1. Beer is a fermented drink made from the artful choosing and manipulation of four main ingredients – malted grain (usually barley), water, yeast and hops.
2. Great Clubs knows of brewers who substitute corn, wheat, oats, rye or rice in place of barley.
3. Grain is needed to brew beer, one of the oldest alcoholic beverages. Anthropologists credit man’s craving for a good beer with the transition of the nomadic Neolithic people to hunters/gatherers/farmers who grew brew crops.
4. The Latin name for the Hop plant is “Humulus Lupulus,” which translates to “Wolf Plant” – fitting, because it grows wild in the countryside, just like wolves. It’s a first cousin to Cannabis. Beer drinkers in the 19th century who enjoyed heavily-hopped India Pale Ale could feel not only its alcoholic effect, but a mild narcotic effect, as well.
5. During World War II, the clever British Royal Navy equipped a ship with a small brewery that made a mild ale using desalinated water and malt extract. British sailors fought to be assigned to the ship, which they dubbed “Davy Jones’ Brewery.” (The British are stuffy? I think not!)
6. Roasted malt and un-malted roasted barley taste and smell remarkably like coffee. Some instant coffees contain sizeable servings of roasted malt, a habit that stemmed from World War II when real coffee beans were nearly impossible to acquire.
7. Today, malt is cured by coke (a high carbon residue coal product) or coal itself. But early on, it was dried over a difficult-to-control wood fire. The malt was often accidentally charred, taking on a smoky flavor. Today, some German beers are still made with smoked malt.
8. Brewers prefer to refer to the water they use in the brewing process as “liquor.”