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Hops or malt. What is beer actually made of?

Hops or malt. What is beer actually made of?

From among the bright green hop cones, a slender brown bottle slowly emerges. The characteristic "pst!" sounds and the golden beer is already pouring into the shining glass, marking it with a perfectly formed foam. How do TV beer commercials compare to reality?

Let's leave the majestic glass aside. The bottle and glass just need a decent "wash" in Photoshop. Foam? Let's give her a break, too. Anyone who has ever dabbled in product photography knows how much time, energy (and secret procedures) the capricious bubbles can take. Okay, but hops sold as the primary ingredient in beer? This nonsense is simply impossible to ignore.

"Because it looks nice." That's the answer you'll hear from brewers when you ask them why hops usually play a major role in ads for the world's best beverage. Fine. But if cones are so colorful and eye-catching, why, ekhm, don't you see them anywhere in breweries? Here, the answer - especially for those only interested in beer when it runs out of the fridge - is a bit more surprising. "Because no one uses cones."

Right? True. Contrary to what the commercials tell us, hops do the job of "spice" in beer. That's right, it was already used as a supplement by the Sumerians, Babylonians or Germans, but the facts don't leave much room for any discussion. Beer as an alcoholic beverage, the oldest known to mankind, was fermented from grain (from cereal!) in ancient times. Hops began to be used on a mass scale only in the Middle Ages, thanks to monasteries, which were always able to make good money on everything. And since at that time the monks eagerly promoted herbal medicine, the cheap cultivation of hops did not escape their attention either. First they traded it as a cure-all, and then they began to add this "miracle" plant to beer (on the brewing of which, of course, they won a monopoly).

We already know that hops are not the primary ingredient in beer. However, it is still added to the wort to obtain the desired aromas (perceptible mainly in decent kraft beer and mainly by beer geeks). So why is looking for cones in smaller or larger production halls like looking for a needle in a haystack? The reason is that hops usually reach breweries in the form of beautifully smelling pellets, which look exactly the same (apart from their colour) as pressed sawdust used for heating homes by users of eco stoves. It retains its qualities well, takes up less space and promotes comfort. Cones, while photogenic, do not necessarily boast similar qualities.

Okay, but if not hops, then what? Malt, of course! More of a supporting character in commercials, he has invariably been the star of the brew since the dawn of humanity. It is the beer, the wort and the appropriately selected yeast - and only then the hops and other additives - that determine the class of beer, its flavour, fullness and drinkability.

Since no self-respecting beergeek has ever made it to this part of the text (because what for, when beergeek knows everything about beer, and always better), the summary is addressed to those readers who are just beginning their adventure with kraft beer. When choosing beer when shopping at, yes, pay attention to the hops used, but for nothing in the world forget about the huge role played during brewing by the feisty duo: malt (or malts) and yeast. Read descriptions, look for information on labels, type the following into Google: barley malt, wheat malt, Pilsner malt, Munich malt, caramel malt, brewed malt, roasted malt or smoked malt. It will do you good. Word.


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IdoSell Trusted Reviews
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