“A climbing plant that can grow to a height of over 20 feet, the hop’s closest botanical relative is Cannabis! Hop cones contain a wealth of resins and essential oils which give the beer its distinctive bitterness and hop flavour. Contrary to public perception, beer is not “made from hops”. Typically a barrel of beer is made from 20kg of malt and 150g of hops. Hops are used rather like a spice. Hops are picked in the late summer and dried in Oast Houses. Traditionally they are packed into tall sacks called pockets. Nowadays they tend to be compacted into pellets and vacuum packed in foil, like coffee, to preserve their freshness.”
“Hops are the cone-like flowers of a climbing vine that is native to the temperate regions of North America, Europe and Asia. The species has separate male and female plants and only the female vines produce the cones. The vines will climb 20 ft or more up any available support and are commonly trained onto strings or wires when grown commercially. The leaves resemble grape leaves and the cones vaguely resemble pine cones in shape but are light green, thin and papery. At the base of the petals are the yellow lupulin glands which contain the essential oils and resins that are so prized by brewers” (How To Brew)
“The bitterness contributed by hops balances the sweetness of the malt sugars and provides a refreshing finish. The main bittering agent is the alpha acid resin which is insoluble in water until isomerized by boiling. The longer the boil, the greater the percentage of isomerization and the more bitter the beer gets. However, the oils that contribute characteristic flavors and aromas are volatile and are lost to a large degree during the long boil. There are many varieties of hops, but they are usually divided into two general categories: Bittering and Aroma. Bittering hops are high in alpha acids, at about 10 percent by weight. Aroma hops are usually lower, around 5 percent and contribute a more desirable aroma and flavor to the beer. Several hop varieties are in-between and are used for both purposes. Bittering hops, also known as kettle hops, are added at the start of the boil and boiled for about an hour. Aroma hops are added towards the end of the boil and are typically boiled for 15 minutes or less. Aroma hops are also referred to as finishing hops. By adding different varieties of hops at different times during the boil, a more complex hop profile can be established that gives the beer a balance of hop bitterness, taste and aroma. Descriptions of the five main types of hop additions and their attributes follow.” (How To Brew)
Hops come in a number of different forms: whole, plug and pellet.
“It’s rare for any group of brewers to agree on the best form of hops. Each of the common forms has its own advantages and disadvantages. What form is best for you will depend on where in the brewing process the hops are being used, and will probably change as your brewing methods change.” (How To Brew)
The main constituent in beer; as grapes are to wine, barley is to beer. Barley grains are low in fat and protein but rich in starch. Starch is the grain’s food reserve that is made up of chains of sugar molecules. In nature this would feed the growing barley plant but in brewing we hijack thestarch to make beer! Malting starts the process of releasing the sugar and making it available for brewing. Brewers use specially selected varieties of barley that are particularly suited to being malted and making high quality beer. The maritime climate in the United Kingdom is particularly good for growing malting barley making British malt amongst the best in the world. (Beer Academy)
A high quality is essential to the brewing process with four to six pints needed to produce every pint of beer. The particular salts naturally dissolved in local water supplies explains why some quite small towns such as Burton on Trent, Alton and Tadcaster could become home to several large breweries. The dissolved gypsum gave Burton beer keeping qualities which allowed them to be sold as far away as India. (Beer Academy)
“Water chemistry becomes even more important for all-grain brewing. The mineral profile of the water has a large affect on the conversion of sugars from the mash. Water reports, brewing salts and their affects are discussed more in Chapter 15 – Understanding the Mash pH. I suggest you read that chapter before you add any salts to your extract brewing.
Here are the main points to remember about water for extract brewing:
If your water tastes good, your beer should taste good.
Many odors will dissipate during the boil, but some bad tastes need to be removed via filtration or water treatment.
The addition of salts when brewing with extract is not necessary, and is not recommended until you have gained experience with the intended recipe.” (How To Brew)
“A good bet for your first batch of beer is the bottled water sold in most supermarkets as drinking water. Use the 2.5 gallon containers. Use one container for boiling the extract and set the other aside for addition to the fermenter later.” (How To Brew)
“A microscopic member of the fungus family. The Latin name for brewing yeast is Saccharomyces cerevisiae – literally “beer sugar yeast”! Yeast grows on sugar producing alcohol and carbon dioxide in a process called fermentation. Yeast also produces a vast array of flavour compounds and much of the subtlety of beer flavour comes from the yeast strain and the fermentation conditions. Brewers use their own specially selected and jealously guarded yeast strains to produce the distinctive flavours of their own particular beers.” (Beer Academy)
“Brewer’s Yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) is considered to be a type of fungus. It reproduces asexually by budding- splitting off little daughter cells. Yeast are unusual in that they can live and grow both with or without oxygen. Most micro-organisms can only do one or the other. Yeast can live without oxygen by a process that we refer to as fermentation. The yeast cells take in simple sugars like glucose and maltose and produce carbon dioxide and alcohol as waste products.
Along with converting sugar to ethyl alcohol and carbon dioxide, yeast produce many other compounds, including esters, fusel alcohols, ketones, various phenolics and fatty acids. Esters are the molecular compound responsible for the fruity notes in beer, phenols cause the spicy notes, and in combination with chlorine, medicinal notes. Diacetyl is a ketone compound that can be beneficial in limited amounts. It gives a butter or butterscotch note to the flavor profile of a beer and is desired to a degree in heavier Pale Ales, Scotch Ales and Stouts. Unfortunately, Diacetyl tends to be unstable and can take on stale, raunchy tones due to oxidation as the beer ages. This is particularly true for light lagers, where the presence of diacetyl is considered to be a flaw. Fusel alcohols are heavier molecular weight alcohols and are thought to be a major contributor to hangovers. These alcohols also have low taste thresholds and are often readily apparent as “sharp” notes. Fatty acids, although they take part in the chemical reactions that produce the desired compounds, also tend to oxidize in old beers and produce off-flavors.” (How To Brew)
“There are two main types of yeast, ale and lager. Ale yeasts are referred to as top-fermenting because much of the fermentation action takes place at the top of the fermenter, while lager yeasts would seem to prefer the bottom. While many of today’s strains like to confound this generalization, there is one important difference, and that is temperature. Ale yeasts like warmer temperatures, going dormant below about 55°F (12°C), while lager yeasts will happily work at 40°F. Using certain lager yeasts at ale temperatures 60-70°F (18-20°C) produces a style of beer that is now termed California Common Beer. Anchor Steam Beer revived this unique 19th century style.” (How to Brew)
“Yeast come in two main product forms, dry and liquid. (There is also another form, available as pure cultures on petri dishes or slants, but it is generally used as one would use liquid yeast.) Dry yeast are select, hardy strains that have been dehydrated for storability. There are a lot of yeast cells in a typical 7 gram packet. For best results, it needs to be re-hydrated before it is pitched. For the first-time brewer, a dry ale yeast is highly recommended.” (How To Brew)
“There are many different strains of brewer’s yeast available nowadays and each strain produces a different flavor profile. Some Belgian strains produce fruity esters that smell like bananas and cherries, some German strains produce phenols that smell strongly of cloves. Those two examples are rather special, most yeasts are not that dominating. But it illustrates how much the choice of yeast can determine the taste of the beer. In fact, one of the main differences between different beer styles is the strain of yeast that is used.
Most major breweries generally have their own strain of yeast. These yeast strains have evolved with the style of beer being made, particularly if that brewery was a founder of a style, such as Anchor Steam. In fact, yeast readily adapts and evolves to specific brewery conditions, so two breweries producing the same style of beer with the same yeast strain will actually have different yeast cultivars that produce unique beers. Several yeast companies have collected different yeasts from around the world and offer them to home brewers. Some homebrew supply shops have done the same, offering their own brands of many different yeasts.” (How To Brew)