How to brew your first batch of Beer
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Brewing is the process of making Beer by steeping grains, or a starch source like Barley, in water and fermenting the resulting liquid with Yeast. Brewing can be scaled to produce Beer on a commercial level, or individually.
While most basic Beers will use a fermentable starch source such as Malted Barley, less widely used starches include millet, sorghum, and cassava. Other sources of starch include Corn, Rice, or Sugar, which can be used, to reduce cost, or to add a feature, such as adding Wheat to aid in retaining the foamy head of the Beer.
Typically Beers are made with Water, a starch source such as Malted Barley, Brewers Yeast, and a flavoring agent such as Hops. Other starch sources such as Corn, Rice, or Sugar can also be used with secondary saccharide as a low-cost alternative to Malted Barley. Alternative starches can also be used as a feature.
Beer is mostly Water. Water can have different mineral components, which makes specific Waters better for specific Brews. Hard Water is better for Stout, while Soft Water is more suited for making Pale Lagers. However, the type of Water that you use will not affect the taste of the Beer too drastically.
The general rule of thumb with water is that if it's good enough to drink, then it is good enough for brewing.
The Starch Source is what will provide the fermentable material for a Brew, and is a key determinant of the strength and flavor of the Beer. The most used Starch Source used for Brewing is Malted Grain. Grain is malted by soaking it in water and allowing it to begin a process called Germination. The Germinating Grain is then dried in a Kiln, which will allow the starches in the grain to convert into fermentable sugars.
Different roasting times and temperatures are used to produce different colors of malt from the same grain. Darker malts will produce darker beers. Nearly all beer includes barley malt as the majority of the starch, however, brewers have produced gluten-free beer made with sorghum with no barley malt for people who cannot digest gluten-containing grains like wheat, barley, and rye.
Some brews use flavored extracts to skip the mashing process and move directly to the boil and fermentation steps.
Hops act as a flavoring and preservative agent in most beers that are brewed today, however, Hops weren't widely used in beer brewing until the thirteenth century. Before the thirteenth century plants such as yarrow, wild rosemary, and bog myrtle, and other ingredients such as juniper berries, aniseed, and ginger, would be combined into a mixture known as gruit and used to flavor beer.
Hops are often used in beer brewing as they have several different characteristics that are highly sought after by brewers. They contribute bitterness to the beer that balances the sweetness of the malt; they provide floral, citrus, and herbal aromas and flavors.
Yeast is the microorganism that allows for the fermentation of beer. Yeast eats the sugars that are extracted from the starch source and creates both alcohol and carbon dioxide.
The type of yeast that you use can greatly affect the characteristics and flavor of the beer.