As mentioned there are only 4 ingredients:

  • Barley Malt
  • Hops
  • Yeast
  • Water

Barley, Hops, and Yeast, and I can smell the creamy suds of a home brew already. These ingredients can be found in a few different forms and at a few different place.

Barley


Barley is the basis for beer and provides the sweetness, flavor, and provides the guts for making the alcohol. Barley comes in 2 forms; grain and malt. For beginners malted barley is the way to go. Its already been processed in a way to convert all of the starches into sugars. Its like the difference between going out into a sugar cane field and cutting your own sugar cane to use to sweeten a cake, or just using sugar from a package to get going. Going with the grains is for a later venture, for now, you can get great beer by going with barley malt. In fact the art of malting barley, done by maltsters, is an art is done with great quality and craftsmanship.

With Barley Malt there are two choices, and either will work just fine: liquid extract and dry extract. Liquid extract is in syrup form, and is sweet enough to pour on your pancakes. Dry extract is more like granulated sugar but a lot finer and has more color. You'll find some recipes that use a combination of both.

Hops


Hops comes in 2 general forms, which are pellets and flowers, although pellets are much more common and easier to work with. Hops is used to add bitterness and aroma to the beer. This ingredient was only widely used relatively recently in the history of beer, but is now a staple.

Yeast


Yeast is key ingredient and can take credit for the alcohol production. It comes in 2 forms, which are pitchable yeast and dry yeast. Pitchable yeast is the most common, and is easy to find, and very easy to use.

Water


Water is the final ingredient, and the most accessible one of all. Take note here though that un-tasty water will like degrade the taste of the beer, so filtered or purified water should be used. It would be a crime to go through the motions only to let hose water ruin the taste of the barley, hops, and yeast combination.


Sound complicated so far? Well it shouldn't all of these ingredients are readily available online or at a local home brew store near you.


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