Okay dudes, if you’re new to home brewing and need some info on how to get started, I’m not going to pretend to be a know-it-all… There is SO much info out there on the net to get you started, I’d insult your intelligence by trying to be one here. So – go check out the links page. Particularly the “How to Brew” web site.
Here’s a short FAQ just to whet your appetite:
What is malted barley? To make beer, you need to add yeast to something that will ferment, and that’s where malted barley comes in. Firstly, the grains are soaked for a couple of days so they just begin to germinate, but not grow roots yet. This activates the enzymes. They are then dried in a kiln to exact specifications depending on the type and style of beer to be made. To then make beer, you grind up these yummy barley grains and add them to some hot water and let is cook for an hour or so. You steep it around 150 degrees so that the grains’ enzymes convert the starches into sugar. The yeast will feast on that for the next few weeks or so. Cool, eh?
What’s DME, LME, and HME? – They’re acronyms for dried malt extract, liquid malt extract, and hopped malted extract. The DME comes in light, medium, and dark. It’s like corn or confectioner’s sugar, but kinda brown because it’s made from malted barley. I use the “light” to beef up the alcohol content of an otherwise light beer. Typically, a liquid malt extract kit (LME – will actually be a HME, or “hopped” malt extract) will yield a beer of about 4 percent alcohol. Or lower. So, you can pimp your beer to have more alcohol content by giving the yeast more food to crunch down on.
ABV. This is “alcohol by volume”. It’s determined by the amount of fermentable sugars in the wort. Wait… WTF is wort?
Wort. Pronounced “wert”, this is the brown slurry that your yeast feeds on for a week or so to make your beer. The nectar of the gods. The reason you’re reading this. This is created by 1) buying a beer kit and following the instructions. Or 2) using malted barley grains to make it from scratch.
Hops. Hops are a flowering vine that add bitterness and aroma to beer. Think England, then think India. Then think – 200 years ago the trip took months by boat, so beer spoiled on the way. The genius brewmasters in those days came up with a preservative for this whole scenario to work. This is where the term “IPA” came from. I.e. – India Pale Ale. My fav. Nowadays, hops are generally made into pellet form for convenience and efficiency.
What’s the diff between ale and lager? These are 2 different styles of beer. Um, well, it’s more complicated than that, but let’s start there. An ale is made with a top fermenting yeast, is fermented at room temperature, and is more complex tasting than lagers. Lagers use a different yeast which sit on the bottom, and ferment at a cooler temperature, yielding a cleaner flavour. Pilsner is one example.
What makes some beers so dark? In short, it’s done by roasting the barley grains. The various colours of beer can be attributed to how long the grains of barley are roasted. That simple.
That’s it for now kiddies. It’s late and I wanna go to bed. I’ll add more later.