Brewing is the process of making beer — a fermented, alcoholic beverage made from grains. The most commonly used grain for brewing is barley, but there are others (including wheat, rye, oats and sorghum). Brewing is similar in some ways to making wine, which is a fermented alcoholic beverage made from fruits (most often grapes) or mead, which is fermented honey. However, the brewing process has its own unique elements as well.
You can think of beer as a beverage made from (essentially) four ingredients using four main steps. The ingredients in beer are malt, hops, yeast and water and the four steps are malting, mashing, boiling and fermenting.
Malt is a grain that has been prepared for brewing (by a process called, not surprisingly, malting). Malted barley is the most common base grain used in beer, but malted wheat is also prevalent. In some beers, unmalted ingredients — including corn and rice — are used. Malt provides the sugar that the yeast consume during the brewing process and therefore determines the strength of the beer. More malt equals stronger beer. Most homebrewers, or professional brewers for that matter, do not malt their own grains. They simply purchase malt produced by maltsters or they use malt extract, a more highly processed form of malt.
Hops provide the bitterness to balance the sweetness in beer. Compared to malt, hops are added in small quantities to beer, even in the most bitter IPAs. Most homebrewers use pelletized hops in their brewing as this is a convenient form to store and use.
Yeast converts the unfermented beer (called wort) that brewers make on brewing day into beer. They consume sugars from the malt and convert them to alcohol and carbon dioxide. Alcohol is, of course, what gives beer its “kick” and carbon dioxide is what gives beer its fizz.
Most beers are over 90% water by voluer. A basic (although not infallible) rule of thumb in homebrewing is, if your water tastes good, it’s suitable for brewing. If your tap water doesn’t taste good, try using bottled spring water instead.
Hopefully the useful information will help you understand brewing! And don’t forget: these ingredients are available at ABV Beer Shop!