Before I make the final journey to the store it was necessary to take a deeper look at the basic ingredients. You can taste each one of them in every single sip and if you focus you can smell them. Every delicious drink comes from someone taking the time to place this particular combination together. No pressure or anything…
Water: In every region and really every place there is a different type of water. We drink it from our taps in our kitchen and never give it a second thought. The minerals, chlorine, acidity and pH all play a role in the finished project.
My Water: I won’t be able to control this and to be honest I don’t want to know the chemical make-up at this time. It’s crisp, delicious and has been for years, some things are better left unknown.
Yeast: It does more than make sugar booze. Of all the ingredients yeast is the one that can be considered a driving force. The chemical reaction is so much more and it dictates aroma and taste. It is also the only ingredient that can be harvested after it has done it’s job to do it again.
Two Families: Ale Yeast – prefers warmer temperatures and hangs out at the top. Lager Yeast – prefers cooler temperature and chills out at the bottom.
Barley Malts (and other Grains): The grain is prepared by boiling in hot water, this allows it to create enzymes and proteins that become fermentable sugars which mixed with yeast lead to alcohol. The grains do more than make the booze in beer possible, they can be critical in all other aspects. Certain grain selections affect color, aroma and taste just to name a few.
Other Commonly Used Grains: Oats, Rye and Wheat for example.
Hops: Also known as female flowers hold equally as many if not more roles in the beer as the grains. They are mostly known for their ability to make a beer bitter but they also provide taste, aroma and assist in a beer’s head quality. Just in case you thought the flower couldn’t get any better you find out in aids in preservation. Hops are generally divided by the region they are grown which in turn is reflected in their beer.
Hop Regions: There are classic varieties such as Saaz and Spalt in Germany but the pacific northwest in the US has their own breeds. There are just too many to list, more than I thought possible. The picture above is of hops in my own backyard and I have no idea what variety it might be.
Final lesson learned before hitting the store?
I will be asking all the questions, all the questions.