If you are planning to make your own beer from home, it makes sense that you become familiar with the
ingredients, which you will be using during the beer-making process. There are generally four main homebrew beer
ingredients, which are barley, hops, yeast, and of course, water. It is important that you gain a general
understanding of what each ingredient does, and why it is necessary.
Barley for Beer Making
Barley is the seed of a grain. You will recognize it because it looks an awful lot like wheat. Barley cannot be
used as is - it must be malted through a natural conversion process. Barley must go through the germination
process, which essentially means that it must begin to sprout. You will be able to do this simply by soaking it in
water for several days, and then draining the barley and letting it sit for about five days.
As with any other seed, barley contains certain nutrients that sustain it until it can develop its own nutrients
via photosynthesis. During germination, the barley's nutrients turn into sugars. These sugars feed the plant as it
grows. After the release of the sugar, you need to dry the malt, which can be done by slowly raising the
temperature. Once this is complete, remove the roots that formed during germination and the malted barley will be
ready for brewing.
Beer Brewing Hops
Hops are another of the homebrew beer ingredients and provide the bitterness often associated with beer. They
develop this bitter flavor because they are made up of acids. In addition, hops often prevent many of the bacteria,
which tend to form in the beer-making process. There are several types of hops for beer making, and each one offers
a different level of bitterness. They are most commonly grown in England, Australia, and parts of Germany.
Yeast for Beer Brewing
If you associate beer with alcohol, then you can credit the yeast for providing beer alcohol content. Yeast is a
single-celled micro organism which is solely responsible for creating both the alcohol and the carbon dioxide found
in beer. You will find that there are several different types of beer brewing yeast. They all have a distinct
flavor, so choose carefully the type that you want to use while making your beer. There are two categories of beer
yeast, which are ale yeast, and lager yeast. Ale yeast rises near the surface of the beer during fermentation, so
it called top fermenting. It most often ferments at a temperature of about 70° F (21° C). In contrast, lager yeasts
are bottom fermenting, and tend to ferment more slowly. They usually ferment at around 50° F (10° C).
Barley, hops, and yeast are the three key homebrew beer ingredients that you are going to have to buy if you are
going to make your own homebrew. Each has a number of variations, so it is important that you research the
different types. Learning as much as you can about the ingredients that will end up in your beer, will make you
more confident as you attempt to become your own homebrew beer expert.