Beer is a fermented, alcoholic beverage made from water, hops and grains (malted barley). It is one of the most widely consumed drinks in the world. It has been a cultural part of human society for millennia.
The beer making process begins with the brewing of wort, a hot liquid made from malted barley. The grains are soaked in the wort for three to 12 days, during which time the yeast consumes the sugars and adds subtle flavors.
After fermentation, the wort is cooled and bottled, canned or kegged, ready for distribution. Generally, the brewer will filter the finished beer before shipping it.
Aside from the four main ingredients, brewers can also use many additional flavors and additives. These are known as adjuncts and can include things like dried fruit, spices or non-traditional malts, such as unmalted wheat.
These additions can alter the taste of the beer, as well as its color and body. For example, a brewer may add oatmeal to create a more full-bodied stout. They may also add rice to produce a dryer beer, and rye to lend a chocolate or caramel flavor.
During the brewing process, the yeast consumes almost all of the sugars and releases alcohol and carbon dioxide. The effervescence gives the beer its unique sparkle.
While beer has a high level of alcohol, it is a low-calorie drink, and is a source of several nutrients. It contains small amounts of B vitamins, calcium, thiamine, iron and zinc.