So, these posts may end up being blog-like. And, I type like I talk, so don’t expect a literary masterpiece. Hey, at least I spell check tho, rite? Before we get down to business, let me get 2 things clear. First, the concept of BMC. BMC stands for “Budweiser, Miller, Coors”. There are examples of mass produced yellow water. I’m not a BMC kinda bloke. I actually enjoy flavor in my beer. So, if I sound condescending toward those type of beers, rest assured, it was intentional. Second thing. I’m not perfect. Don’t pick through my blogs with a fine toothed comb. I’m sure I’ll get things wrong. Don’t sweat it and don’t point it out. If I make a glaring mistake, then let me know. If I make a minor, insignificant mistake, then just shut your mouth and deal with it.
Ok, on to my actual point. When you drink a beer, do you really know what you’re tasting? I didn’t, at first. There are only 4 main things in every beer, and a 5th thing in some beers. Wait, wait, hold up. Let me define beer first. Beer’s base sugar is from barley or wheat: If that isn’t the base sugar, it can go take a hike. So, gluten-free beer (uck), rice beer (Budweiser) – hell no. So, from here on out, when I say beer, you know what I mean. Sounds simple . . . well, kinda:
The 5th ingredient is spices. This is a very broad category and can include lactose, vanilla, chocolate, coffee, candied sugar (Belgian beers), and countless other spices. But, every beer has those 4 main ingredients I talked about. In fact, in Germany, those are the only 4 ingredients allowed. In the early 1500’s a purity law was passed: Reinheitsgebot. Don’t try to pronounce it. I’ve tried; its impossible. It originally started out with 3 ingredients. It wasn’t until the 1800’s that yeast was discovered as the fermenter of beer and therefore was added.
All you have to do is mix these ingredients together and you’ll get beer. Not too complicated. So, the brewing process, in a nutshell, goes like this:
- Add malt to water
- Boil the water
- Add hops at certain times (to give a bitter and hoppy flavor blends)
- Cool the water.
- Add the yeast and let them go to town. What is left is beer.
With that done all you need to do is package it and carbonate it. Carbonation is done one of 2 ways. Natural or forced.
- Natural carbonation is done like this: When your beer is done fermenting, you add more sugar to it (dextrose is a common one), then put it into an air tight vessel (bottle or keg). The CO2 is produced, but the pressure in the vessel forces it into the beer.
- Forced CO2 involves injecting CO2 directly into the beer (usually done with kegs and a CO2 tank).
That’s it for this post. In the next one, we’ll look into these 4 ingredients. If I put them here, it’ll turn into a tl;dr post. As always, RDWHAHB (Relax, don’t worry, have a homebrew).
Photo via Flickr Courtesy of Rovert S. Donovan