Barley malt is to beer as grapes
are to wine. It is ideally suited to brewing for many reasons. Malted
barley has a high complement of enzymes for converting its starch supply
into simple sugars and contains protein, which is needed for yeast
nutrition. Of course, one important element is its flavor. There are two
types of barley: six-row and two-row.
There are many different varieties
to chose from. Common ones are:
Pale Malt - Dried unroasted malt.
The base malt used in most recipes. It provides the majority of the
Munich and Vienna - Similar to
above but more common for German style beers.
Crystal Malt - Lightly toasted
malt. Also known as Caramel Malt. Used in small amounts to give color,
body and sweetness.
Chocolate, Roast and Black - Dried
dark roasted malts used in very small amounts to give dark color and a
range of flavors: coffee, chocolate, burnt, nutty.
The degree of roasting dictates
the color and character of the malt. It follows that darker roasts are
used to make darker beers.
Hops, a minor ingredient in beer,
are used for their bittering, flavoring, and aroma-enhancing powers.
Hops also have pronounced bacteriostatic activity that inhibits the
growth of bacteria in the finished beer and, when in high enough
concentrations, aids in precipitation of proteins. Hops come in many
varieties and are grown mostly in the Czech Republic, Germany, England
and Northwestern America.
A living single celled organism
added to the wort (unfermented brew) to produce beer, through a process
called fermentation. There are two types of beer yeast: ale yeast (the
"top-fermenting" type) and lager yeast (the
"bottom-fermenting" type). Top-fermenting yeasts are used for
brewing ales. Some of the lager styles made from bottom-fermenting
yeasts are Pilsners, Dortmunders, Märzen and Bocks.
The mineral content of brewing
water has long been recognized as making an important contribution to
the flavor of beer. This is especially important since water composes
more than 90% of the beer. A wide range of brewing waters is employed,
giving rise to many classic styles of beers, that over the centuries
have become world famous. For example, the famous brewing waters from
the deep wells at Burton-on-Trent are known for their excellent
qualities in brewing full-flavored pale ales(i.e.: Bass). Burton water
is high in permanent hardness because of the high calcium and sulfate
content, but it also has a lot of temporary hardness from a high level
of bicarbonate. Munich water is poor in sulfates and chloride but
contains carbonates, which are not very desirable for pale beers but
ideal for producing darker, mellower lagers.(i.e.:Dinkel Acker Dark)
Pilsen, renowned for its pale lagers, has very soft water and produces
beers famous for their pale color and hop flavor(i.e.: Pilsner Urquell).
The water of Dortmund contains appreciable amounts of both carbonate and
chloride that aid in the production of full-flavored lagers and pale
ales(i.e: Dortmunder Union). Higher concentrations of chlorides are
suitable for some mild ales and stouts.