Do you love beer? Beer is a very popular alcoholic drink obtained from the fermentation of malted barley. It is one of the oldest forms of ingestible alcohol. Archaeological evidence discovered in the Carmel Mountains of Israel shows that beer was produced and consumed even 13,000 years ago. Modern beer has a very unique and bitter taste, which is due to the resins and oils that are contributed by the hop flowers used during the process of fermentation.
Humulus lupulus, better known as hop flowers, are the cone-shaped flowers of the hop plant which are added to the beer during fermentation. These flowers contain acidic compounds, which lend a bitter taste to the drink. Also, the resins and oils that are found in the flowers also lend beer its characteristic aroma (pungent smell) at the same time.
Beer is mainly of two main types – ale and lager. The taste of ales and lagers depend on the strains of yeast used for fermenting the barley. Most often, the preferred strain of yeast used is Saccharomyces cerevisiae. The breweries bring out the unique taste of their own beer by controlling the fermentation process in a very scientific and innovative manner. Thus, the unique and bitter taste of beer is due to the bacteria inside it. For example, Ale strains of yeast ferments at warmer temperatures and they ferment fast, rise to the surface forming a thick froth (Top Fermenting) and are usually stronger in taste. Whereas lager strains of yeast ferments at lower temperatures, ferment slowly and settle at the bottom of fermenter (Bottom Fermenting) and differ in taste based on temperatures they are fermented at.
There is spontaneous fermentation where beer is exposed to open air allowing any yeasts and bacteria present in the air to work on wort naturally. This type of beer is called as ‘Wild beer’ and is sour in taste.
Now you know this, isn’t it easier for you to choose between Ale and Lager according to your palate?