The drink of choice for a countless number of people around the world, beer comes in many forms, colors and styles. From the light and crisp lagers like pilsners to the denser ales including hoppy IPA’s to the rich stouts, beer is an excellent choice for a variety of occasions. Beer is a fermented beverage, with its own set of unique characteristics that are determined by the combination of barley, hops and yeast. The skill of a brewer is to master these four ingredients, and then wait for the yeast to do its magic.
The first step in the brewing process is called mashing. This involves pouring hot water over grain to activate the natural enzymes in the grains, which turn the starches into sugar. This is what the yeast will use later, and it’s this sugar that gives beer its sweetness and body. Once this step is completed, the wort is boiled to remove the sugar and to sterilize it ready for the addition of hops.
A brewer’s choice of hops will determine the flavor of the beer. There are many varieties of hops to choose from, and brewers experiment constantly with different combinations. Hops add bitterness, but they also act as a natural preservative for the beer.
Beer is more than just a tasty beverage, it is a versatile cooking ingredient that can be used in many dishes to add depth of flavor and color. It can also be used as a leavening agent in baking recipes, making for airy cakes, breads and pancakes.