Monday, October 6, 2008

Beer Lesson #1

So what is the beginning of beer? The answer lies in grain. As the root of many a great thing, grain is also the first step to understanding beer. Grain is a blanket word used to describe many different cereals including barley, wheat, rye, etc... The most popular grain used in beer making is Barley, but wheat, rye, oats, even rice are used depending on the brewers taste and intention. Apparently, barley's sugars are fairly easily released during the brewing process. There's a lot to be said about this first step of the brewing process, but let's keep it simple for now. We'll conquer Barley, using it as our first staple and talk about uses of other grains later.

Barley is distinguished by the amount of rows grow along the stem. According to my research, there is 2 row, 4 row, and 6 row varieties. 2-row is apparently the most popular in Europe, while 6-row is more favorable in the US. Why?

Taste, I guess. 2-row is said to be more starchy and 6-row starches can more quickly be converted into sugar.

So, let's recap. Grain is the basic element of beer and the most popular grain is Barley. Barley can arguably be grown several places which offer a cooler climate and flat land. I would suppose there are gentle differences in the barley from different areas of the world and I hope further research into beer will provide a glimpse into the role Barley and it's geography play in the final outcome of particular beers.

Stay tuned for Beer Lesson #2 when we learn what to do with all this Barley....

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