Cook's Illustrated

Beer Ingredients

eer is the alchemical result of converting cereal grain starch to sugar (“malting”); steeping the grain in hot water (“mashing”); and then boiling, fermenting, and packaging the liquid. Malted barley and complement it with darker, sweeter specialty malts such as or to add color and character. and , which are sold whole or flaked, are used in combination with barley as “adjunct grains.” The former brings lighter color and fuller body; the latter, distinct spiciness. Often, brews are seasoned with (other citrus may also be used), , , or spices such as . During fermentation, consumes sugars from the strained liquid (“wort”) and converts it to beer by creating alcohol, carbon dioxide, and a range of complex flavors. —flowers that look like artichokes when fresh and rabbit food pellets when processed and dried—impart distinct bitterness and a wide range of aromas. Brewers add them at varying intervals: early in the boiling phase to infuse maximum bitterness and sometimes again after fermentation to extract the plant’s more delicate aromas.

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