The Basics of Brewing

Malted or "cracked" barley or other grains contain fermentable sugars. Tiny yeast organisms produce energy with the sugars in the barley (as well as, in many cases, additional starches), and the by-product is alcohol. Steeping the grains in hot water - typicallying 150 degrees or more - to activate enzymes and release sugars that make alcohol is called "mashing."

Dried Hop Flowers

Combining those sugars with hops - bitter flowers native to wet, temperate climates - gives beer its flavor. The infusion of starches and hops that yeast converts into beer is called wort.

Beer was orginally used as a way to sanitize water. The yeast crowd out other organisms, including potentially harmful bacteria. In many cases, brewers add other starches, from honey to dextrose, that aren't fermentable by themselves. Enzymes in malted grains make it possible for yeasts to break down the sugar.

Malted Barley

Now, malt extracts are commercially availible. These syrupy substances are just as fermentable as malted grains, but are much easier to work with. Malted barley is delicate and can't be boiled at high temperatures without releasing strange off-flavors. But extracts lack the flavor and character of traditional malts. For that reason, many recipes for casual hombrewers, including this one, use a partial mash. A partial mash includes some malt and some malt extract, creating a happy medium between ease and quality.

This Ale is roughly 5.5% alcohol by volume, and has an IBU (International Bitterness Units) of about 30, meaning it has a medium hoppy flavor.