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Beer Research Guide: Ingredients




Things to know about Barley malt

Barley is the primary cereal used as the source of carbohydrates for brewing beer. 

Things to know about non-Barley malt

  • Wheat cultivation for both bread and beer making is as old as civilization itself. If wheat proteins aren't degraded they make a viscous, gummy drink. The earliest brewers used barley and several varieties of wheat in their mashes. Einkorn Wheat was one of the mankind’s earliest cultivated species of wheat. Spelt is a hard-grained heirloom wheat, with genes going back to cultivars planted in Neolithic times in the Fertile Crescent of the Middle East. Emmer was the principal wheat type of Old World agriculture in Neolithic and early Bronze Ages. In ancient Mesopotamia, it was widely used as the primary ingredient in beer. 
  • Buckwheat is not a grain, in spite of its name, and unlike most cereal grains, is also gluten-free. The proportion of buckwheat in a mash may be as high as one-half, though experimental mashes with 100% buckwheat have been reported in brewing literature. 
  • Rye was historically grown in Germany, Southern Scandinavia, Poland, the Baltic States, and Russia. In modern brewing, small quantities of malted rye are used in specialty beers. In brewing, rye may be used as whole grains (cooked first), rye malt, or pre-gelatinized flakes.
  • Sorghum is a grass widely grown as a food crop in Africa and Asia, as well as in parts of the Americas, and in Oceania. It is a gluten-free grain. Sorghum beer is the traditional beer of Africa. "It is made both rurally and commercially throughout the continent. Tribes continue to make their own varieties, using locally available ingredients for additional flavor. Commercial breweries also make different varieties depending on the subregion."
  • Millet is small-seeded species of cereal crops or grains, widely grown around the world for food, fodder, and beer. Traditionally, millets are important grains and used for brewing millet beer in multiple cultures. These include  Bantu beer, an alcoholic beverage made from malted millet in Africa; beer made by the Tao people of Orchid Island, Taiwan; rakshi, the distilled liquor of the Sherpa, Tamang, and Limbu in Nepal; and the fermented drink boza made in Balkan countries, especially Romania and Bulgaria.
  • Like all cereals, rice is a grass. Anheuser-Busch is the largest single buyer of rice in the United States and in Budweiser beer rice making up a large portion of the grist. In the U.S., German immigrants found it was difficult to make good beer using the high-protein, six-row barley available at the time. Looking for ways to dilute the malt, they began to use rice and corn. In Asia, brewers made sake or "rice wine," which is not a wine at all, but a form of beer. 
  • Corn, also known as maize, is a member of the grass family domesticated in the Americas in prehistoric times. Corn is a common adjunct in mass-market beers produced in North America and can be used for the brewing of beer as a source of starch or sugar. Chicha is a beer-like alcoholic beverage based upon corn.
  • Adjuncts are alternative sources of extract used to replace a proportion of the malt. They may be used as cheaper sources of extract, but also used for color, flavor, or foam.

Things to know about malt in the Northwest

  • The OSU Barley project has a team of barley enthusiasts dedicated to generating fundamental knowledge about barley, applying the knowledge to stimulate economic development through the release of novel barley varieties, sharing barley genetic resources, and encouraging barley use and consumption.
  • Mecca Grade Estate Malt's past, present, and future are full of interesting stories (some that overlap with OSU). Mecca Grade is an estate malthouse located on 1,000 irrigated acres in Madras, Oregon. They grow only one variety of spring 2-row barley, Full Pint, which was bred by Oregon State University. 
  • Founded in 1934, the Great Western Malting Company is the oldest malting company in the western United States. They also operate a malt and brewing supplies warehouse and distribution system known as Country Malt Group.

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Recommended publications


Things to know

Recommended publications


Yeast may be small, but its impact is large and its history is important. 

Things to know

  • The yeast species Saccharomyces cerevisiae converts carbohydrates to carbon dioxide and alcohols in a process known as fermentation. The products of this reaction have been used in baking and the production of alcoholic beverages for thousands of years.
  • There are articles about beer yeast on The Oxford Companion of Beer site. 
  • There is an article about the history and uses of yeast on Wikipedia.
  • The SGD Community Wiki is a wiki of another sort, but dedicated just to the yeast genome. Their reference library has Historical Sequence Information, Gene Summary Paragraphs, Yeast Images, and Yeast Movies!
  • The Special Collections and Archives Research Center has rare and otherwise unique books on yeast in its collections. 
  • You can search for articles on your own through 1Search. 

Recommended publications