The ABC's of Beer #1: The Raw Ingredients

31 Jul 15

How well do you know the ABCs of beer? Join us as we explore the key terms behind beer and the beer making process. Whether you are an expert, or struggle to tell the difference between an ale and a lager, we’re pretty sure you’ll learn something new.

This week we begin right at the source – the raw ingredients that, when combined, create our nation’s favourite alcoholic beverage.

ingredients of beer
Liquor is the name given to the water used for mashing and brewing.


Hops are the dried female flowers of the hop plant, Humulus lupuls. Hops are responsible for giving beer a bitter taste and adding floral, citrus notes to the overall flavour and smell. Next time someone describes a beer as “hoppy”, you’ll know exactly what they mean!


Malt is grain that has been steeped, germinated, kilned and used for brewing or distilling. Barley and sorghum are both grains used as malt in the production of beer.
(The South African Breweries (SAB) has launched the Better Barley Better Beer programme to support sustainable farming practices. It is focused on water reduction, improved carbon footprints, soil health and the clearing of alien vegetation, as well as the protection and restoration of ecosystems.)
Yeast is a fungus used as a fermenting agent in beer. When yeast is added to a sugar-rich solution, it immediately starts eating away at the sugars and creating more yeast. The by-products of this process – alcohol and carbon dioxide – are what brewers are after, making it arguably the most important ingredient in the beer-making process. There are many different types of yeasts, with each yielding different fermentations and flavours.

Join us next week, when we will be learning all about the fermentation process.