vessel that brings it all together. Depending on your water source it can alter the mineral composition of beer’s final taste. It's your cake box. It's what provides you with the security that your beer/cake is getting to where it needs to.

Does my cake analogy help? Would a car comparison be easier? Any way you put it those four ingredients are what keeps getting you invited to all the cool parties.

There are two kinds of beer; lagers and ales. (There is the shy, hardly talked about third son-hybrid beers but I'll cover that in the future).They include all the same ingredients but require a different brewing technique.  Lagers like it colder while ales like it warmer. Lagers use a yeast that bottom ferments while ales pick the one that like the top. From these two main families all the millions of beer styles originate. Okay maybe not a million but when you are first discovering them it does seem like a lot. And with the addition of different grains, spices, fruits, and unique flavours it is easy to see why I believe there is a beer for everyone.

Coming up next I'll talk about what all the weird lingo you hear actually means and if you really need to use it. Check out my snapshot of stouts below.

Cheers! 

Heather

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