You only need 4 ingredients to make a great beer; Malt, Hops, Water and Yeast. This recipe was so simply and yielded such an important product that the Bavarians inscribed it into a 1516 purity law (Reinheitsgebot). Today, the brewing industry has grown to include an unlimited number of new ingredients; everything from spice and herbs to the use of oak barrels and helium gas to carbonate the beer.
As with every new endeavor, the key to success is mastering the basic ingredients and techniques before trying advanced methods. Each ingredient lends itself to an important flavor profile. Malt provides the body of the beer, its color, its “fullness”, and its flavor. Yeast helps bring out the flavors extracted from the malt while also providing its own signature flavor. Oh also, we can’t forget that without yeast we wouldn’t have alcohol….so pretty important. Hops provides the personality of every beer; the aroma, the bitterness, the distinctiveness. The personality is dictated not only by the which hops are used but by the order they were added and how each was processed. Finally, water to hold all the goodness together.
I have attached a file to help get you on your way to making your own beers.
There are a few terms in the table that need some clarification
- L= Lovibond Scale: This is a color classification that describes the “darkness” of the grains. The larger the number the darker the grains
- G= Gravity: This refers to the maximum amount of sugar that is release from 1 kg of Malt in 1 liter of water. Remember, more sugar means a heavier beer and a higher alcohol content.
- Alpha Acid %: Hops contain naturally occuring Alpha Acids. These acids provide the bitterness signature of beer.
- Attenuation: This is the maximum percentage of sugar that can be converted into alcohol and CO2. Higher attenuation rates results in a “drier” beer.
- Flocculation: How well the yeast clump at the end of fermentation. The higher the flocculation, the more clear the beer will be.