Beer is made of four ingredients: water, grain malts (such as barley, wheat, rye and oats), hop flowers, and yeast. By preparing these elements in different ways, brewers can create a variety of unique beers with many flavours.
Yeast is what turns sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide, and the type of strain used will influence how the beer tastes. The most popular strain is Saccharomyces cerevisiae, but there are thousands of other yeast species that brewers use for their distinct characteristics and flavours.
There are three main ways to make beer – extract brewing, partial mash and all-grain brewing – but they all involve heating water with grains, adding hops and boiling the mixture before cooling it down. The process of mashing activates the natural enzymes in the grains, which turn their starch into sugars that yeast can ferment into alcohol and CO2. The type of grain will influence flavour and colour, ranging from gently corn-like to burnt and mocha-like.
Brewing is a complex and time-consuming process, so patience is a virtue. While the final result can be rewarding, it’s important to remember that beer is a strong alcoholic beverage and should be consumed responsibly. While craft beer is becoming more common, the vast majority of beer is still produced by large multinational breweries. As a result, two companies – Anheuser-Busch InBev and MillerCoors – control nearly 90 percent of the world’s beer market. However, smaller breweries are increasingly growing in popularity.