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what is beer

Simply put, beer is water, malt, hops and yeast; you can add lots of other stuff to it like spices, herbs, fruit etc, but it’s still beer as long as it contains the four magic ingredients listed here.

Beer is made by extracting the sugars from steeping malted barley in hot water. After this, the grain is removed and the liquid that remains is called wort, simply translated as unfermented beer. 

The wort is then boiled for an hour or more to concentrate the flavour and kill off any bacteria; the boil is also where the hops are thrown in to add flavour and bitterness. 

After boiling, the liquid is then cooled and transferred to a fermenter, where the yeast is added – the yeast will then convert those extracted sugars into alcohol. After a few weeks you’ll have beer.

When you go to a pub, beer will usually be served in two forms: cask or keg. There are profound differences in how these beers keep and taste, but the easiest way to tell them apart is that cask is pulled through in multiple pumps, whereas keg pours smoothly from an open tap. 

Cask allows some air into the barrel, meaning the beer undergoes a secondary fermentation and develops complexity – this also gives it a short lifespan of just a few days. 

Kegs are virtually airtight meaning the beer stays fresh and fizzy for a lot longer. 

Despite preconceptions, cask is not just “warm and flat” and can be wonderful if kept well. However, while cask is having a small revival in some circles, most modern craft beer is kegged.

Beer comes in all sorts of colours, flavours and styles – and these styles all vary depending on the colour of the malt, the use of hops and different yeast strains.

Some of the main styles include: Pale Ales, Wheat, IPAs, Sours, Stouts & Porters, Lagers, and Saisons. If you’d like to discover and learn about each style, click on the beer styles link below.

If you’re not sure where to start, click the link here for a personalised beer box. We’ll ask you a few questions and then curate a box matched to your taste preferences – all delivered straight to your front door.

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delve deeper into the main brewing ingredients

beer styles

ipa, pale ale, lager, stout, porter, sour, saison. what's the difference...

credit where credits due.  the majority of content in this part of our website has been written for us by Dan Lyons;  a talented -beer writer, homebrewer and all round beer enthusiast.

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