An Introduction to Brewing Ingredients

Written by on March 30, 2011 in Beer, Homebrewing - 6 Comments

Creative Commons Photo Credit: Three Points Kitchen

Beer as a beverage can range from light character and flavor all the way up to incredible complexity and depth.  For the brewer behind the beer, this begins with selection of ingredients.  Many budding beer aficionados have heard of the Reinheitsgebot, or German Beer Purity Law.  The initial version of this legislation set standards on pricing of beer, and also defined beer as being produced solely from malted barley, hops and water.  At that time, yeast had not been discovered, and would not be until the work of Louis Pasteur.  Eventually the Reinheitsgebot would be expanded to include yeast as an ingredient in beer.  Although many breweries holding to the German brewing traditions still follow the Reinheitsgebot (despite no longer being on the books), many other brewers feel free to include a wide range of other ingredients, including fruit, spices, herbs, and other grains.

In this series of posts on brewing ingredients, I hope to develop a greater appreciation and understanding of beer ingredients in the average beer drinker.  For experienced homebrewers, there are other sources online that already provide more technical information than will be found here.   I will provide an overview of the four basic brewing ingredients: yeast, grain, hops and water.  I welcome feedback on what the readers would like to hear more detail about regarding homebrewing and ingredients, and going forward we will delve into other topics including an overview on the production of other alcoholic beverages such as cider, wine and spirits.

Happy homebrewing.

About the Author

Ryan has been homebrewing since 2006, and it was homebrewing that really got him into craft beer. He's a certified beer and food geek, and spends a good part of his daily allotment of daydreams on ideas for future batches of beer.

6 Comments on "An Introduction to Brewing Ingredients"

  1. cherylharrison March 31, 2011 at 1:34 PM · Reply

    MMM I can’t wait to learn more Ryan! I want to start homebrewing, but I don’t even know where to START. Maybe that’s something you can cover? The basic x number of things you need to buy to do this yourself?

  2. Ryan March 31, 2011 at 1:58 PM · Reply

    Great Cheryl! One of the future posts that I want to do is teaching a first timer how to homebrew!

  3. Eric Lawrence Jeffus March 31, 2011 at 9:17 PM · Reply

    I’ve been curious about the different qualities of hops and malts myself, so I look forward to learning more; the myriad variations of beer’s components are fascinating. :)

  4. Bobby Roberts April 4, 2011 at 10:12 AM · Reply

    I love reading about the history of the ingredients of beer…keep up the great stuff, Ryan

  5. Mingus Waits April 4, 2011 at 1:14 PM · Reply

    I am definitely looking forward to learning more. My experience with home-brewing has failed miserably every time so this is going to be fun for me.

  6. chrissy joy April 5, 2011 at 3:32 AM · Reply

    *insert obligatory something wonderful and supportive about my spouse here. :)
    no seriously guys, he knows his shit. listen up!

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