There are lots of myths about beer. It’s high in calories, contains lots of sugar and is high in fat. None of which are true but it’s an easy mistake to make. With such a wide variety of styles, flavours, aromas and colours in beer you’d be forgiven for thinking that the list of what goes into making your beer it is a long one. But in fact, the truth is much more simple.
There are four principal ingredients in beer and they are all natural: water, malt, yeast and hops. Each of these natural ingredients contribute flavour and characteristics but what, exactly?
Water – One of the key ingredients in beer is water. It makes up 90% (5% non-fermentable rest sugars) of the finished product. The attributes of the water vastly affect the beer styles, for example, soft water is ideal for lagers whilst hard water is perfect for a porter or a stout.
Malt – The sweet base of beer. Most beers are brewed using barley malt, but others also add wheat, rice and oats to the mix to create different colours, flavours and that all important mouthfeel. Some malts produce more fermentable sugars than others, and so will also influence the strength of the beer to a degree.
Yeast – A key ingredient of beer. It’s an important contributor (up to 50%) to the flavour profile of beer. As well as converting the sugars from the malts into alcohol, yeast also adds a natural carbonation to the beer.
Hops – Beers’ ‘seasoning’. Hops are a crucial aspect of brewing. They add bitterness, aroma, flavour and contribute to the head of the finished product.
Here at Little Valley we like experimenting with the flavours of our beers by adding extra ingredients. In our award-winning take on a Belgian witbier, Hebden’s Wheat, we use coriander and lemon peel to add some subtle spice to the flavour. The ginger we use in our Ginger Pale Ale is the real thing, giving the final beer its unique taste. To brew our famous Vanilla Porter we add real vanilla pods and ground vanilla. And Moor Ale, our beer dedicated to the Yorkshire Moors, we add moorland heather that gives the beer a welcome earthiness.
It’s our use of those four principal natural ingredients and then some additional ingredients, still all natural, that ensure our beers have unique delicious flavours and are certified organic and vegan friendly.