The 4 Main Ingredients in Beer

We’re sure by now you’ve had your fair share of beer, and at least tried anything from stouts and IPAs to wheat beers and sour beers and everything in between. But what you may be surprised to hear is that EVERY beer starts off with the same foundation of four essential ingredients which includes hops, barley, yeast, and of course, water! By adding other extracts and adjuncts to the recipe, beer can take on many different flavour profiles. For now, let’s focus on the four main ingredients and explain what role they play in producing beer, and why they are so important.

Water

Good old colourless, flavourless, boring H2O- who cares about it, right? Well, turns out water accounts for most of the volume in beer, usually around 90-95% in fact. So although water is technically “tasteless”, its influence on beer is pretty huge. Before adding water, there are a few important questions to ask like: is the water too hard or too soft? Is it heavily chlorinated? How are the pH levels? What about the mineral content? The list goes on, and trying to answer all these important questions (and then some) will undoubtedly play a factor in the final product. 

Hops

Hops are little green flowers that grow on a bine, which is similar to a vine but without the tendrils. These flowers are shaped like a cone, and these cones become filled with a bitter resin that combats and balances the sweetness of malt. In other words, hops can be considered as the “balancing agent” in beer. Depending on when the hops are added, the bitterness, flavour, and aroma of the beer can vary. This is why some types of beer (IPAs for example) contain high bitterness, and give the style of beer its distinctive taste. 

Barley

Barley is responsible for the source of sugar in beer. Once barley is harvested, it needs to go through the malting process so that the starch inside is ready to be fermented. After barley is soaked in water for a few days, the starch can be converted into simple sugars through the germination process. To end the germination, heat is applied to the barley during a sequence often referred to as “roasting the barley”. The length and heat of the roast play a factor in the final colour and flavour of the beer.

Yeast

Last but not least- yeast! Probably the most underrated ingredient in beer, its role is essential in converting simple sugars from the malting process into carbon dioxide and alcohol. There are two types of yeast- top-fermenting yeast used to create ales and bottom-fermenting yeast used to create lagers. While yeast does play a role in the final flavour profile of beer, its primary purpose is simply to produce alcohol in the beer.

We have a variety of beer types available for purchase, but they definitely all have the same base ingredients! Shop our beers here!

Leave a Reply