Beer is one of the oldest and most widely consumed alcoholic drinks in the world.
In a narrower sense, beer is an alcoholic and carbonated drink that is obtained through fermentation from the basic ingredients water, malt and hops. Yeast is usually added to trigger the fermentation process in a controlled manner. The alcohol content of the different types of beer is between 3 and 14 percent.
In a broader sense, beer is understood to mean any alcoholic beverage that has been produced on the basis of saccharified starch without using a distillation process. The distinction to wine is that sugar from vegetable (fructose) or animal sources (e.g. honey) is used for wine, while the raw material for beer is always starch.
As a rule, the sugar is obtained from the starch of cereals (barley, rye, rice, wheat, corn), less often starch is obtained from potatoes or other vegetables such as peas. Japanese sake, although often referred to as "rice wine", also falls under the definition of beer-like drinks.
There is no reliable knowledge about the origin of the word beer. Presumably it comes from beaver (Latin for "drink"). A word that is no longer used for beer is the Germanic Äl (cf. English ale or Swedish oil), which is the still unhopped brew.
With top-fermented beers, the yeast rises to the surface at the end of fermentation. The higher fermentation temperatures (15–22 ° C) required for top fermentation lead to an increased formation of esters and higher alcohols by the yeast. These often give the beers a fruity aroma. In the past, top-fermented beers were often marketed directly after the main fermentation without storage. They were not pounded and generally only had a short shelf life. Nowadays, storage is carried out similar to that of bottom-fermented beers. Top-fermented beers include z. E.g.:
- Berliner Weisse
- Oat beer
- Kölsch (and Wieß)
- Rye beer
- Spelled beer
- Wheat beer (also known as wheat beer or wheat beer)
- Emmer beer
With bottom-fermented beers, the yeast sinks to the bottom of the fermentation tank after the fermentation process. These are to a certain extent "matured" beers that require a certain maturation time, but also have a longer shelf life than top-fermented beers. This production requires cooling at temperatures below 10 ° C, so it has only been possible all year round since the invention of the refrigeration machine. For this reason, for example, Märzen could only be brewed until March, which is where it got its name from. Bottom-fermented beers include for example:
- Export beer
- Lager (sometimes also called Viennese beer)
- most of the festival beers, such as B. the Oktoberfest beer
- Black beer
- Primary type
- Zoigl beer
- Zwickelbier (also known as cellar beer)
No yeast is added to spontaneous beers. Instead, you wait until yeast spores, which are free in the air, get into the open fermentation vat and stimulate fermentation. This is the oldest way of fermenting the wort and dates back to the time when the yeast was still unknown to humans. Spontaneous beers include for example:
- Jopen beer
- The smoked beer is a specialty, as it can be brewed with both bottom and top fermentation. It is made with the addition of smoked malt, which gives it its smoky taste.
- Another specialty is wheat beer pils. This is a type of beer that uses both top and bottom-fermented yeast for its production: top-fermented yeast is used for the wheat beer component and bottom-fermented yeast for the pils component. Both components are first produced separately, final fermentation and maturation then take place together. Weissbierpils combines the malty, sparkling and fruity taste of wheat beer with the refreshing properties of pils.
- The house brew is largely unknown. It is picked up as a young beer by the house brewers in their own barrels in the brewery and then matured at home.
A so-called non-alcoholic beer usually contains a small amount of alcohol. Depending on the manufacturing process, this is between 0.02 percent and 0.5 percent alcohol. Most fruit juices naturally contain comparable amounts of alcohol due to fermentation processes. The first beers with 0.0 percent have been available since 2006.
An outdated manufacturing process for non-alcoholic beer is to stop the fermentation process before a significant amount of alcohol can form, as is done with malt beer. The more modern process is the dialysis process, whereby the alcohol is removed from a normal beer by osmosis through a membrane. A combination of osmosis and thin-film distillation is ideal, in which the permeate is converted back into a hypertonic solution by distilling off ethanol. Alcohol-free beer currently has a market share of around three percent.
Dry alcoholics shouldn't drink alcohol-free beer, as the taste can cause a relapse.
Mixed beer beverages
Beer is also mixed with other beverages, mostly with soft drinks or fruit juices. Usually they consist of at least 50 percent beer.
- Radler - With the Radler, the beer is mixed with light lemonade.
- Dirty - A dirty beer is a light beer mixed with cola. First the beer is poured into the glass and only afterwards the cola. In the foam we can see the dark traces of the cola, hence the name 'Dirty'.