3 Ways the Environment Shapes the Beer You Drink

By alfred | December 20, 2013

BeerIf you enjoy good craft beer then you have probably picked a few favorites that you buy more than others. Maybe your favorite beer includes special hops that change the flavor or maybe you like a darker beer with a thicker mouth-feel. Whatever the reason, your top picks stood out above the rest because of the environmental conditions that were present during the making of that beer. How is this possible? In this post I will breakdown how the weather, season and even the ground have an impact on the taste of craft beer.

1. Good Beer Starts In The Ground – The principle ingredients in beer are water, malt, hops and yeast. Macrobreweries like Anheuser Busch use malted corn and rice grains in some of their brews to cut down on costs but smaller breweries making quality beer use almost only barley, wheat and rye. Purchasing the grain can get expensive so some brewers invest in their own fields and farm it with the help of equipment leasing.

This control on the grains harvested means head brewers can already increase the quality of their beer. Better soil and geographic location can contribute the beer’s “terroir,” or defining characteristics due to environment. Beer, just like wine and tea, can have the environment it’s grown from presented in the taste as well.

2. Hop Climate – A large part of the taste beer gets from its ingredients comes from the hops used. Hops balance out the sweetness that malted grains impart by bittering the unfinished beer but they can also be used for aromas. All hops are different and each region of the world has hops that grow either naturally or are better suited to that specific climate. While this has traditionally meant that beers from those regions used their own unique hops, today’s technology in shipping means that anyone can pick and choose any hops they feel like using. This has allowed brewers everywhere to change the flavor or smell of their beer with hops that carry a little piece of home with them.

3. Yeast And Its Goldilocks Complex – Yeast is the essential life form added to wort, or unfinished beer, that produces alcohol. There are tons of unique strains that act differently and brewers need to pick carefully in order to get their desired final product. That includes picking a yeast that will perform to its maximum capacity at the temperature the beer is stored in. Too cold and the yeast will lay dormant, never eating enough sugar to produce the alcohol levels desired. Too hot and the yeast will go crazy in a shorter time span or even be killed. Yeast is a sensitive ingredient that truly relies on its environment.

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