Beer is the world’s most popular alcoholic drink and has been with us for millennia. It is made from four main ingredients: water, grain, hop flowers and wild yeasts and it is a wonderful accompaniment to food and a great social beverage. Beer is made by extracting raw materials with water, boiling and then fermenting them with yeast. The fermentation process creates ethanol and carbon dioxide.
The main starch source in beer is malted barley (or sometimes maize). Other grains, such as wheat, rice, sorghum or cassava root can also be used. The type of grain used can affect the body and flavour profile, as well as a beer’s alcohol content, which is often controlled by law.
Other ingredients, such as hops, are added during the brewing process to add bitterness, aromas and flavours. The brewing process itself can be as simple or complex as desired, from a single barrel batch in a traditional pub to a multi-barrel brewery.
The pouring of a beer can have a significant impact on how it looks, including the head and lacing (the pattern left by the bubbles as they move down the glass). The temperature at which the beer is served, the tilt of the glass and whether it is held in the centre or towards the edge can all influence the shape, size and longevity of a head. The choice of a glass can have a large impact on the taste of the beer too.