You know you have become a certified craft beer lover when you find yourself searching the web and looking how to craft beer. It is okay. You are not alone. Whether you are just curious about the brewing process or dream of opening a craft brewery someday, this is where you should start. Before you dive deep into home-brewing techniques, there is important information that you should learn first.
What is Craft Beer?
The craft beer scene has been gaining popularity lately. A lot of people search tap rooms for the best names in the craft beer category. But what exactly is a craft beer? The answer lies in the type of brewery where it is made. As defined by American Brewer’s Association, craft breweries are small, independent, and traditional. Craft breweries are small not in the size of their land area, but in their annual production, which is limited to 2 million barrels or 6 million barrels. 25% of the brewery should be independently owned by a non-craft brewer.
And lastly, craft beer should contain 50% malt instead of using rice, corn, oat or wheat. Unlike larger breweries that make mainstream beers, craft breweries use higher quality ingredients, which may be sourced from local communities.
Perhaps you already know the other common names associated with craft beers, such as specialty beers, artisan beers, boutique beers, gourmet beers, and dark beers. There are more names to include in the list and you will know a beer is a craft beer once you see and experience it. The craft beers are complex, unique, and flavor. They are just different but better.
4 Main Craft Beer Ingredients
Just like in any food recipes, the secret of making craft beer is the ingredients used. There are only 4 main ingredients: water, malt, yeast, and hops.
Water is the most important component in a beer. Filtered water should be used in making craft beer because it has mineral content, unlike tap water. Craft beer is more than 90% water. There are different styles or techniques in brewing that are known because of the amount or kind of water used. For example, the soft water in Pilsner makes the delicate and crisp taste of this style. On the other hand, the hard water used for making Burton is responsible for making the beer dry and hoppy.
If wines need grapes, beers need malted barley. On the other hand, malt does more than add alcohol to your beer. It gives the flavor, aroma, and body that have set apart beers or craft beers from other alcoholic beverages. There are many varieties of malts that contribute to the unique characteristics of craft beer. However, the most common traces of malt is the sweetness. To make malted barley, you have to soak it in water for a few days so that it will germinate and produce components for fermentation. While this process is also applicable to wheat and rye, the malted barley is the favorite ingredient in the beer world.
Yeast is a crucial ingredient in the brewing process because it is responsible for converting sugar into alcohol. You cannot see it with the naked eye but its power is what makes a beer a beer. There are two types of yeast used in making craft beer. The most common types are ale yeast and lager yeast. Yeast can also influence the final flavor. Since it is a living organism, it needs more attention and care, ensuring that it will not get exposed to too warm or cold of a temperature.
Hops are added at the beginning or the early stages of the boiling process. Their role is to balance out the sweetness of the rest of the beer because of their bitter taste. Aside from this, they also contribute to the extra layer of aroma and flavor to the beer. If you do not include it in the process of making craft beer, the finished product would taste like a sweet soda.