The drink we know as beer is the fermented alcoholic product of water, malt, hops and yeast. That simplicity, along with its capacity for variation and innovation, is what makes it one of the world’s most popular beverages.
A beer’s appearance (color, clarity) and aroma are determined largely by the type of grains used in its brewing. When brewed correctly, the malt provides sugars that yeast can consume and convert to alcohol and carbon dioxide, and the hops provide bitterness, flavor, and aroma. The beer is then conditioned, a process that can take days to weeks, and finally packaged for sale in bottles, cans, or kegs.
The brewer’s choice of ingredients, brewing methods, and the quality of its fermentation are all important factors in determining the final style and character of a beer. There are three main ways to brew beer: extract brewing, partial mash brewing, and all-grain brewing.
A good beer has four key characteristics: appearance, smell, taste, and mouthfeel. Brewers use these characteristics to communicate the essence of a beer, and they’re also how we evaluate a beer in its drinking environment.