The nice thing about beer is, you don’t have to know a whole lot about it in order to enjoy it. Of course, knowing a few things might help you enjoy it even more.
What is beer?
Beer is hops, malted barley, yeast and water. While grains, fruits and spices can be added, those are the essential ingredients. Beer is nature’s greatest contribution to the human race. That’s not official or anything, but we’ll go with it.
What kind of beers are there?
There are hundreds of beers out there. Hundreds and hundreds. Just come by a Lincoln Brewing Company bottle shop and we’ll show you. Now even though they each have their own characteristics, they almost all fall into two main groups – Ales and Lagers.
Ales are made with Top Fermentation Yeasts. They can be traced back over 5,000 years, making them the oldest styles of beer.
Lagers are made with Bottom Fermentation Yeasts. They are fermented and served at cooler temperatures which limits the formation of esters and other by-products. This produces a clean flavor.
There is also a group of beers called Lambics. They come from a very small region of Belgium in the Senne River Valley. With these beers, yeast is not added by the brewer. The vats are left open and wild yeasts of the region are allowed to fall into the brew naturally.
How is beer made?
Brewers have their own styles of brewing. Beers have secret ingredients. But here is the basic process for making beer:
Malted barley and water are heated in a large kettle called a mash tun.
Starches in the malt get broken down into simple sugars.
The liquid you’re left with is called “wort.” It’s sweet.
The malt is rinsed and strained, and the wort is piped into the brew kettle.
Hops are added and the whole thing is boiled, adding bitterness and aroma.
The wort is then rapidly cooled until yeast can be added.
The yeast is “pitched” into the sweet wort where it consumes the sugar.
During this fermentation process, alcohol and carbon dioxide are released.
The liquid is then transferred to conditioning tanks to age.