The main ingredients of beer are water, malted barley, yeast and hops. Depending on the type of beer being made, other grains such as wheat, rice and oats can be used along with a variety of yeast strains to provide different flavour and texture profiles to the final product.
Yeast consumes the sugars in the malted barley to produce alcohol and carbon dioxide during fermentation. The resulting liquid is known as wort, and gives the beer its flavour and colour. Brewers add a combination of hops to the wort for bitterness and aroma, which can vary significantly between beers. There are many different styles of beer, from light, crisp beers like lagers to full-bodied, dark beers such as stouts that have a distinctive roasty flavour and a dry finish. Some beers also include fruit, spices and herbs to create unique flavour profiles.
The first step in the brewing process is mashing, which involves mixing the grains with hot water to activate their natural enzymes, turning the starch in the grain into sugars that the yeast will later turn into alcohol and CO2. The wort is then boiled before the addition of the hops, where the flavour and aroma of the beers is developed. After the boil, the wort is quickly cooled before being pitched with yeast and allowed to ferment. Finished beers can then be barrelled or canned for storage. It is recommended to drink beer in moderation, and it is important not to confuse beer with spirits such as whiskey or vodka, which have higher alcohol content.