Project Summary: Brewing Beer, is it a product of the environment?
BEER. The German purity laws state that only 4 ingredients go into it; water, malt, yeast, and hops.
Water is an important because it makes up more than 90% of the beer’s composition, thus it is relatively important to have water that is clean, as in not filthy. While better water makes better beer, it is not the most important ingredient because even some water and their impurities will be purified by the hops natural ability to do so.
Malt is the base oil the beer. May be viewed as the infrastructure. Malt is a syrupy, thick, molasses-like viscosity that is derived from germinated barley grain. It provides the main source o sugars that the yeast will consume, (maltose -à glucose by diastrose- natural enzyme in barley grain, glucose is digestible form of sugar for yeast) glucose molecules and convert them into Carbon dioxide and ethanol as waste products. Not much is known about yeasts but all yeasts for beer were originally derived from the immediate environment- Today, they are re-cultured and have been for hundreds f years (most of them).
Hops may arguably their most important ingredient. It provides the distinct flavors to a beer, naturally preserves and purifies the beer, and is the most effective ingredient when relating a beer’s composition to an environment. All oils and resins come from lupulin glands on the base of the flower’s petal, these release alpha and beta acids which are responsible for the beer’s distinctive flavor, purity, and preservative qualities.
I showed you guys how to make some home brew in a 15 min. video, this beer was an experimental approach to see if there was an observable difference in two identical beers; manipulated with two variables via hops and yeast. For two different beers made (an American Pale Ale and an English Pale Ale), the hops and yeast used were obtained from the two corresponding regions, as traditionally used in these regions.
-dried malt extract (2 lbs each)
-60L 2-row crystal grain (Barley) (10 oz each)
– Pale malt extract (3.3 lbs each)
– approx. 20 juniper berries and a sprig of juniper each
English Pale Ale: 1 oz Target hops, 1 oz Kent Golding’s finisher hops, 1 packet of English ale yeast
American Pale Ale: 1 oz Centenniel hops, 1 oz Amarillo finisher hops, 1 packet American ale yeast
Yeasts make a profound influence on the taste of the beer and are derived from their environment, typically by leaving beer outside and awaiting for the microspores to land and colonize the sugary-solution, a direct influence of the environment. However, with modern technology, these yeasts are available all over the world now and have evolved very much with their short life-histories and fast reproduction/mutation rates. Thus , the English ale yeast of today is surely different from what it may have been 300 yrs. ago.
Hops have an even more profound influence on the taste of the beer. The alpha acid content is the source of this influence. The American hops, characteristic of the American Northwest, have a much higher alpha acid content than do the English, thus the American pale ale was one that was much more bitter, as opposed to the more mellow, aromatic flavor given by the English pale ale. Differences in oil and resin content also added to different flavors observed in the beer. The Amarillo hops of the American ale gave it a distinct citrus-grapefruit like flavor, while the finisher Kent Golding hops gave the English ale a mellow-citrus, more fruity kind of flavor.
Surely at some point in time, these hops and yeasts were direct products of their regional climates and soil compositions, however, the main point of this project was to stress that there is no ‘original’ environment in modern day. In order to create a beer that is a product of its environment would require extraordinary means, by which, one would literally have to seclude their self in the wilderness and be able to successfully grow their own ingredients and derive their own yeast. Even in such a scenario, the product would likely be undesirable and surely not your typical brew. Our environments are constantly changing, and so are the products that are derived from them. Like the evolution of people, habitats, and ecosystems, such products like beer, most certainly follow. In modern day, barley grains are grown in monocultures of hybrid/genetically modified variants, hops are hybridized/genetically modified and grown under climate controlled systems with fertilizers and supplements that do not mimic regional soils, yeasts are maintained and controlled in laboratory cultures, and beer in general is a result of mass transportation and a melting pot of cultures.