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by Ricardo Roces

Beer has been your friend. It helped you get through college, you made friends through it, maybe even found love with it. Beer stuck with you through thick and thin. Maybe it's time we all got to know our friend better. Beer's history is as rich as the brew itself. From paupers to emperors, among poets and soldiers, beer has been universally cherished for ages. So grab your favorite brew, and read on!

If you don't know what the difference is between ale, lager, stout, mead or cider, see the below [former link here for brewstyles: Brewvine now dead] 

Basic Beer Ingredients: 

Water, hops, barley supplemented by corn, rice or sugar. Some breweries claim their water is substantially better, hence better beer. Mountain spring water is one of the most advertised these days. Hops are plants of the genus humulus used for flavoring beer, giving it a bitter flavor and aroma. Its use today is held as a standard, but in beer's history, hops were only introduced in the late Medieval period.

Hop Humulus Lupus

Barley and other grains similar to it are high in starch content. American breweries have a large mix of grains to choose from. Some Asian brews are made from rice. Russian beer is from kvass, or rye bread. Africans can use teff, millet or grass seeds.

Basic Brewing:  
  • Malting - Steep barley in cold water for 2 to 3 days, draining water roughly once a day. The slowly stir the barley. As the wet grain comes in contact with the air, germination begins. This process creates enzymes, malt diastase being one of these, is responsible for turning starch into sugar. After about six days of germination, the barley can be considered as malt.
  • Kilning - is the process of drying the malt and creating flavor and aroma. Color is also part of the kilning process. Varying temperatures can toast the malt to the specific brew wanted.
  • Mashing - involves crushing the malt and adding warm water until the whole thing becomes a porridge like mass. Add any other grains at this point for flavor and keep at certain temperatures to, again, determine flavor. After a resting period, a substance called wort settles at the bottom. After rinsing the wort, place it in a kettle and boil with desired hops. After some time, take the hops out and start Fermentation.
  • Fermentation - starts with the addition of yeast culture, usually from the previous brew. Top fermenting yeast will create ales, while bottom fermenting yeast will create lagers. After some time, skim off yeast and age the beer to develop character and flavor. Often, brewers will add fresh wort or sugar, and place the beer in pressurized tanks, to produce carbon dioxide gas. And then store in bottles or kegs for final consumption.
Obviously, this is the most basic way to brew beer, and probably unsafe. View the following links or look up books that give accurate recipes to brew the beer your heart and stomach desires. Beer flavor is largely dependent on history and geography. The ingredients and brewing process depend of the terrain and climate of any particular culture. In addition, history plays a part in beer's development through the ages. The reason beer has always been a popular beverage is because of it's shelf life and is adaptability to many climates. It has been produced from the earliest times, in ancient Sumer, Egypt, Greece. Brewed in homes, temples and monasteries, until the Medieval period, when it became a commercial product.

For More on Beer follow These Links: 

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