CRAFT by Under My Host® Issue No. 17 Made in America: Part II - Page 75

niable leap towards making higher quality specialty malt available to the small-scale operations. In the decades since, this bewildering renaissance has created a dra- matic increase in variety and notoriety of the very ingredients inside beer. Beer drinkers now talk about beer’s DNA with haltingly more detail, addressing preferences well beyond brand, often citing tech- niques like dry-hopping, raw ingredients like hop varietal, and spec- ifications like alcohol by volume (ABV) and international bitterness units (IBU) when making buying decisions. Let’s take a minute to look at the four main ingredients of beer in another light. If the ingredients of beer were a rock band, there’s no question that hops are their lead singer. Their vibrant aromatic cones are on full display at center stage, delivering drama and excitement to throngs of cheering fans, with hop icons displayed on hats, shirts, and tattoos. While hops are fulfilling their role, and certainly deserving of their attention, if we’re music fans, we’ll want to pay attention to the other players on the stage as well. Barley, water, and yeast are equal- ly important, yet they are often the unsung heroes, with their praise and attention delivered only by attentive professionals inside indus- try circles. To flesh out the analogy, I’d say that yeast – the abundant and per- sistent being that drives fermentation – is the guitar player. Yeast provides chordal depth and harmonic structure for the melody. Yeast can be the showcase with esters and flavor compounds, or it can del- icately lay a tender background to set up quiet beauty, shifting be- tween foreground and background gracefully. Water, with its ability to sync its rhythm to what is appropriate for any given style, would be the drummer. Water’s subtle contributions are often the difference between good, great, and awful, yet the spe- cifics are largely unseen by the non-professionals. This brings us to malt - the bass player. Malt is the connection that ties the rhythm and harmonic content together. It gives the base colors, flavor, and structure as a foundation for everything else to be built upon. Within the rock and roll analogy, malt is known primar- ily for its main axe, barley. Malt may venture to other instruments, like rye or wheat, for color and tonal shift, the same way you might hear bass lines from an upright acoustic bass, a Hammond organ, or © Hundred-to-One LLC 2018. All rights reserved.