Beer is a beverage with a long history, and while the taste can vary greatly between beers, it’s usually made from four ingredients: malt, water, hops and yeast. While early beer-makers used all sorts of unique methods, today’s brewers follow tried and true recipes and can be quite picky about whether a new style is “true to type.”
The first step in the brewing process is mashing, which is when crushed grain is mixed with hot water and enzymes are activated. This creates the base liquid, or wort, that’s used in all beers. There are three main ways to brew: extract brewing, partial mash and all-grain brewing. While these methods differ in how they approach the mashing and boiling stages, they all boil the wort to get rid of any remaining enzymes and to stabilise it for adding hops.
Yeast is what turns the sugar in the wort into alcohol and carbon dioxide, and it’s also what gives beer its flavor. Yeast can produce flavour compounds called esters (which contribute to beer’s bitterness), and it can also produce phenols that give beers a characteristic aroma like black pepper or clove.
Beer is the world’s most popular alcoholic drink, and while it technically dehydrates you, its light, bright flavors and bubbling carbonation can make it feel incredibly refreshing. In fact, research from the Indiana Alcohol Research Center found that even the mere taste of beer can trigger a release of dopamine, which makes you feel good.