Barley is the most commonly malted grain, in part because of its high diastatic power or enzyme content, though wheat, rye, oats and rice are also used. Also very important is the retention of the grain’s husk, even after threshing, unlike the bare seeds of threshed wheat or rye. This protects the growing acrospires (developing plant embryo) from damage during malting, which can easily lead to mold growth. It also allows the mash of converted grain to create a filter bed during lautering (see brewing). Malt is often divided into two categories by brewers: base malts and specialty malts. Base malts have enough diastatic power to convert their own starch and usually that of some amount of starch from unmalted grain, called adjuncts. Specialty malts have little diastatic power; they are used to provide flavor, color, or “body” (viscosity) to the finished beer. Specialty caramel or crystal malts have been subjected to heat treatment to convert their starches to sugars non-enzymatically. Within these categories is a variety of types distinguished largely by the kilning temperature (see mash ingredients). In addition, malts are distinguished by the two major species of barley used for malting, two-row and six-row. Read More
Brewing yeasts may be classed as “top-fermenting” and “bottom-fermenting”. Top-cropping yeasts are so called because they form a foam at the top of the wort during fermentation. An example of a top-cropping yeast is S. cerevisiae, they are called an “ale yeast”. Bottom-cropping yeasts are typically used to produce lager-type beers. These yeasts ferment well at low temperatures. An example of bottom-cropping yeast is known as S. carlsbergensis.
Hops are the female flowers of the hop plant, Humulus lupulus. They are used primarily as a flavoring and stability agent in beer, to which they impart a bitter, tangy flavor. Hops are used extensively in brewing for their antibacterial effect that favors the activity of brewer’s yeast over less desirable microorganisms and for many purported benefits, including balancing the sweetness of the malt with bitterness, contributing a variety of desirable flavors and aromas.
Hop resins are composed of two main acids: alpha and beta acids. Alpha acids have a mild antibiotic/bacteriostatic effect against Gram-positive bacteria, and favor the exclusive activity of brewing yeast in the fermentation of beer. Alpha acids are responsible for the bitter flavor in the beer.