Here I have described the main ingredients that I use to brew this is by no means all the ingredients that are used brewing.
Water forms over 90% of beer and as such shouldn't be forgotten. I use unfiltered tap water, luckily the water in my area is suitable for brewing. What you want to know about your water is what's in it apart from H2O, the local water authority should have this information but what they tell you may not be of any great use as the water won't be the same when it gets to you as it is where they test it, they will be able to tell you the PPM (parts per million) of hardness if it is below 100PPM then you have good water for homebrewing as you will only ever have to add hardness to it and never remove it. Chlorine is the next problem if you can smell it then you should consider boiling the water to remove it or getting a chlorine removing filter. Other than that if the water looks alright brew with it and see, if you are suspicious then do a brew with bottled water and one with tap water and see if there is a significant difference. Remember the hot liquor (water for brewing is called liquor) is heated to about 75ºC before it meets the grain and the wort (this is the sugary liquid that beer is before yeast does it's thing)is boiled for long enough to kill anything.
This is the main sugar giving ingredient,(the starch in malt is converted into sugars during the mash, yeast converts the sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide)it also contributes to the flavor and color, while providing nutrients for the yeast. Malt is barley seeds that are sprouted and dried, the process converts the flour in the seed into starch, (malting is a science in itself, much more involved than I have described).The bulk of the malt used is either pale ale malt or lager malt. Crystal, black, chocolate and amber malt are normal malt that has gone through an extra process they are all darker than normal malt and will give additional flavor.
Hops are used to give bitterness (this balances the natural sweetness of beer).They are also used to give flavor and aroma. They do not contribute to alcohol production but the bitterness does help keep the beer from going off. They are added at the start of the boil to give bitterness and a few minuets before the end of the boil or in the keg or fermenter for flavor and aroma. Hops are the flowers of the female hop plant. When buying them, they should be green not going brown, when buying hops for bittering the alpha acid content is important this is the bittering agent.
It is a single celled plant that reproduces by budding, it is the brewers responsibility to keep the yeast happy, so it can bud like hell. Yeast converts sugar into alcohol and Co2, different yeast behave differently (bakers yeast for example will make beer but not as good). The two main categories for brewing are ale yeast and lager yeast, all brewers yeast is one or the other. The yeast you use affects the flavor considerably..
Irish moss or carrigeen moss is added shortly before the end of the boil, it helps the beer clear. It is a seaweed.
These are added to the water before brewing. Brewing salts may be required for certain beer styles. They are: gypsum, epsom salts, chalk, potassium chloride and common salt.
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