Wednesday, December 6, 2006


For those who enjoy drinking it, but are not really sure how it works, here is a brief walk through the beer brewing process. Beer consists of four main ingredients ; MALT, HOPS, YEAST & WATER. Let’s begin with MALT

MALT is the building block, the platform of the beer. It starts out (usually) as barley. The barley contains starch. The maltster will crack the grains and then pop them in hot water until they are fooled into thinking it is time to germinate. This is about the only occasion on which anyone involved in brewing will become involved in trickery. That and when the marketing department tells us Adelaide water makes drinkable beer. Cooper’s excluded. They make their own water.

The barley, as it germinates, produces enzymes which will, in time, assist in the production of two of beers greatest assets - CO 2 and ALCOHOL. Now that the barley has become malt it has turned it’s starch into fermentable sugars and contains that taste which we know to be beer. It just needs to be gently coaxed along the magical brewing process, be seasoned and flavoured with hops and transformed by mystical yeasts until it appears in bars and bottle shops. Simple. Well, it’s a little more technically complex, but we ARE beer drinkers, not wine folk.

In very simple terms, MALT is what gives beer it’s sweet side. It is generally the first visitor to our palate door as we take our initial gulp and can be brash and intrusive like a God Botherer on a quiet weekend morning or it can sneak in almost unnoticed - like a nosy neighbour. Beer styles differ and much of this difference is in the impact of the MALT on the beer’s overall flavour - or profile, as the marketing department likes to call it.

By the way, and in relation to MALT, don’t let wine-ees tell you that the grape is harder to produce and requiring of more skill to ferment. To put it simply, the GRAPE is more reliant on the soil while the GRAIN is more reliant on the brewer. In other words, the range of malts, their various treatments and uses alone is a delicate balancing act for the brewer, and as we will see, it gets even more chef - like when we begin to add the hops, treat the water and combine all the processes. So there, wine folk.


No comments: