All About Beer
Better beer is all about choices. And today, you have more choices than ever before with our local craft breweries offering many of these astounding distinct beer styles. From “Abbey to Wit” Arizona Guild members truly brew something for everyone, with beers to match any occasion and any food.
Beer is brewed using hops, grain, yeast, and water. Although those same four basic ingredients are used to make all beers, better beer is made using better ingredients: more whole hops, all-grain barley malts, unique yeast strains, and of course fresh pure water. The varieties and quantities of each ingredient determine the color, flavor, aroma and overall character of the beer being brewed.
Hops provide beer with both flavor and aroma, as well as acting as a natural preservative. Hops grow on climbing vines, producing tiny cone-shaped flowers. There are more than 100 hop varieties grown throughout the world. Some varieties are used mainly to add a hoppy “bitter” flavor to the beer while others impart a delicate, almost floral aroma. Brewers may use different hops at various stages of the brewing process to give a beer a particular flavor and aroma. Fans of hoppy beers, such as India Pale Ales, are known affectionately as “hop heads.”
Malt is the major ingredient in beer, influencing color, body, flavor and strength. Malt is the term used for grain (usually barley) that has gone through the malting process. The heat used to dry the malted grain has an enormous effect on the flavor, final aroma and color of the malt, not to mention the overall taste and character of the beer. And of course, more than one malt can be blended to produce a single style of beer. As a general rule, the darker the malt, the darker the beer; and the more malt used in the brewing, the more flavorful and higher alcohol content in the beer.
Yeast is the catalyst that produces the alcohol contained in beer, as well as its natural carbonation. The yeast converts the sugars from the malt into carbon dioxide and alcohol. Different yeasts ferment sugars in different ways, producing unique flavors and defining whether a brew is classified as a lager or an ale. A bottom-fermenting yeast strain called Saccharomyces Carlsbergensis produces crisp, smooth lagers at cool temperatures. Saccharomyces Cerevisiae, a top-fermenting yeast strain, makes fruity, refreshing ales at warmer temperatures. While there are thousands of different types of yeasts, keeping the strain pure and clean is key to a consistent final product.
Since each glass or bottle of beer is made up of about 90 to 95 percent water, it does have an effect on the final taste. Although your local water supply is safe for drinking, most craft brewers view tap water as only the beginning in brewing better beer. Water is typically treated to obtain a particular taste or quality level and to maintain consistency.
The Arizona Craft Brewers Guild encourages responsible consumption of brewery products.
How the Process Works