Beer–the most widely consumed beverage in the world after water and tea. It’s available in a wide variety of flavors and styles depending on your taste. You can enjoy anything from light Pilsner on the beach to a refreshingly bitter IPA at a BBQ. But where does it come from and what is it made of? What foods should I pair it with?
Here I will highlight brewing in 5 simple steps, and give some great recipes to pair with your favorite summertime beverage.
The Reinheitsgebot was a law passed in Germany in 1516, stating that beer could only be constructed of three ingredients: water, barley, and hops. Today many breweries experiment with ingredients such as fruit, vegetables, and even bacon!
- Water – The body. It must be pure to guarantee no off flavors.
- Barley – The heart. Barley is the base of the beer. It also adds color and flavors such as caramel and coffee depending on types used.
- Hops - The soul. Hops add flavoring and bitterness to the brew. These flavors can range from earthy to citrus, and anywhere in between.
The barley grains are added to hot water to extract the sugars. This sweet water is then collected and boiled. During the boil, hops are added at various times to affect the flavor and bitterness levels. Once the boil is complete, the liquid (now called wort) is then cooled for fermentation.
Fermentation is a waiting process where the sugars are turned to alcohol. Different yeast strains and temperatures change the flavor and appearance of the beer.
Time to bottle the beer. Many home brewers show off the fruits of their labor at local and nationwide beer festivals! This is the most fun a beer lover can have.
Pale Ales and IPAs- The more assertive hop flavor and bitterness of this style cuts through the richest foods. Try these with a big cheeseburger. Ales also supply a great contrast for the assortment of flavors in a jambalaya.
Porters and Stouts- These are known for their deep malt flavors of caramel and chocolate with a big thick body and creamy head. Stouts are classically paired with oysters, and also have enough sweetness and body to compliment your favorite dessert!
Written for Yummly by Chris Carella, homebrewer extraordinare