Beverage Brian on 'What's in My Beer'!

Posted: Apr 22 2014

Like a lot of folks, we drink beer here at But how much do we really know about beer? Well not much, so we learned after speaking with Beverage Brian.

Here’s Brian’s 101 on 'What's in My Beer':
Beer is an alcoholic beverage made from water, malted grains (typically barley), hops and yeast. Its alcoholic content comes from the process of fermentation, which converts the simple sugars (carbohydrates) in the grains, into alcohol. The four main ingredients in beer are:

More than 90% of beer is Water. A good water supply is essential. Some breweries have their own wells. A brewer used 5-7 liters of water to produce 1 liter of beer. Some of the water is used for heating and cooling and also for cleaning.

Barley is the most commonly used. Barley has an advantage in that it can be preserved for a long time after harvest.

Barley must be malted first. It is the malted barley, which gives beer its particular colors and taste. The malting process starts to release the sugars essential for the fermentation. Un-malted Barley, gives a rich, smooth, grainy flavor to beer. It contributes foam retention (head) to the finish beer. Clarity problems make un-malted barley inappropriate for light beers. It is essential for dry Stout.

Corn products have traditionally been the adjunct (flavoring additives) of choice among brewers. They are consistent in quality, composition and availability. Corn has a sweet, smooth flavor that is compatible with most beer styles. It is popular in American breweries and also lowers the protein and polyphenols content of beers, thereby lightening body and reducing beer ‘haze’.
Oats are high in fat, protein and oil, not good components for beer production. However, oats are sometimes used and they work well for Oatmeal Stout.
Rice is the second most widely used adjunct material in the U.S. in the production of light colored lager beer. It promotes dry, crisp and snappy flavors.
Wheat malt is used not only for wheat beers but also 3-5% is used in a malt- based beer. Its protein gives a fuller mouth feel and enhanced beer head stability. The downside; it contains 13-18% more protein than barley malt and consists primarily of gluten that can result in beer haze.

Hops or “Green Gold” comes from a climbing plant with male and female flowers; only the female flowers are used.

There are more than 45 varieties varying from bitter to aromatic. The hops are the flowering cones of a perennial vining plant HUMULUS LUPULUS (HOPS) and a cousin of the cannabis variety (sorry no THC in this stuff) that thrives in climates similar to the ones that grapes do. The female cones only are used. Hops have been used for ages as seasonings, preventing spoilage from bacteria and clarifying (act as a natural filter) the beer. Hops help with head retention and please the palate. Hops put the Bitter in beer.

Yeast is a microscopic member of the fungus family and is a living organism. Yeast converts the sugars obtained from the malt into alcohol- a process called-FERMENTATION. The Latin name for brewing yeast is Saccharomyces cervisiae. Different yeast strains give different flavors to the beer; therefore the brewer takes special care in selecting the yeast strain.

-Brian has decades of experience in running bars. He’s a former bartender at the Ritz Carlton, and currently runs the beverage program for a country club in North Carolina.


Leave a comment

All blog comments are checked prior to publishing