What is Beer?
Beer — It’s your favourite drink, but how much do you actually know about it? What is beer? Who invented beer? How is beer made? Continue reading to have all your questions about beer answered.
By The Beer Community on Jul. 30, 2019
Beer. It’s your favourite alcoholic drink and you’re always willing to try new locally crafted brews. But how much do you actually know about beer? If you had to explain beer to a newbie, would you be able to answer all their questions? Continue reading to start working out your answers…
And if you seriously think you know everything there is to know about beer, then maybe you should consider becoming a cicerone.
What is beer?
“Beer, if drank with moderation, softens the temper, cheers the spirit and promotes health.” – Thomas Jefferson
Beer, as it stands, is considered to be one of the oldest and most widely consumed alcoholic beverages in the world. Beer brewing is dated as early back as the 7000s BCE, according to the World History Organization, and has played vital roles in community-building, religion, politics, agriculture, and health.
What is beer made of?
Beer is made up of four ingredients. These ingredients are barley, hops, water and yeast.
I know the ingredients in beer… But how is beer made?
There are five steps in the brewing process — malting, mashing, boiling, fermentation, and bottling/ageing. The point of the brewing process is to extract the sugars from grains (like barley) to make the yeast turn into alcohol and CO2.
In the first step of malting, the brewer will harvest and process a grain by heating and drying it out. Once the enzymes in the grain are isolated, they are ready for the mashing stage. They are steeped in hot water to break down the grains and release their sugars. Once everything is drained, the mash that comes from this process is called wort. In the third stage, the wort is boiled while hops and other ingredients of the brewers choice and added to the boil. Once the boil is over and the wort has been cooled, strained, and filtered, it is put in a fermentation vessel with yeast.
The beer will be stored while the yeast works its fermentation magic. The yeast will essentially ‘eat’ the sugar in the wort and in exchange, ‘spit out’ CO2 and alcohol. Once the fermentation is done (which depends on the style of beer), the beer can be bottled and aged for carbonation purposes.
Aging can last for a few weeks to a few months, after which the beer will be ready for distribution and consumption!
Still confused? Watch this video where the brewing process gets explained in less than 30 seconds.
Who invented beer?
It is difficult to credit the invention of beer to a particular person. It has also been hard for beer experts to know when or where beer started but historians traced the first beer brewed back to ancient China. This type of beer is known as kui. However, what the west commonly interprets as beer brewing as today originated in the region of Sumer in Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq).
While some scholars believe that beer was accidentally discovered through the process of fermenting grains for bread-making, others believe that beer preceded bread and was developed intentionally as an intoxicant.
Either way, boy are we glad that it was invented in the first place!
How is beer categorized?
Beer is categorized into Beer Styles & Beer Flavour Profiles.
More questions about beer you might have:
What’s the difference between ales and lagers?
Why do we celebrate National Beer Day on April 7?
Does the shape of your beer glass really matter?
What is the difference between a stout and a porter?
Interesting in learning about the different types of beer styles?
Everything You Need to Know About German Beer Styles
What is a Saison? & More Beer Styles You Should Know
What style of beer should you drink?
Still feeling like you don’t know all you need to know about beer? Check out JustBeer University to become a beer know-it-all!
Are you a beer lover that’s just looking for a good laugh? Check out these posts:
The 5 Stages of Being “Beer Drunk”
Dogs of Instagram That Love Beer More Than You Do
11 Reasons Why Beer is Better Than Wine
Funny Beer Commercials
What is a Hefeweizen?
Hefeweizen: a German wheat beer (Weizen) that is unfiltered; brewed with the yeast left suspended in the beer.
Beer in Agriculture
Did you know that an ancient thirst for beer may have been responsible for the development of agriculture as we know it today? Learn more about the relationship between beer and agriculture, what makes grains good for beer, and more!
What is Barleywine?
Barleywine: where they come from, their appearance, flavour & aroma, palate & mouthfeel, food pairings and serving suggestions are all explained in this Beer Styles 201 article.
What is an IPA (AKA India Pale Ale)?
India Pale Ales (IPA): where they come from, their appearance, flavour & aroma, palate & mouthfeel, food pairings and serving suggestions are all explained in this Beer Styles 201 article.