Beer is made using a combination of malted barley, hops, water and yeast. In some cases, other fermentable carbohydrates are used, including rice, wheat or maize, to create different styles of beer. Barley, which is low in protein and fat, yet high in carbohydrates, is the main component of beer. Malting the barley prior to fermenting helps to release its sugars and make them available for the fermentation process.
Hops is a climbing plant in the hemp family that produces cones, which are used to give beer its distinct bitterness. The cones contain resins and essential oils and brewers use many different hop varieties to give beer different flavors. Used similarly to a spice, hops are typically made into pellets to preserve their freshness for beer making.
Four to six pints of high-quality water must be used to create 1 pint of beer. Yeast, particularly Saccharomyces cerevisiae yeast, is used to ferment the beer to create alcohol. Along with playing an instrumental role in actually creating the beer, yeast adds additional flavors to the final beer. Specific strains of yeast are selected to create different types of beer and create proprietary blends. The most common types of beer yeast are ale yeast and lager yeast.