Beer Ingredients

A Quick Guide to Beer Ingredients

A growing fad among many people is that of making homemade brew; to be successful, however, it is necessary to know the correct beer ingredients. 

The history of brewing beer

Next to water, beer may very well be the next oldest beverage in the world.  It isn’t clear on when the first fermented drink emerged; however, it appears from widespread writings of the ancient world that various cultures imbibed upon beer-like beverages. From Mesopotamia to Persia to Europe, beer has been an important part of the formation of civilization.  Throughout time, beer has historically been brewed primarily by women, using whatever materials were at hand.  European monks changed that trend when they began to mass produce and market beer to pay for their upkeep in the monasteries.  The Industrial Revolution in the 1700’s brought the manufacture of the beverage to an even higher level through the development of brewing equipment; making a standard brew available in great quantities.  Today, in an age where brewing the golden beverage has grown to be a multi-billion dollar commercial business, many people have found the artisanal art of brewing beer to be an intriguing and fun adventure.

Making homemade brew

Many people are surprised at the simplicity of making homemade beer.  There are several basic ingredients that are common in all beers, and additional flavors that can be added for variety.  These ingredients are: 

  • Malt extract
  • Yeast 
  • Sugar 

Hops are also used, mostly in commercial production of beer.  Homemade brews rarely contain the hops, which are flower buds of a perennial climbing plant.  There are different types of malt extract, which will result in different types of beer.  The most common types are stout, light and dark beers.  Malt is a grain product, typically from barley although wheat, rye and oats can also be used. 

With these three basic beer ingredients along with plain water, you are ready to make beer.  The first step will begin with about 2 ½ gallons of fresh water in a 10 gallon bucket, as well as 7 ½ gallons of water in a large pot.    Bringing the 7.5 gallons of water to a boil, add a 40 ounce can of malt extract and allow the mixture to boil for approximately 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.   Add the sugar (corn syrup can also be used) and stir until dissolved.  As soon as the dissolution is complete, quickly pour the mixture into the bucket containing the 2 ½ gallons of cold water.  Add more cold water until brew is room temperature.

Sprinkle the yeast (Brewer’s yeast is a good choice) and stir in.  Cover the bucket loosely, and store in a cool area; 65 degrees is optimal. 

Now it is time for the ingredient that most people find most difficult to find; patience.  The brew must sit for around 6 days without any disturbance whatsoever.  This is when the vital fermentation occurs.   A tool called a hydrometer will be a valuable one once this period is complete; it is used to determine the gravity readings of the beer.  The small tool, usually made of blown glass, is calibrated to a reading between 60 and 68 degrees Fahrenheit.  The reading provided by the hydrometer will let you know when the beer has finished fermenting.  Light beer will give a reading of 1.008 to 1.010, while darker beer between 1.010 and 1.015.  When receiving these readings, your beer is ready to bottle.

Making your own homemade brew with these basic beer ingredients is not only fun but can also provide a great idea for gifts to your friends and family.