Basic Brewing Ingredients


To get a better idea of what you will use to brew beer I think now is a good time to talk about some of the ingredients. Because there is little difference between “Extract Brewing” and “Extract with Steeped Grain Brewing” I will also add the specialty grain ingredients here.



Beer is a malted beverage – so let’s take a minute to talk a bit about what malts are. Malts come in three basic forms:


Malted Grains

Malted grain is made from barley, wheat or rye. It is soaked until it sprouts then it is drained and dried. This process harnesses natural enzymes – a process that releases fermentable sugars, and develops the flavors in beer. It is then kiln dried using hot air. Different temperatures and combinations of air or lack of it produce different styles of grains. Malted grains come in over a hundred varieties. 


Specialty Grains

Specialty grains are grains which do not have to be mashed. The starches have been converted to sugars in the kilning process so they can be steeped in a bag like a tea. They control the color, body and flavor of our beer. All Crystal Malts, Chocolate Malt, Black Patent Malt, Cara-Pils® or Dextrin Malt, Roasted Barley Malt, Victory (Biscuit) Malt, Belgian Aromatic, Belgian Biscuit Malt, Belgian Caramunich, Belgian Caravienne , Belgian Special B, Canadian Honey Malt, German Rauch (Smoked) Malt, German Karaffe Malt, Scottish Peat Smoked Malt, Special Roast are specialty grains.


Liquid Malt Extracts

Liquid Malt Extracts - Known as LME’s - made from mashing the grains then boiling the liquid into a concentrated syrup. LME’s come in two forms With hops added (hopped) and without hops added (UnHopped). LME’s usually come in cans or plastic jars if purchased in bulk.


Unhopped Liquid Malt Extracts - are a concentrate made from a base concentrated liquid malt grain with no other flavors or hops added. Some companies refer to this form as UME’s (Unhopped Malt Extracts) or ULME’s (Unhopped Liquid Malt Extracts). They usually come in Extra Light, Light, Pale, Amber, Dark and Wheat.


Hopped Liquid Malt Extracts – also called HME’s (Hopped Malt Extracts). HLME’s (Hopped Liquid Malt Extracts) or beer mixes, are LME’s which have hops added and sometimes other grains for flavor. They come in every style of beer that can be made. You have to buy at least one can of UME and one can of HME per each batch of extract beer.


Dry Malt Extracts

Known as DME’s a dry malt powder or spray. These are the same as LME’s but in powdered form. DME’s weighs less, lasts longer and are easier to handle. They come in Extra Light, Light, Amber, Dark, Extra Dark, Wheat, Barley and Wheat, Rice, and Barley and Rice.


Click here to download my Grains, Extracts and Sugars Chart which describes grains, extracts and sugars to give you an idea of what they are, how the are used, what their characteristics are and where they come from. (8 pages)




Hops are actually a flower, green in color with yellow lupulin glands down between the petals. Hops are used for preserving the beer and the essential oils also add flavor and aroma to balance the sweetness of the malt. Hops come in two forms: Leaf Hops and Pelletized Hops.


Leaf hops look like tiny pine cones. This is the form they grow in and are simply dried before shipping.


Pelletized Hops are hops that have been dried, ground into a powder and are pressed into a pellet shape.


Hops come in several varieties Cascade, Willamette, Northern Brewer, Fuggles, Horizon, Kent Goldings, Chinook, Tettnanger, Perle, Hallertaur, Centennial, Columbus, Brewers Gold, Mount Hood, Nugget, Saaz, Sterling, German Spalt, Cluster, Challenger, Cyrstal, Eroica, Liberty, Styrian Goldings, Galena, Bullion, Amarillo, Olympic, Magnum, Target, and Hersbrucker to name a few.



Click here to download my Hop Chart which describes the hop, it’s uses, substitutions and characteristics in pdf form. (3 pages)




The yeast cells consume simple sugars and produce a bi-product of carbon dioxide and alcohol. There are two main types of yeast, ale yeasts and lager yeast. Yeasts also come in two forms Liquid and dry.


Ale yeasts like the warmer temperatures between 60-70°F, while lager yeasts work best at temperatures of 50°- 65°F even as low as 40°F.


The liquid yeasts come in any variety of beer styles and is said to be superior by the brewing experts. They average between $5 and $7.


Dry yeast is more limited in styles but I’ve had great luck with several dry yeast brands and inconsistent results with the expensive liquid yeasts.


One of the best yeasts I’ve ever used is the “Superior Dry Lager” yeast, an Australian yeast which sells for around $1.25. It always works perfectly no matter what the brew and has a temperature range from 46ºF to 65ºF although it works best between 55ºF and 60ºF it’s works great whether I am making ale or lager!


Other good dry yeasts are Coopers Ale Yeast $1.25 and Nottingham Ale yeast $1.75.



Click here to download my Yeast Chart which describes the type of yeast,  manufacture, uses and characteristics. (3 pages)




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